Plant-based food company The Very Good Butchers is riding the wave of popularity these days as more and more consumers in the country look for alternatives to meat.
The company, which began with a small stand on Denman Island Farmers’ Market off the coast of Vancouver Island in 2016, has become one of the fastest growing, plant-based meat companies in North America after it was founded by James Davison and Mitchell Scott.
The company is based in Victoria, BC.
“We butcher beans and we create a range of plant-based meat alternatives out of real food. Beans, veggies, herbs and spices. We’ve got a retail butcher shop in Victoria where you can come in, dedicated to meat and cheese (alternatives). We sell a ton of product online and we also sell in grocery stores and restaurants,” said Scott, the CEO and Co-Founder.
“It’s what you might find in a butcher shop. Not just burgers and sausages but we’ve got ribs, steaks, deli meats. A whole range of high quality plant-based meats.”
Davison, a classically trained chef from England, moved to Vancouver and started working at a plant-based restaurant, ended up going vegan, moved to the island and realized there was no work for him as there really weren’t any restaurants there. At the same time, he missed the taste of meat and wasn’t impressed by what was at the grocery store with everything processed.
“So he just went into the kitchen for a month or so and came out with two products, classic English breakfast sausage and a veggie burger. And then decided to take it to the farmers’ market. Sold out that first day in about 15 minutes,” said Scott.
Today, the brand is in just under 1,000 grocery stores across Canada and in about 400 to 500 in the US. It launched its retail presence in the US a few months ago.
“We kind of started in the independents channel and have been slowly moving a bit more into mainstream,” said Scott. “It’s starting to get great coverage in Canada and building up a business in the US and we’ve been selling online for three or four years now. A lot of people ordering directly as well.”
The company will be opening a butcher shop in Vancouver late spring or early summer.
“For the butcher shops it’s more of a flagship model. So we’re not looking to franchise these but have a few – 10 to 15 around the world in key markets in cities. It’s still something we’re developing,” added Scott.
“We’re looking to be a global leader in plant-based meats. Grocery stores the big focus now is the US retail market because it’s such a big market but looking to being in tens of thousands of stores around the world.”
Scott said plant-based alternatives have been one of the top food trends in recent years.
“For us, as more and more people have good plant-based food and have a positive experience, they realize that plant-based food is good whereas five or six years ago it was hard to find. That perception is shifting and people are looking to reduce their meat intake for various reasons – health, environmental, ethical. More and more people are trying plant-based foods and they’re having a positive experience and then they’re open to trying more,” he said.
“We really see that as our niche and opportunity, the premium plant-based niche. Still being relatively affordable but not being mass market.”