“The initial response from the Plant Based World Expo was phenomenal,” Noreen Gallagher, CEO at Plant-It, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“If we can encourage consumers to taste our products, we are confident that we can convert 50% of meal occasions to Plant-It ones.”
The startup is currently building out its US team to scale distribution over the coming months and plans to introduce its range of products with several regional retailers in Q2/Q3. An omnichannel approach will also target key online and food service partners.
Founded by Declan Gallagher from Promise Gluten-Free and Gallagher’s Bakery background, Plant-it incorporated in 2019 and began to take its plant-based food mainstream with the addition of Tadgh Geary of Pallas Foods – which sold to Sysco Corporation for $600 million in 2009 – and Gallagher’s sister Noreen Gallagher, formerly of McCain Foods, Nike and Glanbia.
Rapid growth with purpose
Plant-It launched in Ireland with retailer Tesco in early 2021 and has since listed with food markets SuperValu, Dunnes Stores, SPAR and Avoca and foodservice wholesalers Sysco and Musgrave, as well as Kesko stores in Finland.
In addition to the US market, the company is set to expand into the UK, Sweden, Norway and Denmark in early 2022, followed by Canada, Germany, Spain, Greece, Malta, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Israel, Australia and China later in the year.
“Our purpose-led mission to inspire consumers to ‘Choose Good’ and ‘Do Good’ by increasing the appetite for plant-based choices (Choose Good) and help plant the planet (Do Good) appealed to a wide range of retailers, influencers and food service partners,” Gallagher said.
A portion of every sale is dedicated to local reforestation, with more than 20,000 native trees planted in the UK, Ireland and Finland with partner organizations to date.
Beyond the burger
Plant-It offers an award-winning meat-free burger made with peas, beetroot, onion and other vegetables but sees more opportunity for improvement in less saturated categories.
“The US market is very focused on beef-free patties and chicken-free categories,” Gallagher said.
“Here in Europe, we have broadened plant-based into more meal occasions starting with breakfast.
Appetizers and snacking categories are also on the up. Our latest consumer insights also highlight that all plant-based options do not need to be meat substitutes.”
The Plant-It portfolio already includes chicken-free strips, tenders and nuggets, fish-free fingers, an egg-free omelet, a spinach-avocado burger, a garden burger and a chicken-free version of the Irish spice bag, a popular takeaway dish of salt and chili chicken, fries, bell peppers and onions.
The company, with its own R&D and production capabilities, is also developing a next generation protein using proprietary Texsol technology inspired by bakery science to create structured proteins from pea, oats, fava bean, soy, lentil, chickpea and other legumes.
In its first year, Plant-it was named Ireland’s Favorite Meat Substitute Brand at the V Awards and took home Best Sustainable Food Product for its quarter pounder at the Irish Foodservice Supplier Awards.