- Nature's Fynd made the first products from its signature fungi protein Fy available for pre-order on its website on Monday. The company's first offering is a "Fy Breakfast Bundle," made of Original Dairy-Free Cream Cheese and Original Meatless Breakfast Patties.
- The limited release package, which cost $14.99 plus shipping, sold out in a matter of hours. According to Nature's Fynd, the breakfast product line is set to launch more broadly later this year.
- Nature's Fynd raised a total of $125 million in 2020 alone — $80 million in March and $45 million in December. The company, formerly known as Sustainable Bioproducts, had announced plans to launch the first product made from its versatile protein this year, although it did not say what the item would be.
After years of intrigue, Nature's Fynd is bringing products made of a protein found in a geothermal stream to the breakfast table.
The launch is unique for reasons aside from being the first from Nature's Fynd, which uses fermentation to produce its signature protein Fy. Most companies producing alternatives to animal-derived foods start out in either the meat space or the dairy space. Nature's Fynd is launching in both — and with products made from the same key ingredient.
Founded in 2016 by Thomas Jonas, Nature's Fynd was the result of a scientific trek to some of the more remote areas of Yellowstone National Park. Jonas and other scientists were studying what might survive in an environment unlike that on Earth, and they found a protein-rich fungus. The company ferments the fungus to create food, and has trademarked the key ingredient as Fy. The fungus had an adaptable taste, a quick growth rate, a filamented organizational structure that resembles muscles and remarkable efficiency in using resources to grow and sustain itself, Jonas said in a 2019 interview.
Fy could be used for many different products and perform well, he said at the time. Clearly, this launch is putting its versatility on center stage.
"We are our own thing," Jonas said. "And, you know, there's beauty in that we're kind of creating this, this fresh new category, which is the most efficient protein on the planet."
Nature's Fynd spent much of 2020 gearing up for a product launch. It started production in a new 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Chicago last March and bulked up its team there and at its R&D center in Bozeman, Montana. At the end of last year, the company hired several CPG veterans from Archer Daniels Midland, Bel Brands USA, Kind Snacks and Cargill to help it break into the market and develop products consumers want.
While Nature's Fynd's online pre-launch went well, it will be interesting to see how consumers react to its products once they are more widely available. Fermented alternatives like Fy are becoming more popular in the food business. The Good Food Institute called fermentation the "next pillar" of animal food alternatives, drawing more than $400 million in investments in 2020 alone. After being pioneered by Quorn in 1985, there were 44 fermentation companies focused on alternative proteins by September 2020, according to GFI's report. Almost half of them — 21 — launched between 2019 and the first seven months of 2020.
However, Nature's Fynd may be starting in the right place. As many people have been staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic, breakfast's popularity has surged. More consumers are turning toward plant-based alternatives out of curiosity and the plant-based health halo. While Fy is not plant-based, it's a high-protein and sustainable alternative. And considering that many consumers are trying new meat and dairy alternatives during the pandemic, this launch may be the next way they try to start their day.