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Meltable plant-based cheese brand Good Planet Foods recently raised US$12 million in a Series A funding round. The allergen-friendly vegan cheese startup is available at major retailers in the United States as well as fast food operators, and has previously partnered with both Silicon Valley food tech giants Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. The funding news comes as demand for vegan alternatives continues to surge, while animal products take a hit from the coronavirus supply chain breakdown.
Good Planet Foods (stylised as GOOD PLANeT Foods), recently announced a US$12 million Series A round. The investment was led by Chicago-based venture fund Cleveland Avenue, alongside San Francisco early-stage fund GreatPoint Ventures, Illinois private equity firm Tasseo Consumer, alternative protein investors Stray Dog Capital and Lever VC.
The Washington-based vegan cheese startup plans to use the funding to expand its line of non-GMO, allergen-free, kosher and halal certified plant-based cheese products, and on sales and marketing.
Good Planet Foods was founded by David Israel in 2017, and has since become the fastest-growing food tech in its category, available at major U.S. retailers including Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Wegmans and Safeway. It most recently partnered with industry pioneer Beyond Meat to bring a plant-based frozen pizza, expected to be retailed this year in its domestic market.
Its products, among them include shredded mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar and provolone, are made from refined coconut oil and plant starches. Unlike artisanal plant-based cheeses that are suited for cheese boards, the brand’s meltable cheeses are designed to complement mainstream comfort foods, such as burgers, pizzas and sandwiches.
It first launched via foodservice in late 2018, and is currently collaborating with fast food giant White Castle, where its plant-based cheeses are available as an add-on to any burger and features in the chain’s vegan slider made with an Impossible Foods patty. It makes Good Planet Foods one of the only brands having worked with both rivals Impossible and Beyond.
While the coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly caused a surge in plant-based food sales, particularly as viral outbreaks in slaughterhouses globally have shut down the meat supply chain and alerted consumers to food safety concerns, the demand for vegan alternatives had already been steadily increasing prior to the crisis.
According to SPINS data commissioned by nonprofit Good Food Institute (GFI), sales of plant-based cheese had grown 18% in 2019 to reach US$190 million, and the latest Transparency Market Research report estimates that the sector will hit US$7 billion by 2030. Meanwhile, sales of traditional dairy products had fallen sharply, with the two biggest dairy producers in the U.S. falling into bankruptcy last year.
Good Planet Foods’ funding news follows multiple plant-based food techs investment announcements in recent weeks, as major capital flows into the vegan industry while sentiment for traditional animal agriculture companies goes awry amidst the pandemic.
In just this first quarter of 2020 alone, plant-based protein companies in the United States have raised a total of US$741 million in investment – nearly matching a record $747 million raised in the whole of 2019.
Lead image courtesy of Good Planet Foods.