Asia’s first whole-plant based meat brand, Karana, has today announced the closure of US$1.7m in seed round funding. The Singapore-based start-up makes indulgent whole-plant based meat, with its first ingredient – ‘pork’ made from organic jackfruit – set to launch in 2020.
[Singapore, 9thJuly 2020] Asia’s first whole-plant based meat brand, Karana, has today announced the closure of US$1.7m in seed round funding. The Singapore-based start-up makes indulgent whole-plant based meat, with its first ingredient – ‘pork’ made from organic jackfruit – set to launch in 2020.
Karana has raised capital from some of the region’s leading industry experts including Henry Soesanto, CEO of Monde Nissin Corp who acquired Quorn Foods for US$831m in 2015; Big Idea Ventures, a Temasek and Tyson Foods-backed fund dedicated to plant-based foods; Germi8, a Japanese and Singaporean fund linked to Leave a Nest and Real Tech, and a leading Asia-based FMCG distributor. A number of angel investors also participated, including Hong Kong-based F&B entrepreneurs, Kevin Poon and Gerald Li, and a board level FMCG Executive.
Karana plans to use the funds to launch its first range of whole-plant based meats and dim sum products in Singapore and to accelerate its research and development (R&D) capabilities to develop its product portfolio in the region. The funds will also be used to build out an experienced regional food tech team.
At a time when food safety, security and supply chain issues are more important than ever, Karana's solutions deliver a revolutionary new second generation meat alternative. For their first ingredient, Karana has used proprietary techniques to transform responsibly sourced organic jackfruit into a 'pork' that comes shredded or minced. No harsh chemicals, no heavy processing, just innovative mechanical techniques that enhance the texture of the naturally meat-like main ingredient.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, with an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MBA from Dartmouth Tuck, Co-Founder Blair is passionate about revolutionising the global food system through healthy and delicious whole-plant alternatives to meat. Blair says, “we chose Singapore as a city to launch in as it’s a global leader in food tech innovation, with an abundance of industry experts, strong government support, and like-minded investors who we knew would believe in the brand ”.
Ms Bernice Tay, Director of the Food Manufacturing Division at Enterprise Singapore, adds: “Singapore’s vibrant start-up ecosystem offers food tech start-ups quick access to capital, mentorship expertise and R&D facilities. We are heartened to see Karana selecting Singapore as the choice location to set up its HQ and launch its brand, with the aim to expand into Asia, one of the fastest-growing regions globally. Start-ups like Karana offer novel innovations to meet changing consumer needs here and globally, and also create new and exciting job opportunities.” The agency has been connecting Karana to food manufacturers who can be potential partners in its commercialisation journey and plans to scale up quickly.
Dan Riegler, Karana's co-founder, spent years working across a wide range of start-ups in agriculture, food tech and fintech in South-East Asia. Holding an MBA from Columbia Business School, he developed a passion for sustainability when working as a consultant advising agribusiness’ across South East Asia.
Dan adds "Sustainability has never been more important, especially when it comes to food, and our first base ingredient was carefully chosen with this in mind. Jackfruit is an extremely efficient crop with high yields and low water usage making it friendly to smallholder farmers. It is also typically grown intercropped, promoting biodiversity. 60% of jackfruit is currently being wasted, a contributor to global warming, so at Karana we’ll be reducing that wastage, while working with farmers to support the local economy.”
Karana is set to launch its whole-plant pork made from jackfruit in mid 2020 in Singapore in collaboration with some of the country’s top restaurants. The products will be available through retail in early 2021.
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A decadent and delicious char siew bao or pork dumpling - but with none of the health or environmental concerns? Karana is a Singapore start-up inspired by Asian street food culture that makes deliciously indulgent comfort food from whole plants.
Karana, Asia’s first whole-plant based meat brand, takes ordinary ingredients and does extraordinary things with them to enhance their naturally meat-like textures. The result is something authentic, original and delicious - a re-imagined new way of eating whole-plant ingredients. Whether your kitchen of choice is at home, a hawker stall or a Michelin star restaurant, Karana brings better alternatives to meat.
The first base ingredient, young jackfruit, has a low glycaemic index but is high in fibre, magnesium, potassium and other nutrients. It has all of the taste, but none of the bad. No concessions. No strings attached. No trade-offs!
There are a number of heavily processed meat-alternatives on the market. Karana could not be more different. Karana has made it their mission to get to know the ins and outs of their natural, sustainable ingredients and the people growing them. Responsibly sourced directly from small holder farmers in Sri Lanka, the abundantly available and under-utilised young jackfruit is elevated through proprietary technology to create whole-plant based 'pork' that comes shredded or minced. No harsh chemicals, no heavy processing, just innovative technology that enhances the texture of the naturally meat-like ingredient.