Eat Beyond, based in Canada, is solely focused on investing in global companies that are developing innovative food products including alternatives to meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy.
Don Robinson, former chief executive officer and president of Mars Canada, has joined its board of directors and is looking to invest in companies in West Europe, Australia and North America.
He told Food Manufacture the availability of vegan products had dramatically grown, driven by millennials, older consumers looking for healthy longevity and people who want to “dabble.”
Veganism going mainstream
“Instead of veganism being niche or cultish it is going mainstream,” he said. “ It is going mainstream primarily because you don’t have to make a trade-off on taste as you have all these fantastic new products coming onto the market that taste just as good as their non-vegan alternatives but carry all the health benefits with them.”
He also predicted that in addition to alternatives to meat, seafood, eggs and dairy there would be growth in categories such as vegan chocolate.
“Are we going to see a non-dairy Mars Bars some day? Probably,” he told Food Manufacture.
“In the large multinational consumer goods companies that I used to work for I would be encouraging them to develop a vegan strategy, because it is coming.”
“I think these products are going to continue to thrive based on health benefits and based on no trade-off in terms of taste.”
Eat Beyond was seeking companies to invest in on a global basis that have R&D potential and could roll-out a vegan brand internationally, said Robinson. “We are looking for companies that are strictly alternative based and looking at bringing more categories to veganism.
“I think the traditional animal protein processors, although they have made acquisitions in this space, are going to have difficulty really capitalising on where the whole opportunity is going because they are conflicted.”
He predicted that vegan foods had the potential to expand into global brands, as other global food products had done. And he expected vegan foods to permeate across categories in the same way that gluten-free had.
Eat Beyond was created to provide retail investors with the opportunity to participate in the growing sector and plans to list on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) in 2020.
Robinson has spent more than three decades in the consumer packaged goods industry, including roles with Nabisco/Kraft and Mars Incorporated. As chief executive officer and president of Mars Canada, he transformed the business from an unprofitable operation losing $20M annually to a business with $25M in profit with sales of over $500M.