French alternative bacon company lands €25 million25 Jan 2022
Three-year-old French startup La Vie, formerly known as 77 Foods, secured €25 million ($28.3M) in one of the largest funding rounds in French food tech history. With funding in hand, the company is looking to expand the reach of its plant-based bacon product throughout France as well as expand into Europe and the U.K. beginning in April.
This funding round was led by VC fund Seventures with participation from Oyster Bay and Partech. Several European startups also participated, including Oatly, Vinted, Back Market and BlaBlaCar. The company’s bacon even attracted investment from American actress Natalie Portman.
Co-founder Nicolas Schweitzer told French media that this investment will not only permit the startup to expand its retail distribution but it will also allow the company to continue to develop its product portfolio. Currently, La Vie is focused on perfecting plant-based bacon, but the startup has intentions to use its mastery of fat manufacturing to create additional products that can serve as an alternative to meat.
Following three years of research, the company’s co-founders Nicolas Schweitzer and Vincent Poulichet devised a vegetable-based fat alternative that won prizes at World Plant Based Taste Awards 2021 as well as the Snacking d’Or 2021 Special Jury Prize. Using a combination of sunflower oil and water, the founding duo succeeded in creating a convincing plant-based fat that they claim tastes and cooks just like pork fat.
Not only has this nascent startup attracted the attention of investors, but it has also recently inked a deal with one of France’s largest retailers, Carrefour. Last October, La Vie’s plant-based bacon reached retail customers nationally in France thanks to the supermarket chain — and it appears that people are liking the product. In a blind taste-test last year, the company found that 92% of those who tried its bacon preferred it to the conventional pork product, the Veganconomist reported.
In addition to its taste, the ingredient profile of the bacon is also designed to attract the attention of consumers. The limited ingredients list includes European-sourced soy protein, salt and natural aromas as well as radish and tomato for colorants. In turn, these vegetarian inputs create bacon with 11 times less saturated fat than pork, and the production of this vegetarian product emits seven times less greenhouse gas than manufacturing conventional pork bacon.
Vegetarian bacon has recently become a hot segment of the plant-based protein market. The cravable pork product is now being developed by startups worldwide, including THIS bacon in the U.K., Hooray Foods in the U.S. and Libre Foods in Spain, among others.
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