Interviews

Daring: “Our Long Term Mission is to Replace and Rethink Chicken in the Global Food System”

2022 has been quite the year for Daring, the New York and LA-based startup on a relentless mission to change how the world eats chicken. Led by the fearless Ross Mackay, Daring kicked off this year with a stunning full-page color spread in the New York Times imploring readers to switch to its sustainable plant-based chicken.

From there, Daring took on grocery store meat departments, launching its first refrigerated plant chicken tenders, before rolling out into Target locations across the US, gaining serious starpower from celebrity ambassadors like Kourtney Kardashian, Travis Barker and Naomi Osaka along the way.

Daring Foods
© Daring Foods / Vanessa K. Rees

We spoke with Mackay who spoke to Daring’s exciting recent growth, from its latest product developments to retail strategy, upcoming restaurant launches and how Daring has sold 1.7M lbs of plant chicken — the equivalent of removing 579K cars off the road and saving 1.3K football fields of land!

What have been the biggest developments for Daring since our last interview in 2020?
Since we last spoke in 2020, we have really expanded our business in so many ways across retail, product rebranding, product innovation, new campaigns and more. We recently just hit 10,000 retail doors, adding Target to our expansive list of retailers this past Spring. We closed Series A, B and C to raise over $120 million in 2021.

“We closed Series A, B and C to raise over $120 million in 2021”

 

We rebranded and launched a new packaging design, as well as introduced Plant Tenders in the refrigerated section at grocery stores. And Daring proudly became the #1 non-breaded plant chicken brand in the category, securing the highest repeat purchase rate among our competitors.

Daring Chicken Tenders
©Daring

You have recently launched a new Plant Chicken Tenders line, how’s that going?
In June we launched our Plant Chicken Tenders in 400 retailers including Sprouts, Erewhon, Dierbergs and Pete’s Market. It’s our first product to be sold in the refrigerated aisle of grocery stores alongside animal-based meat. 90% of animal meat sales come from the refrigerated section, so we know that there is a massive opportunity for growth in this category, and we have really been seeing success and excitement among our consumers.

“90% of animal meat sales come from the refrigerated section

They are looking for new ways to enjoy Daring Plant Chicken and we are looking forward to introducing more product innovation and new larger formats of our beloved plant chicken in the near future.

Daring Chicken Target
©Daring

You continue to attract celebrity investors and ambassadors, like Naomi Osaka, Kourtney Kardashian, and Travis Barker to name a few. How important is it to have well-known names backing the brand?
We are an unapologetically ambitious company so we wanted to work with partners that embody this bold spirit but also share our vision for a better, more plant-based world. From the moment our partnership with Kourtney and Travis began there was clear synergy between Daring’s mission and their personal beliefs on plant-based eating and the positive impact it has on the environment. I could not be prouder to partner with them for Daring’s latest campaign and am grateful for their support and genuine love of our Plant Chicken.

“We are an unapologetically ambitious company so we wanted to work with partners that embody this bold spirit”

 

Many of our investors, like Naomi, live a flexitarian or plant-based lifestyle and not only enjoy our products but also believe they can help us achieve our vision through their advocacy. It’s important for us to continue to build these big names backing the brand to widen our reach and continue our mission.

Daring chicken
©Daring

Daring can now be found across the US in an array of retail outlets, including Target, Whole Foods, and Walmart. What comes next in the retail strategy?
We are continuing to expand to new retailers and widen distribution among current retailers. We are now sold in 10,000 stores nationwide like Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Krogers, Albertsons and more. I want Daring to be available to consumers where they are already shopping so aiming for the larger retailers but also smaller regional stores. Accessibility to different demographics through a range of retail partners is a top priority.

“I want Daring to be available to consumers where they are already shopping”

Additionally, we are expanding in alternative retail channels including meal and grocery delivery services like Amazon Fresh, InstaCart, SunBasket, HungryRoot, CookUnity, Imperfect Foods, and Go Puff.

Daring Crispy Breaded Chicken
©Daring

What plans are in place for expansion in the restaurant and foodservice industry?
Having Daring on menus at restaurants is such a great way for consumers to be introduced to our product and a channel we are heavily focused on growing. We are currently speaking with several national chains (which we can’t mention just yet), but stay tuned for exciting announcements!

Aside from restaurants, we have seen a huge amount of interest from college campus cafeterias. We will be served at Georgia Tech and Ohio University starting this Fall semester with additional launches in the pipeline.

Additionally, I’m excited to share that Chefs Warehouse, leading providers of specialty ingredients to North America’s top chefs, will now exclusively be providing Daring Plant Chicken to chefs in the New York area, and are looking at a national rollout next.

©Daring

Can you reveal any NPDs?
In October, we will be launching Daring’s Gluten-Free Breaded Plant Chicken which will be replacing the original breaded product. We are really excited to officially have an entirely gluten-free product line which will remain true going forward, and is something we know our customers have been wanting.

We also plan to add a brand-new flavor to our un-breaded plant chicken product line later this year.

What impact do you hope Daring has over the next two years?
Our long-term mission is to replace and rethink chicken in the global food system. I wanted to continue creating plant chicken for chicken lovers, with a product that is a true 1:1 substitute for animal chicken without the animal.

“I wanted to continue creating plant chicken for chicken lovers

Our goal is to not only be a product for vegans but to also continue our growth among flexitarians and continue educating on the impact that small steps can make.

Daring Plant-Based Chicken
©Daring

To date, we’ve sold 1.7M lbs of plant chicken which is the equivalent of removing 579K cars off the road, saving 1.3K football fields of land, and saving 4.4M showers worth of water. I will never lose sight of our mission and look forward to increasing our positive impact on the environment.

“I will never lose sight of our mission

As far as our goals as a brand, right now we are the #1 non-breaded plant chicken and we’re working towards becoming #1 in the category overall. We are constantly looking to expand Daring in terms of product innovation and my goal is to introduce many new products and flavors in the next 2 years. We also want to consistently reach new retailers and restaurant partners and are working towards landing several national restaurant chains.

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