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The Growthwell Group, a Singaporean plant-based protein company, has just announced that it has raised US$8 million. The latest funding round was led by Singapore government-backed fund Temasek, alongside other investors including DSG Consumer Partners, Insignia Ventures, Genesis Ventures. Growthwell has also acquired a stake in Israeli food tech ChickP to develop the world’s first chickpea protein isolate to develop new vegan products for the Asian market.
Growthwell has raised US$8 million in a funding round led by Temasek, alongside other investment firms as well as angel investor Koh Boon Hwee. The group, which was founded in 1989 to bring meat and seafood alternatives to the Southeast Asian market, said that the fresh capital will be used to drive the company’s growth into more sustainable future food solutions.
The group also revealed that it has committed to a significant stake in Israel-based food tech startup ChickP to launch a new patent-pending chickpea protein isolate to create new plant-based meat and dairy substitutes. The new blend is jointly developed by ChickP and food scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is the first neutral tasting GMO-free 90% chickpea protein isolate in the market.
To achieve its goal to reduce meat consumption in the region, Growthwell will be setting up a new facility in Singapore to focus on developing and manufacturing their new plant protein products using ChickP’s proprietary technology. The facility is slated to open by the first quarter of 2021, and will be operating in line with the Singapore government’s plan to bolster its food self-sufficiency to prepare for climate change, and as a part of the city-state’s scheme to defend itself against external supply shocks due to the pandemic.
According to the company, some of the new chickpea-based vegan protein substitutes that are being developed include plant-based shrimp and squid meat, as well as a vegan crab burger. It also has plans to develop chickpea dairy-free milk and vegan ice cream products in the pipeline.
It has additionally appointed Country Foods, a subsidiary of SATS Food Services and among Singapore’s leading food importers, distributors and manufacturers as its primary distribution partner. This will allow Growthwell to expand its distribution reach to high-profile hospitality, retail and F&B businesses across the Asia-Pacific.
Other alternative protein startups already in Growthwell’s portfolio include local Singaporean plant-based meat makers OKK, vegan mutton brand Su Xian Zi and Gomama, a company producing ready-to-eat vegetarian meals.
Growthwell’s announcement comes as the plant-based sector is experiencing a major uptick driven by greater food security, safety and health concerns as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. “The recent Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the vulnerabilities of our food supply chains,” said executive director of Growthwell Justin Chou, adding that their plans come as a “timely solution to tackle the food security issue.”
Demand for alternative proteins have also grown in recent months due to ongoing and overlapping livestock and seafood diseases, which is threatening food supplies and raising consumer concerns. In a recent interview with Green Queen, David Yeung, the founder and CEO of plant-based group Green Monday said what is having a “huge influence” on the plant-based push in the region is the combination of a “galore of diseases” of African swine fever, avian flu and the latest Div1 shrimp virus.
All images courtesy of Growthwell.