SINGAPORE: Next Gen Foods Pte, a Singapore-based maker of faux chicken meat, raised US$100 million to expand in the US, the world’s biggest market for plant-based protein foods.
Investors in the Series A round included Alpha JWC, EDBI and MPL Ventures, with existing backers Temasek Holdings Pte, GGV Capital, K3 Ventures and Bits x Bites participating. The fresh capital brings the total raised by the startup to more than US$130 million and follows a seed round last year.
A move into the US pits Next Gen Foods against Impossible Foods Inc and Beyond Meat Inc, whose meatless offerings have gained ground in many eateries and homes. The alternative protein market has been on the rise as consumers look for options that might be more sustainable than traditional animal products.
Next Gen Foods’ product, called Tindle, contains “lipi”, a signature mix of plant-based ingredients the startup says imparts a chicken-like taste the same way heme is considered key to the Impossible Burger’s flavour.
Next Gen plans to distribute to restaurants in major cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, hoping to win over fans before expanding to more locations and stores. The company will also use the fresh funds for research and development, education and to build up its supply chain.
The bigger US rivals are also expanding in faux chicken meat. Impossible Foods introduced a line of faux chicken nuggets in 2021, while Beyond Meat partnered with KFC to market its soy-based meatless nuggets.
Yet Next Gen is confident there’s room for more brands in the market. The company is betting that it can win over restaurants and consumers by giving them more than one type of plant-based chicken product.
The US “is the most mature and the biggest market in the world for this industry, but it’s far from being truly competitive,” Andre Menezes, co-founder and chief executive officer of Next Gen, said in a video interview. “If you show me one chef that’s genuinely excited with nuggets to put it on the centre of the plate, I would be very surprised.”
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