top of page

Sunfed Meats Ups Sticks Blaming Plant-Based Bubble Burst & VC Staying Power

In a sombre announcement marking the end of an era for another Kiwi plant-based food , Sunfed Meats has confirmed it will cease operations, attributing its closure to a combination of unfavorable market conditions and the dwindling support of venture capital investors.

Sunfed Meats CEO and Founder Shama Lee

Founded by CEO Shama Lee (pictured left announcing the closure via Instrgram) and her husband in 2015, the ambition was to create nutrient-dense, meat-free alternatives that didn't compromise on taste or sustainability, Sunfed Meats pioneered products such as "chicken-free chicken," made from yellow pea protein, which true alot of attention both domestically and internationally.

The company's journey from an idea born out of frustration with vegan junk food options to becoming a market leader in the plant-based sector is a testament to innovation and resilience, says Shama Lee, "Sunfed was built from scratch as a complicated manufacturing and cold chain FMCG business".

Sunfed Meats Plant-Based bacon voted Best PB Bacon in Australia last year.

Source: Sunfed Meats Plant-Based bacon voted Best PB Bacon in Australia last year.

However, despite early successes and a promising start, the road to scalability and financial sustainability proved fraught with obstacles. "The staying power of VCs is crucial in the early and middle stages of startup growth," says Shama Lee. "Our journey illustrates the harsh reality that, despite having a product that meets market validation, securing ongoing financial support is a formidable challenge."

As the plant-based food sector boomed, so too did the competition, leading to what many have called "the plant-based bubble." This saturation of the market, often with products of questionable nutritional value, eventually led to a shift in consumer and investor sentiment. "The plant-based bubble burst, and the category has been undergoing a reality check," says Shama Lee, noting the detrimental impact on companies genuinely innovating for health and sustainability.

Sunfed Meats Chicken Free Chicken Bao buns.

Source: Sunfed Meats Chicken Free Chicken Bao buns.

Another contributing factor to Sunfed Meats' closure was the unforeseen hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company faced "one crisis after another," including staff shortages, supply chain disruptions, and soaring costs, all while attempting to maintain production and keep supermarket shelves stocked. "Those COVID years are a blur...but we managed to keep things running," added Shama Lee.

In reflecting on the closure, the Sunfed founder expressed a mix of gratitude and regret: "It has been an edifying decade-long journey in starting, building, and now closing Sunfed I'm grateful for the adventure." This sentiment encapsulates the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, especially in an industry as volatile and rapidly evolving as plant-based foods.

The story of Sunfed Meats serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges facing innovative food technologies. They join Food Nation which ceased its operations earlier this year. As the plant-based sector recalibrates in the wake of this "reality check," the legacy of Sunfed Meats' ambition and achievements will hopefully inspire others committed to sustainability and personal and planetary health. A very sad day indeed!

For information CLICK HERE



Obtuvo 0 de 5 estrellas.
Aún no hay calificaciones

Agrega una calificación


bottom of page