Alternative protein startups have attracted a lot of investor attention in recent years and the trend looks set to continue. The latest startup with funding news is Next Gen Foods, the maker of the plant-based chicken alternative TiNDLE. The company announced today that it has raised a $100 million Series A that will be used to rapidly expand in the United States and at its research and development center in Singapore, which is currently under construction.
Next Gen Foods says this is the largest Series A ever raised by a plant-based meat company, based on Pitchbook data. TechCrunch first covered Next Gen Foods when it raised a $10 million seed round in February 2021, and a $20 million extension just five months later.
The company’s Series A, which brings total funding to date to $130 million, includes new investors Alpha JWC, EDBI and MPL Ventures, as well as returning investors such as Temasek (through the full Asia Sustainable Food Platform), GGV Capital, K3 Ventures and Bits X Bites. The new capital will be used to fuel TiNDLE’s distribution in all 50 states.
Like other alternative protein brands, including Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, Next Gen Foods is building brand awareness through partnerships with chefs who create and serve dishes in their restaurants, before moving to other distribution channels such as supermarkets. It’s currently available at restaurants in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Napa, New York, and Philadelphia, with more planned, including Miami and Austin.
Starting today, US distributors can also order TiNDLE through DOT Foods, one of the largest food re-distributors in the US. It is also available through FoodServiceDirect.com and Cheetah for restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Co-founder and CEO Andre Menezes says TiNDLE, made with a proprietary blend of plant-based ingredients, such as sunflower oil, has already proven its ability to work in a variety of cuisines through launches in Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur. Dubai and Amsterdam.
Next Gen Foods’ rapid international expansion was enabled by its asset-light model, Menezes said. Rather than build its own manufacturing facilities, Next Gen Foods will partner with manufacturing partners in each of its markets, including the US, in a relationship that compares Menezes to Apple and Foxconn.
“If we built our own factory and did everything ourselves, we’d probably still be building it now and hiring the talent to start our first expansion, and we’d probably have invested all the capital shareholders have invested in us in the process. building that facility,” he said. “For us, that’s not fast or scalable enough for our business model and we believe there are people all over the world who can do that extremely well.”
Next Gen Foods develops components, ingredients, and recipes, then contracts manufacturing with partners, sharing quality assurance procedures to ensure everyone uses the same processes to maintain consistency.
TiNDLE is the first brand of Next Gen Foods and it plans to expand its product offering, including various categories of TiNDLE (such as ready-to-eat nuggets or tenders). Menezes said it eventually plans to introduce alternatives to animal proteins other than chicken, but that probably won’t happen within the next two years as the priority is to expand TiNDLE’s presence in the US and other major markets. such as Brazil or China.
Next Gen Foods’ R&D center is being developed in collaboration with the Food Tech Innovation Center, which was established by Temasek’s Asia Sustainable Foods Platform. The company plans to hire protein scientists and food technologists in Singapore (which has become a major hub for the development and production of alternative meats), Europe and the United States.
In a prepared statement, GGV Capital managing partner Jenny Lee said: “Next Gen Foods’ growth in less than a year has been remarkable, as has their continued commitment to being part of the solution for how global food production will play a significant role in addressing the impacts of climate change. We look forward to their next phase of expansion to the US and beyond.”