Chicken made from plants brand TiNDLE, developed by Singapore-based global foodtech Next Gen Foods, has announced that it will be entering the UAE market in September this year. This comes after the company received an extended seed round of US$20million, after an initial seed round of $10million which was, already the largest seed round funding for a plant-based food tech company, according to Pitchbook.
First launched in Singapore in early 2021, the first TiNDLE product, TiNDLE Thy is sold in over 70 restaurants in Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. This includes ADDA by four-time Michelin Star Chef Manjunath Mural and W Hong Kong’s Chef Rafa Gil, a finalist from Netflix’s The Final Table. Chefs can easily use TiNDLE Thy to prepare dishes in multiple culinary applications, and for many kinds of cuisines including Middle Eastern, Western, Chinese, Indian and more.
New investors in this latest round include: Global Fund GGV Capital, making its first investment in plant-based chicken; China-based agriculture and food tech venture fund Bits x Bites, investing actively in the alternative protein space; Yeo Hiap Seng, a leading Asian food and beverage player with strong presence in the plant-based dairy space. Joining the new investor list is: Chris Yeh, co-author of Blitzscaling, a book on how tech companies build scale quickly; and a prominent group of athletes including Dele Alli, the England national team footballer. Existing investors include Temasek, and Asia-based venture capital fund K3 Ventures.
The funding will aid in the entry into the UAE market which is planned for September 2021. In a recent study on plant-based diets in the UAE, conducted by YouGov, an international research data and analytics group, it was revealed that 45 percent of UAE diners had substituted to plant-based meals over the past year. There has been a surge in healthy meal planning across the UAE as residents prioritize nutrition and wellbeing.
Plant-based meat demand is being driven by better quality products, consumer appetite for a healthier lifestyle and environmental/sustainability trends and behaviors. Leading firms have built hugely successful brands, proving demand for plant-based beef. There is however a product gap for plant-based chicken. Offering high protein, high fibre and low carb, TiNDLE is also GMO- and naturally cholesterol-free. TiNDLE meets the nutritional guidelines for the Healthier Choice Symbol administered by Singapore’s Health Promotion Board due to its lower sodium and lower saturated fat content as compared to regular plant-based meat alternatives.
“The NextGen team has one of the strongest founder-market fits in FoodTech, having previously developed and successfully launched a plant-based meat product for the European market. The team’s focus on product quality, brand recall, and distribution provides a strong foundation for the future growth of the company,” said Jenny Lee, a Managing Partner at GGV Capital. “Our partnership with the NextGen team is underpinned by our commitment to team up with founders who show real passion and flair in solving the fundamental challenges of our time – food sustainability is one of them. By leveraging technology to create delicious plant-based foods, NextGen has a unique global opportunity to popularize non-animal food products and let consumers know that great flavour can go hand-in-hand with both great nutrition and sustainability.”
Co-Founder and CEO Andre Menezes said, “The Middle East is a key market for us given its high consumption of chicken. We are putting our foundations in place to be in the market as we accelerate our goal of becoming the number one plant-based chicken in the region. Investors in the region have started supporting companies that are driving a positive change in our food systems and we already see a lot of interest coming from consumers and chefs.”
Fine food specialist Classic Fine Foods, already its distributor in Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau will also be distributing TiNDLE in the UAE, bringing market knowledge, network, and profound understanding of consumer trends. Headquartered in Hong Kong, Classic Fine Foods operates in over 10 countries across the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
TiNDLE will also use the extended funding for continued international expansion in GCC, APAC and the United States.