Nestlé backs vegan chicken brand Sundial Foods1 Dec 2021
The world’s largest food conglomerate Nestlé is backing a California-based startup that makes plant-based chicken wings with meat, skin and bone. The Swiss food giant participated in a $4 million funding round for Sundial Foods that included other investors such as Food Labs, Clear Current Capital, SOSV / IndieBio.
Nestlé's newest investment builds on the company’s expanding interest in alternative protein. For several years, the company has been diversifying through various investments and product rollouts, including alternative meat, dairy and seafood as well as cultivated meat. Sundial is the newest addition to the fold, but it is not the first time Nestlé has worked with the company.
Last year, Sundial participated in Nestlé’s R&D Accelerator program where they focused on transforming the idea for a plant-based chicken wing with skin and bones into pilot production. Following its initial participation in the accelerator, Sundial then collaborated with Nestlé on its Garden Gourmet line that ran a successful test in 40 retail outlets in Switzerland.
Until now, Sundial has not had its own product commercially available. However, Sundial’s said this new funding will allow it to expand its team and begin commercial production to launch in foodservice. According to a press release, the company expects to be available in foodservice by spring 2022.
Co-founder Jessica Schwabach said in a statement that the company’s goal is to “replace the butcher” by creating products that have all the identifiable components of meat. "We want to give consumers—whether vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, or meat-eating—a plant-based meat-eating experience that's interesting, craveable, and versatile," she said.
The startup intends to achieve this objective by creating chicken using eight clean ingredients, including water, chickpeas and sunflower oil. Due to its plant-based formulation, the company said its wings contain more fiber and less saturated fat than chicken but approximately the same amount of protein.
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