A UK family-run, vegan confectionery brand that once turned down a £50,000 ($65,460) investment from the TV show Dragon's Den has announced it has secured ‘multi-million-pound’ funding from venture-capital firm Blue Horizon Ventures.
Based in Altrincham, Greater Manchester, LoveRaw was founded in 2013 by Rimi Thapar and manufactures 100% vegan Butter Cups in five flavours, including peanut butter and salted caramel, with outlets in Waitrose, Whole Foods Market, Boots and online retailer Ocado.
Thapar said having support from Blue Horizon was “game changing” and the company is on a mission to make plant-based eating the norm and to also turn LoveRaw into an international brand.
Blue Horizon Ventures has a reputation for investing in plant-based food brands and will support LoveRaw in “disrupting the vegan confectionery industry”, the venture capitalist said.
Michael Kleindl, founder and managing partner of Swiss-based Blue Horizon, said: "We are extremely pleased to welcome LoveRaw to the Blue Horizon portfolio. Together we will work to provide consumers around the world with plant-based and 'clean-label' products from the indulgence category and aim to convert the current product options towards more sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives. We are confident that LoveRaw has the opportunity to become market leaders in their sector."
It was also announced that Juliet Barratt, a co-founder of UK-based sports nutrition snacks brand Grenade, has joined LoveRaw as a non-executive director. She will work with Blue Horizon to "help LoveRaw quickly dominate the vegan confectionery industry by developing key business areas of branding, supply chain, manufacturing, recruitment and marketing".
The news comes as high-end store Selfridges reported a rise in demand for vegan hampers and dairy-free confectionery in the run up to Christmas.
Sales of vegan sweets and chocolates soared 96% compared with a year earlier after Selfridges opened its confectionery hall in October featuring a vegan counter and chocolatier.
Selfridges’ managing director Simon Forster said: “We are pleased to have delivered another strong performance over the Christmas period. We always aim to offer a great selection of exclusive products and extraordinary customer experiences, and this year has been no exception.”
In November, Mars launched a line of vegan milk chocolate bars under its Galaxy brand, becoming the first of the big brands first to test non-dairy milk chocolate.
One in eight UK shoppers are now vegetarian or vegan, according to a recent report on food shopping by supermarket chain Waitrose, and a further 21% claim to be flexitarian, where a largely vegetable-based diet is supplemented occasionally with meat.
Mintel has been following the growth of vegan chocolate confectionery since 2016 and according to its new products database, between December 2015 and November 2018, only 5% of global chocolate launches made a vegan claim.
Toni Vernelli, head of communications at Veganuary, a non-profit organisation that encourages people worldwide to try vegan for ‘January and beyond’, said: “These results should be a stark wake up call to companies like Cadbury’s, Mars and McVities, which are missing out on a huge potential market of sweet-toothed vegans! With so many dairy-free milks, creams and spreads available, making vegan versions of their bestselling chocolate treats should be easy as pie.”
She added: “Dozens of major brands – including Richmond, Walls, Hellman’s, Magnum and Applewood – have released vegan versions of their bestselling products to enormous success. Major chocolate and biscuit companies are already late to the plant-based party. It’s time to catch-up!”