South African food manufacturer RCL Foods and US plant-based food collective Livekindly Collective have established a local plant-based joint venture, Livekindly Collective Africa. The Competition Commission gave the green light to the merger this month whereby RCL Foods intends to acquire joint control over Livekindly Africa.
The joint venture will market, sell and distribute all of Livekindly Collective’s brands – including the well-known local Fry Family Food Co. and international brands LikeMeat and Oumph! – in South and Sub-Saharan Africa, with the aim of accelerating the move towards a more sustainable food system and enhanced consumer choice.
Amidst growing consumer interest in plant-based foods and more sustainable living, RCL Foods ventured into the plant-based foods category via an investment in a minority shareholding in Livekindly Collective in January 2020.
Farm to fork
The Collective, founded by Blue Horizon AG and registered in the USA, aims to transform the global food system by rapidly creating a plant-based food “ecosystem” of scale that extends from farm to fork and has global reach. To this end, it has been building a global brand portfolio while entering strategic partnerships with established platforms like RCL Foods that seek to embrace plant-based options.
According to the companies, Livekindly Collective Africa will bring together the Collective’s brand and technology intellectual property, and RCL Foods’ farm to fork capability and established market presence to build a robust plant-based ecosystem in the region – from agriculture all the way down to go-to-market brands and infrastructure.
Growing the plant-based category
While the plant-based food category is still relatively small in South Africa, both CEOs believe that the significant progress being made in improving the affordability, taste and texture of plant-based alternatives will grow the category into a significant market in both traditional retail and foodservice channels.
RCL Foods CEO Miles Dally, commented, “Climate change, population growth, chronic hunger, obesity and a related rise in non-communicable diseases mean that food producers need to find ways to feed people in a more sustainable way, and that requires resilience and adaptability.
"In line with our passion – More Food to More People, More Often – we are excited to partner with Livekindly Collective in taking plant-based protein from niche to mainstream in South and Sub-Saharan Africa, which will provide people with more options and encourage more sustainable food choices."
Kees Kruythoff, chairman and CEO of Livekindly Collective, said, “The time for change is now, and with the Livekindly Collective we are on a mission to transform the current global food system and make plant-based living the new norm. Through this strategic partnership, we will be able to bring nutritious and delicious plant-based products to even more consumers in Africa faster by making it more accessible and affordable."