Swiss alternative protein start-up Planted Foods was created by co-founders Pascal Bieri, Lukas Böni, Christoph Jenny and Eric Stirnemann in early 2019.
And now, just four months after the ETZ Zürich spin-off launched its first meat analogue product, the ‘planted.chicken’, the quartet has closed a seed funding round worth CHF 7m (€6.3m).
Investors include Blue Horizon Corporation, Hiltl AG, Good Seed Ventures, Mica Ventures, and Joyance Partners, the ETH Foundation and private investment.
Challenging the meat sector
Planted Foods says its objective is to meet the ‘soaring demand’ for sustainable protein, having recognised the ‘urgent need’ for alternatives to meat from intensive livestock farming.
“Ultimately, Planted competes with animal meats,” co-founder Christoph Jenny told FoodNavigator, claiming that the company’s first product, a vegan chicken substitute, mimics the taste, texture, and mouthfeel of the real thing.
Planted currently sells two chicken alternative products, the ‘planted.chicken’ and ‘BBQ planted.chicken’. The products contain 26.7g and 22.7g protein per 100g, respectively, and are made from pea protein, pea fibre, and sunflower oil. The BBQ version is produced with an additional marinade.
The start-up’s technology allows for a ‘juiciness’ otherwise absent in conventional meat analogues, Jenny explained. “Planted uses a wet extrusion process with all-natural ingredients. No additives, no soy, 100% clean. That’s the magic behind the juiciness and the great taste.”
Ramping up production and new launches
Currently sold via Planted Foods’ online store and in foodservice and restaurants in Switzerland, the start-up said closing the seed round will help increase production capacity to “transform plant-proteins into meat by more than ten times”. The expectation is that its plant.chicken products will expand into retail and abroad in 2020.
The start-up will also invest seed funding into R&D to ‘continuously craft the tastiest products’. Indeed, Planted Foods is currently developing a line of pulled pork alternatives, which Jenny confirmed will launch early 2020.
“We use the same, clean, no additives approach [for the pork] as for the chicken,” the co-founder elaborated. “However, we will use a blend of various proteins, causing the difference in look, texture, and taste.”
When asked which companies Planted Foods’ perceives as its main competitors in the meat alternative sector, Jenny reaffirmed the start-up’s strategy of taking on the animal protein market.
Planted Foods is not, of course, the first plant-based company to target this space. “Given how young our industry is, we appreciate great products and innovative companies,” Jenny told this publication. “Version 2.0 of the Impossible Burger, for example, is taste-wise a favourite of the team. On the other hand, it is also fantastic to see how Beyond Meat built up the buzz in many of the international markets.”