Premium for plant-based: How a higher value yet minimal processing strategy enables Fable Foods to achieve price parity

By Pearly Neo contact

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Fable Foods says a relentless focuses on greater premiumisation and minimal processing are enabling it to maintain price parity with conventional meat items. ©Fable Foods
Fable Foods says a relentless focuses on greater premiumisation and minimal processing are enabling it to maintain price parity with conventional meat items. ©Fable Foods

Related tags: mushrooms, plant-based, price parity

Australia-based plant-based firm Fable Foods says a relentless focuses on greater premiumisation and minimal processing for its shiitake mushroom-based products are enabling it to maintain price parity with conventional meat items.

Fable Foods is already present in most Australian major retail supermarkets from Woolworths to Coles to Harris Farms, and the firm’s CEO and Co-Founder Michael Fox believes that its minimal processing and approach of targeting more premium products is what has helped put it on a level playing ground with similar products made of conventional meat.

“Our approach so far has been to target the more premium products such as slow-cooked meats like braised beef and pulled pork, which has helped us reach price parity faster,”​ fox told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“In addition, we’ve also always kept our processing very minimal and natural, which means not needing to pay extra money for the processing. Shiitake mushrooms are our main ingredient, and are actually one of the most common agricultural products out there even when compared with things like soy and peas, which also helps.

“I think our simple model has worked well, as we’ve managed to keep up with the price points for conventional products – for example, when we were launching in Woolworths, we saw that the pricing for things like pulled pork and beef brisket were around A$8.50 (US$6.59) per 250g, so we launched at the same price, and then later when the prices of the conventional products dropped by a dollar or so, we were in a position to follow suit as well.

“We’ve done the same in foodservice outlets we are in – and all of this is actually before scaling up. As we scale, we can reduce costs and prices further and will eventually be able to beat the pricing of conventional products.”

Fable Foods also differs from competitors by using agriculturally-grown shiitake mushrooms – not fermented mushrooms/fungi or soy/pea proteins – as its hero ingredient.

“Shiitake mushrooms have been grown for over 3,000 years and there is a strong understanding of its benefits in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and western science is starting to catch on too. Overall, these mushrooms are held in high regard as a nutritional and, in some places, medicinal source, which we are leveraging on,”​ said Fox.

“They also have the same natural umami flavours which help make meat appealing, so the taste factor is [strong too].”

Other than mushrooms, other ingredients in Fable Foods’ products include coconut oil, soy protein as a binder, and natural flavours such as gluten-free soy sauce, salt, pepper and yeast extract.

There are currently five products in the firm’s retail RTE portfolio: stroganoff, rogan josh, teriyaki, honey soy sesame, goulash pepper stew; in addition to its base product braised beef, all of which are available in major retail outlets.

B2B then B2C

Fable Foods has also already taken its products overseas to places like the United Kingdom and Singapore, and is best known for having famed UK celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal as its first customer.

“Our market strategy overseas in the UK and Singapore is very much B2B first then B2C – our position in the UK for example is as a premium, healthy product so we’re launching with chefs first to kick off,”​ said Fox.

In Singapore, Fable Foods is working with local salad chain SaladStop, several upscale restaurants and Chef Sowmiya Venkatesan of MasterChef Singapore fame.

“Working with slow-cooked meats is also an advantage here, as we know of more restaurants that have put Beyond or Impossible on the menu, but we are not doing the same things they do so we are not competing with these brands but can instead be complementary to them, so it’s easier to be picked up,”​ he said.

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