Creating plant-based meats that are crafted by a team of world-renowned chefs with a focus on health, Hungry Planet has been riding the alt protein wave of late and has enjoyed rapid growth.
The St. Louis-based startup recently closed an oversubscribed $25 million Series A funding round and is currently expanding production and accelerating growth across multiple channels, both domestically and internationally.
Vegconomist had the opportunity to speak with Jody Boyman, Co-Founder and Chief Purpose Officer at Hungry Planet, to find out more about one of the most exciting startups in alt meat.
How was Hungry Planet born and why did you pick this brand name?
Hungry Planet began as a passion project. We wanted to do something meaningful to solve two of the world’s most pressing problems: the health of humankind and the health of our planet.
About a decade ago, my sibling Todd and I decided to build a platform for positive change, one where people could eat their way to a healthier planet. From the beginning, we approached the opportunity differently. We’d already been eating plant-based for decades, but we knew that in order to transform our food system, we had to create delectable plant-based meats that would primarily appeal to dedicated meat-eaters and flexitarians.
We set out on a mission to craft a wide range of proteins to feed our growing human family, prevent environmental destruction, avert global pandemics, and reduce animal suffering. Crucially, they had to be a simple switch for conventional meat, while also delivering superior nutrition.
Our mandate has always been to craft a wide range of meats that are authentically delicious, nutritious, versatile, affordable and ultimately, ubiquitous. We strive to optimize people’s choices, and nudge them toward more healthful and sustainable ones. We believe that eating more plants, including plant-based meats, allows us to align our actions more closely with our most deeply held values.
“Our greatest wish is that we’re making it easier for people to choose plant-based meats”
Hungry Planet was created to help inspire people to make positive changes, to bend the curve on human and planetary health – one delicious bite at a time. Our greatest wish is that we’re making it easier for people to choose plant-based meats, and we believe that our collective food choices have the power to heal our world. Most of all, we want everyone to know that even small dietary changes can make a big difference!
Tell us about your product range and bestsellers.
We offer nine protein types: Beef, Chicken, Pork, Lamb, Turkey, Crab, Chorizo, Italian Sausage and Breakfast Sausage. Within those proteins, we offer a variety of form factors: raw ground, raw formed, pre-cooked grilled, pre-cooked fried, pre-cooked handheld, and ready-to-heat meals. We offer the most complete assortment and all with demonstrably superior nutritionals.
Earlier this year you closed an oversubscribed $25 million Series A funding round. What level of growth did that funding enable?
Our first round of outside funding allowed us to scale up all elements of our business to bring our complete range to foodservice and retail channels both domestically and in key international markets. The level of complexity is significant to execute across nine meat types, and with over 30 different products including raw, cooked, and complete meals. Our Series A funding enabled us to bring forward this full range, enabling hungry connoisseurs to purchase what we uniquely offer.
You recently launched your range of plant-based meats at Sprouts Farmers Market. What did this signify for Hungry Planet and what changes has it brought to the company?
We had just fully loaded into a huge distributor right before the pandemic hit in early 2020. At that time, our focus was exclusively on foodservice options like 5# chubs of ground beef, chicken, pork, Italian sausage and chorizo plus beef patties, chipotle chicken patties and crab cakes. Shortly after our official launch, foodservice fell off a cliff because everyone was sequestering at home. We quickly decided to bring forward by more than a year our plans to introduce a wide range of retail items for those hungry at home.
In just a few months we now have on shelf seventeen retail SKUs including Ground Beef, Chicken, Pork, Italian Sausage, Chipotle Chicken patties and Crab Cakes, followed soon thereafter by our suite of ready-to-eat items including Crispy & Fried Chicken, Grilled Chicken Strips, Grilled & Diced Chicken, Thai Meatballs, Pork Gyoza, Italian Sausage Crumble and Italian Sausage Meatballs. And brand new on shelves in the grab-and-go section are our ready-to-heat meals including Chicken Piccata, Salisbury Steak and Italian Sausage & Pepper Penne. The range has been met with rave reviews and several awards. We have additional items, including a delicious Breakfast Sausage, launching soon in foodservice and retail.
Where else can consumers find Hungry Planet products?
We encourage people to check the Hungry Planet Find Us page at www.hungryplanetfoods.com for the most up to date information. In addition to 362 Sprouts locations, we are in hundreds of Albertsons, Tom Thumb, Randall locations in the south, northern CA and the Seattle area, with more regions being added soon. We are also in Food Bazaar and Lazy Acres. If you prefer to have food delivered to your door, you can find us on Costco.com and Amazon, in addition to our website.
What makes Hungry Planet stand out in the competitive plant-based meat space?
We make award-winning chef-crafted plant-based meats that have fooled some of the largest meat companies on the planet. We offer the most complete range of meats at both foodservice and retail, featuring craveable taste and texture that is an authentic match for conventional meat. We make meats that just happen to be plant-based, and for everyone at the table including committed carnivores and vegans.
“We make meats that just happen to be plant-based”
We strive to be the preferred solution for consumers and restaurants experiencing heightened demand for plant-based options – and something other than beef and burgers which have become commonplace. People crave variety, and that is our strong suit! Chefs and home cooks can easily create plant-based versions of their favorite recipes — regardless of cuisine – with one simple swap: Hungry Planet for conventional meat.
What developments and innovations does Hungry Planet have in the pipeline?
Our current focus is on continuing to roll out our industry-leading range of meats as widely as possible so that diners can thoroughly love their experience when choosing meals featuring plant-based meat. As more and more people are wanting to eat plant-based, we want to make sure that their experience is always the very best it can be. It is important to us that the excitement for this category of food is met with simply delicious food that delivers on the expected promise.
Where do you see Hungry Planet in five years’ time?
Over the past 10+ years, Hungry Planet helped create and define the plant-based meat category. With the rapidly growing popularity of plant-based meats, over the next five years we expect that Hungry Planet will continue to help lead this movement toward a healthier food system that heals the planet and our bodies with the most complete, the most nutritious, the most versatile plant-based meats.
Our mission is to bend the curve on personal and planetary health, and while a lot of progress has been made, we are just getting started.