Singapore’s food-tech startup Shandi has closed a second seed round of funding, totaling $700,000 USD. The raise will help the brand accelerate product launches across Asia.
Shandi was launched in 2019 by food industry expert, research veteran, and lifelong vegetarian, Dr. Reena Sharma. The company makes unique pull-apart meaty vegan chicken using non-GMO ingredients including pea protein, chickpeas, whole grains, seeds, and coconut oil.
“We’re thrilled to bring on board a variety of strategic investors, from a large food corporation to a sector-specific venture capital firm as well as an angel investor. This represents a strong validation of our technology and product, and we look forward to working with our investors to move to the next phase and bring our products to market. With its strong logistics and supply chain, forward-looking regulatory framework and supportive government initiatives, Singapore is well-positioned to host our first commercial plant and we’re delighted to be setting up here,” Sharma said in a statement.
Growth in alternative protein
Investors include the Singapore-headquartered Tolaram, which is one of Africa’s largest packaged food companies. This marks Tolaram’s first foray into the vegan and plant-based protein category. Other investors include Australia-based food-tech accelerator SparkLabs Cultiv8, and former CEO-India for Louis Dreyfus and prominent angel investor Simmarpal Singh.
“We continue to see strong growth in the alternative protein category, especially when more affordable options become available for emerging markets. We believe that Shandi could be a game-changer as they have created a chicken substitute that not only tastes and behaves like the animal meat but is also priced at par with it,” Deepak Singhal, MD of Consumer Products at Tolaram, said in a statement. “We are excited to help them go-to-market and grow, utilizing our resources, network, and experience in building consumer brands from the ground up.”
Graham Bougen, Program Director, SparkLabs Cultiv8 says Shandi is certainly not the first plant-based protein company, but said it is “the first true meat alternative we have seen that overcomes the barriers inhibiting current products in the market. Shandi’s product is low cost, nutritional and can be cooked just like real meat in any application.”
Bernice Tay, Director of Food Manufacturing, Enterprise Singapore added: “We are excited to see Tolaram partner Shandi to introduce a new variety of plant-based chicken to the market. Such partnerships between established food companies and emerging food tech startups invigorate the local alternative protein ecosystem and provide greater variety and offerings for consumers. We hope to encourage more of such collaborations going forward.”
According to Shandi, the funding will accelerate new product innovation including new textures, formats, and expansion into other meats, too. It currently produces shreds, pieces, strips, and a signature drumstick. It has a patent-pending process that involves the ability to isolate specific amino acids in plants. These amino acids mimic the meaty taste and texture of chicken, including what happens during cooking. This, the company says, is paramount to creating vegan meats that taste and cook like animal counterparts, but something a number of manufacturers fail to consider.
Shandi says it that be recreating the taste of chicken via amino acids instead of chemical additives, it has cracked the code on a superior tasting product.
“Plant-based diets don’t have to be expensive and can be affordable and sustainable,” Sharma told Green Queen last January. “That’s why after two years of hard work, we have created a product that can provide a substitute for meat, and will be cheaper than the real thing.”
Shandi’s vegan chicken is heading to foodservice accounts in early 2022 before bringing them to market in retail.
All images courtesy of Shandi.