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23/07/2019 – News / Food Processing / Plant-Based ‘Chicken’ / Pea Protein / NUGGS / USA

Plant-based ‘chicken’ nugget startup NUGGS raises $7m funding, led by McCain Foods


NUGGS, the ‘chicken’ nugget startup, has announced its official launch, alongside raising US$7 million in a funding round led by industry giant McCain Foods. Founded by 19-year-old tech wunderkind and entrepreneur Ben Pasternak, the New York based NUGGS says it will ‘disrupt the animal-based meat industry’ with its new nugget technology.

After over a year of research and development, NUGGS has developed a nugget that uses an advanced texturised pea protein technology to create a nugget with the best texture, crunch and taste. Unlike any other nugget currently available, NUGGS are free from major allergens, including eggs, wheat, dairy and soy. Additionally, they have a higher protein content (22g per serving) and are lower in calories (180 calories per serving) than regular chicken nuggets and are free from cholesterol and antibiotics.


NUGGS says that it operates similar to a technology startup, with CEO Pasternak taking a unique approach to product development. Much like an app, NUGGS will release updates to the nuggets as the formula is constantly improved on based on user feedback.


“NUGGS is the intersection of food and the internet,” said Mr Pasternak. “We set out to make the best nugget, period – a chicken nugget simulation is just the baseline.”


From bytes to bites


Mr Pasternak's previous success in the tech sector includes being the youngest person to receive backing from Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists at the age of 15. 


After his wildly successful app Monkey was acquired in late-2017 (which currently boasts close to 20 million users), Pasternak turned his attention to helping end factory farming. He assembled a young team as passionate as he is: Head of Product is 20-year-old Liam Mullen, a self-taught molecular gastronomist who worked at Michelin Star restaurant Daniel as a pastry chef at the age of 16. Meanwhile, 20-year-old social media maven Alex Michelle, with six million Instagram followers across her accounts, is Head of Growth.


Prestigious backing


NUGGS raised US$7 million in funding, led by industry giant McCain Foods, who manufactures the innovative nuggets.


“At McCain ,we believe NUGGS has developed an incredible product that uses plant-based technology to uniquely simulate a high quality chicken nugget. A significant factor in achieving this is their approach to fast and iterative innovation, which is based on constant consumer feedback,” said Mauro Pennella, Chief Growth Officer at McCain Foods. “We believe the combination of the NUGGS approach and McCain's production and commercial expertise will accelerate the brand's growth and deliver market scale.”


Other investors include Rainfall Ventures; Greylock Discovery Fund; Maven Ventures; NOMO Ventures; M Ventures; ACME Capital; Founder of MTV and CEO of iHeartMedia, Bob Pittman; Casper Founder and COO, Neil Parikh; and Former President of Tumblr, John Maloney.


To enable the startup to effectively target their most important demographic, consumers who have not yet tried animal-meat free products, NUGGS is currently only available direct to consumer, with plans to expand to retail and food service in the near future.

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