Liberate Foods, a plant protein company with a meat alternate line, Shaka Harry has received a total investment of US$ 2 M in seed funding round led by Better Bite Ventures, Blue Horizon and venture debt fund - Panthera Peak. Other investors include; Dexler Holdings, Chef Manu Chandra and a group of domestic family offices and angel investors.
Liberate Foods is founded by proven founders with prior experience and success in scaling businesses in India and globally. The co-founders include Anand Nagarajan, Sandeep Devgan, Hemalatha Srinivasan, Ruth Renita and Anoop Haridasan. The co-founders and leadership team consists of specialist, functional leaders with extensive experience in the food sector. Shaka Harry, one of the fastest growing plant-based meat brand offers a range of meal and snacking products which are designed around the Indian cuisine and palate. The range includes; snackables and meal accompaniments. The product has a distinct advantage with access to proprietary taste and flavour solutions coupled with the brand’s partnership with Chef Manu Chandra, one of India's top chefs.
Anand Nagarajan, co-founder, Shaka Harry said, “It is the most exciting time to launch a consumer brand on the smarter protein platform. We are already the best performing brand in the online stores where we have presence. Our products are doing significantly better than competition on taste and customer response. When we think about sustainability, we usually think about energy and transportation. Food is an area that can move the sustainability needle much more. Winning a consumer segment in the food space needs a well-designed product range, deep expertise in taste and flavour and consistent customer experience. The team at Shaka Harry, with in-house flavour and taste solutions coupled with an experienced team is poised to build the market leading brand in plant-based products.”
Sandeep Devgan, co-founder, Shaka Harry commented, “Plant-based meats have a huge scope of acceptability in India, particularly among the growing flexitarian population. Yet not many brands have been able to make a mark due to the inability to replicate real meaty tastes in vegetarian profiles. That’s where Shaka Harry has been able to make a difference. By partnering with top flavourists, who are masters in recreating impactful meaty top notes using vegetarian ingredients, we have been able to offer Indian consumers a first-of-its-kind ‘just-like-chicken’ & ‘just-like mutton experience’ minus the guilt.”
The company has a monthly customer base of 25,000. The monthly growth expected for the next few quarters is around 20 to 30%. Shaka Harry aims at aggressive growth over the next 5 years. Shaka Harry range of products are available across Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Gurgaon.
Simon Newstead, founding partner, Better Bite Ventures said, “As an Asian alt-protein fund, Better Bite Ventures invests in early-stage startups creating a more sustainable food system in the most populous region in the world. And as such, we're particularly optimistic about India's opportunity. The nation has a clear opportunity to become a regional leader in plant-based foods and leapfrog other countries in adopting climate-friendly smart proteins, driven by a growing movement of conscious consumers motivated by taste, health and the environment. Which leads us to our investment in Shaka Harry, who brings a range of crave-worthy, locally resonant plant-based products to market. We've been impressed by both the team, technology and traction with consumers and channels alike. Anand's vision to have products to enjoy from morning till night, from snacking to main meals, and for everyone resonates strongly. We're excited to support the team for long term success in this important market.”
Bjoern Witte, chief executive officer, Blue Horizon said, “We are very excited about our first investment in India. Shaka Harry is one of the first mover in a new sector offering a wide product range tailored to the Indian cuisine. This will work well not only in India but also internationally. In a very recent study, a large consumer survey conducted by Blue Horizon and BCG, we found that taste, nutritional value and health aspects rank highest when considering to increase the consumption of alternative proteins. Shaka Harry addresses all these points and we look very much forward to working together with this highly focused and impact-driven team.”
Nikhil Bhandarkar, founding partner and chief executive officer, Panthera Peak Ventures highlighted, “We invest in early stage startups led by visionary entrepreneurs. This is one of the main reasons we have backed Shaka Harry as the founding and leadership team bring in lot of experience and expertise of the sector. The growth of plant-based meat sector in India, coupled with the Direct-to-Consumer boom underscore a massive potential for the Shaka Harry range of products. Further, their vision of becoming a plant based meat platform beyond just a product company opens doors for significant market expansion.”
Experts at non-profit Good Food Institute India work closely with Liberate Foods and across the industry for advancement across science, business, and policy. Varun Deshpande, managing director, Good Food Institute India, said "With leading companies like Shaka Harry bringing plant-based meats to consumers across India, the last year has been smart protein's breakout moment in the country. But funding in Indian smart protein companies continues to lag far behind, remaining at a tiny fraction of the $11b invested globally over the last decade. Respected investors like Blue Horizon, Better Bite Ventures, Panthera Peak Ventures and Manu Chandra bring deep credibility and expertise through their food and startup investing track record. Shaka Harry's fundraise is a further mark of the growing momentum in the Indian smart protein sector, as we enter a new phase of growth and centre India in the global landscape - all in service of protecting public and planetary health and improving food security."
Chef Manu Chandra stated, “If I could convert from a skeptic to a believer in plant based futures, I’m sure, so could a lot of you. We’ve come such a long way from the once dreaded rubbery substitutes with dubious processes - to clean labelled and delicious alternatives. Intervening as a chef to take the Shaka Harry product ranges to the next level of taste and texture has been an enriching experience, in realising how far this category can be pushed. The future is plant based, start now.”
India is becoming an increasingly lucrative market for plant-based meat startups, with a large population of non-vegetarians looking to cut down their meat consumption due to a combination of concerns like sustainability and health. Contrary to popular opinion, 77% of Indians self-identify as non-vegetarians as per the latest National Family Health Survey - NFHS 5. The Indian market is ripe for transformation, with consumers looking towards plant-based alternatives for a simple switch, without giving up the delicious appeal of meat. Research from expert nonprofit Good Food Institute India found that 63% of Indian consumers are very or extremely likely to purchase plant-based meat in a cross-country consumer acceptance study. This response from consumers - most of whom are currently ‘early adopters’ of plant-based meat - compared favourably with the U.S. and China.
Shaka Harry has a large assortment of plant based "Ready to Eat" foods range for customers looking to substitute/ supplement their meat intake with plant-based foods. The goal is to offer Shaka Harry as a healthy and tasty meat alternative and to deliver Shaka Harry products to every Indian household to begin a trial.