Singapore is rapidly becoming a hub for food technology startups, thanks in part to government initiatives that support the development of meat alternatives. One of the newest vendors is Next Gen, which will launch its plant-based chicken brand TiNDLE in Singaporean restaurants next month. The company announced today that it has raised $ 10 million in seed capital from investors including Temasek, K3 Ventures, EDB New Ventures (an investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board), NX-Food, FEBE Ventures and Blue Horizon.
Next Gen claims this is the largest round of seeds ever grown by a plant-based food technology company based on data from PitchBook. This is the first time the startup has made outside investments and funding has exceeded its original target of $ 7 million. Next Gen was launched last October by Timo Recker and Andre Menezes with starting capital of $ 2.2 million.
Next Gen’s first product is called TiNDLE Thy, an alternative to chicken thighs. Ingredients include water, soy, wheat, oat fiber, coconut oil, and methyl cellulose, a culinary binder. However, the key to its chicken-like taste is a proprietary blend of vegetable fats like sunflower oil and natural flavors that make it possible like cooking chicken.
Next Gen’s chief operating officer, Menezes, told . that the company’s goal is to be the world leader in plant-based chicken, the way Impossible and Beyond are known for their burgers.
“Consumers and chefs want texture in chicken, taste and flavor, and that is largely related to chicken fat, which is why we started with thighs instead of breasts,” Menezes said. “We made a chicken fat from a mixture called lipi to emulate the smell, aroma and browning of cooking.”
Both Recker and Menezes have many years of experience in the food industry. Recker founded LikeMeat in Germany, a plant-based meat producer that was taken over by the LIVEKINDLY Collective last year. Menezes’ career as a grocer began in Brazil with one of the world’s largest poultry exporters. He began working with plant-based meat after serving as General Manager of Country Foods, a Singaporean importer and distributor focused on innovative, sustainable products.
“It was clear to me after working in the meat industry for so long that it wasn’t going to be a sustainable business in the long run,” Menezes said.
In recent years, more and more consumers have got the same feeling and are looking for alternatives to animal products. UBS expects the global plant-based protein market to grow at an average annual growth rate of more than 30%, reaching around $ 50 billion by 2025 as more people, including those who are not vegans or vegetarians, looking for healthier and more humane sources of protein.
Millennial and Gen Z consumers in particular are poised to cut down on their meat, egg and dairy consumption as they become more aware of the environmental impact of industrial animal production, Menezes said. “They understand the sustainability angle and the health aspect such as cholesterol or nutritional values, depending on the product.”
TiNDLE Thy is low in sodium and saturated fat and has been awarded the Healthier Choice Symbol administered by the Health Promotion Board in Singapore. Next Gen’s new funding will be used to launch TiNDLE Thy starting at popular Singaporean restaurants such as Three Buns Quayside, the Prive Group, 28 HongKong Street, Bayswater Kitchen and The Goodburger.
Over the next year or two, Next Gen plans to increase its Series A round, bring more brands and products to market, and expand into its target markets: the United States (where a growth director is currently being hired to build a distribution network ), China, Brazil and Europe. After working with restaurant partners, Next Gen plans to make its products available to home cooks as well.
“The reason we started with chefs is because they are very difficult to crack. If chefs are happy with the product, we are very sure that customers will be too,” said Menezes.