Alpha Foods CEO Wants to Make It Even Easier to Eat More Plant-Based
Alpha Foods CEO and co-founder, Cole Orobetz wants to make it easier for everyone, whatever their eating approach, to love plant-based foods. He has ambitions to "reinvent the category" and make it more an entree choice than a strict adherence to one type of eating. So instead of focusing on the vegetarian or plant-based consumer, Alpha will be like any other "meat" option in your store freezer. Honey, do you feel like chicken or fish or meatless tonight? That's the idea, and today he announced that the company had just brought on a new agency to help make it a reality.
Launched 5 years ago, the brand is taking this new mainstream approach to growing its audience–not unlike the brand behind JUST Egg, or for that matter, The Beet, which both welcome plant-based eaters of all nature: Anyone who is plant-curious or health-minded, or pescatarian, or any style of vegetarian, or plant-based or vegan, all are welcomed, alike. If you want to eat more plant-based foods, these companies message that you've come to the right place.
The new ad agency is called Mischief @ No Fixed Address made the announcement today, on the heels of Alpha having raised $28 million in February to expand its offerings and distribution. The plan is to dominate the market in frozen plant-based nuggets, patties, burritos, and other grab-and-go products, Beyond and Impossible notwithstanding. (Read more: Alpha Foods Raises $28 Million to Expand Vegan Offerings.)
Alpha Foods' Mission: Make plant-based foods everyone will love
CEO Orobetz's goal is to make it easier for everyone to eat more plant-based foods and love it. His next step: Work with a new agency called Mischief @ No Fixed Address to bring a message that "plant-based foods are fun, delicious, and good for you." You thought Beyond and Impossible meatless meats were mainstream?
His message: Just wait. There's a new alpha dog in this race, and he is just getting started.
The Beet: Why did you go plant-based?
Cole Orobetz: I tried my first frozen vegan bagel dog prior to starting Alpha Foods and it was love at first bite. As a meat-eater at the time, I was intrigued and inspired to build Alpha into a plant-based platform appealing to those wishing to reduce meat consumption. I had also spent a number of years in sustainable food and agriculture technology on the venture capital side and here it became obvious that plant-based food companies would play a pivotal role in environmental and food system sustainability. Since then, I’ve adopted a plant-based diet with an intent to reduce my carbon footprint and contribute positively to the health of our food system.
TB: Why did you start Alpha Foods?
CO: We launched Alpha Foods in 2015 with the mission of helping people change their diets without changing their lives by including plant-based products in their meal choices. Our goal is to remove the intimidation element around plant-based foods and instead make it something everyone can be a part of with delicious, protein-packed, frozen plant-based takes on all the favorites, including chicken nuggets, pizzas, pot pies and other familiar foods.
TB: Are you trying to help Americans eat healthier?
CO: Our top priority is helping consumers reduce their meat intake without actually missing out on the meat taste or feeling like they need to give up their favorite dishes. We're not here to push an extreme lifestyle shift to all plant-based, but to show people that making the occasional swap for foods that are better for them and better for the planet can be an easy and tasty choice. Along with creating meals that are better tasting and superior in texture, we make sure that our plant-based lineup supports other important consumer needs by being protein-packed, convenient and having a short cook time (under two minutes!).
TB: What do you eat in a day?
CO: Lemon water and black coffee to start always. From there, a smoothie and Alpha breakfast burrito followed by some kind of salad creation or taco / guacamole combo for lunch will get me through to dinner. At that point, anything delicious will satisfy me, but have taken a liking to mushroom and cauliflower creations lately.
TB: What advice do you have for people who want to go plant-based?
CO: Don’t overthink it! Incorporating plant-based products into your lifestyle doesn’t have to be intimidating. A good majority of the people who eat Alpha are actually flexitarians - meaning they’re semi-vegetarian and eat meat occasionally. It’s all about finding comfort in and enjoying the everyday foods you love without guilt.
Here is what Orobetz had to say about the new agency and campaign:
“We’ve pushed the plant-based industry far beyond what anyone several decades ago could have imagined for the category,” said Orobetz. “We’re far beyond the fringe now, which is to say we’re addressing the appetites and concerns of mainstream consumers – and now it’s time for us to match the exponential growth in the industry with multi-pronged marketing that addresses everyone, wherever they are on the road to eat more plants.”
“That’s why we’re so excited about our new partnership with Mischief @ No Fixed Address,” said Arinn Ryan, Alpha Foods’ Director of Marketing. “We’re two companies pushing for breakthroughs: where Alpha is dedicated to further disrupting and innovating in the plant-based industry we found a perfect match in the well-seasoned, creative team at Mischief.”
Mischief @ No Fixed Address, which officially became AOR of Alpha in December, is tasked with powering the brand’s voice and strategic positioning throughout 2021. Alpha is on a quest to open consumers up to a world of delicious plant-based alternatives as the category becomes more mainstream. Work has immediately started on-brand designs and a string of creative activations for the new year.
Kevin Mulroy, Executive Creative Director at Mischief @ No Fixed Address, said, “The category as a whole tends to be overly preachy or rigid. Alpha is perfectly positioned to change that. We’ve loved all of our chats with our new friends at Alpha. And we especially love their desire to be bold and disruptive in a category that desperately needs it.”
Alpha Foods was founded after Loren Wallis, a serial innovator in the plant-based foods space, shipped entrepreneur Cole Orobetz some of his products. They laid dormant in the back of Orobetz’s freezer for some time until a blizzard in his home of Calgary, Canada, forced him to reach for the snack.
It wasn’t long until the brand’s burritos lined 400 Walmart shelves across the USA. Other national chains, including Kroger, Publix, Albertsons/Safeway and Wegmans, soon followed. Alpha Foods recently launched a DTC subscription service for meal bundles. Today, Co-Founder and CIO Wallis and CEO Orobetz have raised $42M to-date and are now doubling-down on their marketing efforts.
Grocery sales of plant-based foods that directly replace animal products have grown 29% in the past two years to $5 billion, according to new data released in March this year and published by the Good Food Institute.
Dollar sales of plant-based foods grew 11% in 2019 and 29% in 2018 and 2019 combined. Comparatively, total US retail food dollar sales grew just 2% in 2019.
The plant-based meal category, comprising frozen and shelf-stable meals, is worth an estimated $377 million, according to the data. Dollar sales of plant-based meals grew 8% in 2019 and 25% over 2018 and 2019.