Singapore-based Next Gen Foods will bring its plant-based chicken option to the United States after raising a $20 million seed expansion. Investors included GGV Capital, agricultural and food tech-focused Bits x Bytes, food and beverage company Yeo Hiap Seng, entrepreneur and “Blitzscaling” author Chris Ye, and English footballer Dele Alli.
Returning investors include Temasek, which led the original $10 million seed round of Next Gen Foods announced in February, and K3 Ventures. Based on data from Pitchbook, previously $10 million was already the largest seed funding ever raised by a plant-based food tech company, and now the round is worth $30 million. A portion of the funding will be used to fill 50 roles for its research and development, sales, supply chain and finance and marketing teams in the US.
Next Gen also announced changes to its leadership team. Co-founder Timo Recker is stepping down from his CEO position to chairman, while Andre Menezes, another founder, will take over as CEO. Rohit Bhattacharya, former director of Temasek, will join the startup as its chief financial officer.
Next Gen’s chicken option, called Tindall, launched through a partnership with restaurants in Asia and is now served in more than 70 locations in Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. Over the next 12 months, Next Gen will take a similar approach as it enters the US, working with food services in cities to develop Tindall cuisine for their menus. It will eventually expand into other distribution channels such as retail, Menezes told ClearTips.
To replicate the texture of chicken meat, Next Gen uses a proprietary blend of plant-based fats, including sunflower oil and natural flavors. This allows for the aroma and browning of the chicken to be replicated when cooking Tindall products.
In the US, Next Gen faces competition from plant-based food companies such as Beyond Meat, which earlier this week launched its chicken tender product in nearly 400 restaurants. Popular food chain Panda Express is also operating Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.
When asked about the competitive landscape, Menezes said, “We are really glad that this sector is gaining traction and we don’t look at other plant-based companies as our competitors. The only thing we can do is about the competition.” There is concern that companies are bringing unsatisfactory products to consumers. Consumers may have the misconception that plant-based foods still compromise taste and experience.”
He said Tindall is GMO and cholesterol free, and NextGen has an asset-light business model that will make it easier to scale to new markets.
Prior to launching Next Gen, Reker founded German-based LikeMeet, while Menezes worked at one of the world’s largest poultry exporters before serving as general manager of Singapore food distributor Country Foods.
In a statement, GGV Managing Partner Jenny Lee said, “The NextGen team has the strongest founder-market fit in FoodTech, having previously developed and successfully launched a plant-based meat product for the European market. Product quality, The team’s focus on brand recall and distribution provides a strong foundation for the company’s future growth.