Next Gen Foods’ vegan chicken, Tindle, is already on sale in more than 500 restaurants worldwide, after making its debut in Singapore in March 2021.
Earlier this year, Tindle launched in the US, the UK and Germany – three of the world’s biggest markets for plant-based meat.
Tindle is also being served in Hong Kong, Macau and Malaysia in Asia, the Netherlands in Europe, and UAE in the Middle East. More markets should follow in the near future.
This rapid rollout is supported by a hefty US$100 million Series A round – a record for plant-based meat. Next Gen Foods also raised US$30 million in seed funding last year.
“We start with the countries who have the biggest impact on climate change, and that is the developed world,” Recker says.
“We want to give everyone worldwide the chance to have access to great protein and a balanced diet.”
What difference will new investment make?
Next Gen Foods’ main priority is building global recognition and a committed following for Tindle.
That means ramping up headcount in distribution and product development.
“We designed our business model and entire company strategy for quick scale-up,” Recker explains.
Chicken is a US$300 billion market, Recker highlights.
“If Tindle would, at some point, generate US$1 billion in revenue, that would be only 0.3% of the chicken market,” he says. “You can imagine, there is quite some funding needed to propel us there.”
Bigger distribution teams around the world can help promote Tindle and sign up more food outlets.
At the same time, new ways to make Tindle – including more cost-efficient production methods – can expand the customer base.
Some of Next Gen Foods’ technicians are also exploring non-chicken additions to the portfolio, such as dairy and seafood products, as part of a longer-term diversification plan.
“We designed our business model for quick scale-up”
To fast-track its marketing, Next Gen Foods debuted Tindle in high-end restaurants. Chefs are encouraged to create their own recipes, to give the Tindle brand extra cachet.
Tindle has since expanded into branded chains and quick service restaurants, thanks to the development of easy-to-serve products such as nuggets, patties and strips.
Next year, Tindle should also go on sale in food stores and supermarkets in certain countries.
“The majority of the revenue comes from retail,” Recker says.
“That will be a huge part of getting to the end consumer. We want to build the brand first and then enter retail, which is already in preparation.”
Recker founded Next Gen Foods with Andre Menezes – both food industry veterans.
Recker set up his first plant-based meat company, LikeMeat, in 2013. Menezes, Next Gen Foods CEO, was GM of Country Foods, a food distributor based in Singapore.
The pair first met through an introduction by Rohit Bhattahcarya, a former director at Temasek, Singapore’s state-backed investment fund. Bhattahcarya is now Next Gen Foods’ CFO.
Tindle is named after 19th-century physicist John Tyndall, a climate science pioneer.
Tyndall was one of the first people to show a link between the greenhouse effect and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Why is Next Gen Foods worth backing?
Investor interest in plant-based meat is rising, as options increase, consumer awareness and spending grows, and more companies and talent join the sector.
To deliver large-scale impact, however, plant-based meat alternatives must win over the mass market, points out Mathys Boeren.
Boeren is CEO of Asia Sustainable Foods Platform – a wholly owned Temasek company and one of Next Gen Foods’ main investors.
Creating a plant-based meat alternative with the right taste, texture and nutritional profile – a challenge in itself – is not enough. Startups also need to be able to market and distribute their products worldwide too.
The Next Gen Foods team has a mix of deep business and technical know-how that is “quite unique” among foodtech startups, putting them in a good position to deliver on this promise, Boeren says.
“The only way we will make a difference in this market, in creating a sustainable food system, is if we reach scale, if it is easily available,” he adds.
“If we don’t do that, it will be a niche product; we will have failed on what we set out to do. That’s not what we’re looking for.”
“The only way we will make a difference is if we reach scale”
Temasek unveiled Asia Sustainable Foods Platform towards the end of last year as a way to maximize the value of its agrifood investments. Asia Sustainable Foods Platform allows Temasek to play a more active role in the agrifood space as an enabler and occasional operator.
One notable example is the upcoming launch of the Food Tech Innovation Centre (FTIC), a collaboration with A*Star – Singapore’s agency for science, technology and research.
FITC aims to make it easier to test and pilot new foodtech products, by providing access to high-demand equipment for example, or presentation spaces where startups can showcase their wares to prospective investors.
When FITC opens later this year, Next Gen Foods plans to open a global R&D hub as the facility’s anchor tenant.
Asia Sustainable Foods Platform can also help Next Gen Foods and other startups by facilitating tie-ups with other companies in its portfolio.
Companies that specialize in commercial-scale production for plant-based food could be useful for Next Gen Foods, for example.
“To make products – like New Gen Foods does – that make you come back time and time again is not simple,” Boeren says.
“To do that at scale, at a consistent quality, is almost an art form. We provide support that we really see as important.”