The newest Chilean unicorn, the plant-based food startup NotCo, ended 2021 with more than 3,000 stores across the United States, and expanding to five new countries: Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru.
The startup added more than 20 products to its portfolio in Latin America, starting with NotMilk, NotIceCream, and NotMayo, the plant-based mimics for dairy products. Founded in 2015 by Matías Muchnick, Karim Pichara, and Pablo Zamora, the Jeff Bezos-backed plant-based startup now announces its entry into the faux chicken category with NotChicken Nuggets and NotChicken Burger.
It’s the first time that NotCo launches a product simultaneously in several markets, with Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, reaching more than 980 stores, including Cencosud, Carrefour, and Pão de Açúcar, where it will compete with Brazil‘s plant-based startup Fazenda Futuro. In the future, these new products will also be available in the United States and Canada. In Chile, NotChickenNuggets and NotChickenBurger will be available in Jumbo supermarkets, and via NotCo’s e-commerce.
In July 2021, the company’s Series D round led by Tiger Global featuring names like Lewis Hamilton and Roger Federer lifted NotCo’s valuation at $1.5 billion. Last year the Chilean company also arrived in Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Canada, and Colombia, adding to its operations in the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, as Max Silva, Chile‘s country manager, and expansion director at NotCo, told LABS.
“We have 63 foodservice stores in these countries, and through that, we export to seven countries in South America and Central America,” he says. Below are the main highlights of Silva’s interview with LABS.
LABS – How do you rate NotCo’s 2021?
Silva – 2021 was a spectacular year, we reached the main milestones this year. It was a difficult year because we did not know if we were going to handle the pandemic again or not but we continued the growth pace we already have in recent years, and it was spectacular. This year we grew nearly 2,5 times compared to 2020.
We have more than 600 points of sale in these countries, almost 400 points of sale in food service, and we are exporting for seven countries between South America and Central America. We also made a partnership with Starbucks.
It’s all part of what we want to deliver as a company. What we achieved this year will also translate as hope in other operations in the region at the beginning of the year 2022. And it’s all related to our technology, to our proprietary Artificial Intelligence called Giuseppe.
We consolidated the development of four applications on the Giuseppe platform to address and solve different problems in the development and deepening of product prototypes. We had more than 40 product launchings in the region, and on July 26 we officially became a unicorn company.
LABS – In terms of growth, was 2021 the most aggressive year for NotCo?
Silva – We grew approximately three times versus 2020. Although it is not the year in which we grew the most in percentage terms, at value level we are the largest in Latin America in the plant-based environment.
We are not only in the main economies of the region but also with a significant number of points of sale in the retail channel, and a growing and highly visible number of points of sale in food service, in restaurants, where you really live the food experience. All of this allowed us not only to grow but also to consolidate ourselves.
So, it was not the year of maximum growth, but from here to what the future comes, what we want is to consolidate that growth through the new countries and categories as we have been doing.
LABS – What are the main objectives and goals for NotCo in 2022?
Silva – Our main goal for 2022 is effectively to consolidate the growth, we also hope to grow three times in 2022, which we did in 2021.
If we look at how the company has been growing since 2018, this exponential growth is expected through the pillars with which we have built the growth of the product portfolio.
New product categories will come in 2022. Also, partnerships with companies that want to incorporate NotCo’s mayonnaise, or NotCo’s milk, as we do with Starbucks. We hope to carry out partnerships in other important chains in the region.
We hope to consolidate our presence and growth in those larger markets, mainly in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. In 2022, we hope it will be quite expansive and we could think that we will also have a presence in other markets, like the Asian market. It is something that is under development.
Silva – A public offering is not something that is dated by the company but rather we think that it is a consequence of the work that we have been doing and the expansion, the growth that we hope to continue delivering, focusing on the experience of people to captivate the hearts and stomachs of the continent.
Silva – About the startup ecosystem in the region we have seen many things happening. We see how valuations have grown a lot, this makes it easier for the environment of entrepreneurship to get greater visibility, and therefore the environment is growing.
We have been able to contribute to it happening in countries as small as Chile but we believe that it is happening in Argentina, it is happening in Colombia, in Mexico, in Peru… We see how projects in Latin America that have a vocation for global dominance or make a global contribution are attractive to investors.
The truth is that as a region we believe that we are in a very interesting stage. Many better things are coming this 2022 and we hope that the recovery after the pandemic facilitates it. What is happening in the most important markets such as Brazil is very important to guide what the rest of the countries are going to do as a lever in the rest of the region, so we feel it is part of a movement that exists from Latin America for startups in technology-based ventures, but above all those that bring propose brand solutions for technology projects that allow attracting a daily solution that unites with a relevant impact with a clear purpose are transformative at the world domain level. It still has a lot to say and it is happening in Latin America.