Sunfed's plant based meats.

Investment Notes: Sunfed

Date Published:
November 15, 2018

We have led a NZ$10M investment into plant-based meat company Sunfed.

Blackbird is proud to announce that we have recently led a NZ$10M Series A investment into Auckland-based Sunfed.

Sunfed is a next-generation plant-based meat company using proprietary processes and custom hardware to produce meat-replacement food products that look, taste and cook just like meat from an animal.

Their first and flagship product is ‘chicken free chicken’ made from pea protein that is gluten, soy and GMO-free and has twice the protein of chicken and three times the iron of beef.

Meat the Future

The future of meat is a new area of deep interest for us as Blackbird. Animal protein is the dominant source of protein for the majority of people on the planet, but it is unsustainable to continue to eat meat at the rates we do, even without accounting for population growth. Livestock production contributes as much to greenhouse emissions as the transportation sector. Meat prices are the cheapest the market can support and are steadily rising.

People are also increasingly concerned about the ethical and health considerations of meat consumption. In most Western countries, vegetarianism, veganism and flexitarianism (the conscious reduction of meat consumption, for example, by participating in meat-free Mondays) are growing in popularity. In China and elsewhere, consumers are increasingly concerned about food security, particularly the quality and safety of raw meat.

One of the barriers to more people reducing meat consumption is the fact that meat tastes so good, is an excellent source of protein and is deeply embedded in many social and cultural norms. Right now, consumers have a very limited range of products available to them to fill the hole that meat might once have taken on the plate.

The world needs safe, affordable, sustainable and healthy meat substitutes that are as functional as meat.

Sunfed is one of the startups pioneering a new generation of plant-based meat alternatives.

The Search for Inner Peas

Sunfed was founded by Shama Sukul Lee and her husband Hayden Lee. Shama grew up in Fiji in a meat-loving family and moved to New Zealand as a teenager on a full scholarship to study computer science. While she had a successful career as a software engineer, Shama came to the realisation that her life’s purpose lay elsewhere and went on a personal journey that led her to veganism. From there, armed with a remarkable level of determination, she mortgaged the family home to explore whether it would be possible to create a plant-based meat-substitute even the most committed carnivore would enjoy eating.

Sunfed uses a proprietary process and custom hardware to create a chewy, meaty product that has twice the protein of chicken and three times the iron of beef. It is bought frozen, cooks in 5 minutes and is as versatile as raw chicken. It can be barbecued, pan-fried, added to curries and sauces and absorbs liquid and other flavours easily. You won’t believe it’s not real chicken!

Sunfed’s Chicken Free Chicken launched in 2017 in the major supermarket chains in New Zealand and quickly sold out everywhere. On Sunfed’s social media channels current customers sing their praises for the product, and would-be customers ask for Sunfed to come to their country.

We love Shama’s commitment to the mission and passion for creating a consumer product that everyone can enjoy.

Sunfed will shortly be releasing their next product, Bull Free Beef (plant-based beef burger patties) in New Zealand, and have started R&D on plant-based bacon rashers, pork, and tuna.

Australians will be available to buy Sunfed from 2019 and if you are interested in joining the mission, they are hiring!