Plant-based chicken maker Daring Foods raises $40m in Series B, demonstrates ‘impressive product-market fit in a short period of time’

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Daring Pieces are available in Original, Lemon & Herb, Cajun, and Breaded. Picture credit: Daring Foods
Daring Pieces are available in Original, Lemon & Herb, Cajun, and Breaded. Picture credit: Daring Foods

Related tags Daring Foods plant-based chicken plant-based meat

Daring Foods – a startup seeking to punch above its weight in the plant-based chicken category via a lower calorie product with a shorter, cleaner, ingredients list and bold branding – has closed a $40m Series B round led by D1 Capital Partners, and supported by Maveron, Palm Tree Crew, and singer songwriter, actor, producer, and entrepreneur Drake.

Daring has demonstrated impressive product-market fit in a short period of time​,” said Michael Tully of D1 Capital Partners. “The brand has a significant growth runway ahead of it as the chicken market remains underpenetrated by plant-based products.”

Daring​ pieces – which launched early last year direct to consumer and have since secured listings at Sprouts, Costco, Fresh Thyme, Wegmans, Kroger, Imperfect Foods, and others - contain soy protein concentrate, sunflower oil, and seasonings, with no methyl cellulose, wheat gluten, carrageenan, gums, or starches.   

With 90 calories per 70g serving Daring has less fat, fewer calories, more fiber and roughly the same level of protein as most rivals, claimed co-founder Ross Mackay, a Scot who started development work on the brand in the UK in 2018, but decided to shift focus to the US market in 2019 after receiving strong interest from investors.

The new funding will be used to triple the team by the end of 2021, scale up in retail and foodservice, and develop the innovation pipeline, said Mackay: “This past year has been transformative for us—from launching new products and growing our presence in retail and foodservice to expanding our market share.”

No 'chik'n...'

While Daring touts its short, clean labels, branding has also been key to its success, said Mackay, who told FoodNavigator-USA in a recent interview that he and co-founder Eliott Kessas (who “bonded over a somewhat awful vegan meal in Paris​​") deliberately avoided terms such as ‘chik’n' or ‘chick’n’ and instead took a page out of the Impossible Foods/Beyond Meat playbook by focusing on the brand (‘Daring Pieces’).

“You have to develop something really strong to stand out versus the market leaders, and we have a simple message. Our brand is daring, and this applies to everything from our products to the way we work, our culture, how we hire, our team and our founders."

Daring Foods co-founder Ross Mackay, pictured left with co-founder Eliott Kessas (picture credit: Daring Foods)

US retail sales of plant-based meat were up 45% to $1.4bn in the 52 weeks to December 27, 2020, according to SPINS data commissioned by The Good Food Institute (GFI) and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), significantly outpacing sale growth in conventional meat, although the latter (far larger and more mature) market also grew in double digits over the same period.

The strongest growth was generated by higher-value ‘next generation’ refrigerated plant-based meat products (+75%), while frozen plant-based meat sales were up 30%.

Plant-based meat accounts for 2.7% of dollar sales of retail packaged meat, with US household penetration rising from 14% in 2019 to 18% in 2020. Read more HERE.

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