Plant-based start-up Tiba Tempeh has closed a £500k seed funding round as it prepares to expand its distribution into the major supermarkets and overseas.
Founded in 2019 by food industry veterans Alex and Ross Longton, the tempeh brand is already stocked by Ocado, Planet Organic, Whole Foods, Amazon, Selfridges, The Vegan Kind, Eat 17 and Vegetarian Express. The company has also grown its DTC sales, foodservice channel and supplies recipe box firms, including Mindful Chef.
The seed funding will be used to launch NPD, grow the team and support marketing efforts to drive consumer awareness and trial of tempeh.
Lever VC, which invests in early-stage alternative protein companies globally, led the investment round.
MD Alex Longton said the investment would help accelerate growth at the start-up.
“Lever VC’s expertise in the sector will add significant value to further scale the business and help us on our mission to create a healthier world by inspiring people to eat more naturally healthy and sustainable plant-based foods,” she said.
Tiba Tempeh’s range includes a trio of diced, marinated and ready-to-cook tempeh pieces, as well as a burger, which it claimed was a UK first.
Tempeh originates in Indonesia and is made using just three natural ingredients (soybeans, water and live cultures), which are mixed together and left to ferment for three days.
Alex and Ross Longton, who have worked for the likes of Kraft Heinz, Lindt, Jordans Dorset Ryvita and Plenish, started the brand after discovering tempeh on a trip to Indonesia.
“Tempeh is a growing category opportunity for consumers who want more natural meat alternatives, and Tiba is hands down the best-tasting tempeh product we’ve ever come across,” said Lever VC managing partner Nick Cooney.
“We think Tiba Tempeh’s very experienced team, strong brand, exciting innovation and growth plans will position them to be a leading global brand in the category.”
Demand for alternative meat products continue to rise rapidly, with sales in supermarkets surging £92.5m higher (+16.3%) to £660m, according to The Grocer’s latest category report [Kantar 52 w/e 8 August 2021].
Tiba Tempeh said the tempeh category was growing at 112% year on year.