Plant-Based Meal Plan Startup Thistle Raises US$10.3M Amid Meatless Trend

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San Francisco-based startup Thistle has bagged US$10.3 million in a Series B financing round for its ready-made plant-based meal subscription service. The funding comes on the heels of growing demand for meatless and nutritious meal deliveries, driven by the stay-at-home realities due to the coronavirus and the heightened consumer concerns about health and sustainability. 

Thistle, the startup described as a “tech-enabled food and nutrition brand” that offers customers vegan and vegetarian meal plans delivered to their doors, has secured US$10.3 million in a Series B round. The funding was led by PowerPlant Ventures, the growth equity fund co-founded by Veggie Grill’s T.K. Pillan, with participation from Siddhi Capital, Alumni Ventures Group, and the venture arm of multinational foods giant Rich Products Corporation

The direct-to-consumer San Francisco startup says that the new capital will be used to expand its operations to bring its ready meal services to more areas in the U.S., and to build an additional manufacturing site this year to cater to growing demand. 

“Given rapidly shifting consumer preferences and factors like time or money that impact what foods we eat, Thistle is focused on expanding its operations to become the go-to meal solution that is better for you and for the planet,” said Thistle co-founder and CEO Ashwin Cheryian. 

Cheryian says that the company has experienced a major uptick in demand since the coronavirus crisis, which has raised consumer concerns about the dangers and unsustainable nature of the existing meat supply chain and heightened awareness about their own health and nutrition. 

The pandemic has revealed many challenges within the food system and increased awareness of the paramount role that diet plays in an individual’s health.

Ashwin Cheryian, Co-Founder & CEO, Thistle

Currently, the brand delivers “tens of thousands of meals on a weekly basis” across the West Coast in the U.S., and has seen its customer base grow over 50% since 2019 as more people look for home deliveries and immunity-boosting food options, a trend that looks likely to be sustained for the foreseeable future. 

“The pandemic has revealed many challenges within the food system and increased awareness of the paramount role that diet plays in an individual’s health. We’re dedicated to making our products accessible to customers, empowering them to take their personal health by the reins,” said Cheryian. 

“Consumer demand for plant-based foods is outperforming total food growth today, and this trend is expected to increase over the next decade as more people realise that eating more plants is a critical component to the long-term health of both the planet and our population,” added Dan Gluck, managing partner of PowerPlant Ventures. 

Startups that offer similar plant-forward food delivery services have also seen major sales growth in the past few months, such as Sydney-based 100% vegan meal subscription plan Flave and plant-based food ordering platform Get Vegan Grub that operates in Manchester.

Thistle also revealed that part of the new capital will go towards launching new services, including a virtual consultation offering with the company’s in-house registered dietitian, giving consumers access to personalised guidance on how to optimise their wellness and food goals.

Consumer demand for plant-based foods is outperforming total food growth today, and this trend is expected to increase over the next decade.

Dan Gluck, Managing Partner, PowerPlant Ventures

“We review every piece of feedback and noticed a trend among Thistlers asking for additional support on how to live a healthier lifestyle,” explained Shiri Avnery, co-founder and COO of Thistle.

“This sparked the inspiration for virtual consultations with Thistle’s registered dietician. We tested the program last fall, and the responses were overwhelmingly positive. We’re excited to be able to officially roll out the program to our customers this month.” 


All images courtesy of Thistle.


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