Meatless Farm frozen sausages

Meatless Farm bankruptcy trustee in the Netherlands explored sale of European assets to VFC, but the meat-free business had ‘no interest in that’

Meatless Farm racked up losses of almost €20m (£17.1m) in just more than three years of operating in Europe, a new bankruptcy report in the Netherlands has revealed.

The failed vegan brand’s bank account was almost empty and outstanding claims were “sky-high”, according to documents filed by De Vos & Partners.

Meatless Farm – launched by Morten Toft Bech in 2016 – moved its head office from Leeds to Amsterdam in 2020 as part of a strategy to serve the European mainland.

However, the move resulted in higher costs that exceeded monthly income.

Meatless generated revenues of less than €7m (£6m) since 2020 but booked losses of almost €20m.

That is on top of the £50m in losses accumulated in the UK before it filed for administration in June, with bankruptcy following in the Netherlands soon after.

As detailed by The Grocer, costs related to hiring a large executive team in Amsterdam put a strain on the business.

The report by trustee Els Doornhein of De Vos & Partners highlighted that money from investors had always been needed to be able to carry out and continue activities.

“The group could not operate on its own,” she said.

As part of her bankruptcy investigation, the board of Meatless told her they were “very surprised” by the decision of the existing investors not to provide additional financing.

“The board has stated that attracting enough investors to (continue to) inject capital into the company from 2022 onwards became increasingly difficult anyway,” the report added. “This is partly due to the pandemic, war in Ukraine and deteriorating economic conditions.

“In 2021, it also proved challenging to find enough new customers in Europe. Competition had increased greatly. Although sales are made to large supermarket chains in Europe, such as Jumbo, Kaufland, Rewe and Aldi, these larger supermarket chains in Europe would not always find the products innovative enough to add to their range.

“In the past six months, negotiations with potential new customers have stalled, and existing customers have also decided to terminate their contracts.”

The bankruptcy report also said third-party warehouse owners in the Netherlands and logistic firms used to deliver product were owed “substantial” amounts. It added that even before the bankruptcy, the supply chain wasn’t working as a result of non-payments by Meatless.

Meatless owed unsecured creditors €1.1m (£946k) in Europe and preferential creditors more than €600k (£516k), alongside the £2m outstanding to suppliers in the UK.

The trustee also explored the sale of assets in Europe to VFC, which rescued the brand in the UK, but said the meat-free business had “no interest in that”.

The De Vos & Partners report has no details of the status of the North American subsidiary of Meatless Farm, which was not part of the Dutch bankruptcy proceedings or the UK administration. UK administrator Kroll also declined to give any update on the situation in North America.