Danny Meyer’s growth driver Enlightened Hospitality Investments is zeroing in on the world of plant-based foods.
The entity announced an investment in NotCo, an emerging plant-based food tech company that uses proprietary AI tech to match animal proteins to their ideal replacements. The investment will be used to boost the company’s expansion efforts across the U.S. and NYC Foodservice market. NotCo has already raised more than $130 million, and snatched an investment from Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos.
The terms of the deal were undisclosed. Even though NotCo didn’t reveal the value of the investment, it did share that it’s higher than the last fundraising round and that it’s in line with the end goal of reaching a $1 billion valuation by the end of 2021.
“NotCo’s patented artificial intelligence has created an exciting and revolutionary way to bring delicious and customizable plant-based innovations to market with incredible speed,” said Meyer in a statement. “The potential is so vast that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be involved. We’re excited to join this young company at a critical point in its growth to become an essential food provider in the U.S. and global markets.”
The startup, founded five years ago in Chile, has launched such products as NotMilk, NotBurger, NotIceCream, and NotMayo across Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia. NotMilk in particular has been launched in the U.S. in more than 3,000 Whole Foods Market stores in the first part of 2021. NotCo prides itself as the only global company to simultaneously disrupt the dairy, egg, and meat segments. It became the largest and fast-growing food tech company in Latin America in less than three years and was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2021.
NotCo CEO Matias Muchnick said his company will leverage Enlightened Hospitality’s network and Meyer’s insights to drive “aggressive expansion” into U.S. foodservice. The growth will build on existing quick-service relationships in Latin America with big-time brands like Burger King and Papa John’s.
“Our goal is to accelerate rapid advancement of science driven plant-based alternatives that consumers will readily adopt, and EHI’s and Danny’s vast industry expertise will help solidify mainstream validation of our technology, especially within food service,” Muchnick said in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with them in this next phase of NotCo’s U.S. and global expansion and multi-category innovation.”
“Consumers have been wired to believe that plant-based alternatives must result in an experiential sacrifice—be that in taste, texture, or ability to incorporate them seamlessly into their favorite recipes. Giuseppe eliminates the need for consumers to make that trade-off, because NotCo products taste and function just like animal-based options,” he added.
Enlightened Hospitality, an equity fund that targets the hospitality, technology, and consumer industries, has previously invested in GoldBelly, Banza, Clear, and Resy.
Notco’s other investors include Future Positive, L Catterton, Kaszek Ventures, The Craftory, General Catalyst, Endeavor Catalyst, Indie Bio, Humbolt Capital and Maya Capital.