Business

Chile's Bezos-backed NotCo raises $235 million round and is the new Latin America's unicorn

The funding, led by Tiger Global, also included athletes Lewis Hamilton and Roger Federer, valuing it at $1.5 billion

NotCo celebrates $235 million Series D funding round, bringing the company's valuation to $1.5 billion. Photo: Business Wire.
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  • Investment into plant-based foods reached about $1.7 billion in 2020, up nearly three times compared with 2019;
  • NotCo launched its plant-based milk NotMilk in the United States seven months ago and is on track to reach 8,000 retail outlets.

Amazon‘s founder Jeff Bezos-backed food-tech firm NotCo said on Monday it raised $235 million in its latest funding round that also included athletes Lewis Hamilton and Roger Federer, valuing the plant-based food company at $1.5 billion.

The funding, led by Tiger Global, also saw venture capital firm DFJ Growth Fund and social impact foundation ZOMA Lab pitch in.

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It makes plant-based milk, burger patties, meat and ice creams, and plans to use the new funding to expand in Asia and Europe and produce newer products for the North American market.

READ ALSO: On the edge of becoming Latin America’s new unicorn, NotCo takes baby steps in the U.S. plant-based market

“Many companies have reached NotCo to say ‘can you do a plant-based version of our products’. In that way, we can become the ‘Intel Inside’ of other products,” NotCo Chief Executive Officer Matias Muchnick told Reuters.

NotCo, which operates in six countries in the Americas, also plans to invest more on its artificial intelligence technology, Giuseppe, which explores new combinations of plants to replicate animal-based food products.

Health and environment-conscious consumers have been adding plant-based foods to their diets, prompting several firms to launch their own versions following the success of industry leaders Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

READ ALSO: Foodtech NotCo presents plant-based ground beef in Chile

During the pandemic, demand for plant-based faux meat has surged as consumers seek safe and healthy alternatives.

“COVID raised the awareness of the plant-based food category. The growth of the category was massive,” Muchnick said.

Investment into plant-based foods reached about $1.7 billion in 2020, up nearly three times compared with 2019, according to research firm PitchBook. It projects the alt-proteins market to touch nearly $8 billion this year.

NotCo launched its plant-based milk NotMilk in the United States seven months ago and is on track to reach 8,000 retail outlets by the end of year, it said.

READ ALSO: Bezos-backed NotCo receives funding from Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer’s fund

The unicorn soft-landed in the U.S. (where it is yet a one-product company) through a partnership with Whole Foods, which already sells NotMilk in 500 of its grocery stores. “The U.S. market is a huge challenge. The plant-based market has a very important penetration with the consumer, the highest in the world,” said Maximiliano Silva Figueroa, NotCo’s country manager in Chile, in an interview with LABS.

NotCo operations in the U.S. have been expanding to reach more consumers in the go-to-market channel split. Even though it started with baby steps, the company is starting to pick up the right pace, according to Figueroa. “Due to COVID-19, we started the first months in the U.S. at a low speed. Now the velocity, the shelf space turnover, has increased. The performance of NotMilk has been great,” says Figueroa.

READ ALSO: Chilean foodtech NotCo brings its vegan ice cream to Brazil

US headquarters should also address and supply the Canadian market.

The Series D round comes just a month after a substantial investment from Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI), where Shake Shack‘s founder and QSR pioneer Danny Meyer is a partner; and
nine months after an $85 million Series C co-led by Future Positive and L Catterton. NotCo has raised more than $330 million to date.

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