Australian startup v2food announced late yesterday that it has raised a $35 million Series A round. The round was led by Main Sequence Ventures and Horizon Ventures (which has also backed Impossible Foods), with participation from Sequoia Capital China and Marinya Capital.
According to a press release, v2food will use their new dollars to expand R&D and build a new production facility in Australia, which they plan to open in 2020.
The startup claims that theirs is the largest Series A investment in plant-based food to date, and not just in Australia.
v2food works with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO to develop a range of plant-based meat products meant to accurately mimic the real thing. The company’s first product, a meatless patty, is currently sold in the Rebel Whopper at Hungry Jack’s, Australia’s version of Burger King. Next up, they plan to develop their brand and sell to more outlets, though the release didn’t specify if they would be targeting foodservice or retail.
Jack Cowin, founder of Hungry Jack’s, invested $1 million to help v2food and CSIRO develop the plant-based patty for the Rebel Whopper. When we covered the news back in May, I was skeptical that one million would be enough to actually create a good-tasting meat alternative. It seems that the other shoe has dropped, and it’s filled with lots and lots of money.
Right now the Australian alternative protein market is pretty sleepy. Beyond Meat and Moving Mountains are available Down Under, but the region doesn’t have many companies actually developing their own plant-based meat products. So v2food has a clear runway to become the biggest local alternative protein brand.
However, the startup has ambitions outside of its home country, too. In an interview with Smart Company, v2food’s CEO Nick Hazell said that he wants to expand into the Asia-Pacific region over the next 12 months. Considering how gigantic the market is there, and the impending meat price hikes in the wake of China’s African Swine Flu outbreak, that’s a smart idea. But it will require massive cash inputs for scaling and marketing, especially as players like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat make good on their promise to break into Asia.
In short, v2food will need every one of its new $35 million dollars to make it happen.