Sydney, Australia-based Fable Food is the latest plant-based food startup to announce funding. Blackbird Ventures (Australian venture capital firm) led the seed round that raised $6.5million AUD ($4.8 million USD). The company uses mushrooms to make its meat substitutes. Other participants included agriculture and food tech venture firm AgFunder, sustainability-focused Aera VC and Better Bite Ventures, along with Singapore-based produce importer Ban Choon Marketing and former Sequoia Capital partner Warren Hogarth.
Fable will launch in the United States at the end of the year. Fable products can be found in Australia at Woolworths, Coles, Harris Farm Markets and Grill’d. Fable products can also be found in restaurants throughout Singapore and the United Kingdom.
In 2019, Jim Fuller (a fine dining chef who is also a chemical engineer, mycologist, and mushroom scientist), and Chris McLoghlin, an organic mushroom farmer, founded the startup. Michael Fox was previously involved in Shoes of Prey.
Fox, Fable’s chief executive officer said in an email to TechCrunch that he had been a vegetarian for six-years and recently switched to veganism “for a combination of ethical, health, and environmental reasons.”
Fox stated that while many people are trying to cut down on meat, they have difficulty doing so because of the delicious taste and texture they enjoy. Fox spoke to his friends and relatives. Fox wanted to help people transition to plant-based food. He spoke with several chefs and asked them for suggestions. Fox then met McLoghlin and Fuller, who were working on meat substitutes using mushrooms.
Fox stated that they realized they had similar values and shared common goals, and also had complementary skills. Fox stated that they shared the same desire to end industrial agriculture. They wanted to see our food system become more sustainable, ethical, healthier, and less greenhouse-gases.
Fable began with products such as a substitute to pulled pork and braised beef. Fuller grew up eating slow-cooked meats in Texas and wanted to replicate the experience. Fox said that Fable uses shiitake mushrooms because they have “very flavorful, with their natural umami flavours, they are slow-growing mushrooms so they naturally possess the fleshy fibers which give you the meaty bite that you usually get from animal protein, and they have the correct chemical composition that allows us to taste the flavors that we normally find in animal products when they’re cooked.”
Fable’s chief scientist officer is Fuller. The startup draws on his expertise as a chef/chemist/mycologist in order to achieve the best flavor combinations, aromas and textures while keeping the processing costs to a minimum. Its braised beef substitute is made using shiitake mushrooms and seven other ingredients, as well as salt and pepper.
Fable announced that Dan Joyce, formerly the general manager for Europe and Middle East at SafetyCulture, has been appointed chief growth officer. He will be responsible for global sales and marketing. The launch will be made possible by a mix of partnership with restaurant chains and companies that sell meal kits.
Meati and AtLast are two other startups that make meat substitutes from mushrooms. Fox stated that there is a major difference between the two companies, who ferment mycelium (or the root structure) of mushrooms and those using mushrooms as the fruiting bodies of fungi.
Fable will use the new funds to expand its manufacturing and production capacity in Australia, as well as research and development. Fox stated that Fable plans to create mushroom-based alternatives for chicken, pork and lamb.
Publiated at Wed 11 August 2021 23.17.42 +0000