Brazil’s Future Farm Launches Expansion in the United States with a Mission to Democratize Plant-Based Meat
It’s been a busy two years for Brazilian meat pioneer Future Farm, also known as Fazenda Futuro in Portuguese.
The company, founded in 2019 by Brazilian entrepreneurs Marcos Leta and Alfredo Strechinsky, broke into this South American country known for having one of the highest per capita beef consumption rates. Today, according to company statistics, Future Farm has a market share of almost 25% in burgers, both meat-based and alternatives, in PÃ£o de AÃ§ucar, one of the largest supermarkets in Brazil. He has sold over 9 million burgers in his home country.
Under the name Future Farm, the company has expanded to 23 countries around the world, selling its products to Europe, Canada, Latin America and the Middle East. Future Farm raised nearly $ 30 million, topped off with an investment of $ 21.3 million last year, according to currency conversions on Crunchbase. US CEO Alexandre Ruberti said the company’s valuation is estimated to be over $ 110 million.
It was all a prelude to what Future Farm will do next: expand to the United States. Ruberti said Future Farm is already a huge global movement, but to be successful in the massive plant-based meat market that is the United States, a product has to be at a higher degree of readiness.
“We are going to be neck and neck with the great players,” said Ruberti. “… We did a lot of blind testing. Our product is one of the best in terms of taste, in terms of sensoriality. I think we have a good price to offer here as well. And we are ready for marketing. “
Starting this month, Future Burger, Future Sausage, Future Beef, and Future Meatballs from Future Farm will be available to US consumers. Much of the initial rollout will be on the brand’s e-commerce page, although there are ongoing agreements to make the brand available in both foodservice and retail. Ruberti is confident the brand is set to expand in the United States, where he said Future Farm expects to achieve up to 65% of its sales over the next two years.
Ruberti knows everything to run a trendy and growing space. He was previously Executive Vice President of Sales for Red Bull North America and US President of Red Bull Distribution Company. Ruberti said that there are similarities between the two spaces, but there are also big differences, namely that energy drinks are aimed at enabling a lifestyle of consumers, while he considers meat made from plants as an essential tool to slow global warming and pollution.
At Red Bull, Ruberti sold the dream of an active lifestyle with the help of a drink. He sees himself as selling a different dream now.
âWe don’t need to go to Mars because we can save the planet here,â Ruberti said. “… Inviting people to join this cause is going to be the key to changing the way the world eats.”
Win on the prize
When Ruberti talks about what sets Future Farm apart from other plant-based meat companies, he doesn’t want to point out the technology. In that kind of space, where advanced processes turn grains, pulses, vegetables and oils into something that looks and tastes like a beef burger, Ruberti said the technology was a given.
What it starts with is the price. When both packs of Future Burgers become available to U.S. consumers, they’ll cost $ 5.29 – slightly less than comparable offerings from Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, and close to the price of beef patties at $ 4.24 a pound. At that price, Ruberti said, Future Farm will democratize the plant-based meat category, making it more accessible to all consumers. While the plant-based meat category is relatively new, Ruberti said it has always come at a premium.
âOf course, it’s all about scale, it’s all about technology, but we have to start by lowering that price in order to make it available to more people, affordable to more and more people,â said Ruberti.
Future Farm is able to keep its prices low because everything is sourced from Brazil, where the company also has its own factory, Ruberti said. The value chain is short and has already been optimized. In all the markets where it is sold, Future Food is either the cheapest or competitively priced plant-based option, he said.
For now, the Future Farm plant in Brazil will manufacture 100% of the product for the United States, and the company will work with Superior Foods International as a distribution partner in the United States. Ruberti said Future Farm is flexible with its manufacturing and packaging needs, and can start working with co-packers if needed.
Ruberti also plans to build on Future Farm’s own labels to gain popularity with American consumers. The burgers are made with non-GMO ingredients including soy, peas, chickpeas, coconut fat, and beets.
A shake from the energy drink category
Ruberti started his career working for Coca-Cola in Brazil. When he left the soda maker for Red Bull, he remembers joining as a small player in a booming category. Red Bull and the energy drink segment both have great potential, he said.
It’s the same with plant-based foods, Ruberti said. But he sees the need for plant-based foods is more critical from a sustainability perspective, and believes that the segment’s potential goes far beyond profits.
“It is a cause for the future,” he said.
That said, the way consumers approach vegetable meat is similar to energy drinks. It’s about connecting with them, talking about the lifestyle offered by the product and why they should buy products from the category. Red Bull is a historical player in the field of energy drinks, which now offers dozens of products meeting the different needs of niche consumers. But the common thread among them all is the lifestyle offered by energy drinks, he said.
Plant-based foods are a way for consumers to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, Ruberti said. Like most brands in the space, the target consumers are flexitarians who want to eat a meat substitute every now and then. But a broad message needs to be sent to all consumers about the environmental impacts of meat consumption, the possibility of slowing climate change through food choice, and that plant-based meat is designed for – and accessible to – everyone, he said. Ruberti feels this message has been diluted because of the high valuations, market success, and plant technology.
âWe have to talk with the consumer, we have to help with [the] consumer, because the category is still so new. Let the consumer try our product, if he likes it, he will buy more, âsaid Ruberti.
The future of the farm of the future
The minced meat-like products offered to U.S. consumers this month have been proven by sales around the world, but Future Farm has more in store, Ruberti said.
In fact, Future Burger recently launched an important reformulation: the â2030 Burgerâ, or what Ruberti called âversion 3.0â. This burger has an improved health profile, with 15 grams of protein, reducing the fat content to 6.5 mg and 178 mg of sodium.
âWe don’t need to go to Mars because we can save the planet here.â¦ Inviting people to join this cause is going to be the key to changing the way the world eats.â
US CEO, Future Farm
While Future Farm is always gradually improving its products, there are more launches behind the scenes, Ruberti said. Last year, the company launched a plant-based chicken product in Brazil. It is expected to be deployed worldwide from the end of the year, Ruberti said. The company has also formulated plant-based tuna and pulled pork products.
But Future Farm isn’t just about plant-based meat, Ruberti said. The company is also working on milk and cheese of plant origin, which it is currently testing in Brazil. Much like burgers, launching and refining these products in other markets will help Future Farm consider consumer feedback before it hits the more competitive U.S. market, he said.
Ruberti believes that Future Farm will be very competitive with other suppliers of plant products in the United States, but is ready to work with them to convince consumers of meat. No single producer can attract consumers to plant-based meat on their own, he said.
Given Future Farm’s success in Brazil, Ruberti expects more to come from the United States and other markets around the world.
“[Brazilians] are well known for consuming animal protein seven days a week, by the way, âhe said. “If we can introduce a [successful plant-based] mark there, that’s a very good sign. “