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San Francisco startup Nowadays has closed an oversubscribed $7 million seed round. Led by Stray Dog Capital, with meat processing operation Standard Meat Co, VegInvest Trust, FoodHack, and others participating, the round will support production scale-up. Total funding to date now totals almost $10 million since the company’s inception in 2020.
Nowadays seeks to make plant-based meats using simple and minimal ingredients. The debut chicken nuggets are made using yellow pea protein, whole wheat flour, and just four other naturally-sourced ingredients. Nowadays is looking to focus its attention on whole-cuts, using proprietary technology to make, amongst other lines, chicken cutlets. The new funding will be used to scale the whole-cuts platform.
Extending the reach of its plant-based meat
Nowadays’ has cited plans to launch meaningfully into the foodservice sector, alongside a summer retail expansion. Whole Foods has confirmed it will stock products nationwide in the U.S. Recent investment will support an increase in production capabilities to keep up with anticipated demand for plant-based chicken. It also represents a significant shift in conventional meat producers’ mindsets.
Standard Meat Co participating in the seed round is indicative of the need for animal protein specialists to diversify.
“We are constantly looking ahead to the future, bringing innovation to every aspect of our business,” Mr Rosenthal said. “Today, that means investing in and supporting Nowadays and their plant-based meats that will deliver the nutritional benefits flexitarians are craving. We know that consumers want a variety of quality protein choices, and we are looking forward to lending our operational expertise and culinary credibility as Nowadays scales manufacturing and launches new products.”
Nowadays has stated that it hopes to leverage its new connection to Standard Meat, using its operational expertise to grow in a similar way, but with plant-based protein only.
Bringing health to the alternative protein table
Nowadays says health is the primary motivating factor when flexitarians choose plant-based meat. The company has used this rationale to develop its chicken with an “unparalleled nutritional profile”. Nowadays’ nuggets are slated to contain less salt, and more fibre than conventional chicken products, with no saturated fat and 120 calories per serving.
Nowadays noted to FoodNavigator-USA, that for plant-based meat to succeed, the trifecta of taste, nutrition, and cost-efficiency has to be in place. To guarantee the latter, initiating in-house production is a priority, which can be put in motion thanks to the seed round.
Nowadays favours low moisture extrusion technology, which allows for fewer ingredients and easy scaling with co-packers’ existing production lines. Currently, the startup is partnered with an extrusion outfit in the Midwest but the new seed funding will allow for in-house production to begin by the end of 2022.
An explosion of extrusion developments
Regarded as a key methodology for crafting realistic meat textures, high moisture extrusion (HME) is a widely-used practice in the plant-based sector. With companies looking to increase their production capabilities to meet rising demands for products, a number have recently announced new tech investments.
This week, India’s BVeg revealed it will be working with Swiss manufacturer Bühler. The latter will be supplying HME equipment in what will be a huge step forward for the Indian plant-based meat sector. BVeg hopes to use the technology to improve all sensory parameters associated with its current products.
Over in Chicago, nutrition and ingredients giant ADM has earmarked $300 million to improve its own facilities. Included in plans is the immediate doubling of its extrusion capacity, which will have a direct impact on the company’s sustainable production mandate.
In February, German startup Keen 4 Greens announced it secured €1.8 million in seed funding. The investment will be used to scale its HME technology, to produce clean label mycelium meat in place of wheat-based products.
All photos by Nowadays.