The past year has been one of growth for Hungry Planet. This latest investment round promises the pace won’t let up anytime soon.
Hungry Planet’s mission is to make it easy for consumers to make the switch from animal-based meat, a task it aims to accomplish with a focus on variety and nutrition. Its core differentiation is the sheer range of plant-based meat items it makes available. While other manufacturers might specialize in either plant-based red meat, pork, poultry or seafood, Hungry Planet has embraced all of these, with a range of ground and preformed beef patties, chicken, crab and sausage.
The company’s current lineup also hits on some of the most popular food trends; all items are vegan, non-GMO, and contain no cholesterol or saturated fats, according to Hungry Planet. Its ground beef, Italian sausage and chorizo are gluten free.
To tempt both vegans and carnivores, the company has emphasized its “chef-centric” approach to product development. This past June, it hired its first chief culinary officer, Ron DeSantis. The Certified Master Chef brought considerable foodservice experience as the former head of the dining halls at Yale University, where he led the development and production of more than 14,000 meals per day.
Much of Hungry Planet’s work over the past year has been to make its food more accessible. In January, it announced it was offering free delivery of plant-based meats ordered from its website to anywhere in the contiguous U.S.
This latest investment from Post is a sizable aid in helping Hungry Planet’s meatless products go mainstream, and it continues a growing partnership between the food giant and startup. In January, Post Holdings announced it would distribute Hungry Planet’s products in retail and foodservice, and it had invested an undisclosed amount to support the company’s growth.
Post, which offers a range of brands including cereals, Bob Evans frozen dishes and Malt–O–Meal, has made forays into other plant-based segments. In February, it led a a $12.5 million Series B funding round for PeaTos, which makes pea-based snacks. This past May, its Michael Foods division partnered with Just Egg to distribute the mung-bean-based egg substitute to thousands of foodservice locations in the U.S.
Post’s continued investment in Hungry Planet — a specific dollar figure sizing up its total spend to date has not been disclosed — demonstrates how much opportunity Big Food sees in the plant-based segment. In January, PepsiCo and Beyond Meat created a joint venture, The PLANeT Partnership, that will develop, produce and market snack and beverage products made from plant-based protein. Nestlé has been expanding its Sweet Earth plant-based meat line, with new Mindful Chik’n varieties joining the lineup this April, and more product extensions planned for later in the year. And Danone has made investments in plant-based cheese and expanded its own So Delicious line into new segments.
By casting such a wide net, Post increases its chances of winning a sizable return on its investment, and establishing a foothold across the plant-based segment, which was worth $7 billion in retail sales in 2020, according to SPINS data shared by the Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association.