Willicroft raises US$1.74M for expansion of plant-based cheese in UK market

NETHERLANDS – Willicroft, a Dutch plant-based cheese company, has secured £1.69million (US$1.74M) in a funding round to finance its expansion plans into the United Kingdom’s market.

The round was led by PINC, Paulig’s venture arm alongside Rockstart, Döhler, and Feast Ventures as co-investors.

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Willicroft, which was founded as a dairy farm in the UK in 1957 and became a plant-based cheese company in 2018, said that consumers have become increasingly aware of food’s environmental footprint but cheese is often overlooked and yet is the 3rd largest emitting product.

Brad Vanstone, co-founder, and chief executive of Willicroft stated that the company’s new bean-based range produces up to 5 times less CO2 than the dairy alternatives it’s replacing.

He added: “We need holistic solutions to tackle major changes in our food system – having recently secured B Corp status, we believe we’re on track to address these problems at their root cause.”

“With this new raise locked in we’ll be bringing our delicious, beautifully branded range of PBCs to 3 new markets: the UK, Germany, and the Nordics, bringing in senior hires and continuing on our quest to become the world’s first net-positive plant-based cheese company.”

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Vanstone believes the new investor group can help the company by opening up a number of new markets whilst also fast-tracking its products for continued evolution.

According to Fact.MR, plant-based cheese sales in the UK have grown by 165% from 2019 to 2020 and it expects an additional growth CAGR of 12% for the UK market in the coming years.

With the second-largest market share, Europe will lead the market growth and has a strong chance of maintaining its position in the next years, the market research firm says.

According to European National Statistics, the acceptance of “veganism” in Europe has grown sevenfold between 2014 and 2019.

Furthermore, numerous unfavorable aspects of the dairy systems have contributed to an increase in veganism such as mastitis, a bacterial illness in the udder that affects 30% of dairy cows in the United Kingdom.

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The growing demand for plant-based foods is providing opportunities for both start-ups and established companies to develop new products to address market gaps, Fact.MR states, which is making plant-based cheese manufacturers keep their prices low.

The firm adds that the global demand for plant-based cheese is anticipated to augment at a CAGR of 15.5% from 2021 to 2031, to eventually reaching US$ 3.9 Bn by 2031 representing a fourfold increase.

As the analysts continue to anticipate the growth in the plant-based market, Marika King, head of PINC, the venture arm of Paulig said Willcroft is set for traction in Europe because it is by far the tastiest, more nutritious, and sustainable ingredient list than most plant-based cheese available in the market.

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