NotCo, a plant-based food tech company founded five years ago in Chile and now offering products across four product categories in five countries, has revealed an investment from Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI), in which Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer is a partner. Having rolled out its NotMilk product in the United States at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide just months ago, the company has already confirmed distribution in more than 3,000 stores in the first half of this year.
This investment will be strategic for NotCo in enabling it to expand into the U.S. and New York City foodservice markets. The investment is EHI’s first in a food tech company employing artificial intelligence (AI) to create plant-based products that match their animal-based counterparts. NotCo’s other investors include Bezos Expeditions, which manages the personal investments of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos; Future Positive; and L Catterton. So far, NotCo has raised more than $130 million to fuel its U.S. and global growth.
“NotCo’s patented artificial intelligence has created an exciting and revolutionary way to bring delicious and customizable plant-based innovations to market with incredible speed,” said Meyer. “The potential is so vast that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be involved. We’re excited to join this young company at a critical point in its growth to become an essential food provider in the U.S. and global markets.”
According to NotCo founder and CEO Matias Muchnick, EHI’s experience and network, coupled with Meyer’s insights, will help drive aggressive expansion into U.S. foodservice alongside existing successful partnerships with quick-service restaurant leaders in Latin America such as Burger King and Papa John’s. Although the company declined to disclose the amount of the latest investment, it was made at a higher valuation than the previous round, in line with the company’s aim of achieving a $1 billion valuation by the end of 2021. EHI’s investment will also help fund NotCo’s continued growth in the United States and support category innovation in Latin America.
“Our goal is to accelerate rapid advancement of science driven plant-based alternatives that consumers will readily adopt, and EHI’s and Danny’s vast industry expertise will help solidify mainstream validation of our technology, especially within foodservice,” added Muchnick. “We’re excited to partner with them in this next phase of NotCo’s U.S. and global expansion and multicategory innovation.”
NotCo’s patented AI technology, dubbed “Giuseppe,” delivers plant-derived items that taste, cook and behave just like their animal-based counterparts, according to the company. Giuseppe also provides an efficient alternative to environmentally harmful food production methods while supporting a fragile supply chain.
NotCo already sells its NotMilk, NotBurger, NotIceCream and NotMayo products in several countries, and has operations in the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia. It has become the largest and fastest-growing food tech company in Latin America in under three years, driven by aggressive investment, despite being relatively new to the industry. NotCo is also the only global company to simultaneously disrupt such major food and beverage segments as dairy, eggs and meat.
The first national certified-organic grocer, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The grocer is No. 26 on The PG 100 list, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on PG’s list.