In another sign of the faux meat boom, Daring Foods Inc. has raised US$40 million from investors -- including entertainer Drake -- after debuting its plant-based chicken last year.
The series B funding round was led by D1 Capital Partners and joined by existing investors Maveron and Palm Tree Crew, Daring said. The company, which declined to comment on its valuation, raised US$8 million in October.
While faux beef has demanded much of the attention in the imitation meat category, chicken is the most popular meat in the U.S., making it an obvious target for plant-based manufacturers. The global plant-based chicken category is projected to reach US$8 billion by 2030, according to an estimate from Future Market Insights.
“The first wave of plant-based was really focused on taste and texture, but then you had the sacrifice of other elements, like health,” said Ross Mackay, a co-founder who serves as Daring’s chief executive officer. Unlike other plant-based meats, Daring highlights its low calories and short ingredient list.
The new funds will help Daring roughly triple its retail distribution, which already includes Kroger and Costco, to more than 4,500 U.S. stores this year, according to Mackay. Its foodservice footprint of about 400 locations could grow ten-fold in the same period.
Daring is expanding in an increasingly crowded field. Kellogg’s new Incogmeato line recently debuted two “Chik’n Tenders” products. Nestle’s Sweet Earth brand includes multiple faux chicken items and has distribution in more than 26,000 stores. Livekindly Collective, a group of plant-based protein brands that includes two with “chicken” options in the U.S., recently raised US$335 million. Category leader Beyond Meat has also been telling customers that it will launch chicken this summer, after having run several short-lived trials with KFC.
Drake, who has said he’s a vegetarian, adds to the growing list of celebrities backing faux meat that includes Serena Williams and Jay-Z.
Daring, based in Los Angeles, was founded with the goal of removing chicken from the global food system, citing what it claims are the industry’s unethical treatment of animals and negative impact on the environment.