Tesco’s Vegan House Brand Wicked Kitchen Is Coming to the US

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Wicked Kitchen has secured US$14 million in a Series A funding round co-led by pioneering vegan food venture and Unovis Asset Management and Thailand-based NRF Nove Foods. The Tesco vegan house brand is now launching 25 of its products in 2,200 stores nationally including U.S. supermarket chain Sprouts.

Vegan ready and frozen meals

Wicked Kitchen was founded by chef brothers Derek and Chad Sarno. Responsible for the food tech Gathered Foods that created the seafood brand Good Catch, the company launched its products in the UK’s largest grocery chain in 2018.

For a majority of their products, the duo uses mushrooms and aims to replicate the feel and texture of traditional meat. The brand offers ready-made meals like purple rice and sweet potato beans chilli mac, chilled and fresh dishes like enchiladas, lasagne, pizza and cupcakes, frozen ice creams and cooking ingredients that can be added to several types of cuisines.

BBQ’d Hassle-back King Oyster mushroom ribs. Source: Wicked Kitchen

Derek heads Tesco’s plant-based innovations team, which also created the vegan Plant Chef range. This is in line with the retailer’s commitment to increase sales of meat alternatives 300% over the next five years.

In its first eight months, Wicked Kitchen sold more than four million ready meals and won the ‘Best Vegan Range’ award by PETA.

For its latest line of products, the company collaborated with plant-based meat pioneer Beyond Meat to launch frozen ready meals.

Source: Wicked Kitchen

Tapping into the U.S. vegan industry

To tap into this market and take their Tesco success to the U.S., Wicked Kitchen raised US$14 million in its latest funding round. It was co-led by Unovis Asset Management, the same company backing Indonesian plant-based meat startup Green Rebel and NRF Nove Foods who partnered with alternative seafood maker Ocean Hugger Foods to help distribute its products.

This funding supports the next giant leap in growth and adoption of the Wicked Kitchen product line – a journey that will span the globe. What Wicked brings into the U.S. will be unlike anything else that has come before it in the plant-based space

Pete Speranza, CEO of Wicked Foods

“This funding supports the next giant leap in growth and adoption of the Wicked Kitchen product line – a journey that will span the globe,” CEO of Wicked Foods, Pete Speranza, said in a statement. “As was demonstrated by Tesco, the U.K.’s largest supermarket chain, the breadth of offerings Wicked Kitchen brings to the market allows motivated regional retail partners to commit to multi cross-category adoption. What Wicked brings into the U.S. will be unlike anything else that has come before it in the plant-based space.”

Chad and Derek Sarno. Source: Wicked Kitchen

Founding partner of Unovis, Chris Kerr said: “The fastest adoption of plant-based foods is always driven by great culinary experience. Wicked Kitchen has an unparalleled range of exceptional products, a revered brand, and two founding chefs willing to stir the pot. Unovis is here to support this effort from every angle.”

The company has launched 25 of its products in more than 2,200 stores nationally, calling it the single largest grocery range launch in the U.S. this century with Sprouts having one of the largest collections of the range.

“Sprouts has been a leader in many ways including being first for innovation,” Derek said. “It is my personal mission to work closely with our partners at Sprouts to set a new standard in taste, flavor and choice in the plant-based food category.”


Lead image courtesy of Wicked Kitchen.


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