VFC’s Growing Pains (and Pleasures)
When you launch a global brand from your kitchen table, there are bound to be a few challenges along the way, but our biggest one is wanting to be available in every retailer and restaurant in every country, and preferably by yesterday. We much prefer the ‘leaps and bounds’ approach to the ‘one step at a time’ option because … well, there is no time to waste and we cannot wait for the fall of industrial animal agriculture.
VFC hatched in December 2020. We made the product in Adam’s restaurant kitchen, and we sold it direct to consumers via our website. A team of hair-netted rebels packed and sent out each Bundle of goodies and yes, we celebrated every single one. That same month, online supermarket The Vegan Kind stocked us, and we were officially out there in the world. Then came a string of independent UK foodservice and retail outlets, starting with Chuck Chick in Norwich in January and VX in Bristol in February.
From the outside, this may have looked like a slow start, but tell that to our Commercial Director, Stuart McGuckin who by then was fielding calls from distributors in the United States, Canada, Australia, UAE, Spain, Malta, Greece, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Trying to cut through the avalanche of emails to get his attention at that time was fighting a losing battle.
Spreading Our Wings
To corrupt a well-known line from a much-loved film: it was clear we were going to need a bigger kitchen, and that meant we needed cash, which came in the form of £2.5 million in seed funding.
By March, our first shipment was off to Spain to be distributed across the country by Vegan Nutrition World. By June, we were in the Netherlands, thanks to Brandplant, and soon afterwards a deal was signed with United Arab Emirates.
But the real upscaling was happening behind the scenes, as we spent that shiny seed funding on finding the right partner to help us grow fast. By then, we had several leading retailers clamouring for VFC.
And Now We Fly
It turns out that building a global brand in less than a year is tricky. Finding the right manufacturer takes time. Getting the packaging right takes time. And our beautiful Cluck Truck was so delayed that we missed the key events we were so desperate to get to. Would you believe us if we told you we’d planned to be at WingFest, where meat lovers congregate specifically to eat chicken? It’s true. Our hard hats and winning smiles were at the ready, and we were all set to go head to head with the chicken industry. Hopefully, if we haven’t turned the entire world vegan by then, we can be there next year.
And so, while we keep battling to get our products made in ever bigger quantities, with no loss of flavour or quality, and our pen is hovering over those juicy retailer contracts, we ask our friends all around the world to be patient with us.
We are going global. Our products have now launched in Canada and the United States. We will be in British supermarkets very soon. And we will continue to advocate for the chickens whose lives we are unable to save. We’ll keep telling their stories, and showing the world that there is a kinder, better way.