Next Gen, a Singapore-based food tech, has just announced its official launch after closing a US$2.2 million seed funding round. The startup has already established its R&D centre in the city-state, where it plans to develop its line of plant-based proteins with a production capacity of supplying at least 9,000 restaurants. After launching in Singapore, the company has set its sights on expanding to key markets including China, the U.S. and Europe over the next few years.
Announced last Thursday (October 1), Next Gen has raised US$2.2 million in a seed round fully funded by the company’s co-founder and CEO Timo Recker, who previously created German plant-based meat brand LikeMeat which he sold to LIVE KINDLY Collective earlier this year. Along with co-founder and COO Andre Menezes, formerly the general manager of Country Foods Singapore, one of the companies behind Impossible Foods distribution in South East Asia, Next Gen will be building its global consumer alternative protein brand in Singapore and will roll out first in the city via foodservice within the next six months.
Menezes told Green Queen that his new role is a logical next step after years of “working with leading players in the meat industry” and “active market development for Plant-Based Protein in Singapore”. “I am proud to partner with one of the most successful plant-based meat entrepreneurs, Timo Recker, to bring remarkable food experiences in plant-based meat to consumers. With our technical experience, market knowledge and an extensive network, we will fill the void in the market that chefs and consumers have been waiting for.” he added.
Also joining the Next Gen founding team as CTO is John Seeger, who has previously worked with LikeMeat and managed several plant-based food R&D projects. The brand says that its entire product line will be 100% vegan-friendly, produced sustainably and contain GMO-free ingredients.
Our plant protein production and distribution are being built around a network of partners, who bring capacity, expertise and resources that can be scaled quickly…Based on current average consumption, that means we expect we could serve 9,000 restaurants.Timo Recker, Co-Founder & CEO of Next Gen
Already set up its leadership headquarters and R&D centre in Singapore, the startup says that currently, with its production and distribution network, it plans to be able to manufacture over 5,000 tons of plant-based meat annually, with China, the U.S. and Europe as its key target markets for expansion over the next three years.
“Our plant protein production and distribution are being built around a network of partners, who bring capacity, expertise and resources that can be scaled quickly,” said Recker. “Based on current average consumption, that means we expect we could serve 9,000 restaurants.” Further down the road after launching in key cities across Asia-Pacific, the startup says it will begin to introduce retail lines as well.
Recker told Green Queen that the startup is now preparing to secure further funding from an ongoing pre-Series A round by the year-end, and looking ahead to a further raise next year: “We are also preparing to onboard external investors for our Series A financing round in 2021. These funds will drive our global expansion, technology and R&D.”
Versatility plays a critical part in our product research and development. We want our product to be versatile, customisable and able to cater to different markets, cuisines and preferred cooking methods…[and] will be available in different shapes, flavours and types, catering to the specific needs of different markets and channels.Andre Menezes, Co-Founder & COO of Next Gen
The first product that Next Gen will be rolling out is a plant-based chicken analogue. Speaking to Green Queen exclusively, Menezes explains that the product will aim to satisfy consumers’ desire for the qualities of chicken thigh, which their research indicates is “preferred among consumers in terms of taste, texture, aroma and juiciness”.
“Our product was developed in collaboration with numerous chefs in Singapore, catering to different types of cuisines,” adds Menezes, who told Green Queen that their product could be used in popular chicken dishes including Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese, Indian, Peranakan, Singaporean ones, to fast-food style burger patty, fried chicken, and even Mediterranean and western.
“Versatility plays a critical part in our product research and development. We want our product to be versatile, customisable and able to cater to different markets, cuisines and preferred cooking methods…[and] will be available in different shapes, flavours and types, catering to the specific needs of different markets and channels”, he added.
The startup specifically chose Singapore as its headquarter destination because of its “unmatchable booming food tech ecosystem,” Recker told Green Queen. “Singapore has a very well-known business friendly environment – supportive government policies and a strong infrastructure for startups along with easy access to talents and investment.”
We have access to the best research & development centres, multinational companies, cooking academies and world-class chefs from every imaginable cuisine, enabling us to serve multicultural consumers here, in Asia and around the globe.Timo Recker, Co-Founder & CEO of Next Gen
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the city-state has further ramped up support for local food production, pledging an additional S$30 million (US$21 million) “30×30” express grant, with a number of urban farms already receiving the backing of the Singapore government in recent weeks.
“We have access to the best research & development centres, multinational companies, cooking academies and world-class chefs from every imaginable cuisine, enabling us to serve multicultural consumers here, in Asia and around the globe.”
All images courtesy of Next Gen.