Nestlé Backs Ultra-Realistic Vegan Chicken Wing Startup Sundial Foods

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Sundial Foods, the startup behind the vegan chicken wing alternative that bears “skin and bone”, has attracted funding from Nestlé. 

Sundial Foods has announced the closing of a $4 million seed funding round, which saw participation from Swiss food giant Nestlé. Participating investors included SOSV, the venture capital firm behind the accelerator IndieBio that Sundial took part in, Clear Current Capital and Food Labs, among others. The seed funding brings Sundial’s total financing raised to date to $4.25 million. 

Sundial’s vegan chicken wings

Plate of fried Sundial Wings with fully plant-based skin, meat, and bone.

Based in California, the startup makes plant-based chicken wings that are unlike any other on the market—it bears striking resemblance to the real deal, giving consumers the experience of biting into the skin, muscle and bone. 

“Our goal is to make meats that replace the butcher, so our product can be enjoyed as a center-of-plate experience,” shared Sundial CEO Jessica Schwabach, who co-founded the company with CTO Siwen Deng. “We want to give consumers—whether vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, or meat-eating—a plant-based meat-eating experience that’s interesting, craveable, and versatile.”

Sundial was able to develop this through its proprietary simulation technology for whole-cut analogues, which gives its final product a meaty fibrous texture. It is made from just 8 ingredients in total, including chickpeas and sunflower oil, with no artificial flavourings. 

Nutritionally, each serving of Sundial’s vegan chicken wings contain more fibre, less saturated fat and the same amount of protein as conventional chicken, and has been described as an ideal product for health-conscious consumers looking for clean-labelled alternatives. 

Launching in the US by 2022

Fuelled by fresh funds, the food tech says it is now planning to launch its vegan chicken wings in foodservice by spring 2022. The funding will help the company expand the team and kickstart commercial production at the Rutgers Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton, New Jersey, before landing in restaurants across the US. 

Sundial has already had commercial experience under its belt, having co-branded a product with Nestlé’s meatless brand Garden Gourmet for a test-launch in 40 retail outlets in Switzerland. The partnership was borne out of Sundial’s participation in the Swiss food giant’s R&D accelerator based in Lausanne. 

For investors, Sundial’s focus on rapidly scaling up and getting ready for commercialisation gives the company an edge over the growing competition in the vegan chicken space, which has seen the entry of players like Beyond and Impossible in the past few months. 

“Making a super tasty alt-chicken wing is only half of it,” explained Po Bronson, general partner at SOSV and IndieBio managing director. “The Sundial team [has] really focused on automating their production and manufacturing method, where they had several breakthroughs. They’ll make it to market faster than any IndieBio company in history.”


All images courtesy of Sundial Foods.


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