Plant-based awards finalist targets free-from growth

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Freaks of Nature md Tim Wild talks free-from, COVID and being a finalist in this year's FMEAs
Freaks of Nature md Tim Wild talks free-from, COVID and being a finalist in this year's FMEAs

Related tags: vegan, plant-based

The growth of free-from in the plant-based category and the challenge of adapting to a global pandemic are hot topics for Food Manufacture Excellence Awards finalist Freaks of Nature.

Tim Wild – managing director at the plant-based desserts manufacturer, which has been nominated for Plant-based Manufacturing Company of the Year – discussed the company’s plans for 2021 and the key trends hitting the market.

“A lot of the growth we have had has been in the free-from category and we are positioned with our brand as a plant-based we see the opportunity as being bigger than just free-from,”​ said Wild.

“It’s that plant-based lifestyle opportunity that has seen meat alternatives in stellar growth, has seen milk alternatives in stellar growth, and we have made a big investment that supports our belief that that growth will be maintained and accelerate in desserts and puddings.”

Forced to rapidly adapt

Like many in the industry, Freaks of Nature has been forced to rapidly adapt to the ever-evolving threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, unlike some other plant-based brands, its struggle has been slightly different.

“We are a manufacturing business here while a lot of our competitors are brand businesses and they operate with co-packers not in the UK,”​ Wild explained. “We are very much a UK-based manufacturing company and as such we have had to adapt everything that we’ve done, like the rest of the industry, for COVID.

“We are investing in automation and upskilling that resource, but we’ve had to adapt our working practices and production methods for social distancing within the plant.”

Save the date!

Freaks of Nature is one of three finalists in the Plant-Based manufacturing company of the Year category at this year’s Food Manufacture​ Excellence Awards, sponsored by Dawn Foods and Fowler Welch. Winners will be revealed in an exclusive online ceremony to be held from 5pm to 6pm on Thursday 11 February. Save the date to watch the action for yourself​!

A full list of finalists in all categories is available on the awards website.

Commenting on his company’s nomination, Wild said: “I think it would be terrific for us. We’re hugely excited about it and we’re very grateful to be in the final three.

‘Enormous pride’

“We’re a small group here – only 35 people at the site – and we take enormous pride in the accomplishments we’ve had in 2020 and ​[winning would be] a validation of everything that we are planning to do and investing in in 2021 and beyond.”

You can view our exclusive interviews with the other finalists in the Plant-based Manufacturing Company of the Year category, gluten-free oats processor Glebe Farm Foods​ and speciality food and meat alternative producer Winterbotham Darby.

Meanwhile, check out our exclusive interviews with the finalists​ in the running to be crowned Apprentice of the Year at this year’s awards.

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