Homegrown Bengaluru brand Sudo Foods has raised seed funding from Java Capital, Betaplus Capital, and prominent angel investors such as Ravi Saxena (managing director, Wonderchef), Deep Bajaj (co-founder & chief executive officer, Sirona Hygiene), and Ajay Garg (founder & managing director, Equirus Capital), along with others.
The fundraising news comes on the heels of Sudo Food’s launch a few weeks ago, where the startup announced that after a year of operating in stealth mode, their plant-based chicken and mutton dishes were now retailing on their website and on popular online platforms like BigBasket. Sudo Foods’ ‘kind’ meat alternatives aim to ‘unjunk’ packaged food and offer India’s vast non-vegetarian population delicious, nutritious, sustainable snacking options. Their plant-based chicken samosas, chicken seekh kebabs, chicken popcorn, and mutton galouti kebabs use ethical ingredients which are all 100% plant-based. Using seitan and soya with zero preservatives, zero cholesterol, and zero trans fats gives their consumers dishes that look, cook, smell, and sizzle just like meat, without the negative impact on personal and planetary health.
Elaborating on their investment in Sudo Foods, Bhargavi V, founding Partner at Java Capital, says, “Plant-based meat is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, mostly fueled by ‘flexitarians’ taking to meat alternatives in addition to meat. Taste, nutrition, cost, convenience, and a deep understanding of the Indian palate are critical success factors. These factors make a strong case for Sudo Foods - they have doubled down on taste and nutrition and their products are centered around the Indian consumer. Abhinav and Sadhika are very passionate founders, focused on building a large global brand. The product knowledge and sourcing tie-ups that they have gained in a short period of time since launch is impressive! Java Capital is excited to be a part of their growth story.”
Speaking about the fundraise, Sudo Foods co-founder Abhinav Chawla says, “We are glad to have raised capital from investors who not only believe in us but are also very bullish on the category. With this fundraise, we intend to invest heavily in marketing and R&D, as well as expanding the team and distribution network.”
Both founders - Abhinav Chawla and Sadhika Agarwal - are former investment bankers turned entrepreneurs who set up Sudo Foods after they decided to stop eating meat a few years ago, concerned about their carbon footprints and the industrial animal farming industry. Reflecting on the brand ethos, Sudo Foods co-founder Sadhika Agarwal says, “Much beyond being a business opportunity, this is a way of life for us. We want to make food human, kind, and clean. And hence, R&D and innovation is going to be our biggest area of focus.”
With this infusion of capital, the startup is planning on expanding their team to bring on board deep expertise in food technology, food production, safety, compliance, and culinary applications. Sudo’s SKUs are all produced in-house, not relying on white label products, but instead focusing on developing proprietary products that stand out in an increasingly growing market.
According to expert organization Good Food Institute India (GFI India), there’s been a slew of plant-based meat and dairy companies cropping up in India, and the last few years have been ‘breakout years’ for this nascent industry. GFI India has mapped more than 200+ plant-based meat, egg, and dairy products available in the market today, but to gauge what smart protein could mean for India’s economic future in terms of market size, export potential, job creation and more, the organization has been working with Deloitte India on a Smart Protein Economic Analysis. GFI India shared that the modeling done by their partners at Deloitte shows that the market size and export potential for just plant-based meat in India by 2030 will be USD 1.6 billion (INR 12,708 crore) in a high growth scenario, taking into account factors like market penetration, consumer adoption, and replacement potential. To actualize these projections by addressing key metrics across price and taste innovation, accessibility, and consumer awareness, brands investing in these factors - like Sudo is - will be critical.
Sudo Foods is currently retailing their plant-based meat dishes on their website and on popular online marketplaces such as BigBasket, VeganDukan, and NotFoods, offering Indians a ‘simple switch’ when it comes to indulging in meat. The startup currently has four SKUs on the market and a fifth in the pipeline, to be launched soon. Agarwal and Chawla also add that going forward, with their seed funding being directed towards R&D, innovation, and product development, their consumers can expect a new product in the market every few months!