Interviews

NotCo: “Our Dream as a Company is to Reinvent the Food Industry”

Neither NotCo, nor its young CEO Matías Muchnick will need much introduction for our readers in the plant-based business industry. NotCo has been causing a stir here since its very early days. And as our readers will know, this disruptor became the first Chilean Unicorn company last year in a funding round which included investors such as Lewis Hamilton and Roger Federer, valuing NotCo at $1.5 billion.

Matías Muchnick went to Berkeley to learn entrepreneurship then also attended Stanford and Harvard to further his education in business leadership and innovation. During his studies, he recruited astrophysicist Karim Pichara, and Pablo Zamora, a researcher of genomic plants. Together the team created the famous AI platform Guisseppe and went on to establish The Not Company and secure early investment from Jeff Bezos.

The rest is plant-based history.

Matias_Muchnick of NotCo
Matias_Muchnick © Maria del Pilar Cruz

As CEO and founder of NotCo, what has been the company’s biggest accomplishment over the last 12 months?
2021 and so far, 2022, have been really amazing for NotCo. In the middle of last year, we closed an investment round of USD$235 million dollars, which valued us at USD$1.5 billion dollars. In doing so, we became the first Chilean company to reach unicorn status. Among the investors were Roger Federer; the formula 1 multi champion Lewis Hamilton, and musician and founder of the band The Roots, DJ Questlove.

“2021 and so far, 2022, have been really amazing for NotCo”

By the end of 2021, we were available in more than 3,000 stores in the United States, and we had expanded into four more international markets– Canada, Mexico, Colombia and Peru. In Latin America, we added more than 20 products to our portfolio including NotMeat, our ground meat, NotChicken Nuggets, and NotChicken Burger.

NotCo IPO
©NotCo

We started off this year solid. In February, we announced our joint venture with Kraft Heinz, which is designed to reinvent the worldwide production of food moving us towards a more sustainable future.

“we are excited to continue disrupting the worldwide food system using artificial intelligence”

As we look forward, we are excited to continue disrupting the worldwide food system using artificial intelligence and applied science. Our patented technology which will continue to allow us to grow the plant-based industry in a way we have never encountered before.

As you mentioned, NotCo has expanded into new markets such as Australia and Canada. How are the sales going and what is the forecast for these markets?
We have had incredible reception to our product in both countries. In Canada, we are selling our full NotMilk portfolio (Whole, 2%, 1% and Chocolate) in the four largest supermarket chains in the country, which has more than 2,000 stores. The product traction has been exponential. We have seen the same trend in Australia where we are now selling in all Woolworth stores, the biggest supermarket chain in the country.

NotCo NotMilk
©NotCo

What is your retail strategy for new markets and what is the secret to NotCo’s continued success?
Our success is based on continuously listening to our customers. Every year we take their feedback, evaluate our products, and find ways to improve our formulas. For example, we recently launched a new version of NotMayo in order to deliver on the taste our customers were expecting. Not just from a flavor perspective but taking in sensory experiences and expectations as well. Delivering on the entire experience of eating tasty food.

“we care about being in both big supermarket chains and in your local neighborhood store”

Regarding our distribution and retail strategy, it is different in each market. We make it a priority to work with the best partners in each country to establish a tailored approach for distribution models in every market. We want to make sure our products are accessible to as many people as possible, which is why we care about being in both big supermarket chains and in your local neighborhood store. So any time our consumers think about eating something tasty that’s plant-based, they can go to the store closest to them and get it.

Not Mayo
©NotCo

You recently obtained new patents for your AI technology. Can you tell us a little bit about these new developments and how they will be used in products?
Three months after launching NotMilk in the North American market at Whole Foods Market, we received the patent approval in the United States as part of Giuseppe, NotCo’s first-of-its-kind AI technology.

“we are preparing for several more tremendous launches coming soon.”

NotCo’s new patent acknowledges us as the first company in our category to utilize AI technology in the food industry, making us innovative leaders in the plant-based category. We already have NotMayo, NotBurger, NotMilk, NotIceCream, NotMeat and NotChicken in the market, and we are preparing for several more tremendous launches coming soon. 

We are always listening to consumers’ suggestions and desires, which is why we are confident that what we will be launching in the coming months will surprise individuals in the best way and be a hit.

NotCo BK
© NotCo

As recently reported, NotCo is partnering with Burger King in Chile. Can you tell us more about this partnership? Are you looking to create more partnerships in the fast-food market?
This partnership was created to continue expanding and reinventing the fast-food industry and offer it to the local market.

Available in Latin America only, this partnership with Burger King will allow consumers to try NotChicken Nuggets and NotChicken Burger in two Chile-located Burger Kings offering 90% of their traditional menu with plant-based options.

“Our strategy is to continue providing products to the masses and continue moving the needle”

Alongside Burger King, we have been able to replicate an experience that has already started in Europe, which is a huge accomplishment for us at NotCo. Our strategy is to continue providing products to the masses and continue moving the needle, and with associates like Burger King, we are taking big steps to get there.

NotCo BK
© NotCo

Is it important to the company to keep faithful to its South American roots?
The NotCo Latin identity will never disappear, it is what makes us who we are.

“The NotCo Latin identity will never disappear, it is what makes us who we are.”

Can you tell us how you will expand the NotCo product portfolio in the next 12 months?
We will be launching one or two more product categories, but I can’t give many more details than that!

Which market comes next? Europe? Asia?
We have plans to expand in Oceania, considering that our products are already in Australia. In addition, we have many countries that we will expand into next year, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, China. So we are going to be, hopefully, printing NotCo packaging in five languages.

As for Europe, we are already analyzing the entry into operation, considering that the Whole Foods chain is already present in London. But it could also be Spain or Germany.

launch of notchicken
© NotCo

What is your dream for NotCo and how will you know when it’s accomplished?
Our dream as a company is to reinvent the food industry in order to move the needle on critical environmental matters, which is what we are already achieving. Our patented AI technology works hand in hand with our incredibly talented team of AI Chefs and R&D experts to achieve our purpose and mission since we started.

While we are currently going through an environmental crisis, we are giving 100 percent of our efforts to making the food industry a more optimistic place. Our purpose points out precisely that by removing animals from the production chain in order to reduce the environmental impact this industry has on our planet that has been mistreated for so long. Because of this, we hope to own a wide portfolio of tasteful, plant-based products, which we are achieving more and more each day.

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