Rebellyous Foods, the startup developing next-gen technology to accelerate the plant-based meat industry, announced today that it had raised a $6 million Series A round. The funding was co-led by Clear Current Capital, Fifty Years, and Liquid 2 Ventures, with participation from Agronomics and Vulcan Capital (the investment arm of Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc). This brings the Seattle-based startup’s total funding to $8.1 million.
Founded in 2017, Rebellyous Foods, formerly Seattle Food Tech, has always had a grand vision of reinventing plant-based meat manufacturing to make it more efficient and cost-effective. But it also has its own brand of alt-meat: chicken. The startup sells its plant-based chicken nuggets B2B to large-scale foodservice operations, like hospitals and cafeterias, in the Seattle area.
With its new funding, Rebellyous will speed up its specialized equipment R&D and expand product development to broaden its plant-based portfolio to include other products, like chicken tenders.
Rebellyous is announcing funding at a time when all anyone can think, talk, or write about is the coronavirus pandemic. Their press release is no exception; in it, Rebellyous CEO and founder Christie Lagally writes:
“Bird flu, swine flu, and now COVID-19 demonstrate that keeping large numbers of animals in close contact with one another presents a tremendous risk for global health… to transition away from our heavy dependence on meat, it’s critical that we make plant-based meat affordable and widely available through innovative production technology.”
There’s some evidence that COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, meaning it originated in animals and spread to humans. While it’s not proven that switching to a vegan diet would prevent future outbreaks of this kind, that’s certainly being argued by companies and organizations trying to push adoption of meat alternatives.
In fact, retail sales of plant-based meats are on the rise right now. But when it comes to foodservice — Rebellyous’ target market — things are much more stagnant. To expand its revenue sources the company will be expanding into retail, and soon. “Rebellyous will be pivoting to selling direct to consumers (CPG), and we expect to announce a soft launch in just a few weeks,” Lagally told the Spoon. “We had always intended to move into CPG, but the pandemic shut down allowed us to realize that goal earlier than expected.”
It looks like Rebellyous isn’t going to keep all of its eggs in the foodservice basket.