Heura Foods' Winning Formula: How It Achieved Record Growth In Tough Times

Discover how Heura Foods defied plant-based meat market dynamics to become the category leader, nearly doubling turnover to €31.4 million in 2022.

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Heura Foods, a European food-tech startup, is breaking the dynamics of the plant-based meat market. In 2022, it almost doubled turnover and greatly increased its distribution within Europe. We sat down with Marc Coloma, food activist, co-founder, and CEO of Heura Foods to find out how they do it.

Heura Foods ignored all the drama and noise surrounding the plant-based meat industry in 2022 and focused on what matters most: getting things done. As a result, it achieved record turnover and near Coca-Cola-like status in Europe - almost everyone that serves food is looking to stock Heura’s plant-based meats.

Here are some of the achievements Heura claimed in 2022:

  • 💸 €31.4 million in turnover in 2022, up from €17.7 million in 2021.

  • 🇪🇸 80% of the plant-based meat category growth in Spain in 2022.

  • 🔁 50% repeat rate, with 90% of the consumer-based being flexitarian.

  • 🚀 Turbo-charged European expansion by boosting POS by 75% supported by expanding their presence in overseas markets. 

    • 🇬🇧 A sixfold increase in UK availability with its launch in Waitrose. 

    • 🇫🇷 Increased plant-based options in major French retailers Super U and Casino Géant and contributed to 30% of plant-based category growth.

    • 🇪🇺 Increased its sales in Italy by 240%, and also laid roots in the DACH region, landing major retailers Billa (Austria) and Migros (Switzerland).

Phew. That’s a lot of work. But what’s Heura’s secret sauce, and how do they plan to maintain an upward trajectory in 2023’s tough market conditions?

How Heura Became The Plant-Based Category Leaders In Europe

Heura attributes its growth to two key focuses: high-quality products and community engagement.

They Keep The Focus on Quality

Heura is all about Mediterranean-inspired dishes. The brand's lineup includes plant-based chorizo sausages, meatballs, Mediterranean spiced chicken successors, and more. Though we haven’t tried the products ourselves, consumers reportedly rave about their quality.

So how does Heura develop products that exceed consumers’ high expectations for plant-based meat?  

Heura’s team works with world-leading academics and expert partners to create proprietary technology that helps it achieve a satisfying balance of flavor, texture, and nutrition. 

Investing in technology to deliver high-quality dishes that are familiar to consumers is what helps us make a splash when we enter new markets.

Using technology, Heura aims to live up to its mission to deliver nutritionally dense products that bring out the health benefits of their plant ingredients. The company’s proprietary fat analog ingredient is one example of how it does this. Heura has developed tech to turn olive oil into a fat analog that recreates the juiciness of plant-based meat, the secret ingredient that keeps customers coming back for more of its products.

They Engage An Army of Loyal Fans

More so than just mere “customers”, Heura is a role model in how to engage a community of loyal Good Rebel fans.

From the offset, Heura has built a mission-driven brand. Its goal is to build a net-positive food system, and it aims to do it by providing consumers with sustainable, nutritionally-dense food choices. It gives consumers the choice to “vote with their forks” and eat its more planet-friendly offerings instead of animal-based products. 

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Heura calls this approach “Food activism” and followers of it, “Good Rebels”. With a consumer base consisting mainly of flexitarians, and repeat rates of 90%, it seems to be working.

Heura uses social media as a key lever to build and engage a community of followers around this brand. Its social media accounts use a recipe of humorous memes, consumer education, and product promotion to drive its message home. So far it’s landing incredibly well - especially amongst Gen-Z consumers, having amassed a 400,000+ following across its social media platforms.

The brand's effectiveness in engaging a community of followers has paid dividends across all aspects of its business. In 2022 Heura raised over €4 million in just under 12 hours with a crowdfunding campaign. Having a loyal following of consumers, it says, has been invaluable when building partnerships in food service and retail.

Responsibilities As The Category Leader

Accounting for 80% of the market growth in Spain, and much of the growth in other EU markets, is an incredible achievement. But, viewed from a different angle, it also highlights a lack of other competitive offerings in the category. 

It may be that for now, European consumers are satisfied with just a few really strong plant-based options. But given that the plant-based meat industry aims to ultimately lessen the impact of conventional animal protein on the environment by providing sustainable alternatives, there is a need for even more competitive offerings. More high-quality plant-based meat products will help attract more consumers to the category and increase the overall market size, after all.

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Heura is well aware of this and, as a plant-based category pioneer, feels the responsibility to grow in a way that raises the whole market up alongside itself. 

Data shows that almost 40% of European consumers are planning to eat less meat in the near future and nearly half want more options. The plant-based industry has the challenge to create familiar, tasty, and healthy foods that people consume frequently. As the sector evolves, and as numbers continue to fluctuate, it is our goal to elevate the category into one that helps build a sustainable business model. 

Right now, Heura is an important role model for the plant-based meat industry. In focussing on making the best products possible and engaging a loyal community of customers, it is defying claims that the plant-based meat industry is stagnant. What’s important now is Heura continues to lead by example, while making room for new innovators to enter the space.

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That’s all folks

A huge thank you to Marc Coloma, Shannon Somaza, Shani Wright, and the rest of the Heura Foods team for supporting this Interview. Also, a special thank you to Tatianna Von Rheinbaben for helping to set the whole thing up.

See you next Tuesday for another deep dive into innovation in the F&B industry.

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