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Santiago-based plant-based meat and dairy maker NotCo will soon be worth US$250 million after reports that it is about to close an US$85 million funding round. Since the launch of its plant-based mayonnaise product, the brand has developed vegan milk, ice cream and burgers. Having a strong presence in Latin America, the food tech hopes to be able to disrupt traditionally meat-loving markets in the region with its sustainable alternatives.
According to TechCrunch, NotCo will soon be closing a US$85 million funding round that will bring its valuation up to US$250 million. Previous investors of NotCo include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ investment firm Bezos Expeditions, London-based The Craftory, early-stage startup investor SOS Ventures and San Francisco-based accelerator IndieBio.
Likely investors in the new round of financing include private equity firm L Catterton Partners and Future Positive Capital, which is backed by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.
It was also reported that NotCo will be expanding its product line with new plant-based substitutes, including a chicken analogue.
Currently, the brand has a firm hold in Latin American markets. Their plant-based burgers are available in supermarket chains in Argentina and Chile, and have recently signed a landmark deal with fast food giant Burger King to launch in Brazil, the region’s biggest market and the world’s third largest consumer of beef.
Brazil is one of the key markets to watch for plant-based protein growth, especially as vegan food tech giant Beyond Meat enters retail in the country in order to vie for a share.
Investor interest in plant-based meat and dairy has surged amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen mainstream consumers opt for safer and more crisis-resilient alternatives in light of the meat supply chain breakdown induced by global slaughterhouse viral outbreaks.
Despite the economic volatility in this period, alternative protein companies in all categories have one after another made funding announcements, from fermented animal-free dairy brand Perfect Day to vegan oat milk maker Oatly and Silicon Valley’s famous food tech giant Impossible Foods.
A number of FMCG titans have also decided to ramp up alternative protein choices in light of the meat crisis, further strengthening the foothold that food techs are gaining in the market. Starbucks China recently signed a milestone partnership with Oatly, Omnipork and Beyond Meat to roll out meat-free dishes nationwide, while KFC announced its commitment to develop lab-grown 3D bioprinted chicken nuggets.
Beyond being a far more crisis-resilient and safe choice, alternative proteins leave behind a much smaller footprint on the planet, which scientists say is vital to both curb the climate crisis and prevent the risk of future diseases. Currently, animal agriculture alone produces 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases, not to mention its hefty land and water use that drives pollution and deliberate deforestation.
All images courtesy of NotCo.