VBites founder Heather Mills

VBites, the vegan meat and cheese producer created by Heather Mills, has called in administrators after failing to attract new funding amid cost pressures.

James Clark and Howard Smith from Interpath Advisory were appointed joint administrators to VBites Foods Ltd on 11 December 2023.

Founded in 1993, VBites has been the leading manufacturer and wholesaler of plant-based meat and cheese in the UK, operating from two manufacturing sites in Peterlee, County Durham and Corby, Northamptonshire.

Interpath said VBites has experienced increased pressure on cashflow due to the impact of rising raw material costs and energy prices, as well as a softening of consumer demand for alternative protein products in the wake of the cost of living crisis.

As a result, the business’ directors sought additional funding, but were unable to secure the requisite investment and were “left with no option but to seek the appointment of administrators”.

Interpath will continue to trade the site in Peterlee while it seeks a buyer for the business and its assets. Consequently, 29 members of staff based at the Peterlee site have been retained by the joint administrators to assist them with trading.

The joint administrators have also retained 25 employees at the site in Corby to assist with the fulfilment of outstanding orders.

However, 24 employees across the business have been made redundant as part of the process.

“VBites is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of vegan food products but unfortunately, and in common with many other companies across the food manufacturing sector, had seen trading impacted by rising commodity and energy prices,” said James Clark, joint administrator and MD at Interpath Advisory.

“Our immediate priority is to provide support and assistance to those employees impacted by redundancy, as well as seeking a buyer for the business and its assets. We would encourage any interested parties to make contact with us at the earliest opportunity.”

VBites becomes the latest high-profile vegan and meat substitute brand to have run into financial difficulties as growth of the category slowed post-Covid.

Meatless Farm was rescued in a pre-pack acquisition of by VFC Foods in June, while VBites founder Heather Mills acquired the assets of vegan supplier Plant & Bean out of administration in July.

Mills previously sold a minority stake in VBites to the German multinational owner of Intersnack, Pfeifer & Langen, for an undisclosed sum in December 2021.