Singaporean plant based meat startup Next Gen Foods has secured a record breaking $100 million, the largest single Series A investment in the sector to date, following its two-part $30M seed last July. The company’s vegan chicken TiNDLE, which debuted less than 18 months ago, is now present in over 200 restaurants across 6 cities from Amsterdam to Hong Kong.
Investors include Alpha JWC, EDBI, and MPL Ventures, as well as a host of returning backers such as Temasek via its Asia Sustainable Foods Platform, K3 Ventures, Bits x Bites and GGV Capital. Funding will be used to increase TiNDLE’s distribution across all 50 U.S. states. In addition, Next Gen Foods is expanding its R&D globally with the aim of develop more sustainable protein product lines.
“We seek companies that can separate themselves from the rest of the industry through technology, innovation and passion. Next Gen Foods’ growth in less than a year has been remarkable, as is their ongoing commitment to being part of the solution for how global food production will play a significant role in addressing the impact of climate change,” said Jenny Lee, managing partner at GGV Capital, of their continued support.
The need for plant-based meat
Food tech companies across the globe are clamouring to address the over-reliance on industrial animal agriculture due to the latter’s links to climate change, deforestation, water pollution, animal welfare issues and more. According to the TiNDLE website, their vegan chicken requires 74% less land, 88% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and 82% less water than chicken from birds. The TiNDLE product does not contain added hormones or antibiotics, both of which are heavily used in conventionally raised chicken.
According to non-profit the Good Food Institute (GFI’s)’s database, which tracks the alternative protein industry as a whole, there are currently over 430 companies making plant-based meat globally. Leaders include Californian competitors Beyond Meat, which famously IPOed in 2019 and Impossible Foods, as well as Hong-Kong-based OmniFoods. A Boston Consulting Group study commissioned by alternative protein investor Blue Horizon suggests the industry could be worth upwards of $290 million by the mid 2030s.
U.S. key for TiNDLE’s expansion plan
International distribution is key on the agenda for TiNDLE. The brand has raised $130 million to date, allowing for an aggressive expansion plan in the world’s largest market for plant-based meat. DOT, the largest re-distributor in the U.S., is on board, alongside other online marketplaces. Diners can currently try the plant-based chicken at select restaurants throughout the U.S. and nationwide via home delivery platform Goldbelly.
“There’s no question that the United States is home to some of the best food cities on the planet – and we’re excited to bring TiNDLE to this market and hear what consumers think,” says Andre Menezes, CEO and co-founder of Next Gen Foods. “The U.S. has long been a target market for us, and thanks to our lineup of fantastic investors who have participated in this funding round, this is only the beginning of our journey in delivering delicious and sustainable foods to reverse our climate crisis.”
Both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have recently launched chicken products with Beyond even debuting its nuggets at KFC last month. The plant-based chicken sector is one that is becoming increasingly competitive of late, with a host of upstarts gaining traction. TiNDLE’s product differentiates itself from the rest due to its unique format, which allows chefs and cooks to use it in a wide range of cuisines and applications.
The product, made from a blend of soy, wheat gluten and wheat starch, coconut oil, oat fiber and methylcellulose, also contains the company’s trademarked Lipi™, a sunflower oil based blend that the company claims mimics chicken fat.
Former Impossible Foods CCO Rachel Konrad joined Next Gen’s advisory board last September, saying at the time that the company’s leadership team “stands out for its passion and ambition to develop food that represents a categorical upgrade from Old Meat—and the company’s first product is an absolute blast to cook.”
R&D a near-future focus
Next Gen Foods says it will use the funds for a range of development projects too, such as the completion of a research hub in Singapore, slated to open later this year. A flagship R&D innovation location, it was created with help from the Food Tech Innovation Center (FTIC). As part of the Temasek Asia Sustainable Foods Platform, the FTIC will offer Next Gen’ Foods’ hub a launchpad for its new products, technologies and protocols.
As the young company grows, so too will the team, with added funding a boon for recruitment efforts. Next Gen is hiring protein scientists and food tech experts to support international operations.
TiNDLE’s recent launch in the U.S. via foodservice follows successful rollout in other competitive markets. A hit domestically, the brand can be found throughout Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and Amsterdam.
All photos by TiNDLE/Next Gen Foods.