AUSTRALIA – Vgarden, the vegan arm of Israel’s Gan Shmuel Health Industries and Agricultural Cooperative, has partnered with Australian plant-based business Cale & Daughters to manufacture plant-based cheese and meat products in Australia.

Under the Vgarden Australia venture, the new joint venture between the two businesses, the companies have a plan of building a manufacturing plant in Brisbane that will employ around 50 people.

Vgarden noted that the facility will reach full-scale production by the end of 2023 but it is expected to commence operations by the end of next year.

Cale & Daughters Co-founder Cale Drouin said the joint venture will bring together the innovative capabilities of the two companies by enabling the rapid exchange of resources and IP.

He added that this partnership will enable Cale & Daughters and Vgarden to minimize international supply chain disruptions and have greater control over internal and external variables.

Vgarden and Cale & Daughters have worked together since 2020 to supply Woolworths with vegan cheeses, and state that their products will become more accessible and affordable.

Set up in 2015, Vgarden supplies plant-based cheeses, spreads, and pastries, as well as alternatives to meat and fish, under the Mashu Mashu brand.

 The company serves retail customers such as Woolworths and Costco. It also supplies food service clients, including fast-food restaurant chains Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s Pizza.

Similarly, Cale & Daughters offers vegan cheeses, tofu, meat-free bacon, chicken, and pepperoni with brands that include Made with Plants, Get Plant’d, and Plantasia meals, supplying to retailers Woolworths and Coles, and also the out-of-home channel.

Vgarden Australia is said to have a greater capacity to serve restaurants, caterers, hospitals, educational institutions, and other organizations in the food service industry, at a time when Australia’s demand for plant-based food is growing.

According to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, Australia is the third-fastest growing market in the world for plant-based foods.

In 2019–20, The Commission highlights that Australia’s plant-based meat sector generated A$185 million in sales, an up of 32% from A$140 million in 2018–19. The sector’s economic contribution rose 69% from A$29.9 million in 2018–19 to A$50.4 million.

Cale Drouin, who founded the Australian business in 2019 and is CEO, added: “Consumer demand continues to surge in this market as the adoption of veganism, the reduction of the consumption of meat, and interest in plant-based food alternatives grows.”

Ultimately, manufacturing locally in Australia means we’ll be able to maintain price competitiveness and product accessibility while being positioned to rapidly respond to the needs of our market Down Under.”

Nevertheless, despite all the upbeat forecasts, local plant-based manufacturers and Food Frontier acknowledge some factors that could moderate the growth of the category in Australia, factors that include the price disparity with conventional meat, consumer education, and the supply chain.

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