Up until recently, Vejii primarily focused on its B2C business offering online shoppers a one-stop-shop for all their sustainable and plant-based needs with a growing assortment of name brand products spanning grocery, vitamins & supplements, protein & sports nutrition, pet supplies, and personal & home care, which customers have the option to receive in as little as 1-2 business days using the site's Vejii Express option.
But the acquisition of VEDGEco brings new B2B capabilities to Vejii's online platform, which bills itself as an "ethical Amazon" providing online shoppers with access to hundreds of plant-based and sustainable household brands.
"VEDGEco launched as one of the first online wholesale platforms dedicated to providing restaurants and independent grocers with a large selection of high-quality plant-based options," said Kory Zelickson, CEO of Vejii."This meant that small business owners could at last gain access to a large selection of plant-based products and ingredients without the requirements that typical larger national distributors have in place, such as large minimum order sizes."
VEDGEco's key personnel are expected to continue to run the operations of VEDGEco following closing of the transaction.
Last year, Vejii went public on the Canadian Stock Exchange shortly after acquiring another plant-based online retailer, Vegan Essentials. In its first public financial results, Vejii reported gross profit margins were up +23% for the three months ended Sept. 30, 2021 and forecasted that it would end the 2021 calendar year with revenues exceeding CA$1m.
'Most of us are likely to have our first experience trying new plant-based products at a restaurant'
Headquartered in Kailua Hawaii and launched in 2020, VEDGEco distributes a curated selection of plant-based meat, dairy, and egg alternatives in bulk to restaurants and wholesalers throughout the US (expanding its delivery footprint from Hawaii to mainland US the same year it launched). VEDGEco ships its products frozen and in compostable packaging to reduce its carbon footprint.
"I built VEDGEco out of a necessity, given the limited plant-based options available in the small and local grocers and restaurants where I live in Kailua, Hawaii," said Trevor Hitch, CEO of VEDGEco.
"Most of us are likely to have our first experience trying new plant-based products at a restaurant before purchasing those items to enjoy at home. With VEDGEco, our mission is to make plant-based options more broadly available by making them accessible to thousands of local restaurants across America. This access gives owners the ability to test products on their menu through our easy-to-use platform, without the need for long-term commitments or high, minimum order volumes. Owners can then see what works for their customer base and then return to re-order or test new options."
New and improved focus on B2B
With the acquisition of VEDGEco, Vejii can now build upon its B2B capabilities by augmenting the company's platform for sales, marketing and order fulfillment and distribution across the US and Canada, said Zelickson.
"We heard consistently from the brands that we serve that they were seeking to make the leap from e-commerce, to grocery and foodservice distribution. This could mean shipping samples, managing broker relationships, or gaining access to those restaurants and grocers not served by the larger wholesalers," added Zelickson.
"We already work with our brand partners on a business-to-consumer strategy through our marketplace, but now we can also help our brand partners get access to distribution in local restaurants and grocers, expanding Vejii's capabilities from just B2C to also include B2B and food service."
From a financial perspective, Vejii COO Darren Gill added how the VEDGEco acquisition will add an important new revenue stream for the company while providing brands on its platform increased value by opening up the opportunity to sell to retailers and the foodservice channel.
"As restaurants and grocers expand their plant-based offerings, we will be strategically positioned to serve them while helping plant-based brands scale their businesses by offering those brands access to national distribution through the VEDGEco wholesale platform," said Gill.