UK plant-based food brand Wicked Kitchen has its eyes on conquering the world after a hugely successful partnership with supermarket chain Tesco.
The company, founded by American chef brothers Derek and Chad Sarno in 2018 with the support of Tesco, has just raised US$14 million in a Series A funding round which will be deployed on expansion into the huge North American market. And that’s just the next stop.
“This funding supports the next giant leap in growth and adoption of the Wicked Kitchen product line — a journey that will span the globe,” said Wicked Foods CEO Pete Speranza. “As was demonstrated by Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain, the breadth of offerings Wicked Kitchen brings to the market allows motivated regional retail partners to commit to multi cross-category adoption.
“What Wicked brings into the US will be unlike anything else that has come before it in the plant-based space.”
The Sarno brothers, who hail from New Hampshire in the US, want to encourage consumers to eat more plants. Chad is the co-founder and VP of culinary for Good Catch, an alt-seafood company, along with a venture called Wicked Healthy, a community that focuses on culinary innovation, training & development. Good Catch is the brand behind the clever marketing stunt in the UK and US earlier this month encouraging Subway to adopt its alt-fish alternative in its tune subs.
He has supported the launch of restaurants all over the world including in London, Munich, Istanbul, and Belgrade, Serbia and has authored more than 10 health-related books including the New York Times bestselling The Conscious Cool and Crazy Sexy Kitchen with Kris Carr.
Derek, meanwhile, serves as executive chef and director of plant-based innovation at Tesco, which helped him accelerate plant-based lifestyle adoption across the UK, now the world’s No 1 country for veganism.
Prior to co-founding Wicked, Derek served as senior global executive chef for Whole Foods Market, in the US and culinary director for its Academy for Conscious Leadership. He also founded several award-winning restaurants and foodservice companies across the US, including the One Hundred Club, Mahalo’s Catering, and Mizuna’s.
“It is my personal mission to work with all of our partners and suppliers to set the gold standard in chef-driven plant-based foods for all others to benchmark,” says Derek. “That is how we’re going to change the world!”
Wicked Kitchen’s high expectations for the US market are based on estimates that nearly one in two Americans now consume more plant-based meals than meat-based – and 54 per cent of 2000 consumers aged between 24 and 39 described themselves as flexitarians in a survey commissioned by Sprouts Farmers Markets in January.
Wicked Kitchen’s range of “flavour-forward vegan products” in the UK include convenient lunch and breakfast options, frozen ready meals and meal solutions such as sauces, mayos, pestos and meal kits.
The investment round that will allow the company to impact the US market has been led by plant-based foods venture fund Unovis Asset and Thai-based NRF Nove Foods.
Chris Kerr, a founding partner of Unovis, says Wicked Kitchen has an unparalleled range of exceptional products, a revered brand, and two founding chefs willing to stir the pot.
“The fastest adoption of plant-based foods is always driven by a great culinary experience. Unovis is here to support this effort from every angle.”