Investors Bet Millions on Plant-based Chicken Nuggets

Image: NUGGS

Plant-based burgers were just the beginning. The battle of the chicken alternatives is heating up.

According to consulting firm Kearney, the market for plant-based meat is forecast to grow to $450B by 2040, accounting for a quarter of the $1.8T meat industry.

Upstarts are racing to become the Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat of chicken:

  • Simulate, makers of Nuggs plant-based nuggets, raised $50M from Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Jay-Z, and others.
  • Rebellyous unveiled reformulated plant-based nuggets, patties, and tenders.
  • Nowadays announced $2M in funding, launching its plant-based nuggets.
  • Daring Foods closed a $40M Series B, including an investment from Drake.

Ruling the roost: Of course, larger brands aren’t blind to this trend. Beyond Meat will give chicken another try this summer. Upside Foods (formerly Memphis Meats) has plans for cell-based chicken. Even Tyson is trying its hand at plant-based.

The next battleground? Everyone wants a piece of plant-based jerky.

  • In 2018, animal jerky sales topped $1.5B, with plant-based options accounted for a fraction of the market.
  • Meat snack sales grew 7% annually from 2013 to 2018 while animal-free jerky sales jumped almost 60% since 2017.

Be on the lookout: Nestlé entered the category with Sweet Earth, and KRAVE expanded into the space. Meanwhile, companies like Moku, Eat the Change, and Pan’s are using mushrooms to make “beef” jerky.