NotCo, a Chile-based startup that uses AI to create plant-based versions of dairy products, has raised $30 million led by The Craftory investment fund, with participation from Jeff Bezo’s Bezos Expeditions (h/t FoodBev Media).
At the heart of NotCo is Giuseppe, the company’s artificial intelligence platform that analyzes food on a molecular level to re-create the flavors and textures of traditional foods. The company’s Not Mayo is made with potatoes, peas, basil, and canola oil rather than vegetable oil and eggs.
NotCo’s mayo is currently available in more than 1,000 stores in Chile. The new money will be used to fund new products like plant-based milk and ice cream, as well as expand into new markets such as Mexico and the U.S. later this year.
Investors have shown a pretty big appetite for plant-based products like NotCo’s, and it’s not hard to see why. Increased awareness around the ethical and environmental issues associated with meat and dairy consumption have more people re-thinking their diets and sales of plant-based products are soaring. But perhaps more importantly, plant-based alternatives have gotten really good.
This combination of factors have led to companies like Impossible Foods raising $387.5 million, Beyond Meat raising $122 million (and going public), and more recently, Motif raised $90 million to help even more startups use plant-based ingredients.
But it’s not just startups, BIG FOOD (as my colleague, Catherine Lamb likes to call it), is plant-based muscling in on the act as well. Nestle has introduced its own version of the Impossible burger (dubbed the Incredible burger), Unilever bought the Vegetarian Butcher, and chicken king, Tyson is planning its own plant-based food products.
NotCo is also riding another high-tech trend: artificial intelligence for food/flavor creation and molecular food construction. Companies like Tastewise, Analytical Flavor Systems and even spice giant, McCormick are using the power of artificial intelligence to power the development of new flavors.
It’s safe to say that with all this interest and investment in companies like NotCo means plant-based startups are not going to stop anytime soon.