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Australian mushroom meat startup Fable Food Co has announced an AU$6.5 million (US$4.8 million) seed funding round led by Australian VC Blackbird Ventures, who famously backed no-code design sensation Canva as well as alt protein pioneers Sunfed Meats (plant-based chicken) and Vow (cell-based exotic meats). The young company, which was founded in 2019, has ambitious growth plans that include launching in the US market.
Fable Foods was started by a trio of food industry and business veterans including mycologist chef turned chemical engineer Jim Fuller, organic mushroom farmer Chris McLoghlin and serial entrepreneur Michael Fox, who founded custom footwear company Shoes of Prey.
Their seed round saw the participation of a number of plant-based meat enthusiasts including Silicon Valley’s AgFunder, sustainable tech fund Aera VC, APAC alt protein-focused Better Bite Ventures, as well as Singapore’s Choon Marketing Pte Ltd and Warren Hogarth, a former partner Sequoia Capital.
Speaking about the raise, Fuller said: “Thanks to the backing and support of Blackbird Ventures, AgFunder and all of our investors, we will be able to bring our delicious, clean, and responsibly crafted meaty mushroom products to more people around the world.”
Ready for global expansion
The startup plans to use the new capital on continued product development/R&D, as well as to scale globally. Fable currently has four ready meal mushroom meat products including braised beef, rogan josh meat and chilli con carne. Over the past 18 months, it has managed to get its range in large Australian retailers such as Woolworths and Coles, on meal delivery services at Marley Spoon and Dinnerly and is available across the country. Fable is already in Singapore and in the UK and plans to arrive on US shores before the end of the year.
Fable made headlines this month when it debuted its proprietary Meaty Mushroom Burger Pattie at clean-eating burger chain Grill’d, where multiple Fable burgers will be available at all 136 stores across Australia, including one sandwich created by world-famous Michelin-starred Heston Blumenthal. Co-founder Fox says the company is “continually developing delicious meaty mushroom products to make it as easy as possible for people to eat less meat.”
Blackbird Ventures’ general partner Nick Crocker underlined the company’s climate forward mission: “Fable is a pioneer in the meat alternative sector with their meaty mushroom products. Blackbird is proud to be on the journey with the team as they set out to solve one of the most pressing issues facing the planet.”
Minimally-processed, delicious and affordable
Unlike many leading plant-based meat brands, Fable’s products require minimal processing and boast a much shorter and ‘cleaner’ ingredient label, which is an important differentiator in the increasingly crowded vegan alternatives market. Further, mushrooms are an important part of any healthy diet and arguably, many consumers could do with eating more of them.
For investor and Better Bite Ventures general partner Simon Newstead, the company’s products offer a key USP: it’s genuinely delicious: “It’s always extra gratifying as an investor to back a startup whose products happen to be a family favorite. Fable and their delicious meaty mushroom products are loved by myself, my partner and our toddler as well as my non-vegan mum.”
Another competitive advantage for the mushroom meat upstart? Pricing. Co-founder Fox told the Sydney Morning Herald that the company’s products are already at comparable price parity with the pulled pork category they compete with on supermarket shelves, and they plan to lower costs even further: “As we continue to scale we’re going to be able to bring those costs down further, […] It’s much, much cheaper to produce products from plants rather than animals.”
Lead image courtesy of Fable Food Co.