Yesterday, Daring Foods, a startup that makes plant-based chicken, announced it is partnering with foodservice protein supplier Rastelli Foods Group to enter the U.S. market. Rastelli will invest $10 million in Daring in a deal that’s part finance and part infrastructure. The supplier will also have the exclusive rights to sell Daring Foods’ products to restaurants and retailers.
Daring Foods was founded three years ago in Scotland as a clean-label alternative to one of the world’s favorite meats: chicken. The startup began selling their Daring Pieces, which contain 14 grams of protein per serving, in the U.K. earlier this year. They have since relocated to be based out of New York and are pivoting to focus on the U.S. as their core market in the wake of the Rastelli deal.
Daring makes its bite-size signature meatless chicken from only five ingredients: soy, water, sunflower oil, salt, and natural flavoring. Daring’s co-founder and CEO Ross Mackay believes that this clean-label approach, along with their product’s realistic taste, will help the company stand out amongst competitors. “It’s plant-based chicken 2.0,” he said.
The deal with Rastelli will also certainly help. Mackay explained that Daring can tap into the distributor’s nationwide connections in the U.S. to ramp up and forge distribution partnerships very quickly.
Quite quickly, as it turns out. Daring Foods will begin rolling out its Daring Pieces nationwide in February 2020. Mackay told me that Daring is also developing new flavor profiles for its Pieces, including lemon & herb, as well as larger breast cuts.
Chicken seems to be the next big faux meat, and plenty of companies are jostling to become the Beyond Meat of bird (including Beyond Meat itself). Seattle’s Rebellyous sells its plant-based nuggets wholesale to cafeterias, and NUGGS delivers its meat-free nuggets directly to consumers’ doorsteps. Swiss startup Planted makes plant-based chicken from four ingredients, though those won’t be available in the U.S. anytime soon.
Big Meat is also getting in on the alternative chicken craze: Tyson debuted its Raised & Rooted meatless chicken nuggets earlier this year, and Purdue’s new Chicken Plus is a blend of chicken and plant protein.
It’s too early to say if Daring’s products will taste good enough to stand out in the crowd of plant-based chicken options out there. But with the company set to enter the U.S. market next year, we’ll certainly have ample opportunity to put them to the test.