Rodd Willis of Dot Foods and Danny O’Malley of Before The Butcher

The Plantbased Business Hour

Rodd Willis of Dot Foods and Danny O’Malley from Before the Butcher join me on The Plantbased Business Hour to discuss the state of plant-based foods from a food service and white label perspective. These areas of the plant-based business sector are often overlooked and they are major drivers showing growth.

Below is a short clip and transcript from our conversation.

Elysabeth: I’m going to bring in my two co-hosts for today, my two guests. I have Rodd Willis who is the Director of Natural and Specialty Foods at Dot Foods which is a distributor, a fabulous distributor, and I have Danny O’Malley, the President of Before The Butcher. I want to thank you both for being with me.

I think at Plant Based World you shared with me that food service, I hope I get this right but you can clue me in on all the numbers, was about up 38%, is that right for alternative meats? But if you could share the numbers.

Rodd Willis: Yeah, so our food service channel is up about 38% right now in plant-based meat. It’s actually growing a little faster on the plant-based dairy side. It’s creeping up a little over 40% there, and again the retail numbers are flat but the food service numbers continue to get stronger. And I think what’s happening here is a lot of the broadline food distributors that are out there initially might have resisted going down this road but the consumer is ultimately demanding these products are available in venues that might not be considered known for vegan or vegetarian-type options. And so with the proliferation of brands and choice it’s forced those companies to react and when those companies have to react, one of the first places they look is Dot because they’re already buying from us and they’re able to add it to their order for no minimum. They can literally get a case of the product in in less than a week and so it’s easy for them to bring it in. It’s easy for them to make their customers happy and then as more and more of their customers see that they stock it creates more repeat orders for us.

Elysabeth: Yeah, that’s fantastic.

What have you guys decided to do since the Covid downturn?

Danny O’Malley: It was a difficult time so we evaluated our position at that time and said, “Hey, we’ve got to look at not where we are today but where are we going to be tomorrow and how are we going to protect ourselves and continue to grow our business?” We’ve been in business for five years now so we’re almost a legacy brand when it comes to plant-based meat alternatives and we’ve been with Dot for about four years now. Thank you Rodd, I appreciate you helping us out along the way, getting there, and staying there and growing. And we’re growing at about the same rate as Rodd mentioned for plant-based meats. 2020 to 2021 we were up 100% growth after the loss and then the rebuild and now we’re up significantly in 2022, continuing that rebuild.

But Rodd’s 100% right, there’s no loss of love for these types of products in food service and quite frankly on the retail side I think it’s a little bit skewed. They’re really focusing on the refrigerated area and I saw a report yesterday in Bloomberg, IRA Data. And it said that category, refrigerated plant-based meats, was down 10.5% over the last fifty two weeks. Okay yes but quite frankly some of these retailers, especially conventional, are still trying to figure out where to put these products because they need to find the consumer and the consumer needs to find them. And a lot of it has begun to shift. It’s shifting to what we call the vegan and vegetarian area in the stores and the frozen area. And the frozen area, to me, is exploding and boy have we captured that in a very big way. We are so excited about the growth that we have in food service and the growth we have in what I call ingredient-based or the industrial business where we sell our products as an ingredient for other producers who are making pizzas, burritos, bowls, you name it. Anything that is animal-based in the frozen foods department is being made in a plant-based version and we’re all over that. It has exploded for us this year and we’re so excited about it.


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