The Growthwell Group, a plant-based protein company based in Singapore, announced today that it had raised $8 million (h/t Deal Street Asia). The investment was led by Singaporean sovereign fund Temasek with participation from DSG Consumer Partners, Insignia Ventures, Genesis Ventures, and others. Growthwell also announced it had made its own investment in ChickP, an Israel-based startup developing chickpea protein.
Founded in 1989, The Growthwell Group owns a portfolio of alternative protein companies aimed at Southeast Asian consumers, including OKK (plant-based meat), Su Xian Zi (vegan mutton), and gomama (ready to eat dishes made from plants). As of today, that lineup will also include ChickP, maker of super high protein chickpea powder for use in meat and dairy alternatives. It sells products to roughly 1500 retailers and 3000 foodservice establishments.
Growthwell plans to use ChickP’s proprietary protein isolate to develop new products for the Asia-Pacific market. According to AgFunder, the new chickpea-powered foods will include plant-based shrimp and squid meat, as well as a vegan crab burger. Next up, it’ll develop chickpea milk and ice cream.
In addition to bringing ChickP’s protein to Asia, Growthwell will also use its new funding to open a new R&D center in Singapore with fully automated production lines. The facility is slated to open in 2021. The company is also working to bring its suite of plant-based foods to new markets, specifically China and Australia.
For its part, Temasek is all over the alternative protein space. This year alone they’ve already made investments in cultured meat startup Memphis Meats, Impossible Foods, and Califia Farms. In 2019 they put some major capital into Perfect Day’s flora-based dairy technology.
Asia is a burgeoning market for alternative protein, especially as the African Swine Fever decimated pork production and COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into meat manufacturing. Singapore in particular, with its goal to produce 30 percent of its food within its borders by 2030, has invested quite heavily in the plant-based food space.
At the same time, U.S. players are making their own play for the alternative protein market in Asia. Beyond Meat began selling at Starbucks in China last week and Cargill has a limited-time launch of plant-based chicken at KFC China. Impossible Foods isn’t far behind.
These three are peddling vegan beef, chicken, and pork, so Growthwell is focusing on less crowded markets like seafood and dairy. We’ll have to see if their new funding can help the company push through the challenges of COVID-19 and become a plant-based powerhouse on the other wise.