News

16 Sep, 2021
Who Gives a Crap raises $41.5 million in first funding round
Inside Retail

Eco-friendly toilet paper startup Who Gives a Crap has secured $41.5 million in its first ever round of funding, as chief executive Simon Griffiths strives to build a business making — and giving away — billions of dollars.

It’s a significant first raise for a startup that’s been bootstrapped for nine years, but it also proves increasing interest in impact startups, even from traditional investors, and paves the way for more to come. 

Launched back in 2012 by Griffiths and co-founders Jehan Ratnatunga and Danny Alexander, Who Gives a Crap first got off the ground after a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo — a campaign that saw Griffiths himself perched on a toilet for 50 hours, until the business hit its minimum target.

The startup has been bootstrapped ever since, only taking on some debt financing to manage working capital, Griffiths says. That debt has been repaid for some time, he adds.

In nine years, it has made more than $20 million in profits, and donated half of that to non-profit partners working on clean water and sanitation projects.

In the 2020 financial year, Who Gives a Crap donated a record $5.85 million, a boost of 750% on the previous year.

Speaking to SmartCompany, Griffith puts the massive uptick partly down to the bizarre panic-buying of toilet paper we saw early on in the COVID-19 pandemic (and occasionally throughout), as loo roll became “the hot commodity”.

In the 2021 financial year, profits dipped again, with Who Gives a Crap donating $2.5 million. It marked an stabilisation, he says, but there were also ongoing disruptions to supply chains — caused by the COVID-19 pandemic — that have made things tricky over the past 12 months.

Now it looks like the worst of the rollercoaster is over.

“We’re kind of back on a trajectory that’s a little bit more predictable and easier to forecast.”

This funding will be used to continue what Who Gives a Crap is already doing, but ramping up the pace.

“We’re really proud of what we’ve done,” Griffiths says.

“But where we really need to get to is billions of dollars of donations, if we’re going to help the 2 billion people who don’t have access to adequate sanitation.”

To get there, the focus will be on launching new products, expanding further in some of its newer markets, and hiring the people needed to make it happen.

The funding also gives Who Gives a Crap the balance sheet required to embark on some of the bigger projects in the pipeline, such as improving its environmental credentials, and getting to net-zero emissions.

For Griffiths, success comes down to the amount of impact created, he says. That means giving everyone in the world access to clean water and sanitation.

“To seriously put a dent in in that problem … means building a company making tens-of-billions of dollars in revenue.”

A star-studded investor list

The round was led by Brussels-based Verlinvest, whose executive director Raphael Thiolon is set to join the board of the startup.

London-based The Craftery and Jam Jar Investments also contributed.

Beyond that, the investor list reads as a who’s who of the Australian startup scene, including Mike Cannon-Brookes’ Grok Ventures, AirTree Ventures and impact fund Giant Leap.

Who Gives A Crap also secured contributions from high-profile individual investors including the likes of Adore Beauty founders Kate Morris and James Height; Culture Amp’s Didier Elzinga and Doug English; Canva co-founder Cameron Adams; former Unilever chief executive Paul Polman; and a handful of sports stars, who invested through Athletic Ventures.

While some of the investors — Giant Leap, in particular — have a clear MO of investing in impact startups, it’s certainly not a criteria point for all of them.

The first few years of Who Gives a Crap were about proving the theory and the business model, Griffiths says. Then, it was about growth and scaling, ramping up the donations into the millions.

Now the founders have proven not only to themselves and to consumers that the model works, they’ve managed to convince the capital markets, too.

“The idea of giving away half your profits was certainly not very cool, from a capitalist perspective, a decade ago,” Griffiths says.

“I think we’re been able to help shift the mindset on that,” he adds.

“This is hopefully a better, new way of thinking about capitalism that will influence what comes after us as well.”

A shift in capitalism?

On the face of it, gifting away half of your profits sounds like a hard sell to any investor who is, ultimately, looking for a return.

Yet we are seeing more and more investors focusing on businesses that tackle the big challenges facing the world.

Griffiths was also careful in choosing who he brought along on the journey.

There were three key criteria for investors. First, there had to be mission alignment, he explains.

Second, Griffiths was looking for “patient capital”, he says. This was always going to be a long-term investment.

“We’ve got a 30-year thesis that we’re executing against,” he says.

Finally, he was looking for deep expertise across operations, culture, consumer mindset and growth.

All of this — and the mission alignment point in particular —meant there were some investment discussions that quickly fizzled out.

But Who Gives A Crap is already a well-known brand with plenty of fans in the startup sector, and the fact it was able to attract such a significant amount of money from such a renowned group of investors speaks volumes, Griffiths says.

This wasn’t just a raise for impact-focused investors. It was a smart investment for anyone. That marks a changing of the tide, which will only create more avenues for growth for more impact-focused businesses, he adds.

“Probably the most exciting thing is just seeing this shift towards profit-for-purpose businesses becoming something that is really taken seriously by the private capital markets,” he says.

“That makes me super excited about, not just now in this moment that the world is in, but what the world is going to look like ten years from now as well.”

It appears Griffiths isn’t alone in feeling this way.

In a statement, Mike Cannon-Brookes called Who Gives a Crap “an impressive Aussie underdog story”.

“I hope other entrepreneurs are inspired by their story of building a profitable, fast-growing business that is also environmentally sustainable,” he added.

 

16 Sep, 2021
Farmers set for $70b windfall
Australian Financial Review

Australian farmers are on track to deliver $70 billion of value for the first time, with bumper harvests and higher prices for most commodities outweighing challenges posed by mice plagues and labour shortages.

Favourable weather conditions will help lift the agriculture sector’s gross value of production (GVP) to $73 billion this financial year, according to forecasts by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Australian growers are also benefiting from a drought in Europe and North America which has pushed up international grain prices. Strong global prices for grains, cotton and sugar are tipped to lift the value of Australia’s crop production by 7 per cent to a record $39.5 billion.

North Queensland cane grower Stephen Calcagno is enjoying a sweet season. Sugar prices are so good that he and fellow growers are locking in forward contracts.

“Growers are actively securing those prices to guarantee the next two or three years for their crops,” Mr Calcagno said.

16 Sep, 2021
“It’s security. As you invest in your next crop at least you know you have a price locked in for 60 per cent of your crop.” A strong market for beef and dairy products will help lift the value of livestock production by 8 per cent to $33.5 billion. The
Business Insider
  • Australian startup Who Gives A Crap announced it had taken on its first round of capital with a group of sustainability-driven investors following nine years in business.
  • The company said the investment would help it accelerate its profit-for-purpose business model that sees 50% of all profits donated to charity.
  • It plans to use the capital to enter new countries, expand its products and scale its sustainability initiatives.

Australian B Corp Who Gives A Crap has raised AU $41.5 million in a funding round backed by Atlassian co-founder and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes. 

It said the decision to accept investment, after nine years of operating, would help scale the business and accelerate its mission to help two billion people around the world access clean toilets and safe water.

Since launching in 2012, the direct-to-consumer toilet paper company’s profit-for-purpose model has seen it donate 50% of all profits to this cause. 

It has now reached over AU $10 million in donations to impact partners around the world that work with local communities to build sustainable sanitation solutions. 

The investment was led by Verlinvest, a family-owned investment group focused on driving growth for purpose-led brands, including Oatly and Tony’s Chocolonely, along with Cannon-Brookes’ private investment firm, Grok Ventures. 

Other lead investors include Craftory, Jamjar, Airtree, Giant Leap and Athletic Ventures. 

The company said it plans to use the capital to enter new countries, expand its products and scale its sustainability initiatives.

Who Gives A Crap, which has been self-funded since its founding in 2012, said its decision to operate as a high-growth startup without funding was driven by a desire to prove its model of donating 50% of profits to charity could work. 

Now, it said the investment would enable it to take steps to expand its global footprint, while also continuing to ensure donations will enable the company to increase its impact.

Simon Griffiths, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, said in an open letter it planned to continue to focus on balancing its mission with growth. 

Its founding purpose – to ensure everyone has access to clean water and a toilet – would continue to drive its business strategy, Griffiths said. 

“We donate 50% of our profits to incredible non-profit partners to make it happen,” he said. 

“But to reach our goal, we need to accelerate our growth and take our impact to the next level.”

Ben Black of Verlinvest said the startup’s profitable sustainable business model was a template he hoped to see replicated. 

“We invest behind global brands and entrepreneurs driving long-term shifts in consumer behaviour, and believe that enterprise should be a force for good, playing a role in shaping society,” Black said. 

“Simon and his team have developed a profitable, consumer-centric business model enabling growth at scale, intrinsic to which is driving a mission to give everyone access to clean water and sanitation – whilst leading the shift away from deforesting virgin paper products.”

Cannon-Brookes said his investment firm was committed to supporting socially responsible organisations.

“Who Gives A Crap is an impressive Aussie underdog story,” Cannon-Brookes said. 

“Simon and his team have taken something so simple – toilet paper – and turned it into an impactful business, both socially and environmentally,” he said. 

The Atlassian co-founder said his fund would continue to back the growth of sustainable companies.

“I hope other entrepreneurs are inspired by their story of building a profitable, fast-growing business that is also environmentally sustainable,” he said. 

16 Sep, 2021
As shipping prices surge, the ACCC has launched investigations into port operations and container costs
Business Insider
  • The Australian Competition & Commission is investigating if there has been a breach of competition laws regarding shipping containers in Australia.
  • At the same time, the watchdog is looking into the broader shipping industry, which has seen container prices spike.
  • COVID-19 disruptions and massive consumer demand for retail goods have strained the global shipping industry.

Australia’s consumer watchdog has confirmed two parallel investigations into local port operations and the broader shipping industry, as local importers strain under high container prices and ongoing port congestion.

Speaking to ABC’s “The Business” Monday night, Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims said it is looking into the operations of local port operators, also known as stevedores.

The investigation comes after freight companies alleged that Australian port operators have dramatically increased the fees charged for loading an unloading cargo from container ships over the year, eating away at trucking company profits.

The ACCC last year found stevedore revenues and profit margins grew over 2019-2020, despite the coronavirus crisis causing container shipping volumes to shrink dramatically.

This was largely due to increases in “landside” charges, the ACCC said, which some port operators maintain are necessary to ensure efficient operations.

“We have a narrowly focused investigation as to whether there is a breach of competition laws in relation to containers in Australia,” Sims said.

“‘Is there a breach, is there not a breach?’ We’ll get to the bottom of that,” he added.

 

Onshore issues backdropped by extreme shipping costs

 

The issue of stevedore fees has only become more prominent in recent months, with global shipping prices not only recovering, but far surpassing standard levels.

Sky-high consumer demand for imported retail goods has collided with COVID-19 disruptions at some of the world’s busiest ports, putting a premium on shipping costs.

As of 9 September, the Drewry composite World Container Index, a go-to collation of popular shipping route pricing, put the cost of a standard 40 foot container at US$10,083.84 (AU$13,698.54) per 40ft container — up 309 per cent from the same week in 2020.

Averaged over the year so far, the Index sits at US$6,695 (AU$9,097.52) per 40ft container, compared to the five-year average of US$2,327 (AU$3,162.39).

The China Containerized Freight index, which tallies popular global routes including Shanghai-Melbourne, shows similar growth over the year.

Speaking to the ABC, Sims said the ACCC is looking into the “much, much bigger issue” of shipping price hikes for its November monitoring report.

It is likely that research will look into how rising shipping costs are being passed on to Australian consumers, who may be asked to make up for it at the checkout.

“We will look at, ‘To what extent is this a structural problem?’ due to the fact that you have got concentration in shipping which has occurred a lot, or, ‘To what extent is it a short-term issue due to the spikes in demand as people consume more goods and less services?’ as COVID-19 interrupts the supply chain,” Sims said.

Given the heightened demand, delays, and port congestion, domestic retailers and couriers have already started to warn Australian shoppers to plan ahead for the Christmas rush.

7 Sep, 2021
Australian Financial Review

Exports continued to outpace imports in July, boosting the trade surplus to a back-to-back record of $12.1 billion, with the value of goods shipped to China hitting a new peak despite Beijing’s trade sanctions.

The result comes after the national accounts for the June quarter showed a quarterly record trade surplus of $29 billion and a 7 per cent improvement in the terms of trade, which has now risen 24 per cent over the year.

Despite being in the middle of a global pandemic, strong commodity prices gave national incomes a solid boost, which flowed through to mining profits – up 18.4 per cent for the quarter and 10 per cent for the year.

This trickled through to company taxes, which lifted by $8.6 billion, or 37.2 per cent, over the three months to June 30, helping lift taxation revenue above pre-pandemic levels (also to a record level of GDP).

At $19 billion, exports of ore and minerals (primarily iron ore) continued to grow unabated in July. However, recent falls in the iron ore price mean export values have probably peaked for a while.

7 Sep, 2021
‘It’s unsustainable’: Fruit growers urge states to stick to re-opening plan ahead of harvest
SOURCE:
The Age
The Age

The head of Australia’s largest fruit and vegetable grower and the peak body representing winemakers have urged state and territory governments to stick to the national plan for reopening borders amid growing concerns labour shortages could threaten bumper harvests.

Currently, under the national plan, lockdowns and border-related travel restrictions are expected to only be enforced in extreme situations once COVID-19 vaccinations hit 80 per cent. However, states such as Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland have flagged they may hold off opening their borders until higher vaccination rates are achieved.

This is a cause for concern for Sean Hallahan, chief executive of ASX-listed fruit and vegetable grower Costa Group, which relies on moving workers around the country to pick produce at its multiple farm locations. He told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that, while the company was currently managing, a lack of clarity made planning for the season difficult.

“We are managing through it, but it would be better if there were clearer guidelines to be quite honest,” he said. “We’d like to move our workers down from northern New South Wales into Tasmania, but it’s hard to get a clear line of sight moment on exactly how that can occur.”

Mr Hallahan said he was watching the positions of Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia “with concern”, saying it was creating a lot of uncertainty within the industry over when crops will be able to be picked.

“Meanwhile, the fruit on the trees keeps ripening, and we’ve got timelines to meet that we can’t do anything about,” he said.

In an open letter published last week, members of the Business Council of Australia urged states and territories to “stay the course” in line with the national plan.

Perth-based Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott, who signed the open letter, told ABC Radio on Monday morning the national plan was “really sensible” and a key way to encourage vaccinations, warning that the reliance on borders in Western Australia could be causing complacency among residents.

“We do have great faith in the national plan and the Doherty Institute. It is a very cautious, considered basis to progressively reopen,” he said.

In some industries, there are concerns continued border closures could have widespread impacts. Tony Battaglene, chief executive of the Australian Grape and Wine industry body, said Western Australian winemakers were very concerned about having enough labour to pick grapes for this year’s vintage.

“If we get a burst of hot weather and all the grapes ripen at once, in those regions where it’s mostly hand-picked...that’s going to cause some problems,” he said.

“So we just need the borders to open up and we need everyone to get vaccinated and get moving.”

Similarly, Paul Zahra, chief executive of the Australian Retailers Association, said the states that opened up in line with the plan would “reap the rewards” of an open economy.

“We can’t keep borders closed forever, it’s unsustainable,” he said. “It’s important that we have all states open and that we’re all in this together.”

3 Sep, 2021
Meet Fable, the Aussie startup making ‘meaty’ alternatives from mushrooms
Business Insider Australia
  • Former Shoes of Prey CEO Michael Fox has started meat-alternative company Fable Food.
  • Rather than trying to replicate meat, Fable seeks to create “meaty-tasting” food out of mushrooms.
  • Receiving the endorsement of Heston Blumenthal, Fox co-founded the business with mushroom scientist Jim Fuller and mushroom farmer Chris McLoghlin.

Combining degrees in chemical engineering with kudos from one of the world’s most recognisable chefs, Fable is forging its own path in the booming plant-based market.

Headed by entrepreneur Michael Fox, the company is striving to put mushrooms back on the map with food that fits in as easily at a fancy restaurant as it does served at a fast-food chain.

Just don’t call it fake meat.

“We’re not trying to replicate meat. We don’t want to make it bleed,” Fox told Business Insider Australia. “What we are trying to make is really meaty-tasting food out of mushrooms. Minimally processed, whole foods, delicious.”

While Fox added it is great that there are so many companies catering for different tastes, it is a point of difference for Fable in an increasingly crowded market.

One of those competitors, curiously enough, is Beyond Meat, which in many ways pioneered the kind of burger that seeks to mimic the look and taste of a conventional meat patty. It’s perhaps funny, then, that Fable has landed its mushroom products alongside Beyond as it joins in a new partnership with burger chain Grill’d.

Coming in as an addition to Beyond’s lineup rather than a replacement is a sign that Fable is doing something different.

Another is that celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal was not only the brand’s first customer, but has become its loudest supporter. Fable’s products are used in Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred restaurants around the world, while households can pick them up from their local supermarket.

 

Fine funghi

 

If Blumenthal has, in a sense, become the face of Fable, Jim Fuller is the brains.

Growing up in Texas, Fuller has the kind of CV that Fox could only dream of in a business partner.

Armed with degrees in chemical engineering and agricultural science, Fuller worked as a mycologist — or mushroom scientist — for a decade before teaming up to co-found Fable.

“I don’t know of anyone else who is both a qualified chef and mushroom scientist, and yet Jim has both skillsets in one human being,” Fox said.

Fuller, unsurprisingly, runs the company’s research and development, extending a journey both he and Fox have been on for years since turning vegan.

“Jim had been experimenting with food for years before I met him, trying to find something meaty to tide him over.

“That’s that’s very much who we’re going after, their kind of meat eater or the flexitarian, who wants to reduce their meat consumption but that still might eat it.”

Fuller is joined by co-founder Chris McLoghlin, an entrepreneur turned farmer who started the country’s largest organic mushroom farm.

 

From prey to produce

 

Finally, Fox ties in as the entrepreneur behind the business.

When his footwear empire, Shoes of Prey collapsed in 2019, it surprised many. The business, which at one point claimed it was on track to crack $100 million in annual revenue, was considered one of the country’s real startup success stories. Then it abruptly fell over, costing investors millions and forcing the business to let go of 200 employees.

Taking a sojourn to Europe with his Danish wife and two young children, Fox says he needed a break and began studying areas that interested him.

“One of those was industrial animal agriculture and I got really passionate about wanting to contribute to ending it,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t cut out to be an activist because I have always struggled to convince anyone to give up meat.”

Returning to Australia, he wanted to get involved in the burgeoning industry but couldn’t find an in.

“I came back and just thought I’d get a job with an existing meat alternative company. But this was kind of three years ago and everyone was just a brand new startup with, like, one or two people,” he said.

“I talked to them all and no one was hiring a washed-up entrepreneur. Maybe if I’d been a chef or a food scientist, or something like that, there might have been roles, but there was nothing for me.

“I didn’t want to start another business but I realised I’d have to if I wanted to get involved.”

 

A mushrooming market

 

It turned out to be the right decision. Earlier this month, Fable raised $6.5 million in a seed funding led by Blackbird Ventures.

One and a half years in, it has managed to sign deals with Woolworths and Coles, home delivery services Marley Spoon and Dinnerly, and is now in Grill’d stores around the country.

It has poached the general manager of Australian unicorn SafetyCulture Dan Joyce as its new head of growth, in charge of expanding its fledgling presence in the United Kingdom, the United States and Asia.

As it goes global, Fable will start knocking up against even more competition, including homegrown company v2food, trying to corner the fast-growing Chinese market.

But a competitive marketplace is exactly what the world needs, according to Fox.

“We know we can make these really delicious meat alternatives and, at scale, we know they are going to be orders of magnitude cheaper.

“Once the product tastes better than meat and is cheaper than meat, there’s really no reason to eat meat from animals anymore. So, this shift is going to happen, no matter what — we’re just working to try to make it happen faster.”

3 Sep, 2021
At-home consumption boosts Metcash sales
Financial Review

Independent retailers supplied by wholesaler Metcash appear to be taking market share from industry giants Coles, Woolworths, Endeavour Group and Bunnings as consumers continue to shop locally at neighbourhood stores for food, liquor and hardware.

Sales across Metcash’s three business pillars in May to August 2021 remained well above those pre-pandemic and, in the case of liquor and hardware, were higher than those in the same period a year ago, indicating that independent retailers have retained most of the new customers they won during the COVID-19 crisis.

Metcash has been a major beneficiary of the pandemic, gaining share as shoppers eschewed large shopping centres and CBD stores and flocked to their local IGA supermarkets and Cellarbrations, IGA Liquor and Porters stores and undertook DIY projects on their homes.

Metcash chief executive Jeff Adams said consumers continued shopping at local neighbourhood stores, consuming more food and liquor at home and, in the absence of international travel, investing in their homes.

“All those factors we have been talking about for a year and a half now, of that shifting consumer behaviour, looks like it is sticking,” Mr Adams told The Australian Financial Review after an annual meeting trading update.

“The overall network continues to trade very well, and we still see those same factors at play,” he said.

“As far as our core supermarket business, liquor business and hardware business, we didn’t see a big change [when we were] in or out of lockdown in those businesses.

“I can’t predict the future, but I can’t see a whole lot of reasons why things would change prior to international borders opening up and people being able to travel more frequently,” he said.

Supermarket sales during the four-month period were 1.8 per cent lower than those a year ago - when pantry stuffing and panic buying led to record sales growth across the sector and consumers started favouring local grocery stores over large supermarkets in shopping centres - but 12.9 per cent higher than those two years ago. Metcash’s financial year ends in April.

Excluding the impact of the loss of Metcash’s agreement to supply independent retailer Drakes, supermarket sales were 17.2 per cent higher than those before the pandemic.

Total food sales for the four months to August 15 were 7.4 per cent lower than in the year-ago period, but 3.1 per cent higher compared with two years ago, and up 16 per cent excluding the impact of the loss of the Drakes and 7-Eleven supply contracts.

In comparison, Coles’ supermarket sales rose 1 per cent in July and August and were up 12 per cent on a two-year headline basis, while Woolworths’ Australian food sales rose 4.5 per cent in July and August despite cycling 11.9 per cent growth in the previous year.

In Metcash’s liquor distribution business, total sales were 9.5 per cent higher than those in the same period last year and 23.1 per cent higher than those pre-pandemic.

Sales to Metcash’s retail liquor store customers were 1.4 per cent higher than those last year and up 24 per cent in two years, reflecting increased at-home consumption.

Trading restrictions

Sales to on-premise customers, which were hit by mandated closures in 2020, continued to recover before new trading restrictions were imposed in NSW, Victoria and the ACT in mid-July and in New Zealand earlier this month.

Metcash’s retailers appear to be faring better than Dan Murphy’s owner Endeavour Group, where retail liquor sales slipped 1.7 per cent in July and August, compared with the year-earlier period, but were 21.5 per cent higher than those two years ago.

Hardware sales also continued to boom at Metcash’s Mitre 10 and Home Timber &Hardware stores amid strong home building and renovation activity, although DIY activity has softened since the peak last year.

Total sales were 16.3 per cent higher than those in May to August last year and 37.8 per cent more than those two years ago.

Sales at Mitre 10 and Home Timber & Hardware (excluding trade hardware chain Total Tools) were 3.6 per cent higher than those in the same period last year. Both DIY and trade sales remained elevated, and were 22.7 per cent above those two years ago.

In comparison, Bunnings sales have fallen 4.7 per cent over the past seven weeks, with solid growth from trade customers offset by a decline in consumer sales. The home improvement giant has closed all its stores in Greater Sydney except for trade customers and click and collect.

Jarden analyst Ben Gilbert, who expects earnings per share to grow about 10 per cent this year, said the AGM trading update was 2 to 3 per cent ahead of expectations and was likely to lead to upgrades to full-year forecasts.

 

 

3 Sep, 2021
BWX buys majority stake in Zoë Foster Blake’s skincare brand for $89m
Financial Review

ASX-listed natural products player BWX Group has snapped up a majority stake of Financial Review Young Rich Lister Zoë Foster Blake’s Go-To Skincare for $89 million.

BWX counts skincare and makeup brands Sukin, Andalou Naturals and Mineral Fusion as part of its stable, and recently bought ethical platform player Flora & Fauna.

The deal to acquire a 50.1 per cent stake in Go-To Skincare represents an enterprise value to EBITDA multiple of 14.9 times 2021 earnings.

Ms Foster Blake - who will continue as chief creative officer and a director - founded the skin care company in 2014. Last financial year Go-To generated $36.8 million of revenue and $11.6 million in EBITDA.

Go-To has four of the top 10 best-selling products at cosmetics retail giant Mecca with products such as Face Hero and Skin Party. Other lines include Bro-To for boys and men and plant-based skin care for kids, Gro-To.

Ms Foster Blake’s near 40 per cent stake in Go-To will drop to about 23 per cent, estimated to be valued at about $40 million, post deal and based on the group’s valuation of $177 million.

Other Go-To co-founders will also remain, and the company will be a standalone brand, leveraging its new parent’s expertise and capability.

The purchase will be funded via $85 million fully underwritten institutional placement and a $15 million share purchase plan. New shares will be offered at $4.85 each - an 8.7 per cent discount to the share price just ahead of the announcement.

Chief executive David Fenlon called Go-To is an authentic brand with an exceptionally loyal customer following, omni-channel offering with an exciting growth outlook giving BWX access to the “masstige” premium market in Australia and US.

“Through this partnership, BWX intends to support Go-To’s growth potential by leveraging our capability, resources and international distribution network,” he said.

Ms Foster Blake - who has authored 12 books and is a former beauty director of Harper’s BAZAAR and Cosmo - said it was all about international expansion and finding a like-minded partner.

“We believe that Go-To to has a place overseas, and we’ve been in the US now for three years, but there’s so many opportunities, I can’t wait to get over there and start getting things going,” she told investors on a call.

Analysts asked about saying ahead of competition in a huge skincare market with new players popping up all the time, to which Ms Foster Blake said: “I think the fact that we have credibility, integrity and quality products because, of course, marketing and a good story will get your first product sale, but not work for repeat purchases, and I think our sales indicate that we are well beyond that.”

BWX at the same time released its full-year 2021 results when revenue increased to $194.1 million, up 3 per cent, from $187.7 million a year ago – this was lower than its guidance.

Underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation gained 11.5 per cent $34.5 million, beating guidance, while statutory net profit increased 60.9 per cent to $23.7 million.

3 Sep, 2021
Coca-Cola Australia makes first move into alcoholic drinks
Financial Review

Coca-Cola Australia is gearing up for arguably its most challenging new product launch in years as it makes its first foray into alcoholic beverages in the middle of a pandemic.

Coca-Cola Australia, the marketing arm of The Coca-Cola Co, will next week launch Topo Chico, an alcoholic hard seltzer based on the top-selling Topo Chico mineral water brand, which has been bottled in Mexico for 126 years.

The Coca-Cola Company bought Topo Chico for $US220 million in 2017 and launched an alcoholic version of the beverage in Latin America in 2020 and in North America earlier this year amid a boom in sales of hard seltzers.

Coca-Cola Australia vice-president Rob Priest said lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and the ACT, restrictions on mobility, the lack of foot traffic in stores and the closure of hotels, clubs and bars would make the launch of an alcoholic beverage challenging.

“We see products like Topo Chico as something that is shared in a social environment and ... those social environments of sharing and entertaining just don’t exist at this point in time,” he said.

“But the rest of the market [outside NSW, Victoria and the ACT] is performing as normal.”

Coca-Cola planned to harness social media and outdoor advertising to promote the Topo Chico brand and work with its retail partners, Endeavour Group’s Dan Murphy’s and BWS chains to introduce consumers to the new beverage.

The launch would gather pace in late October, by which time Mr Priest hoped lockdowns would have lifted and licensed venues would have reopened.

“We’re mildly confident that’s about the right timing for an Australian launch,” he said.

“Summer is the perfect time, as it’s refreshing and easy to drink. They’re not like alco-pops, that are sweet and sugary, they’re lower calorie and very sophisticated, and the perfect summer drinks.”

Coca-Cola’s expansion into alcohol puts paid to the long-held theory that the world’s largest beverage company was against alcoholic drinks.

Under The Coca-Cola Co chief executive James Quincey, who took the helm in 2017, the beverage giant has been developing a more diverse portfolio of brands that respond to different consumer expectations and needs.

Overseas, The Coca-Cola Company has launched new products including Honest Cold Brew tea and cold brew coffee, Simply Smoothies, and Coca-Cola Energy.

Three years ago, it launched Lemon-dou (Demon Lemon), a sour lemon-flavoured hard seltzer in Japan and is considering launching the brand in the US and possibly Australia.

“The position has changed and as a company we’re looking for opportunities to grow,” Mr Priest said.

“As we look at categories to enter we’ve seen the alcohol category, especially in hard seltzer, an area we’d like to play in, and we think we have a right to play in based on what we’re good at, which is making drinks that are tasty and delicious.”

Hard seltzer has been enjoying a wave of popularity in Australia and overseas as drinks such as White Claw catch on with consumers seeking less alcohol and lower calories.

Last year, Lion Dairy & Drinks snared the Australian rights to the White Claw brand, which pioneered the hard seltzer segment in the US and built it into a $2.5 billion category based on perceptions it is a “healthy alcohol” with lower calories and lower sugar.

1 Sep, 2021
Woolworths partners with Uber to bring groceries to your door
Inside Retail

Woolworths is finding new ways to get its groceries to customers as Covid-19 lockdowns keep many Australians indoors, and has partnered with Uber to bring same-hour-grocery-delivery to Sydney and Melbourne later this month.

The offer will expand across the eastern seaboard after its initial launch on August 30, and will be available through the business’ Metro stores nationwide by early next year.

The service will initially be available from the Balaclava, Hadfield and Hawthorn stores in Melbourne, and the Bondi, Maroubra Beach, Padstow, Erskineville, Pyrmont, Randwick, Redfern, Rose Bay, and Rozelle stores in Sydney.

Orders will be picked and packed by Woolworths’ workers, before being handed off to Uber Eats delivery staff.

The idea isn’t to have Uber drivers deliver customers a full grocery shop, said Woolies Metro general manager Justin Nolan, but to bring a smaller ‘top-up’ shop to your door, and will complement the business’ bigger e-commerce offering.

“Importantly, it will also help us meet the needs of customers seeking to limit their community outings during the pandemic,” Nolan said.

Uber Eats regional general manager of retail ANZ Lucas Groeneveld said home delivery has soared in demand throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and as lockdowns continue the demand is likely to stay high.

The broader initiative follows a trial partnership with Uber in 2020.

Woolworths is by no means the first supermarket to partner with Uber Eats, with IGA and convenience centres such as BP also available for similar shops, and Coles having partnered in 2019.

1 Sep, 2021
Pental raises capital to buy e-commerce venture
Inside FMCG

Household chemicals and cleaning products maker Pental is to acquire Melbourne-based online gifting specialist, Hampers with Bite (HWB) for $28.3 million, after a capital raising round. 

Expected to be settled next month, the acquisition will be paid for through a mix of cash and equity to be issued to the vendors. To fund the deal, Pental is raising $6 million in capital and an additional $2 million through a share purchase plan to existing shareholders. 

“Our acquisition of HWB will transform Pental by boosting our financial scale and delivering new capabilities which are highly complementary to our existing business,” said Charlie McLeish, MD at Pental. 

Hampers with Bite runs both a B2B and B2C model, offering gifts and food & wine hampers to its customers through a combination of own-brand and high-margin third-party brands and products. 

“The HWB business will boost our group revenue by approximately 20 per cent and immediately strengthen the company’s profitability.”

Pental estimates its post-acquisition combined gross profit margin to increase to 32 per cent as a result of the deal. 

“Joining the Pental group is in line with our strategy to grow our addressable market, deepen our customer relationships and expand our product offerings with a strong platform for growth,” said Rory Boyle, co-founding director of Hampers with Bite. 

1 Sep, 2021
On-demand grocery start-up promises 15-minute deliveries
Financial Review

Send, a six-month old start-up with the ambitious aim of becoming an entirely online inner-city supermarket chain, has raised $3.1 million in a seed funding round as it looks to launch in ideal lockdown conditions.

With potential customers stuck at home due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, Send founder Rob Adams is betting that consumers will be eager to further embrace the convenience of online shopping. It promises to get grocery items into the hands of inner-city Australians within 15 minutes of placing an order through a mobile app.

Its funding round was backed by German fund Cherry Ventures and New York-based FJ Lab, and it is hoping to imitate the success of Gorillas, a European start-up juggernaut that has achieved a valuation of more than $1 billion in 14 months.

Gopuff, which was founded in the United States in 2013, is another player looking to expand its reach with the recent acquisition of British start-up Dija.

Mr Adams said his business model was in the early phase of market testing, and involved opening up local fulfillment centres by leasing warehouses and stocking them with wholesale grocery goods. It then pays drivers and riders an hourly rate, rather than a commission such as Uber and Deliveroo, and promises to provide speedier service than supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths.

 

 

23 Aug, 2021
Donut King to launch 30-strong van fleet in Australia
Inside Retail

Australian food franchise Donut King has launched a mobile business, delivering donuts to consumers’ doors.

In an interview with our sister title Inside Franchise Business, GM partner development at Donut King, Kellie Cranch said the company had been trialling the vans in different regions in Australia using existing franchise partners to measure demand. 

“Based on the results from these trials, we are excited to move forward and offer Donut King mobile to the market.”

The company aims to sign up more than 30 van-operating partners within the next year and anticipates that as well as attracting new franchise partners to the brand, the vans may be a way existing franchisees can complement their existing Donut King store business. 

“We are also expecting a lot of new interest, from people who want to be out on the road, being in charge of their own destiny,” said Cranch.

Mobile customers during trials were typically from industrial areas, sporting groups, schools and corporate offices.

“Donuts are the biggest staple of the Donut King business. By adding the DK product range to our vans, it enables our franchisees to tap into the equity of the brand and offer for sale products not commonly found on a coffee van,” said Cranch.

With lockdowns impacting many of Australia’s urban communities at present, Donut King is looking at various options to facilitate training during the Covid crisis.

“In an ideal world, we would like the new Donut King franchisees to train in our new training facility at Miami on the Gold Coast. If the franchisee lives in an area where travel is restricted, we will find an alternative way to train them close to their home.”

23 Aug, 2021
Maggie Beer Holdings in lockdown sales spike
Australian Financial Review

Lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne have delivered another sales spike for gourmet food producer Maggie Beer Holdings in recent weeks as frustrated households treat themselves with higher-end products delivered online.

Chief executive Chantale Millard said the business, which sells a range of cheese, pate, fruit pastes, soup and cooking stock, had already been generating strong momentum but the renewed lockdowns in Australia’s two biggest cities had supercharged that.

“We were already seeing some good sales before lockdowns. We are definitely seeing a significant spike in the last couple of weeks,” she said.

Shareholders in Maggie Beer Holdings on May 20 approved the $40 million acquisition of online business Hampers & Gifts, in a move designed to give more online grunt to Maggie Beer’s food brands and to bring a specialist online business into the stable. Hampers & Gifts was acquired from owners Emily McWaters and David Morgan.

The acquisition was paid for through $20 million in cash and the issue of $20 million of shares at 35¢ each. Ms Millard said the Hampers & Gifts business was delivering strong sales, which were up 36 per cent in July compared with the same month a year earlier.

Maggie Beer Holdings shares were up 4.8 per cent by mid-afternoon on Thursday, to 43¢.

The e-commerce arm of Maggie Beer Holdings has been shifted from the Barossa Valley in South Australia to the Hampers & Gifts headquarters in Sydney. “It’s been quite seamless,” Ms Millard said.

She said 10 of the Maggie Beer products, including fruit pastes, sauces and caramels, would go into the hampers from September ahead of the traditional peak season for gifts and hampers.

Maggie Beer Holdings made a net profit after tax of $1.9 million in 2020-21, compared with a loss of $14.8 million a year ago when write-downs on the organic dairy products business Paris Creek hurt the bottom line. Sales were up 19 per cent to $52.9 million. Ms Millard said the company was forecasting overall sales of $100 million in 2021-22.

Maggie Beer’s online cooking series, Cooking with Maggie, in which she uses her kitchen to demonstrate simple meals for home cooks has been very popular during the pandemic.

The gourmet foods business was rebadged as Maggie Beer Holdings from Longtable last year to better harness the star power of the celebrity chef.

Ms Beer and her husband, Colin, sold the remaining 52 per cent stake in their gourmet foods business to Longtable in a deal that settled in 2019.

The initial 48 per cent of Maggie Beer Products was acquired by Longtable in 2016 for $15 million. The Maggie Beer business was established in the late 1970s at a small shop beside her Pheasant Farm restaurant in the Barossa Valley.

She became a regular guest judge on Channel 10 cooking show MasterChef, has written several cookbooks and is a campaigner for improving nutrition and quality of meals in Australia’s aged care homes.

 

 

16 Aug, 2021
v2food is now worth $500 million as the Australian startup looks to conquer Asia with plant-based protein
Business Insider
  • v2food has closed a series B funding round worth $72 million and valuing the company at $500 million.
  • Having just launched into the Chinese market, the plant-based protein company will use the funds to continue expanding overseas and developing new products.
  • The company has 18 projects underway with the CSIRO, having recently released its version of pork mince, dumplings and pork buns.

Armed with an almighty war chest, plant-based protein company v2food is going to Asia.

The company, born from of a marriage between CSIRO and deep tech group Main Sequence Ventures, has just closed out a $72 million series B funding round and is setting its sights firmly north.

With the new capital injection led by European venture fund Astanor, v2 is now worth $500 million, up from just $2 million at the beginning of 2019.

Now it is taking on one of the largest and fastest-growing markets and meat consumers in the world, China.

“It has the opportunity to make a significant positive impact on the future of our planet,” CEO Nick Hazell told Business Insider Australia.

Describing it as a “key growth market” for the business, the opportunity in China is immense.

Scoffing down more than a quarter of the world’s meat, and half of its pork, a rapidly expanding middle-class has enjoyed the expanding waistlines that go along with it.

But so too are tastes rapidly changing, as the country becomes increasingly health-conscious and tucks into meat alternatives. So much so that the same diners are expected to spend almost $US15 billion on plant-based alternatives by 2025, according to some of the most ambitious projections.

Not that it’s an easy market to conquer. Hazell says the Chinese are “particularly demanding” in their culinary tastes. v2food has a secret weapon though, in order to nab its own slice of the pie.

“While [beef mince is our] core product in western markets, we have specifically designed [pork] for the Chinese palate, working with Chinese chefs to ensure a great tasting and highly nutritious pork product that is versatile and can easily replace pork meat in a range of local Chinese dishes,” Hazell said.

“In the future, more plant-based meat categories will be introduced to cater to different cuisines in China and a range of products will soon be produced locally in China too, including v2dumplings [and] v2steamed buns.”

They won’t be the only new dishes on the menu. Hazell says his team is working with the CSIRO on 18 different projects at the moment, “spanning nutrition, protein extraction technology, plant breeding technologies, soil carbon sequestration work, as well as a lot of flavour work and structure work to create ever more delicious protein.”

While China and Australia remain two key focuses for the business, v2 could also leverage off its first European investor Astanor to enter the EU.

With the potential to cut carbon emissions from the agricultural industry and produce genuine meat alternatives, Astanor Ventures partner Hendrik Van Asbroek said the Australian company was set to make waves on the global stage.

“The v1 versions of alternative meat have created awareness and demand, now we have to step up and supply the customers with healthy, delicious and price competitive products. v2food, with its world-class team and scientific expertise, is the right company to deliver this new generation of alternative meat across the globe.”

 

16 Aug, 2021
China slapped punishing tariffs on Australian wine last year. Now the industry is looking for new opportunities.
Business Insider
  • China put import tariffs on Australian wine last year as part of a developing trade war, accusing the industry of dumping cheap product into the local market.
  • The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Statistics (ABARES) predicted this would lead to a $480 million loss in production by 2025.
  • Now, local producers are looking towards fresh opportunities in the UK, south-east Asia and with the developing middle class in India.

When Mark and Melissa Brown began exporting Gemtree’s ultra-premium certified organic Australian wine to China in 2016, the results were spectacular.

Australia had signed its free trade agreement with China in 2015 and the couple leapt at the opportunity the following year, hiring a team of Chinese-speaking professionals, getting certified and travelling the country extensively to understand the places they were selling to.

“The growth we saw was absolutely extraordinary,” Brown told Business Insider Australia. “I think of it as the ‘China wave’.” 

“The appetite from the Chinese perspective to do business with Australia, in Australia, with a fully authentic brand that also had third-party endorsement from wine writers and so on.”

Five years on, things have changed dramatically. Geopolitics has put Australian-Chinese relations on ice, and export industries like barley, lobster and wine are bearing the brunt of a new trade war.

“China was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It will never happen again at that scale, ever,” Brown said.

Now the question – who will drink their wine now? – is being asked by the entire industry in the wake of the Chinese government’s decision last year to slap import tariffs on Australian wine, turning off the tap on a $480 million trade.

The dispute hinges on allegations by the Chinese government that Australia had been dumping cheap wine into the local market.

In the wake of that decision, the value of wine exports to China have fallen to just $14 million in the six months ending June, leading to a 10% decline in wine exports during 2020-21 to $2.56 billion.

According to recent modelling released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Statistics (ABARES), when China imposed tariffs of up to 218.4% in March 2014, the impact was immediate and likely to be felt through to 2025.

As of 2019, 6,251 grape growers supplied an estimated 2,468 wineries across Australia, a third of which exported to China. By 2025, ABARES predicted a $480 million loss in production.

“I think that’s accurate,” Australia Grape And Wine CEO Tony Battaglene said. “China was prepared to pay big money for quality wine. It was our highest price market in the world.”

“At those [tariff] rates the bottled wine market has essentially closed.”

Australia has since responded by taking steps to raise a dispute with the World Trade Organisation in July, but with it likely to be years before a resolution, the development spells an end to the sector’s fairy tale run.

 

Why China loved Australian wine

 

In the years following the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, a complex series of relationships blossomed between the two countries as winemakers began to build the necessary infrastructure to enable trade.

While Australian winemakers exporting to other nations have typically relied on large distributors, the relationship with China was handled through a network of import-exporters operating with a traditional wine merchant model.

These were usually Australians of Chinese heritage with connections at home who would tour a region to find what they liked and then approach the producer about setting up a relationship.

And what they wanted was premium red wine.

As a luxury item, a bottle could be brought out at weddings and business meetings, or uncorked at reunions with old friends. It served as an instant signal that its bearer was not only experiencing upward social momentum, but that they had the sophistication to know what was good and how to get hold of it.

Australian winemakers were only too happy to oblige. But the process was not always smooth.

The Chinese market was just as complex as the US, which was notoriously difficult to navigate. The Australian government trade body Wine Australia runs courses on the US wine market which describe it as “not one country, but 50 separate countries each with their own regulations that haven’t changed since Prohibition”.

If what was true for Beijing was not always true for Chengdu, the other issue was logistics. Not knowing what happened when a container was offloaded at the port was dangerous, and leaving a shipment to sit for a couple of months in a humid warehouse risked disaster.

By 2020 Australia was selling 146.1 million litres to China for a total value of $AU1.1 billion with an average price per litre of $7.45. By contrast, the combined export value of wine to the US and UK markets stood at $AU804.8 million, while the average price per litre stood at $1.58 in the UK, and $2.83 in the US.

 

Looking forward

 

With the drop off in trade, the industry is now looking for new opportunities.

One option is for producers to stitch together two or more export markets like South Korea and Vietnam, while others are eyeing off the recently signed free trade agreement with the UK or the rise of the Indian middle class.

The zero-sum nature of the global industry also means that as high-end winemakers in France, Spain and Chile move to take up Australia’s position in China, it may open up gaps in other markets for producers of premium wine.

While some regions like the Barossa in South Australia have a higher exposure to China, Jennifer Lynch, CEO of McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association said her region only exported 10% of its crush to China and so local businesses are now looking to leverage any gaps in the market.

“We need to re-home about half a million cases, ideally, in export values and ideally in high value and profitable export markets,” Lynch said.

“So long as Australian producers, as they are, continue to remain flexible and agile, there will be opportunities to rehome these highly profitable wines too.”

Even if there is hope, there is recognition that the next few years will not be easy, especially in the wake of the pandemic and a record 2021 vintage. Oversupply will put grapegrowers under pressure, while navigating new trade export markets is not easy.

“The short-term answer is no one will be able to take up the market,” Battalenge said. “There are other markets growing strongly, which are those south-east Asian markets. But they don’t have the population of China.”

For his part, Brown says the change in circumstances is positive in that it serves as a cautionary tale about becoming too dependent on one income stream.

“China might be a dent in our income, it’s not the end of the world,” Brown says. “I still want to sell to China, but it’s about making sure your business has the structure, the plan and the base to make decisions that aren’t reactionary.

“China has sent us a great message. It’s not about saying, ‘No, I’m never going to do business with them again’ – it’s about making sure we have choice.”

16 Aug, 2021
Online only supermarket Geezy Go launches in Sydney
Inside FMCG

New on-demand food and grocery service Geezy Go has launched a digital supermarket serving Sydney, aiming to compete with Woolworths and Coles. 

The online supermarket offers an under 20-minute delivery service, promising products priced similar to or lower than its rivals. The e-commerce store houses a comprehensive range of local and branded food and grocery products, ranging from plant-based food, pantry & staples, pharmacy to cleaning supplies. 

A spokesperson for the company told Inside Retail that orders are prepared in dark stores and delivered by motorcycles.

“We have multiple dark stores operating at a radius of 3 – 5km in high-density population areas. These allow us to serve the consumers at speed. We love bikes – they are quick to get around, and help keep us sustainable.”

“The big supermarket brands want you to spend more time in store, we want you to spend more time at home doing the things you love and we’ll deliver the groceries to your door,” said Dhruv Kohli, VP of growth and strategy at Geezy Go. 

Geezy Go operates its own network of drivers to ensure its on-demand delivery service. It charges a flat delivery fee of $3.99. The service is currently available from 10am to 6pm daily, but the company says that as it expands opening hours and locations will expand.

“Our customers include working professionals, last-minute shoppers, mums and others working from home and people who are looking at saving costs, but who don’t want to sacrifice the quality of their purchases,” Kohli said. 

“At the moment we have a 99.7-per-cent satisfaction rating with the first few thousand orders we have fulfilled.”

Geezy Go offers service in more than 60 suburbs in the CBD, inner west and upper north shore of Sydney. The brand said it plans to expand to 200 locations globally by the end of this year.

Geezy Go’s parent Geezy Global, is currently operational in the US, India, the UK, New Zealand and now Australia.

Geezy Global is a technology start-up that says it focuses on “creating engaging brand-to-consumer experiences”. The company operates sampling campaigns for restaurants, along with a virtual kitchen concept Geezy Foods – which transforms underused restaurant kitchens into delivery hubs, adding revenue streams to an existing commercial space.

6 Aug, 2021
v2food is now worth $500 million as the Australian startup looks to conquer Asia with plant-based protein
Business Insider Australia
  • v2food has closed a series B funding round worth $72 million and valuing the company at $500 million.
  • Having just launched into the Chinese market, the plant-based protein company will use the funds to continue expanding overseas and developing new products.
  • The company has 18 projects underway with the CSIRO, having recently released its version of pork mince, dumplings and pork buns.

Armed with an almighty war chest, plant-based protein company v2food is going to Asia.

The company, born from of a marriage between CSIRO and deep tech group Main Sequence Ventures, has just closed out a $72 million series B funding round and is setting its sights firmly north.

With the new capital injection led by European venture fund Astanor, v2 is now worth $500 million, up from just $2 million at the beginning of 2019.

Now it is taking on one of the largest and fastest-growing markets and meat consumers in the world, China.

“It has the opportunity to make a significant positive impact on the future of our planet,” CEO Nick Hazell told Business Insider Australia.

Describing it as a “key growth market” for the business, the opportunity in China is immense.

Scoffing down more than a quarter of the world’s meat, and half of its pork, a rapidly expanding middle-class has enjoyed the expanding waistlines that go along with it.

But so too are tastes rapidly changing, as the country becomes increasingly health-conscious and tucks into meat alternatives. So much so that the same diners are expected to spend almost $US15 billion on plant-based alternatives by 2025, according to some of the most ambitious projections.

Not that it’s an easy market to conquer. Hazell says the Chinese are “particularly demanding” in their culinary tastes. v2food has a secret weapon though, in order to nab its own slice of the pie.

“While [beef mince is our] core product in western markets, we have specifically designed [pork] for the Chinese palate, working with Chinese chefs to ensure a great tasting and highly nutritious pork product that is versatile and can easily replace pork meat in a range of local Chinese dishes,” Hazell said.

“In the future, more plant-based meat categories will be introduced to cater to different cuisines in China and a range of products will soon be produced locally in China too, including v2dumplings [and] v2steamed buns.”

They won’t be the only new dishes on the menu. Hazell says his team is working with the CSIRO on 18 different projects at the moment, “spanning nutrition, protein extraction technology, plant breeding technologies, soil carbon sequestration work, as well as a lot of flavour work and structure work to create ever more delicious protein.”

While China and Australia remain two key focuses for the business, v2 could also leverage off its first European investor Astanor to enter the EU.

With the potential to cut carbon emissions from the agricultural industry and produce genuine meat alternatives, Astanor Ventures partner Hendrik Van Asbroek said the Australian company was set to make waves on the global stage.

“The v1 versions of alternative meat have created awareness and demand, now we have to step up and supply the customers with healthy, delicious and price competitive products. v2food, with its world-class team and scientific expertise, is the right company to deliver this new generation of alternative meat across the globe.”

6 Aug, 2021
Food companies in legal ‘grey zone’ over ‘no jab, no work’ policies
Financial Review

Food manufacturers have called on the federal government to clarify the legality of ‘no jab, no job’ policies as more companies consider following the lead of SPC and require staff to have vaccinations.

SPC, which makes Ardmona canned tomatoes and Goulburn Valley packaged fruit, is the first Australian company to mandate vaccines for all 700 staff as well as visitors at its factories in Shepparton and Emu Plains and offices in Melbourne and Sydney.

Other companies were considering following suit, according to Tanya Barden, the chief executive of the Australian Food and Grocery Council, but were confused by Safe Work Australia’s guidance on mandatory vaccination and the federal government’s reticence to make public health orders beyond the aged care and healthcare sectors.

“There’s significant interest from the sector in having a no jab, no job-type policy, [but] the legal framework around this seems to be quite grey,” Ms Barden told The Australian Financial Review.

“Businesses have a duty to eliminate and minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in their sites, but at the same time the Safe Work Australia and Fair Work framework doesn’t say you can’t mandate, it doesn’t say you can. That leaves businesses in a bit of grey zone.

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