SINGAPORE - Media OutReach - 18 August 2021 - Plant-based food-tech company Shandi has closed its second seed round led by Singapore-headquartered Tolaram – one of Africa's largest packaged food companies. Other investors in this round include Australia based food-tech accelerator SparkLabs Cultiv8, and former CEO-India for Louis Dreyfus and prominent angel investor Simmarpal Singh.
The fresh funding that raised more than USD700,000 will be used to set up a manufacturing facility in Singapore to commercialise and scale Shandi's proprietary plant-based chicken products, including expanding partnerships in the food sector. While Shandi has successfully produced chicken analogues in various formats such as pieces, shreds, strips and drumsticks, part of the proceeds would be allocated to further product innovation and development on new textures, formats, and other meat analogues.
Shandi was founded in 2019 by food industry expert, research veteran and lifelong vegetarian Dr Reena Sharma. The food-tech company uses a unique process to develop and manufacture their plant-based chicken, which is made only with natural, non-GMO ingredients such as pea protein, chickpeas, quinoa, flax seeds, brown rice, and coconut oil, and is free from artificial flavourings and other additives.
"We're thrilled to bring on board a variety of strategic investors, from a large food corporation to a sector-specific venture capital firm as well as an angel investor. This represents a strong validation of our technology and product, and we look forward to working with our investors to move to the next phase and bring our products to market. With its strong logistics and supply chain, forward-looking regulatory framework and supportive government initiatives, Singapore is well positioned to host our first commercial plant and we're delighted to be setting up here," said Dr Reena Sharma, Founder and CEO at Shandi.
This round of funding also represents Tolaram's first investment in the alternative protein category. Tolaram is a Singapore enterprise with business interests across consumer products, fintech and infrastructure. It operates 23 manufacturing facilities in Africa and leverages its deep distribution network to bring essential consumer goods to half a billion people in the region.
Said Deepak Singhal, MD of Consumer Products at Tolaram: "We continue to see strong growth in the alternative protein category, especially when more affordable options become available for emerging markets. We believe that Shandi could be a game-changer as they have created a chicken substitute that not only tastes and behaves like the animal meat but is also priced at par with it. We are excited to help them go-to-market and grow, utilizing our resources, network, and experience in building consumer brands from the ground up."
Bernice Tay, Director of Food Manufacturing, Enterprise Singapore added "We are excited to see Tolaram partner Shandi to introduce a new variety of plant-based chicken to the market. Such partnerships between established food companies and emerging food tech startups invigorate the local alternative protein ecosystem and provide greater variety and offerings for consumers. We hope to encourage more of such collaborations going forward."
Shandi's patent-pending production process involves isolating specific amino acids from plants to emulate the amino acid profile found in chicken. This results in an end-product that is like chicken not only in its nutritional composition, but also in the way the animal-meat releases certain molecules (called pre-cursors) during the cooking process. This is a paramount and often overlooked element in designing a meat alternative as many manufacturers add artificial flavours that die or do not react during the cooking process. By re-creating the taste using natural amino acids instead of chemical additives, flavourings, and seasonings, Shandi is able to offer a product that is tasty, nutritious, and versatile at a highly competitive price.
"We have seen 100's of plant-based protein companies but this is the first true meat alternative we have seen that overcomes the barriers inhibiting current products in the market. Shandi's product is low cost, nutritional and can be cooked just like real meat in any application." says Graham Bougen, Program Director, SparkLabs Cultiv8.
Shandi aims to launch its range of products to foodservice and food manufacturers in Q1 2022, with a B2C retail product to follow.
Tolaram is a Singapore enterprise focused on building businesses and investing in emerging market opportunities that propel growth and elevate communities. More than 70 years of entrepreneurial heritage has given them critical insights to continually innovate and forge partnerships. They transform challenges into opportunities across a diverse portfolio of businesses in consumer products, fintech and infrastructure throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Shandi is a Singapore-based food-tech startup developing plant-based meat substitutes that have amino acid and protein profiles like conventional meat. Founded in 2019 by food industry expert, research veteran and life-long vegetarian Dr Reena Sharma, Shandi will create plant-based chicken as the first offering in various formats, including pieces, shreds, strips, and drumsticks. Made with natural plant-based ingredients, Shandi offers a nutritionally optimal alternative that tastes, feels, and cooks like real meat.
About SparkLabs Cultiv8
SparkLabs Cultiv8 is one of the most active early-stage food and agri-tech investors globally, having invested in over 35 businesses over the last 4 years. The Australian based accelerator focuses on providing value through their strong global agricultural connections and tailored support.