- Total Seed round of US$30 million, largest ever for plant-based startup
- New investment drives US market entry
- Product gap for plant-based chicken in US
Singapore – Chicken made from plants brand TiNDLE, developed by Next Gen Foods, is eyeing US market entry with a US$20 million extended Seed round, bringing the entire Seed round to US$30 million. The initial US$10 million was already the largest Seed round for a plant-based foodtech company, according to Pitchbook.
New investors in this latest round include: Global Fund GGV Capital, making its first investment in plant-based chicken; China-based agriculture and food tech venture fund Bits x Bites, investing actively in the alternative protein space; Yeo Hiap Seng, a leading Asian food and beverage player with strong presence in the plant-based dairy space; Joining the new investor list is: Chris Yeh, co-author of Blitzscaling, a book on how tech companies build scale quickly; a prominent group of athletes including Dele Alli, the England national team footballer. Existing investors include Temasek, and Asia-based venture capital fund K3 Ventures.
The funding will drive US market entry within the next 12 months. The US is the largest plant-based meat market and home to leading plant-based brands Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat and others. According to the Good Food Institute, the US retail market for plant-based foods was worth US$7 billion in 2020, up from US$5.5 billion in 2019.
Plant-based meat demand is being driven by better quality products, consumer appetite for a healthier lifestyle, and environmental/sustainability trends and behaviors. Leading firms have built hugely successful brands, proving demand for plant-based beef and pork. There is however a product gap for plant-based chicken.
Next Gen is also making changes to its leadership team, with Timo Recker taking the position of Chairman. Andre Menezes becomes Chief Executive Officer, and Rohit Bhattacharya, who was previously Director at Temasek, joins as Chief Financial Officer.
Co-Founder and CEO Andre Menezes noted, “The United States is the world’s biggest market for plant-based foods. We are already putting our foundations in place to be in-market within the next 12 months as we accelerate our goal of becoming the world’s number one plant-based chicken. The outstanding response from both existing and new investors shows their confidence in our innovative technology, highly scalable business model, differentiated taste experiences and the ability of our team to make TiNDLE a market leader in the US.”
“Following our March 2021 TiNDLE launch, we have expanded to three key markets, and we expect to be in more than five by end-2021, a mark that some leading brands do not cross after years of existence. We are scaling at this incredibly fast pace with our asset-lite business model, distribution network, talent, and collaborations with great chefs and hot restaurants,” added Jean Madden, Next Gen CMO.
First launched in Singapore in early 2021, TiNDLE is sold in over 70 restaurants in Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. This includes ADDA by four time Michelin Star Chef Manjunath Mural and two Michelin Star Bo Innovation by Chef Alvin Leung in Hong Kong.
Developed by Next Gen CTO John Seegers in collaboration with chefs and for chefs, the first TiNDLE product TiNDLE Thy, brings the unmistakable taste and versatility of chicken. Chefs can easily use TiNDLE Thy to prepare dishes in multiple culinary applications, and for many kinds of cuisines – Western, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern and more.
Offering high protein, high fibre and low carb, TiNDLE is also GMO and naturally cholesterol-free. TiNDLE Thy meets the nutritional guidelines for the Healthier Choice Symbol administered by Singapore’s Health Promotion Board due to its lower sodium and lower saturated fat content as compared to regular plant-based meat alternatives.
The company will be hiring more than 50 US employees across R&D, Sales, Supply Chain, Finance and Marketing, supporting its US launch.
“The NextGen team has one of the strongest founder-market fits in FoodTech, having previously developed and successfully launched a plant-based meat product for the European market. The team’s focus on product quality, brand recall, and distribution provides a strong foundation for the future growth of the company,” said Jenny Lee, a Managing Partner at GGV Capital. “Our partnership with the NextGen team is underpinned by our commitment to team up with founders who show real passion and flair in solving the fundamental challenges of our time – food sustainability is one of them. By leveraging technology to create delicious plant-based foods, NextGen has a unique global opportunity to popularize non-animal food products and let consumers know that great flavour can go hand-in-hand with both great nutrition and sustainability.”
TiNDLE will also use the extended funding for continued international expansion in APAC and the Middle East, developing its technology, establishing a research and development center in Singapore and product diversification.
The roadmap for the next one to two years includes raising Series A funding, product diversification, and continued international expansion, notably into Europe.
The global plant-based protein segment is expected to reach US$85 billion by 2030, according to UBS. Global investment in food technology for the first three quarters of 2020 was US$8.37 billion, beating the US$7 billion raised in 2019.