When it comes to savory, protein-rich meals, it used to be only carnivores who had a lot of choices. Now, the faux carnivores are catching up.
From Nashville-style hot chicken, to buttery, meaty pot pies, to spicy Asian-fusion tacos, there are plenty of tempting options featuring plant-based proteins.
And those are just the dishes featured by one venture-backed startup: Singapore-based Next Gen Foods, which just announced a $100 million Series A funding round. The investment comes as the company announces its expansion into North America through a network of restaurant partnerships.
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Founded in 2020, Next Gen is best known for TiNDLE, a product made from soy protein and other ingredients blended to mimic the texture and taste of chicken. Its signature ingredient, Lipi, is a plant-based substitute for chicken fat.
Next Gen’s funding comes as investment in protein-rich alternatives to animal agriculture is on the rise. In the past two years, venture and growth investors have poured more than $4.6 billion across hundreds of rounds for companies that describe themselves as developers and popularizers of plant-based foods, per Crunchbase data.
Some of the largest recent funding recipients include:
- Impossible Foods, a maker of meat alternatives known for its plant-based burgers, raised $500 million in a November growth funding round;
- NotCo, a Chilean startup that makes plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, raised $370 million in a Series D round in July; and
- Motif, a Boston-based food technology company focused on plant-based foods, raised $226 million in a June Series B round.
Billions more are going to lab-grown meat startups, a sector that’s still many years from broad commercialization. In 2020 and 2021, investors poured more than $2 billion into startups around the world working on cell-cultured meat and other cell-cultured meat alternatives, per Crunchbase data.
On the plant-based side, Next Gen alone has attracted a long list of backers. Investors in the Series A include new backers Alpha JWC, EDBI and MPL Ventures, along with return backers Temasek, GGV Capital, K3 Ventures and Bits x Bites. The latest financing brings total funding to date for the 2-year-old company to $130 million.
And clearly, investors remain hungry for more deals in the space.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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