Jack & Annie’s, a sustainable alternative brand of jackfruit-based animal meat, on Tuesday announced $ 23 million in Series B funding.
The round was co-led by Creadev and Desert Bloom and included participation from Wheatsheaf and existing investors Beta Angels and InvestEco. Company founder and CEO Annie Ryu told TechCrunch that the company had not made any announcements on previous funding rounds and declined to disclose the company’s total increase to date, but stated that this round “was more than what we collected in previous rounds cumulatively.”
The idea for jackfruit products came to Ryu 10 years ago when she was a medical student at Harvard. She and her brother had started a business and, on a trip to India, were introduced to jackfruit.
Ryu learned that the fruit was drought tolerant and high yielding and as people ate as much as they wanted, she found that 70% of the jackfruit was not used. With global health as a backdrop, Ryu had a vision to end poverty in this region by increasing farmers’ incomes by providing an outlet for fruits to use. Today, her brands work with 1,000 farming families with 10 to 40 percent of their income, she said.
She then set out to ‘pioneer the largest supply chain for jackfruit’. The first brand that emerged was The Jackfruit Co. in 2015 to provide foods that harnessed the “meaty” texture of the fruit and, through R&D, a meaty flavor, but rich in nutrients, protein and fiber. The Jackfruit Co., based in Boulder, Colo., Sells about a dozen products, primarily targeting vegetarians. He started selling in Whole Foods and has since grown.
Now, with jack & annie’s, launching in 2020, Ryu is calling it a “super accessible brand,” featuring 10 easy-to-prepare frozen foods that have meatier applications, like crumbles, meatballs, and nuggets. Products sell for $ 4.99 to $ 5.99 in the frozen space and $ 6.99 to $ 7.99 for refrigerated items.
In recent years, a few other companies have emerged in the herbal business using jackfruit as a basic ingredient. Singapore-based Karana raised $ 1.7 million last year to develop plant-based pork from fruit. Upton’s Naturals produces meat substitutes using the fruit, as do The Very Good Butchers and Native Forest.
In less than a year, the brand has grown to over 1,500 retail outlets including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Meijer, Wegman’s, Hannaford, Target and Giant. It is also the third-largest frozen food brand in the plant-based category and the best nugget in the natural chain for the 12 weeks ending October 3, according to SPINS Natural Channel, Ryu said.
The company continues to double its revenues on an annual basis and will use the new funding to continue to build partnerships and new innovations, expand its shelf presence and increase total distribution.
“Jackfruit has the incredible ability to mimic beef, pork, chicken and seafood, so we’re at the tip of the iceberg with what we can show,” Ryu added. “Part of what we do with leadership is to be an innovation partner for major customers, so if they’re looking to take advantage of the meaty texture and have more delicious meat products with a clear set of ingredients, we can work with them in our R&D center in Boulder.