Nabati Foods, a portfolio company of Eat Beyond Global Holdings, recently transitioned from its pilot plant to its new production facility in Edmonton, Canada, where it will be able to produce 1.2 million pounds of its plant-based cheese product and 1 million pounds of plant-based meat (available frozen in retail stores) annually.
The company used a portion of its $7.7m capital infusion from a recent oversubscribed financing round to fund the project.
With the new production facility, Nabati will be able to expand its distribution across North America and eventually introduce its products to European markets.
Nabati will also house its research and development department in the new facility with plans to expand the team by 150% to 15 members.
Full plant-based product portfolio
Nabati Foods' early days began in farmer's markets where the founders would sell their plant-based energy bites and cheesecakes. While popular and still part of the company's portfolio today, Ahmad Yehya, CEO of Nabati Foods told FoodNavigator-USA, "We didn't just want to be a dessert company or bakery."
"We picked and focused on areas where we knew we could fill a gap in the market. I don't think the market is yet saturated with plant-based brands and shelf-space is still very limited," said Yehya.
The company developed and introduced its next two product lines, plant-based cheese and meat alternatives (beef, chicken, and fish).
According to Yehya, the incumbent brands lacked the characteristic taste, texture, and appearance of regular dairy cheese.
Nabati's plant-based 'cheeze' line is made from organic tapioca starch and coconut oil, and less than 2% of Kappa Carrageenan.
A notorious difficult product to develop, Yehya notes how its plant-based cheese products melt just like dairy cheese.
"It stretches, but we focus more on melt," he said.
"People love it because it really competes with dairy cheese rather than just another cheese alternative," Yehya claimed, adding that the company is working its way through a months-long waitlist of wholesale orders from foodservice customers and retailers across Canada.
The other gap in the plant-based market, Nabati is aiming to address is in plant-based chicken and fish, says Yehya.
"What's out there in terms of chicken and fish, it's [mostly] all breaded and made using either soy or gluten protein...there's no real consumer choice," said Yehya.
Nabati's chicken and fish plant-based alternatives are made with pea protein and not breaded giving consumers the freedom to choose how they'd like to prepare it.
Up next: plant-based eggs
"We're on track to launch our plant-based eggs where's there's still a huge market opportunity," adds Yehya.
Nabati plans to launch plant-based eggs made from lupin protein and fortified with vitamins and minerals, in late summer, said Yehya.
"Our aim is to be an affordable, innovative brand. We don’t people to struggle to eat healthy," he said.