The long, often bumpy ride of a B.C. plant-based meat alternative business has come to an end, and by its own admission, it was a "wild" one.
The Very Good Butchers' humble roots go back to selling its plant-based items at the Denman Island Farmers' Market before shifting ops to Victoria and getting a boost from TV's Dragon's Den.
Known for its packaged plant-based meat subs like sausages, burgers, and taco 'stuffers,' The Very Good Butchers' slogan was "We butcher beans."
The company had a retail deli-cafe location in Victoria, albeit one in a different spot than when they first began a few years prior.
In 2021, the company acquired The Cultured Nut, a Canadian non-dairy cheese business, which it rebranded as The Very Good Cheese Co.
Very Good biz shifts focus, operations to Vancouver
In addition to moving its many meat-alt products into supermarkets and other retailers in the U.S. and Canada, The Very Good Butchers had been plotting a major leap to Vancouver. As revealed in early 2021, The Very Good Butchers was setting up shop at West 5th and Alberta; about a year or so later and the project was a bust.
By that time, The Very Good Butchers had changed its ownership structure and was operating under the banner of The Very Good Food Company. A representative for that company at the time steered V.I.A. to a number of articles on its now-defunct website about the company's restructuring and plans for the future. That business' headquarters were in Vancouver.
On the Very Good Butchers website, a banner declared that the online shop was closed as of the end of December 2022. (That website has since gone offline.)
In early 2023, a publication called Just Food reported that The Very Good Food Company "has finally gone into receivership after reaching a roadblock in securing new financing." The report chronicles the tumultuous 2022 of the company and its structure and search for new funding as receivership - similar to bankruptcy - loomed.
On Feb. 27, The Very Good Butchers shared on its social media that the business was "closed."
Their message read as follows: "We are sorry to announce that we have closed our doors for good. Since the first butchered bean, worked hard to make our dream of a better world possible by loving the animals and the planet through our whole-food, plant-based meats. We hope to see you around. Thanks for making it a wild ride!"
The comments section to the company's farewell post is a mix of disappointed customers, gift card holders in search of refunds, and commentary about the company's struggles, and the overall industry of meat alternatives. The Very Good Butchers are not responding to comments or questions on the post, and with the Very Good Food Company's website closed, V.I.A.'s email to representatives there was undeliverable.
'The last twelve months have been challenging': former executive
The Very Good Food Company's former Chief Commercial Officer, Jordan James Rogers, shared the following message on LinkedIn in late February:
Today, we announce the end of the Very Good Food Co with heavy hearts. Despite best efforts to secure a purchaser for the business, equitable terms could not be agreed upon with the company’s creditor.
The last twelve months have been challenging for the seventy employees who dutifully showed up to work every day, hoping that the company would be acquired under stable ownership.
From the departures of our fellow teammates, reduced budgets, changing management and strategic plans, and stops and starts of potential strategic partners coming to the table to the trials and tribulations that the team faced daily with vendors and customers, they cut through this fog with determination, confidence, and grace.
The Very Good Butchers SKUs exemplify everything plant-based products strive for, innovative, tasty, and nutritious products made in the kitchen, not in labs.
I am very proud that we forged our relationships with distributors, retailers, and consumers by offering best-in-class service, industry knowledge, listening first, and helping our customers to achieve their goals.
Without the support and trust of our staff, shareholders, industry partners, distributors, retailers, brokers, creditors, venture capital partners, prospective investors, and receivers, VERY would not have survived up to this point.
Over the past six years, the company built an incredible community of brand advocates and made a tangible difference in consumers’ lives- something we can all be proud of.
As we turn the page here at VERY and the assets are sold off over the next few weeks, I’d like to recognize our talented team of people open to making an impact at a new organization.
For fans of the meat and cheese alternative products, it seems likely that once the current inventory at area retailers is gone, it will not be restocked.