Veg Capital Doubles Down On Support For Plant Alternative’s Shicken Range By Leading Fresh Funding Round
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Leading vegan investor Veg Capital has announced a doubling down of its investment into Plant Alternative’s Shicken product line. Managing director and co-founder of Veg Capital, Matthew Glover, first initiated investment in 2021, after sampling the vegan Indian food. Recent backing comes in the form of leading a new raise, bringing £2 million to the table for company-wide scale-up and global expansion.
New investment follows Shicken’s recent debut in Costco’s Watford warehouse location. The initial launch was considered a success, as the brand revealed consumers were unable to believe its spiced skewer products were not made using real chicken.
A meeting of chicken-focused minds
Veg Capital and Shicken are a natural fit, with Glover providing the glue that brings everything together. As a co-founder of Veg Capital he had the power to leverage repeat investment. As a vegan chicken expert, his belief in the Shicken brand lends extra weight to the entire relationship.
Shicken is non-competitive for Glover’s own brand, VFC, which itself recently launched in the U.S. The former is entirely focused on manufacturing Indian plant-based ready meals which are flash frozen. VFC has targeted the fried chicken market with its frozen products that home cooks simply reheat and serve. Shicken favours soy protein whereas VFC showcases wheat as its protein source. The two are working towards the same goal of removing chickens from the food system, but taking different approaches.
“Plant Alternative is really going from strength to strength and the successful Costco launch presents a massive opportunity to take the brand across the pond to the North American market,” Glover said in a statement. “We have every confidence the Shicken brand will take off and fly over there, just has it has done here. The product range just keeps getting better and better and the new tikka kebabs are astonishingly good.”
Preparing for global distribution
New funding has been confirmed by Parm and Satvinder Bains, husband and wife co-founders of Plant Alternatives, to be earmarked for expansion and relocation to new premises. The new production facility, the company’s third to date, will be vital for scaling ahead of wider Costco distribution.
“I can’t believe only 18 months ago I was making our Shicken meals on my kitchen dining table and now we are planning the build of our third manufacturing site,” Satvinder Bains said. “I can’t wait to see where we are in the next 18 months.”
In the immediate future, Shicken is hoping to find increased presence throughout the U.K. Costco network, currently standing at 29-locations strong. A move to the U.S. will then be sought, alongside team expansion.
Plant-based chicken in a flap
Companies are seemingly jumping on vegan chicken as a guaranteed growth sector. With beefless burgers all but established and major players identified, chicken is the new frontier for alt-protein producers.
Over in Australia, V2food announced it is adding plant-based chicken to its portfolio, in a bid to help Aussies move away from animal meat. The company has developed a range of products that it claims are comparable to conventional chicken in terms of taste, texture and scent. Two products will be launched in May with the company hoping to replicate the success enjoyed by its existing beef and pork analogues.
Singapore is making a bid for hyperrealistic plant-based chicken. Audra Labs is using tissue engineering principles to 3-D print fibres that replicate muscle and fat, to come together as whole cut vegan meats.
The U.S. appears to be developing quite a taste for vegan chicken. Alongside the Stateside VFC launch, TiNDLE has made its intentions to roll out in the U.S. known. The Singaporean startup will find international expansion with its recent $100 million Series A.
All photos by Plant Alternatives.