Daring Foods bites into third round in 12 months as plant-based chicken product enters Walmart

Daring Foods closed on $65 million in Series C funding Wednesday as the plant-based chicken startup launches its products into 3,000 Walmart stores nationally.

Daring offers four plant-based chicken products, including Original, Lemon & Herb, Cajun and Breaded, that looks, cooks and tastes like its chicken counterpart.

CEO Ross Mackay told TechCrunch that the goal of the company is to provide a product that can be “a true one-to-one substitute for chicken” that is also healthy. Daring’s product contains just five ingredients compared to some of its competitors that have a blend of 30 to 40 ingredients, and it also is high in protein and lower in calories than traditional chicken, he said.

“Eighty percent of people changing to a plant-based diet do it for health reasons,” Mackay added. “They want to be able to trust the ingredient profile, and at Daring, we can say absolutely it is healthy.”

TechCrunch last visited with Mackay in 2019, about a year after the company was founded and it had received a $10 million investment from Rastelli Foods Group. Back then, the company was young, with just one product and fewer than 10 employees.

Today, the company’s new funding, led by Founders Fund, is the third investment into the company during the past 12 months, Mackay told TechCrunch. Joining Founders Fund is existing investor D1 Capital Group and new athlete and celebrity investors including Naomi Osaka, Cameron Newton, Steve Aoki and Chase Coleman.

Following this latest round, the company has now raised over $120 million. Its Series A, led by Maveron, was raised last September, and its B round, led by D1 Capital, was announced in May.

Daring Foods’ products can be found in Whole Foods, Sprouts and Kroger, with Wegmans and Albertsons coming soon, Mackay said. With the addition of Walmart, its distribution has doubled to 6,000, including online markets like Gopuff and Imperfect Foods, and is also being served in some restaurants across the country.

The company saw 900% growth over the past 12 months and will be using the new funding to support that growth and new innovation. In addition, the company grew to 60 employees. Mackay says Daring remains focused on plant-based chicken and has plans for new product launches, some in the coming months and others in the next year.

Daring’s growth is in line with what is going on in the global plant-based foods market, which is poised to be a $162 billion market by 2030.

“I don’t think this is a trend, but the future of food, and we are excited to lead in chicken,” Mackay said. “More brands can step into the category, and the innovation going on in the space is super exciting. Capital plowing into the industry is showing the growth trajectory, and at the end of the day, the consumers win.”