Sunfed Meats plans to go global with plant protein ‘meats’, GERARD HUTCHING, November 16 2017

People who fancy their plant protein with a beef or bacon flavour will soon be able to sample new products that start-up company Sunfed Meats is planning.

The Auckland-based company that turns peas into chicken chunks is looking for investors to help it scale up so that it can manufacture for export.

Chief executive and founder Shama Lee said her company had been overwhelmed with interest from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

“Western markets are just screaming for this so those are the ones we are aiming at. We are hoping to ramp up production 100-fold, which will give us the capacity to export.”

“We’ve got a good problem, which is that we can’t meet demand. It’s the best time to scale up.”

She had raised $1.5 million in an earlier investment raising round which was used to commercialise the product, and had recently launched a new capital raise that attracted so much interest that the round had to be extended.

Lee would not say how much she was seeking to raise, but only to say she was seeking strategic investor partners.

Sunfed chicken-free chicken was launched in July and now the company was planning to release two new products: Sunfed beef and Sunfed bacon.

While the chicken is made from yellow peas imported from Canada, Lee would not divulge the key ingredient in the beef and bacon products.

She said there was no other product like it on the market.

“We’ve invented a clean water-based process by which pea protein cooks, feels and tastes exactly like chicken.

“There’s a stigma about meat alternatives, and we are the only ones with this amount of taste and texture. We have a 4.5 health star rating, double the protein of chicken, triple the iron in beef. It’s very versatile, we don’t hide behind

She compared it favourably to the Impossible Foods burger which used a larger number of ingredients including wheat containing gluten, and was made using genetic modification.

Lee said her aim was to create plant-based products that were healthier for humans, had much less environmental impact and were cheaper to produce.

The pulses used were one of the most sustainable crops in the world, requiring minimal to no fertiliser, irrigation and pesticides. She hoped to source the peas from New Zealand but said they were not yet available.

Foodstuffs head of external relations Antoinette Laird said the “chicken” was stocked in a limited number of its stores, and was selling well, albeit from a very small base.

“In terms of volume the total sales of Sunfed product remains small compared to other proteins including chicken – but this is not unexpected for a new product. Both Foodstuffs and our customers see a bright future for plant-based meat replacement products.”