Yesterday news broke that British broadcaster Channel 4 invested an undisclosed seven-figure sum in The Meatless Farm Co, a plant-based meat company based in Leeds, UK that makes vegan burgers, ground “beef,” and sausages. Under the terms of the deal, Meatless Farm will also give the broadcaster equity in exchange for regional TV advertising on both Channel 4 and its streaming services.
Well we haven’t seen this before. Plenty of VC firms and Big Food companies have invested in alt-meat, but a television broadcaster?
It makes sense, though. As the plant-based meat section in retail gets more crowded, brands have to think up new ways to differentiate themselves from the masses. TV advertising is a great way for Meatless Farm to quickly expose a wider number of consumers to its brand name, which will hopefully translate to more sales in the grocery store.
From Channel 4’s perspective, there are a few benefits to partnering with Meatless Farm. One, they get to invest in the white-hot alternative meat space, which, thanks chiefly to Beyond Meat’s eye-catching IPO last year, is drawing lots of capital.
By showing an ad for plant-based meat, it’s also a way for Channel 4 to frame itself as hip to the trends to younger audiences — especially Gen Z and millennials — which are increasingly embracing flexitarian lifestyles. Vinay Solanki, Head of Commercial Growth Fund at Channel 4, said in a blog post on Meatless Farm’s website: “The Meatless Farm Co’s innovation and sustainability credentials are inspiring, and we hope that through advertising across our channel portfolio and reaching our valuable core 16-34 audience, we’ll help support their impact and growth journey.”
This deal just applies to UK air time, but Meatless Farms isn’t siloed in Britain. Founded in 2016, Meatless Farms made headlines this summer when it jumped across the pond and onto retail shelves at U.S. Whole Foods stores. The deal was only supposed to last for six months, and it hasn’t been revealed if the company will continue to sell its wares in the U.S. after December. Maybe we’ll see ads for the company’s meatless mince — er, ground “meat” — popping up on local TV states stateside sometime soon, too.