Sundial Foods, a plant-based meats company, has announced it has raised a $4 million seed round that includes Nestlé, Food Labs, Clear Current Capital, SOSV / IndieBio, and others.

Albany, California-based Sundial Foods makes vegan chicken wings that go beyond the meat alone to offer a complete wing experience, which includes the skin, muscle, and bone. Sundial expects its chicken wings to be available in U.S. restaurants in spring 2022. The company says it will use the new funding to expand its team and commence production for its U.S. launch at the Rutgers Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

"Making a super tasty alt-chicken wing is only half of it. During the IndieBio program, the Sundial team really focused on automating their production and manufacturing method, where they had several breakthroughs. They'll make it to market faster than any IndieBio company in history," said Po Bronson, general partner at SOSV and managing director of IndieBio.

Sundial's proprietary technology allows for the simulation of a whole cut of meat, with a fibrous meat texture, including muscle, and plant-based skin and bone. Sundial's offering is a clean food, because it contains just eight easy-to-recognize ingredients like water, chickpeas, and sunflower oil and no artificial flavors or synthetic chemicals. Also, Sundial's wings contain more fiber and less saturated fat than chicken but approximately the same amount of protein.

"Our goal is to make meats that replace the butcher, so our product can be enjoyed as a center-of-plate experience," said Sundial co-founder Jessica Schwabach. "We want to give consumers—whether vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, or meat-eating—a plant-based meat-eating experience that's interesting, craveable, and versatile."

Co-founders Siwen Deng, PhD, and Jessica Schwabach met in 2019 in class at U.C. Berkeley's Alternative Meats program where they initially became interested in the plant-based space. In 2020, they participated in the Nestlé R&D Accelerator in Lausanne, Switzerland, where they took the formula for their chicken from bench scale testing to pilot production. And in late 2020, Sundial co-branded a product with Nestlé's plant-based food brand Garden Gourmet and ran a successful test launch in more than 40 retail outlets across Switzerland.

Source: Sundial Foods