Plant-based meat company Fable is making its bricks-and-mortar debut with its ‘Braised Beef’ product hitting 600 Woolworths stores, just six months after the brand launched.
Founded by former fine dining chef and mycologist Jim Fuller, organic mushroom farmer Chris McLoghlin and former Shoes of Prey co-founder, Michael Fox, Fable uses shiitake mushrooms, to give the product an umami flavour and ‘meaty’ texture.
Since its launch in December, the product has been given the seal of approval by celebrity Chef Heston Blumenthal, who has used it in his Michelin Star restaurants and has backed the product with a quote on the packaging which reads, “A delicious, versatile, natural slow cooked meat alternative.”
Michael Fox, co-founder and CEO of Fable, told Inside FMCG that the brand strategy was to roll out into food service first, as a way for consumers to experience the finished product before bringing it to retail, but with restaurants shut down due to COVID, the business was forced to pivot.
“We were fortunate that we were already selling well through Marley Spoon. Their sales shot up with people having food delivered at home so we picked up business there. We still had our 1 kg food service packs of stock though so we pivoted into e-commerce,” Fox said.
“We couldn’t do an always-on model as frozen and refrigerated direct-to-consumer logistics in Australia is really difficult, particularly if you don’t yet have scale. So we ran with a pop up model partnering and supporting the local restaurants we’d started working with who were pivoting into home delivery and take away.”
Fable pop ups ran across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, with #Stayhome Date Night Hampers and Dinner and Doodles events to entice consumers to sample the product while in lockdown.
“They performed really well and are something we’ll look to do more of,” Fox told Inside FMCG.
According to a Barclay’s report, one in three Australians are actively look to cut down on meat consumption and the category is predicted to be worth upwards of $140 billion by 2030.
Woolworths will be hoping the product can draw consumers looking for more premium plant-based options. But education on how best to cook and serve the product, is an important part of the success of any plant-based meat brand.
“We’ve created recipes which we share on our website and Instagram but we’ve been thrilled to see just how generous people are with sharing their own recipes they’ve created at home. This has all happened organically simply because people love cooking with the product,” he said.
With restaurants reopening, Fable is set to launch into around 80 new venues across Australia, including Soul Burger, Ribs & Burgers and Burger Urger, Fox said.
“When people see what chefs at these amazing venues have created with Fable we hope they’ll want to try cooking with it at home,” he added.