- U.K. plant-based chicken company Daring Foods closed an $8 million funding round led by Maveron with additional institutional participation from GoodFriends, Stray Dog Capital and Pal Tree Crew Investments. Private investors Mike Smith, chief financial officer of Stitch Fix, and Brian Swette, former chair of Burger King, also participated in the round.
- In conjunction with the funding announcement, the brand said it will be releasing its new Breaded Daring Pieces on its direct-to-consumer site. Daring also announced it is debuting its products nationwide at Just Salad locations.
- This is the second surge of funding for Daring in the last year as it seeks to compete with the plant-based meat giants. Rastelli Foods Group, which has been in the conventional meat business since 1976, invested $10 million in the plant-based chicken startup at the end of last year.
The $10 million investment last year helped Daring launch into the U.S. In February, Daring debuted at U.S. retailers and, in just a few months, this new entrant into the plant-based chicken market has found shelf space at Sprouts Farmers Market, Gelson's, Bristol Farms and Fresh Thyme.
The brand's U.S. debut grabbed the attention of investors and helped the U.K. brand almost double its total funding with this latest round. Daring plans to put this money toward expanding its brand awareness and accelerate its growth. The company said in a release the new funding will go toward marketing, innovation and staffing.
Founded in 2018, the company says it distinguishes itself by making clean plant-based chicken with five non-GMO ingredients: water, soy, sunflower oil, salt and natural flavoring (paprika, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, mace and cardamom). The company launched into the U.S. because of its rapidly growing marketplace. Plant-based food sales growth recently outpaced sales in the in the overall food category by 35% in the four months ending April 19.
As the opportunity grows, so does the competition. There are other more established players in the U.S. plant-based chicken market. Beyond Meat entered the plant-based poultry space with chicken strips sold in retail and a partnership with KFC to trial plant-based fried chicken, while Tyson's plant-based Raised & Rooted nuggets recently hit the market. Meanwhile, Rebellyous is scaling its manufacturing facilities, McCain Foods will be making soy protein-based Nuggs, and Field Roast is launching its first faux chicken product called Plant-Based Nuggets.
Although there are other players in the space, for manufacturers like Daring that are focused on innovation for alternative chicken, there is a runway for expansion. Chicken has proved to be particularly difficult to produce for manufacturers, which has led to a proliferation of plant-based nugget options. Daring has now placed its bets on nuggets, but it made its name with pieces of chicken that mimic the look and taste of the actual animal protein.
If the company can continue to innovate, like with these new Breaded Daring Pieces, and bring different chicken analogues beyond nuggets to market, it could have a chance to take a bite out of Big Chicken and pave the way for American's favorite animal protein to become the next star of the plant-based space.
Correction: A previous version of this story had inaccurate information about Nuggs.