Heather Mills has announced that her vegan meat brand VBites has entered administration after 30 years.
The businesswoman said she was “devastated” by the news, and that she had offered “every solution” that she “feasibly could” to keep it going.
“Anyone that knows me well, knows the blood, sweat, and tears that my team and I have put into the business, for the sole purpose of furthering the plant-based movement,” Mills said in a statement. “VBites has been vehemently proud to be able to offer viable, tasty, and affordable plant-based food products both direct to consumer and in wholesale markets for all these years.”
VBites was established in 1993. It originally traded as the Redwood Wholefood Company, but its name was changed in 2013 to match the name of the restaurant Mills owned. It specializes in vegan meats and cheeses, sells 140 products, and operates in 28 countries.
A call for ‘unity in the plant-based sector’
In her statement, Mills called for “unity in the plant-based sector” in the face of struggles faced by many vegan brands. After stating that the “plight of VBites is not an isolated case,” she went on to cite a number of reasons why she believes plant-based brands are struggling.
One of these was misinformation from meat and dairy companies. She referenced the recent industry-funded “Got Milk?” adverts that a number of celebrities have been paid to promote. Some of these directly mocked vegan alternatives.
Mills also stated that “corporate greed in our market” is another issue that vegan meat brands are contending with. She claimed that certain plant-based brands had “suffered from events such as: unexpected investor pull-outs, factory closures, and unwanted management takeovers.” She said she has “many close friends and business owners in the sector” who have been “forced out of their companies.” Mills went on to describe Brexit as an “utter disaster” for the supply and maintenance of the sector.
“As you can most likely tell this is a passionate topic for me,” Mills wrote. “And I am hopeful that as a unified force we can turn things around.”
The vegan meat market
This year, the mainstream media has been rife with headlines questioning and criticizing the vegan meat industry. A number of stories – including Beyond Meat’s revenue falling, Heck reducing its plant-based line, and Meatless Farm temporarily going into administration – have received huge media attention. Some publications have jumped on these pieces of news, using them as leverage to make statements like the “vegan bubble is bursting.” Such proclamations, however, have been questioned.
While it’s true that vegan meat has experienced some setbacks, the vegan food market itself remains strong. According to a Straits Research forecast report, the UK vegan food market is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.1 percent between 2023 and 2031. Vegan meat was cited as the highest contributor to this market. The market as a whole, therefore, is growing. As well as reasons listed by Mills above, the cost of living crisis and rising competition in the sector have also been attributed to the struggles of individual companies.