Following the raging success of its chicken-free chicken, Sunfed Meats has announced its expanding production, with cow-free beef and pig-free bacon also on their way.
Carolyn Robinson loved it. Nigel Latta loved it. And judging by its Facebook page, every vegan in the country seems to love it as well.
Since Sunfed Meats launched earlier this year, its chicken-free chicken has been a rare sight in supermarket freezers as customers have been snapping up its goods quicker than you can say ‘animal-based protein’. So to keep up with relentless demand, the Auckland-based start-up is embarking on a coveted series A capital raise as it looks to significantly expand its production capacities.
Chief executive and founder Shama Lee says she plans to ramp up production 100-fold to start servicing internationally as well. “The response to our product has been nothing short of phenomenal if you consider the fact that we have not invested in any traditional advertising and marketing. It has all been organic word-of-mouth, which speaks to the product.”
Perhaps most exciting for all us fake-meat connoisseurs out there is the announcement that Sunfed is set to release its own versions of ‘beef’ and ‘bacon’ sometime next year.
“We challenged ourselves to a high bar of not making a patty, but a piece of fleshy meat with long succulent fibres that would be a good replacement to boneless skinless chicken breast pieces,” says Lee, regarding why the company focused on developing an alternative to chicken (the most highly consumed meat in the Western world) before a red meat one.
Whether Sunfed’s beef and bacon will be made with the same pea protein used for its chicken remains to be seen. But with the company’s aim to create healthier plant meat that uses pulses of the legume family (ie: dried peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas), Sunfed – along with the rest of the ‘fake’ animal protein industry – is well on course to incite major disruption in both the food and farming industries.
“As cellular agriculture gains momentum and increasing consumer acceptance, there’s no doubt that it will win the battle against food production that uses live animals,” wrote future of foods strategist Dr Rosie Bosworth last month. “Not just because of its ethical, social and environmental benefits, but because economics and consumer demands will prevail.”
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This wave of consumer demand is precisely what Sunfed Meats is currently riding as it hastens to keep up with New Zealanders’ appetites. But Lee isn’t just sitting back hoping the market does the work for her. She hopes to “kickstart a brand new high skilled protein industry in New Zealand that will diversify our exports and strengthen our future.”
“I don’t want us to just get in the game, I want us to lead the way.”
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