Exclusive interview with Vegafit, a plant-based brand based in the Netherlands
Vegafit has an extensive range of plant-based products, from schnitzels and nuggets to fish sticks and algae burgers. We recently had the opportunity to interview the Dutch brand.
What drives you to run a seafood-substitute business in the Netherlands?
Not only are we a seafood-substitute business, but we are also a plant-based products business. Vegafit develops, produces, and markets meat substitutes for the catering industry. This is our story:
Once upon a time, 25 years ago, there was a man who tasted vegetarian meatballs in Israel.
He was somewhat surprised by the flavour, and he thought: I have to bring this to Europe! He started selling these plant-based meatballs in a food truck in a market in Germany, and it was a big success. Soon after, Vegafit was born - the first brand in Germany to have meat-replacement products. Since then, the demand for plant-based products has continued to grow.
The reason he started selling those meatballs and continues to sell the plant-based meatballs (along with a whole range of animal-friendly products) under the Vegafit brand, is to surprise people with the flavour of plant-based foods. A lot of people still do not expect substitute meat products to taste so good.
Consumers are also doing something good for the planet, which is a bonus. We believe in a world with more plant-based foods because it puts less strain on our planet’s resources. There are now 75 million vegetarians and vegans in Europe, and that’s not even including the flexitarians. We believe in a world with more plant-based foods because it puts less strain on our planet’s resources.
We also help start-ups to develop their products and bring them to market. Vegafit is part of Bobeldijk Food Group, which is in the business of producing fresh and frozen meat and vegetarian products for the catering industry and retail, for more than 20 years, so they have a lot of expertise.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt from running your business so far?
The biggest lesson is that you have to be bold. Even though the market is not ready for it, you have to do what is right. One example is our biodegradable packaging (made from sugarcane) we invested in, although the waste processors are not ready to process them yet.
The production process of biodegradable packaging costs up to 60 per cent less Co² emissions than plastic packaging, so this already benefits the planet. In addition, if no one starts using sustainable packaging, the waste processors will not get ready because the quantity will be too low to even bother.
We also learnt that if you do good, good things will happen. We are always looking for the most sustainable ingredients and packaging for our products, which results in a lot of great responses from our consumers.
What short-term plans and long-term goals do you have in store for Vegafit?
Short-term plans include extending our factory to be able to produce more and expand our product range with new innovative products.
Long-term goals include growing a lot on an international level. We are now mainly available in the Netherlands and Germany, but lately, we have also started to sell our products to the UK and Eastern European markets. We aim to further grow in Europe.
What brands do you admire and why?
A brand we admire is the Dutch brand Tony’s Chocolonely: a chocolate brand that is against slavery in the chocolate industry. They are making a statement and are being bold, which is different than other chocolate brands. Also, the chocolate tastes delicious!
How do you see the seafood-substitute industry changing in the future?
Seafood substitutes will become more and more important because of overfishing. People are already becoming more conscious of the consequences of eating fish. The seafood substitutes, just like meat substitutes, will improve a lot during a short timespan. Not only the flavour but also the texture will become so real that you won’t even notice the difference compared to real fish.
Who would Vegafit like to collaborate with and why?
We are always open to collaborating with other start-ups regarding plant-based products. Together, we are sure to produce even better products. We do not see any other meat-substitute sellers as competitors because our common goal is the same - to grow the market and eventually save the planet.
Plant-based foods will continue to grow, so we need more players in the market. We would also like to collaborate with the foodies out there who enjoy our products, perhaps creating new and tasty recipes.
We continue to see the plant-based movement growing and spreading all over the world. Thanks for taking the time to share your insights with us!