B.C.'s meatless, protein-alternate producers bucking sector hiccups (Exerpt)

Daiya Foods, Big Mountain Foods, No Meat Factory, Wamame, Sunrise Soya Foods among Metro Vancouver businesses enjoying success. Read the full article here.

By: Glen Korstrom, March 9, 2023, 9:30 am

The past five years have been a roller-coaster ride filled with giddiness and disappointment for executives in the plant-based food sector.

Many industry insiders envisage the products eroding meat and dairy sales around the world, leading to a future where protein alternatives are widespread, and consumers’ carbon footprints are slashed.

Investors, however, have proven skittish, forcing some companies to retrench to survive, while others descend into receivership.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia issued an order in mid-January that put Vancouver’s The Very Good Food Co. (VGFC) (Nasdaq:VGFC; TSX-V: VERY) in receivership, and halted its shares from trading.

Despite VGFC’s troubles, other B.C.-based plant-based food manufacturers – Big Mountain Foods, No Meat Factory, Wamame and Daiya Foods – have executives excited about future growth.

Those pioneering ventures follow in the footsteps of Vancouver’s Yves Potvin, who put the city on the meat-alternate map by creating what he touted in the 1980s as the world’s first veggie dog.

Thirty-six-year-old Big Mountain Foods operated out of a 2,500-square-foot facility in south Vancouver for decades until it expanded into a manufacturing plant twice that size about five years ago.

It then shifted production in 2021 to a 70,000-square-foot site in Delta, where workers make a range of vegetable-based foods, including Veggie Links sausages that come in styles such as chorizo and bratwurst.

Principal Jasmine Byrne, who owns and operates the 42-employee venture with mother Kimberly Chamberland, said her company is increasing revenues by more than 10 per cent annually through sales to major grocers across North America.

The duo bought new equipment for their Delta production facility that can transform fava beans into a tofu that is then altered to become sausages, burgers or a crumble. 

“Our tofu has the same texture, taste and functionality as regular [soya-bean] tofu, but without the allergens,” Byrne explained. “It’s also higher protein.”