Photo: Before the Butcher.

Big Meat just can’t keep its hands off smaller alternative meat companies.

Plant-based meat startup Before the Butcher announced yesterday that it has been acquired by private investors Jeff and Gregg Hamann, who also own the ground beef-centric Jensen Meat Company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, Entrepreneur reports that the California-based company will gain access to a $25 million line of credit, a 90,000 square foot production space, and warehousing facilities.

Founded two years ago, Before the Butcher makes 12 products, including plant-based burgers, chorizo, and breakfast sausage patties. They’re currently served at over 1,000 restaurants in the U.S. The company is also gearing up for a retail launch, heading to over 3,000 locations by the end of August.

Before the Butcher’s founder Danny O’Malley told Entrepreneur that the acquisition will give them “both the financial resources and the production capacity to support our strong growth forecasts,” and will turn the company “from a startup to a major player in the space.”

We’ll see. The plant-based meat space is becoming quite crowded, and will only get more so after Impossible heads into retail later this year. However, Before the Butcher does set itself apart with its extensive product line (most companies only make a handful of “meats”). And now that they have some bigger (plant-based) muscle behind them, the company’s can invest more in marketing and other strategies to suck in more customers.

On the Hamann’s end, the Before the Butcher acquisition can help them diversify their portfolio and cash in on the white-hot plant-based meat trend. They’re not the only ones doing these types of deals. Lately quite a few major meat corporations have been investing in — or all-out acquiring — alternative protein startups. Tyson Foods was an early investor in Beyond Meat before the poultry giant cut ties to pursue their own line of plant-based protein; Canada’s Maple Leaf Foods acquired Field Roast and Lightlife; and Unilever bought the Vegetarian Butcher.

The plant-based protein space projected to be worth $140 billion over the next decade and capture around 10 percent of the global meat market. With those numbers, it’s no wonder that more traditional meat companies are starting to take note — and take action.

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