Monday, November 28 2022

A new $20 million food manufacturing plant in London will power a nationwide chain of vegan fast food restaurants.

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A new $20 million food manufacturing plant in London will power a nationwide chain of vegan fast food restaurants that was born here and is now expanding nationwide.

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Odd Burger Corp. plans to build a 5,000 square meter factory on two hectares of land on Innovation Drive, where plant-based protein products and dairy-free sauces will be manufactured and shipped across Canada, said James McInnes, general manager of ‘Odd Burger. – which started in London under its original name, Globally Local.

“This is a game-changer for London in the sustainable food manufacturing sector here. At its core is the vision to feed people food that is sustainable, affordable and has health benefits over other protein sources,” said McInnes, who runs the company with his wife Vasiliki. “One of the biggest challenges we face globally is food security and a big part of the solution is sustainable food.”

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London politicians approved the sale of the land at a city council meeting on Tuesday. Construction of the factory could take up to two years and is expected to create more than 50 jobs in London.

“We are building one of the most advanced plant-based food manufacturers in Canada here,” McInnes said.

The London plant will manufacture 13 different protein products, made from beef, chicken and pork, and eight dairy-free sauces. The products will also be nut-free.

Odd Burger isn’t done growing either, McInnes said. “We have had enormous interest from the United States. We are currently negotiating agreements. American culture is all about fast food.

Odd Burger started life in London as Globally Local and is still headquartered here, but has grown to become one of the fastest growing vegan fast food chains in Canada. He has restaurants in Toronto, Windsor, Waterloo, Hamilton, Whitby and in London on the Commissioners and Wellington roads.

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In June, Odd Burger Corp. announced that it will franchise 40 new locations in Ontario over the next eight years. In March, it announced 36 new locations in Alberta and British Columbia over the next seven years. In total, Odd Burger has 92 owned establishments open or under development.

The new London manufacturing facility will be operated by Odd Burger’s manufacturing and food technology subsidiary, Preposterous Foods Inc.

“I am delighted that there is an opportunity for a fast food chain to be vegan, to fill that niche in the market,” said Glenn Whitehead, owner of Plant Matter restaurants in London and campaigner for the vegan food scene. Londoner. “I know the restaurant business and it’s an emerging market. It’s a good time for that.

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Apart from Copper Branch, which also has a restaurant in London, there are few vegan food chains, he said. “They are really the first to do it and there is an opportunity. They have the system in place to make a consistent product. It’s a big advantage.

Globally Local opened in 2016 with a restaurant on Dundas Street downtown, which closed in 2021. It also had a restaurant on Highbury Avenue.

He opened a restaurant in Toronto in 2019, then in Windsor in 2020 and other locations in 2021 and this year. This sparked a deal to expand into western Canada.

It was rebranded in 2021 as Odd Burger, the same year it went public, selling shares on the TSX.

Another thing that makes the Odd Burge franchise so appealing to owner-operators is that it’s highly automated, with ordering and payment on screens in the restaurant, meaning one person can run a restaurant if necessary. .

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Today, Odd Burger has a small 460 square meter factory on Consortium Court in London where it manufactures food for its restaurants.

Other local vegan food makers include Nuts for Cheese, which makes cheese-like products and non-dairy spreads from cashews, and Cardiff Products, which produces non-dairy milk and other products.

As with other protein companies in London, Aspire Foods makes protein powder from crickets, Cargill processes chicken products for McDonald’s restaurants, and Maple Leaf Foods will open a chicken processing plant here in 2023. Sikorski Sausage has become a major supplier of sausages, cold cuts and bacon.

“We are developing a niche in alternative proteins and that puts London on the radar, so we will continue to attract further food investment,” said Kapil Lakhotia, chief executive of the London Economic Development Corp. “Food has become the backbone of the advanced manufacturing sector. It gives us stability, which allows us to better withstand economic cycles.

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As well as supplying Odd Burger restaurants, Preposterous Foods also plans to launch a range of retail products from London to be sold in grocery stores and direct-to-consumer channels. It will also sell to institutions such as hospitals and schools.

“This investment by Odd Burger is just the latest in a long list of recent examples of why London’s economy continues to be among the best in all of Canada,” said Acting Mayor Josh Morgan. from London. “As a consultant, and with strong support from LEDC, we have worked exceptionally hard to ensure businesses and industries choose London when launching or expanding their operations.”

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