Moku: Hawaii-Based Vegan Brand Launches Mushroom Jerky Line Backed By Thrive & Casper Founders

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Founded by Hawaiian entrepreneur Matt Feldman vegan brand Moku has launched a line of plant-based jerky created from king oyster mushrooms. Moku aims to make vegan jerky accessible and tasty for all by launching the product in three flavours including Original, Hawaiian Teriyaki, and Sweet & Spicy.

Feldman came upon the business idea after he bought portobello mushrooms in bulk to try and make his own jerkey at home. He marinated and dried the fungi, and the end product was a hit for friends and family. He experimented with coconut aminos, chickpea miso and maple syrup for flavouring. Some time later, he met Thomas Bowman, a Michelin-starred chef and the former Head of Product Development at JUST, who helped transform his mushroom product to a meat-like texture in a matter of six months.

In addition, Feldman sought out the help of F&B veteran Melissa Facchina, bringing her on as a co-founder, and joined forces with award-winning culinary expert, Ali Bouzari.

Moku received initial financial support to launch their initial product from the CEO of Thrive Market, Nick Green; Casper co-founder and COO Neil Parikh, and the founders of Soylent, Juneshine, and Mendocino Farms.

Aside from this, the company also gained investment capital from major firms like Siddhi Capital, Vanterra Capital’s Accelerator Fund (VAF) – a leading fund dedicated to helping mission-driven consumer companies scale and drive meaningful change, and KBW Ventures—an asset management firm managed by Saudi Arabia’s vegan Prince Khaled Alwaleed bin Talal. 

In an interview with Forbes, Feldman, who is a recent honoree of this year’s 30 under 30 list, said that from an early age growing up in O‘ahu, Hawaii, an island with limited natural resources, he understood the importance of sustainability. “I also understood how our choices impacted both our island and the planet we live on. As I began learning about the immense carbon footprint of the beef industry, I gravitated towards more plant-based foods. In 2018 when I was looking for a plant-based jerky that was clean and emulated the taste and texture of beef, I couldn’t find one I liked so I made my own.” 

Founder of Moku, Matt Feldman. Source: Moku’s Facebook Page

We’re not here just to make jerky. We’re here to encourage everyone to take mindful steps towards a healthier, sustainable future—from our snack choices to our day-to-day routines. Moku makes it easy to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet; and small changes add up. Let’s take it one day at a time, one choice at a time

Matt Feldman, founder of Moku

According to the Los Angeles Times, one conventional beef burger requires 660 gallons of water to produce and another report shows that the Amazon rainforest has lost about a fifth of its forest with one of the reasons being the increase in cattle ranching.

The company claims that its gluten-free, non-GMO, soy-free and vegan jerky saves up to 12 square feet of land, 11 pounds of methane, and 107 gallons of water per bag compared to the massive carbon emissions that are involved in making conventional beef. Moku’s product also has an encouraging nutrition profile, with a serving coming in at 170 calories, 4 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of sugar. At the moment, customers can buy Moku’s products on its website for US$7 per 1.5-oz bag.

Feldman hopes that his flavour-forward jerky is a sustainable choice that consumers opt for. “We’re not here just to make jerky. We’re here to encourage everyone to take mindful steps towards a healthier, sustainable future—from our snack choices to our day-to-day routines. Moku makes it easy to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet; and small changes add up. Let’s take it one day at a time, one choice at a time.”

Moku’s launch comes amidst the coronavirus pandemic-driven boost in plant-based sales, as experts predict that this trend will be here to stay as first-time consumers plan to make their new flexitarian habits a long-term choice

And mushroom jerky in particular is slowly gaining momentum around the world with companies like Eat the Change, a plant-based snack startup backed by Beyond meat chairman, unveiling its first product, organic mushroom jerky that comes in five flavours and is created using USDA-certified organic portobello and crimini mushrooms.

In December of last year, American billionaire entrepreneur and television personality Mark Cuban invested US$300,000 in Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, an Oregon-based plant-based jerky company and the captial will help the brand add new flavours to its line-up as well as expand distribution of its products.


Lead image courtesy of Moku’s Facebook Page.


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