VBites bites the dust

Posted on Dec 12, 2023. by NTI

Heather Mills’s award winning company and self-proclaimed “pioneers of plant based food since 1993”, VBites, has gone into Administration. Interpath Advisory were appointed Administrators on 11th December 2023 and plan to continue trading the business whilst they market the business for sale.

On the 8th of August 1993 Mills, the former wife of Sir Paul McCartney was involved in a traumatic accident with a speeding police motorcycle. The accident left her with the need to have her left leg amputated. Complications arose during her recovery which led Mills to visit the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida.

At the institute, Hills embarked on a radical change in her diet and lifestyle which helped her heal. Meat and dairy were immediately taken off the menu and replaced with a whole food, vegan, raw food diet and natural therapies. Within weeks Mills witnessed a miraculous recovery of her body. “It was this enlightened approach to food nutrition and balanced organic living that not only healed my infection, but also then enabled me to reach above and beyond what I would have been able to achieve in my life without it. This new vegan diet and way of living literally transformed me”. Mills formed VBites in 2009 after acquiring small food company, Redwood Wholefoods (founded in 1993).

As popularity and demand for vegan food grew so did the company. The VBites website reflects the steady growth of the company over the past 30 years. With over 140 products and delivering “excellence and sustainable vegan food” to over 28 countries worldwide, the company was successful. By 2010 VBites had partnered with Flexiski to produce ethical vegan food for French ski resorts and named the UK’s most ethical vegan food supplier five years in a row.  By 2015, the company had partnered up with health food store, Holland & Barrett and opened its third cafe. The VBites store was showcased during one of Oprah Winfrey’s show in which Mills was interviewed. The company appeared to be doing well and received numerous awards.

Despite pouring “Blood, sweat and tears” and personally investing tens of millions of pounds, Mills cited a number of different contributing factors to the demise of the plant based company. She said “…sadly mine and my staff’s efforts have been thwarted by a demand that I stepped away from day to day management, in order to secure essential investment…”. She went on to write that “…a combination of corporate greed and poor management, the cost of living crisis, price rises in the global ingredients and utilities markets and the current state of the manufacturing economy in Britain” contributed to the demise of the company.

Mills described Brexit as an “utter disaster” for the supply and maintenance of the sector. “One of the major issues the plant based market needs to tackle is the galvanised and well funded marketing of misinformation currently being undertaken by the meat and dairy industries”. Mills referred to the recent “Got milk” campaign by the dairy industries and supported by celebrities and “gaslighting initiatives that detract from the truth”.

The vegan bubble bursting?
The cost of buying vegan food is often higher than alternative meat equivalents. Rising costs in food prices have also seen a number of other vegan and plant based companies struggle. Beyond Meat who supply McDonalds reported a drop in sales; sausage maker, Heck, have reportedly slashed the number of its meat free range, whilst Pret has closed half its vegan and vegetarian only outlets.  Some have argued that the vegan “fad” is coming to an end and that the vegan bubble is bursting. However, according to Straits Research forecast report, the UK vegan food market is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.1% between 2023 and 2031. With 700,000 vegans, the Vegan Society believes that vegan food has a wider appeal.

In the meantime, VBites is the latest vegan company to bite the dust.

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