UK-based VC, Backed, led the round, which included four other VCs: Five Seasons Ventures, Idinvest Partners, Seedcamp and Manta Ray Ventures.
THIS™ has raised £5.6m in total, since 2018, from 12 angel investors and the above VC funds.
THIS™ launched in mid-June 2019; 5.5 months later, as of December 31st 2019, they have an annualised revenue of c£3m.
THIS™ is quickly becoming a leader in the meat-alternative market, which has emerged as the UK’s fastest-growing food category, worth over £400m (The Times, December 2019).
High-velocity – THIS™ is one of the fastest growing food brands in the UK
THIS™ are one of the fastest growing food businesses in the UK. They’ve experienced a compound growth rate of 35% month-on-month.
Their meteoric rise has seen them place their products in over 1200 outlets across the UK, including national listings with Waitrose (200 stores), Holland & Barrett (700 stores), Ocado, Honest Burger, Chilango, Barburrito, PURE, Coco Di Mama and many others.
THIS™ is forming partnerships with both retailers and restaurant groups simultaneously.
Investment for manufacturing capability, new R&D centre and key hires
The investment was essential for the business keep up with growing demand. THIS™ co-founder Andy Shovel commented – ‘We’ve been able to leverage our strong first few months to obtain this fantastic investment from strong partners. It allows us to massively boost our manufacturing capacity and crucially – to create a formidable innovation engine within the company, by establishing an internal R&D centre.’.
Hyper-realistic products that fool food critics
The pea and soy based products are so realistic, THIS™ even managed to convince 25 food critics and food bloggers that they were eating real meat. Watch the video here: We Tricked 25 Food Critics into eating Vegan Plant-Based Bacon & Chicken
Meat-eaters can’t tell between THIS™ and real meat
THIS™ conducted a blind taste test on 65 meat-eaters selected randomly from the streets of London. They asked them to compare two different tikka products (bare - no sauces/garnishes): THIS™(plant-based) & a standard supermarket ready-to-eat chicken tikka product. Watch the video here.
Over 92% thought both products were chicken
This is perhaps the first time ever that people cannot tell the difference between plant-based chicken and real chicken. It’s a breakthrough in terms of food-tech and plant-based meat-alternative realism. Meat eaters no longer have to compromise if they are looking to cut down on meat.
Plant-based food created by ex-burger chain founders
- Meat lovers, Andy Shovel and Pete Sharman, co-founded and successfully exited beef burger chain Chosen Bun, subsequently channelling their in-depth knowledge of meat to create the most realistic chicken and bacon meat-alternatives in the world.
- Following two years of research and development, partnering with world-leading texture scientists and flavourists, THIS™ mimics meat in taste, texture, appearance and smell, but without the ethical or environmental impact, instead using peas and soya beans as the base
- Only the products that can truly fool a carnivore into thinking they’re eating meat make the final cut,
- THIS™ challenges legacy “plant-based meat” brands by targeting meat-reducers as opposed to purely vegans. With a core belief that meat-eaters shouldn’t have to compromise if they want to cut down on meat, the brand is bold, relatable, & rebellious – without making judgement on consumers’ eating habits
THIS™ sustainability credentials
- THIS™ has minimal CO2 emissions in production vs. meat: for example, beef produces 50kg of CO2 emissions and pork produces 13.3kg of CO2 emissions per kg of food produced, whilst THIS™ produces 1.2kg
- THIS™ has significantly less water consumption, standing at 121L per kg, compared to 4184L for beef and 1782L for pork
- Its longer shelf-life than meat further helps reduce food waste
- All ingredients are sustainably sourced
Award-winning, hyper realistic products
- THIS™ Isn’t Bacon has been awarded a 2019 Great Taste Award - one judge said 'THIS™ is “like methadone for ex-bacon loving vegetarians.”
- THIS™ won two coveted PETA 2019 awards for “Best Vegan Bacon” and “Best Vegan Chicken”
- THIS™ has also won the Food Matters Live 2019 award for best new product
Comments from investors in this round
Alex Brunicki and Andre de Haes, partners at Backed commented: ‘Food sustainability is a topic we care a great deal about at Backed and is a major tailwind to be investing into. Andy and Pete have created a number of best-in-class products, nurtured a passionate community of customers and executed on an ambitious distribution strategy in lightning quick time. We are thrilled to be backing the team at THIS’
Carlos Espinal, Seedcamp Managing Partner, commented: ‘Investing in the future isn't just about investing in hard-tech companies; it's also about investing in the future of our consumption and the sustainability of food sources and their long-term ecological impact. We first invested in Pete and Andy and their incredible vision for THIS a few years back and are proud investors and customers of their delicious products which not only address increased consumer demand for meat-free alternatives but also help contribute towards building a more diverse and sustainable food supply-chain that has already attracted the interest of many top retail brands.’
Leah Volger, Principal at Manta Ray Ventures commented: ‘THIS founders, Andy and Pete, have done a fantastic job of developing delicious products and building a plant-based alternative protein brand that really resonates with consumers. THIS’s impressive growth points to the increasing demand from both UK consumers and retailers for diversified, better tasting and consumer-focused alternative protein products.’
Jonathan Userovici, Investment Manager at Idinvest Partners commented: ‘Since our investment a few months ago, THIS™ has already become one of the European leaders in the plant-based industry. The quick client adoption and the quality of the distribution partnerships signed show a solid product market fit. We are very excited to join Andy & Pete from the beginning of the journey in order to build a category leader worldwide.’
Ivan Farneti and Niccolo Manzoni, partners at Five Seasons Ventures commented: ‘Having invested in the most successful plant-based protein companies in the US in the past, we recognise the key attributes that could make THIS the European champion of this fast growing category: a strong Team, innovative Technology, ability to build their online Tribe, and early commercial Traction. This is why we backed Andy and Pete.’