NotCo, a food tech company that makes plant-based milk and meat replacements, announced on Monday that it raised $235 million in its latest funding round with a valuation totalling $1.5 billion. These numbers underscore the strong growth of the plant-based food sector.
The company previously got backing from Jeff Bezos. During the latest round of funding, it was supported by such renowned athletes as Lewis Hamilton and Roger Federer.
NotCo launched its plant-based milk NotMilk in the United States seven months ago, and today the company is on track to reach 8,000 retail outlets by the end of the year. Today, the company has four product lines, including NotMilk, NotBurger, NotMeat, NotIceCream and NotMayo, and its sales have grown three times annually over the past four years.
Currently, NotCo operates across six countries in North and South America. In the future NotCo plans to expand its outreach to Asia and Europe and expand its production line across North America.
NotCo also plans to invest more in automation, which will help reduce costs and increase the quality of products. The company wants to rely more on its artificial intelligence technology, Giuseppe, which explores new combinations of plants and extends production capabilities to replicate animal-based food products.
Giuseppe matches animal proteins to their ideal replacements among thousands of plant-based ingredients. For example, it strives to improve machine understanding of molecular components and food characteristics by combining two ingredients that could mimic milk more sustainably.
The latest round of funding also underscored the growing popularity of plant-based food. During the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for plant-based meat skyrocketed as consumers seek healthy and more environmentally friendly alternatives.
Health and environment-conscious consumers continue to add plant-based foods to their diets, representing a shift in supply and demand balance for the alternative food industry.
Investment into plant-based foods totalled $1.7 billion in 2020, nearly three times higher than in 2019. Overall, the market for alternative meat, eggs, dairy and seafood products is predicted to hit $290 billion by 2035, according to Boston Consulting Group and Blue Horizon Corp.
The change has prompted many firms to launch their versions of plant-based products. Previously, such companies as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods already emerged as industry trendsetters that the viability and resilience of the emerging industry.