[Disclosure: AgFunderNews’ parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in Alpha Foods.]
- New York based LIVEKINDLY Collective (LKC) has expanded its plant-based portfolio with the acquisition of Glendale, California-based Alpha Foods.
- Founded in 2020, and backed by more than $500 million in funding from investors including The Rise Fund, S2G and Blue Horizon, LKC’s portfolio of plant-based brands includes Oumph! (UK), The Fry Family Food Co (US, UK, Australia, South Africa), LikeMeat (Germany), No Meat (UK), and The Dutch Weed Burger (The Netherlands).
- Founded by Cole Orobetz and Loren Wallis in late 2015, Alpha Foods launched in late 2017 with prepared foods such as pot pies, tamales and burritos, and has since expanded into meal components, offering nuggets, crumbles, strips, and patties made from non-GMO soy and vital wheat gluten.
- To date, it has raised around $60 million from investors including AF Ventures, AgFunder and Blue Horizon. It has nationwide retail distribution in the US and Canada and a small operation in Asia via a deal with Green Monday.
Alpha Foods cofounder: ‘We’ve been talking to LIVEKINDLY for two years’
While LKC has a small presence in the US via the LikeMeat and the Fry’s brands, acquiring Alpha Foods will give it a much more significant foothold in the market, Alpha cofounder and chief innovation officer Loren Wallis told AgFunderNews.
“We’ve been talking to them for about two years as they’ve been looking to build a presence in the US, and with this deal there’s going to be some capital investment made to accelerate the growth of the Alpha Foods brand.”
Alpha Foods currently manufactures its products via North American copackers, but there could be opportunities to expand its range and reduce costs by manufacturing some products at LIVEKINDLY Collective production facilities, he said. “They have state of the art plants in markets including The Netherlands and South Africa with tremendous volume capabilities. It sounds like it would add cost to manufacture there [for products sold in the US] but there’s a lower cost of goods.”
Wallis and the bulk of the Alpha Foods team will be staying on post the acquisition. Cofounder Cole Orobetz will transition out of the CEO role but will maintain an advisory relationship with the company.
Pockets of growth
Alpha Foods’ sales have declined over the past year as it has recalibrated its product portfolio and channel mix to focus on its core products, but there have been some pockets of growth.
“We’re not just a burger or a sausage company; we’re very diversified,” said Wallis. Our value-added handheld and grab-and-go convenience products are still growing nicely, especially on college campuses, and our chicken nuggets are still the number one [plant-based] nugget in the natural food channel and they’re doing really well.
“We also do really well in Costco with our breaded chicken burger patty, and we’ve had national rotations there over the last two years.”
The company is currently rolling out a new version of its plant-based Chik’n strips, this time made via high moisture extrusion, said Wallis, who said the juicier strips would also feature in its burritos. “It’s a big sea change in the texture and the taste.”
Overall, he said, “You could describe Alpha as kind of flat year over year, but starting in 2024, we are going to be growing again.”
Asked for his take on flagging alt meat category sales, Wallis said the category had been saturated with “substandard” products prompting a shakeout, but said retailers were still committed to the category over the long-term.