Heather Mills has bought back her vegan meat brand VBites in a £1 million rescue deal.
It comes a month after VBites called in administrators. The brand faced soaring energy and raw material costs, as well as fierce competition in the plant-based meats market. At the time, Mills cited “corporate greed” as one reason for the collapse. She also called for “unity in the plant-based sector” and said she was “hopeful that as a unified force we can turn things around.” VBites has been trading since 1993 and sells 140 products across 28 countries.
Now, Mills has taken back control of VBites and pledged to make the company a “market mover.” In the sales process led by the administrators, Vegan Solo Consulting (owned by Mills) beat five other offers with a bid of £1 million.
“I strongly believed that the next generation technology that VBites had developed and the work it had done still had a huge role to play in assisting the transition of the food market to a healthier and more sustainable place,” Mills said in a statement.
VBites 2.0 will be a “market mover”
The reaction to VBites going into administration was testament to the popularity of the brand and Mills’ vegan advocacy. “Anyone that knows me well, knows the blood, sweat, and tears that my team and I have put into the business,” Mills said at the time.
Mills was “devastated” when the company was “forced unnecessarily, with 3 days notice, into administration.” She says she was “cut out of everything,” even though she was offering “viable solutions.”
Having rescued the company from the brink of collapse, Mills has now started the rebuilding process. She has already re-employed 40 out of 84 staff and plans to bring back more.
“I have chosen to resurrect the company myself, at great personal expense, and take control of the operations, personally moving back to the north-East to ensure that we are still able to make a positive contribution to the future of our global food economy,” Mills said.
“We have already developed a version 2.0 of plant-based food, soon to launch, that we believe will be a market mover and will help all of those people attempting to make a flexitarian or plant-based/vegan transition to achieve their goals more easily,” she added.
Vegan meat isn’t dead
Last year was a struggle for some plant-based meat companies, with a number of high-profile collapses. However, the vegan food market remains strong. Projections place growth in the UK vegan food market at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.1 percent between 2023 and 2031, with vegan meat the highest contributor to this market.
At the start of 2024, VFC announced that it had rebranded as The Vegan Food Group, with plans to become a powerhouse in the sector. Under the new brand, VFG is looking to become a “vegan Unilever,” according to Chief Mission Officer Matthew Glover.