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A new plant-based meat company has launched in Australia, backed by Atlassian's co-founder Mike-Cannon Brookes

James Hennessy
  • Plant-based meat company Fable has launched in Australia, backed by Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes.
  • The company's products are made primarily from mushrooms but are designed to have the same texture and taste as meat.
  • Fable's products will be rolled out in restaurants in London, Australia, and in Singapore.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Another plant-based meat company has launched in Australia.

Fable unveiled its plant-based pulled pork and beef brisket on Wednesday, joining a string of plant-based companies that are popping up in Australia such as v2food, Soulfresh and New Zealand's Sunfed.

The product was launched at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Crown Towers in Melbourne, a fitting location as Blumenthal himself jumped on board to support Fable.

Fable's "meat" is mostly made of shiitake mushrooms, and is designed to have the same taste and texture of pulled pork and beef brisket.

“In today’s world, we need to be mindful about what we eat," Blumenthal said in a statement. "The new Fable product combines the natural benefits of shiitake mushrooms with fantastic innovation resulting in something that not only tastes great but can be used in a variety of ways as a meat alternative.

"Through the last months, we have been extensively testing the product with some of our recipes and realised that this product goes beyond replacing meat, it should be in a category of its own.”

Fable was co-founded by Michael Fox, the co-founder of former startup Shoes of Prey, together with Jim Fuller, a fine dining chef and mycologist – a "mushroom scientist" – and organic mushroom farmer Chris McLoghlin.

“We focus on taste and texture first," Fuller said in a statement. "I’m Texan and grew up on BBQ. Our goal with Fable has been to re-create the taste and texture of pulled pork and beef brisket, two of my favourite meats.”

The launch comes as Fable raised $1.5 million in funding co-led by Blackbird Ventures and Grok Ventures – the venture capital company founded by Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes. The funds will be used to make more mushroom-based meat alternatives as well as expand Fable's distribution in restaurants and stores.

"Blackbird and Grok are both really interested in this whole future of food and sustainability and the health benefits of reducing meat consumption," Fox told Business Insider Australia. "We're thrilled to have them on as partners and investors."

Why name the company Fable?

Fox described a "fable" as a short story, usually with animals as characters that convey a moral, but added, "Not that we want to go out conveying morals". He went on to say, that the name worked well with what the company was trying to achieve.

"The reason that we're doing a plant-based meat company is because we want to help reduce our society's reliance on industrial animal agriculture for a whole range of health, sustainability and ethical reasons," he told Business Insider Australia. "We felt that definition of the name Fable sort of aligns nicely with what we're doing."

And mushrooms are part of it too. "We use mushrooms as the base for the Fable product and mushrooms also have this interesting, mystical, fantasy, storytelling element so the name Fable seemed to fit."

As a vegetarian himself, Fox said "I'm not the target market" for Fable products.

"We want to help meat-eaters who want to reduce their meat consumption," he said. He also mentioned it as an option for flexitarians and people who may not want to keep eating falafel or even mushrooms.

"They love the taste and texture of meat and they still crave that," he said.

"The idea was to produce a product that has that taste and texture and deliciousness of meat" Fox added, with "minimally processed ingredients" and a mushroom base.

Getting Heston Blumenthal on board

When asked how famed chef Heston Blumenthal got involved with the company, Fox said it came after his fellow cofounders met with a mushroom professor in Thailand.

He said McLaughlin and Fuller went to Thailand to meet with a Thai mushroom professor. At the same time, Blumenthal had been looking more into mushrooms and reached out to the same professor.

It was that professor who eventually introduced Blumenthal to both McLaughlin and Fuller.

Once Fable eventually created their planted based product, they gave it to Blumenthal to try when they met him once again in Singapore.

"He was keen to work with the product," Fox said. "And so he took some back to London with him and his development team have been developing dishes to go on the menus in his restaurants," Fox said. "And he was kind enough to let us serve up some of those dishes ... at Dinner by Heston for our launch."

Fox said Fable's product was designed with chefs in mind and will be launched in restaurants before going to retailers.

The plant-based meat will be heading to Heston’s restaurants, beginning with The Perfectionists’ Café in London Heathrow before making its way to Australia. It will be launching in at Kingsleys and The Winery in Sydney, The Esplanade in Melbourne and Glass House Brewery in Queensland.

Fox added that Fable will be rolling out across 50-60 restaurants in January and then it's going to head into stores.

"Our goal is to be in retail by roughly the middle of next year," he said.