Meat- and Fish Alternatives

Nowadays Ceases Operations After Struggling to Raise Venture Funding

Nowadays, a San Francisco-based alt chicken brand best known for its clean-label plant-based nuggets, has ceased operations.

The brand, backed by meat packer Standard Meat Company, was founded by Max Elder and Dominik Grabinski. Grabinski previously worked for DSM as well as poultry giant Cargill, while Elder was advisor to Nestlé, General Mills and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Nutrition Program.

Co-founder and CEO Max Elder told AgFunderNews that the products were performing well, with high repeat purchase rates. However, he explained that Nowadays has struggled to raise funding in the current climate, and does not have the economies of scale required to profitably distribute frozen foods.

“The economics only work if you have the capital to really push a multi-year brand building and marketing strategy, and it’s really hard to access capital now,” he said.

Nowadays is now looking to sell its IP, including a patent for clean-label, pea protein-based whole-cut chicken alternatives made using low-moisture extrusion. Elder said the company was “actively looking for opportunities to preserve the value of what we’ve built over the past three years”.

Nowadays Chicken nuggets
© Nowadays

“Weathering the storm”

Nowadays first launched its nuggets in 2021, distinguishing them from the competition with a short, clean-label ingredients list and lower levels of saturated fat, sodium, and calories. The company initially saw considerable success, raising almost $10 million in funding and gaining listings at major nationwide retailers such as Whole Foods. Two new product launches — cutlets and tenders — were in the pipeline.

Despite the recent difficulties faced by Nowadays, Elder told AgFunderNews he was still optimistic about the plant-based industry as a whole. He argued that there was still a significant need for alternative protein sources, and that the challenges faced by the conventional meat industry would only get bigger over time.

“I think we just need to batten down the hatches and weather the storm and sometimes that means some companies can’t survive because there’s limited access to capital. Long-term, hopefully the value that’s created by those companies can survive,” he said.

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