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Sophie’s Kitchen, a Californian brand of vegan seafood alternatives, has bagged $5.6 million in fresh funding. The investment, led by blue economy investor Billy Goat Brands, will be used to grow Sophie’s range, adding to its existing line-up which includes plant-based shrimp, smoked salmon and fish fillets.
Sophie’s Kitchen has announced the closing of a $5.6 million funding round led by Billy Goat Brands, a venture capital firm focused on plant-based food techs, functional ingredients and fermented foods that will help contribute to a blue economy. The Sebastopol, California-based company will be using the funds to support its ongoing R&D to launch new innovative plant-based seafood products on the market.
Founded back in 2010, Sophie’s is one of the earliest players in the alt-seafood industry, offering a line-up of vegan shrimp, crab cakes, fish fillets, smoked salmon and tuna analogues. Unlike many plant-based protein alternatives that use soy, the brand bills its products as clean label and allergen-friendly, using non-GMO and gluten-free ingredients such as pea protein, konjac powder, olive oil and seaweed.
With the new funds, Sophie’s says it plans to ramp up product innovation with the view to offer consumers a wider range of healthy, ethical and sustainable plant-based alternatives that do not contribute to the plethora of harms associated with commercial fishing.
Describing its mission as “to save lives and protect the planet, one meal at a time,” the company’s CEO Dr. Miles Woodruff said it will be creating more vegan analogues “craved by vegans and meat-lovers alike.”
Woodruff added that Sophie’s hopes to “make our products more accessible to consumers so they can also join our mission for change.”
Investors eye alt-seafood
With mainstream public attention turning to the impact of commercial fishing, a movement supported by the release of documentaries such as Seaspiracy, demand for seafood alternatives has never been greater.
Investors are now banking on the alternative seafood trend, pouring capital into startups in the vegan seafood sector over the past year, such as Gathered Foods, the maker of plant-based tuna brand Good Catch, and vegan shrimp makers New Wave Foods. The latest to raise fresh funds is Sweden’s Hooked Foods, which will be using its €3.8 million round to fuel its plant-based shredded salmon launch.
When looking at the entire alt-seafood industry, which includes companies developing plant-based, cell-based and fermentation-derived alternatives to seafood, the sector has already raised $116 million within the first half of 2021, exceeding the total figure recorded in 2020.
Commenting on the decision to back Sophie’s, Billy Goat Brands CEO Tony Harris said that the brand is “changing the game in plant-based foods”.
“We believe in Sophie’s Kitchen’s mission of not just making plant-based products accessible to everyone, but by providing elevated transparency, cleaner ingredients, and unrivaled taste to their brand loyalists and future consumers,” he added.
All images courtesy of Sophie’s Kitchen.