Based in Singapore, Next Gen was set up by former LikeMeat CEO Timo Recker and ex Country Foods Singapore GM Andre Menezes, in the City State they dub the ‘silicon valley of food tech’.
In an interview with FoodNavigator-Asia, the co-founders explained its business model and strategy for expansion.
The product that Next Gen has developed is a plant-based chicken thigh that is soy-based and contains coconut fat, sunflower oil, natural flavourings and vegan binding agents.
The product is expected to launch in March 2021 in Singapore, initially through restaurants and food service before entering supermarkets. It will also launch into China, US, and Europe over the next three years.
Hear directly from the co-founders Recker (left) and Menezes (right).
Next Gen sources its ingredients globally, with manufacturing located in the Netherlands.
According to Menezes, Next Gen’s business model is asset light, “that means that we are not running factories but we are focusing on developing the best possible product and making sure that our business partners can market them together with us across the globe, as we expand gradually into different regions and countries.”
Recker said its Netherlands’ site has the capacity to produce 5,000 tonnes annually, enough for 9,000 restaurants. “No one in the market has the same starting capacity as we do.”
The firm is looking for manufacturing partners globally in places such as Brazil, US, Europe and China with high consumption of chicken.
Silicon Valley of food tech
While manufacturing is overseas, Singapore is home for its headquarters and R&D centre.
The founders said Singapore has a growing food tech space, akin to the Silicon Valley of food tech.
“The city offers a fantastic entrepreneurial ecosystem, private equity and venture capital, and an enviable legal and support environment. It also has a vibrant dining scene and some exceptionally talented chefs, who will help us to introduce our brand to the people of Singapore, and from here to those across Asia and around the world.”
“We believe that Singapore is an ideal launchpad for us to make sure our product can really meet the ambitions and expectations from the most discerning consumers.”
Winner winner chicken dinner
Next Gen’s focus is on chicken, as Recker explained: “If you look at the global trend right now, chicken is outperforming all the other meats, it’s the number one meat worldwide.”
“The advantage of chicken is that it is highly versatile and universal, there are no religion restrictions. When we look at plant-based, we had to pick the fastest growing, more popular and most accessible protein source, to feed the 10 billion people on this planet.”
Menezes added, “(Plant-based chicken) it’s a space that no one has managed to deliver a product with the characteristics that we have on a global level.”
He said Next Gen was mindful about the ingredients they use in its plant-based chicken thigh: “We have around 10 ingredients in our product, which is probably less than most of the comparable products in other (plant-based) categories such as beef and pork.
We don’t use any GMO or ingredients that are restricted in any aspect. Our product can be exported and consumed in different places around the world”. Its plant-based chicken is also halal certified.
Next Gen was launched in October 2020 with a seed funding of US$2.2m from Recker’s exit from LikeMeat. LikeMeat was acquired by global plant-based food company Livekindly co. earlier this year.
It is currently preparing for a bridging round in December and Series A financing round in H2 2021.
Recker said: “The global plant-based protein segment is expected to reach US$85bn by 2030 according to UBS. Asia will see significant growth according to Technavio, projected to reach an estimated market value of US$12.75bn by 2030.”
“I think we really got to the stage where it's really mainstream, and the Covid-19 situation just accelerated all the plant-based movement.”
In terms of expanding its product line, the firm said: “In the long term, we will definitely look into other categories to expand. Next Gen is not limited to chicken, in the future nothing stops us from using our technology R&D and knowledge to consider expansion into other categories as well.”
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