South Korean plant-based alt-meat manufacturer Zikooin Company has won US$23 million in a funding round to help it expand its production capacity and boost distribution of its Unlimeat branded products around greater Asia.
Some of the funds will be spent constructing an 8910sqm factory – one of the largest in Asia – at Jecheon’s 3rd industrial complex, which it expects to be operational in the first half of next year.
The alt-meat maker is already active in markets including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Vietnam, and Australia, and the new factory will help it boost volumes in those markets as well as expand its range and build on alliances with resellers.
This week, the company rolled out Unlimeat vegan meals across 800 Hong Kong 7-Eleven stores. The range includes its new Unlimeat slice sandwich product, alt-meat marinated in a barbecue sauce it says is tailored to the tastes of Hongkongers. Another Hong Kong retailer, Green Hotshot, a specialty convenience store chain for vegans, has recently begun serving Unlimeat noodles at three of its outlets.
Meanwhile, in South Korea, the company has carried out a large-scale infrastructure investment in preparation for increasing its production capacity, says Zikooin CEO Min, Keum-chae. “The results will propel us to leadership of the alternative meat sector and enable us to expand our export market share.”
The company has partnered with South Korean convenience-store operator CU to roll out a line of vegetarian products, and with Domino’s Pizza to release a plant-based signature alt-meat pizza and a plant-based meat Aglio e olio.
Zikooin says its plant-based alt-meat products have the texture, juiciness, taste, and smell of real meat. It has launched five varieties of meat alternatives – sliced meat, patty, minced meat, pulled barbeque, and meatballs. Its recently launched vegan cheddar cheese has put the company in a position to compete in the dairy substitute sector as well.
Its flagship sliced meat won the Bronze Award at the Monde Selection 2020 and 3rd place at the 2021 Sial China Innovation Award, drawing widespread attention at international food product conventions.
Returning investors in the latest round include Primer Sazze Partners, IMM Investment, A Ventures, and Envisioning Partners. Newcomers include KDB Bank, STIC Ventures, PremierPartners, and Crit Ventures.