Daring, a Los Angeles-based startup known for its plant-based chicken, has announced the completion of its US$8 million Series A funding round. It plans to use the financing to accelerate its growth across the U.S. and comes ahead of its planned roll-out across restaurant chain Just Salad locations nationwide. It is also launching a new vegan chicken analogue product, available in a number of retail locations and through direct-to-consumer delivery on its own online platform.
Daring’s latest US$8 million Series A round of financing was led by Howard Schultz co-founded venture capital Maveron with participation from GoodFriends, a firm launched by the founders of Allbirds, Harry’s and Warby Parker, Stray Dog Capital and Palm Tree Crew. Private investors joining the round include Mike Smith, the CFO of data science-driven personal styling firm Stitch Fix, and the former chair of Burger King Brian Swette.
We will leverage this investment to continue our growth in an ever-changing, competitive landscape. This gets us a huge step closer to mitigating the negative impact of the poultry industry on the planet and human health.Ross MacKay, Co-Founder & CEO of Daring
The two-year-old food tech says that the funds will support the company’s growth across the U.S. and the launch of its brand new product dubbed Breaded Daring Pieces, a crispy version of its original high-protein Daring Pieces that comes in a number of flavour varieties such as lemon and herb and cajun. It’s line-up of vegan chicken analogues are made using soy protein and natural flavourings such as cardamom spice and salt, and come with 14-grams of protein per serve.
Speaking about the funding news, Daring’s CEO and co-founder Ross MacKay said: “We are excited to have attracted a group of investors that have been involved in building monumental consumer businesses and we will leverage this investment to continue our growth in an ever-changing, competitive landscape. This gets us a huge step closer to mitigating the negative impact of the poultry industry on the planet and human health.”
In a statement, the startup says that its new plant-based chicken product will be available direct-to-consumers via its online website and retailing at Gelson’s, Bristol Farms, and Fresh Thyme. Crucially, the funding will also support the brand’s major partnership with restaurant chain Just Salad, who will be serving Daring’s plant-based chicken across the U.S.
The news comes as the coronavirus prompts a surge in plant-based sales, driven by consumer concerns over food safety, health and supply chain breakdown the meat industry has experienced following widespread slaughterhouse viral outbreaks. In the U.S. alone, sales of plant-based meat analogues soared by 280% at the height of the first wave of the pandemic.
Given the demand, venture investment into plant-based food techs has picked up significantly, with a Good Food Institute (GFI) report tabulating that investment into U.S. plant-based startups hit a staggering US$741 million within the first quarter of this year – nearly matching the amount for the entirety of 2019, even as the coronavirus disrupts global economies.
We are in the early innings of the plant-based movement. The next wave of plant-based alternatives need to be significantly less processed with a cleaner ingredient profile to win the hearts, minds and stomachs of consumers.Dan Levitan, Managing Partner & Co-Founder of Maveron
Maveron, the venture capital leading Daring’s Series A, believes that the brand will stand out amongst its competitors as the plant-based industry continues to grow, due to its clean ingredient label that will appeal to increasingly health-conscious shoppers.
“We are in the early innings of the plant-based movement. The next wave of plant-based alternatives need to be significantly less processed with a cleaner ingredient profile to win the hearts, minds and stomachs of consumers,” said Dan Levitan, managing partner and co-founder of Maveron. “We are confident that Daring will emerge as a leader in the space.”
All images courtesy of Daring.