In a poignant turn of events and with a great deal of sadness, New Zealand plant-based food company, Food Nation, has announced its closure after a valiant four-year journey. A simple yet impactful sign reading 'Last Orders' now hangs over the business' virtual entrance, marking the end of an inspirational endeavour.
Source: PFN & Food Nation
Co-founded by Josephine Lambert and Miranda Burdon, four years ago, Food Nation emerged as a symbol of New Zealand innovation, idealism and ambition, aiming to revolutionise eating habits and contribute to a more sustainable world.
Their dream was clear: to put more plants on plates and provide a viable alternative to traditional animal-based proteins. The company broke through the barriers of the 'animal meat aisle' of Countdown (Woolworths), one of New Zealand's leading supermarket chains, a testament to their effort and dedication.
In 2022, Food Nation was proudly awarded a NZ Artisan Food Award, recognising its commitment to quality and innovation. The accolade brought with it increased market exposure and reinforced the founders' conviction that they were on the right path.
Source: Food Nation
However, despite these achievements, Food Nation faced insurmountable challenges. A downturn in business coincided with a broader cost of living crisis in New Zealand, which ultimately affected the sales of plant-based products. The decline in consumer interest in plant-based options is a global phenomenon, impacting both local and international companies.
Miranda Burdon, co-founder of Food Nation, reflected with us on their journey:
"The transition to plant-based has definitely slowed down, not just in New Zealand but globally. While larger companies like Impossible Meats and Beyond Meat have substantial financial backing and the resources to 'ride the downturn out,' we cannot continue to invest money to grow our market share while the market itself is in decline."
When asked about the reasons for this decline, Miranda responded, "There is yet to be a comfortable parity in costs between our plant-based products and those 'old world' animal proteins. Our research has shown that consumers really want 'like for like' in terms of cost, taste, and texture." She added, "We still believe there will ultimately be a transition to a greater number of people eating plant-based meat alternatives, but global and local events have conspired against us, which is why we have decided to 'pause our dream.'"
Interestingly, one segment of Food Nation's business saw substantial growth in recent months – their snack lines. However, Miranda emphasised, "That's not why we started this business, so the snack side of the business is now for sale."
In the face of adversity, Food Nation's co-founders remain steadfast in their belief the future will indeed see more plants on plates. The decision to close their doors was made with pragmatism, but the dream of a more sustainable and plant-based world remains alive.
As Food Nation takes its last orders, their legacy serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by pioneers in not just the New Zealand but also the globa plant-based food industry. Despite the setbacks, their passion and commitment to a greener future will continue to inspire others on a similar path. More Information CLICK HERE