Welldone, a Russian start-up producing plant-based meat products including burgers and mince meat, has acquired $1.5 million investment in recent funding. Led by Physctech Ventures, an international fund investing in deeptech start-ups, and with involvement too from Lever VC, a leading investor in the alternative protein category, the financial injection will enable Welldone to continue its growth trajectory in Russia and internationally.
In a press release, the start-up says that the capital will be used towards further employment and subsequent increased monthly production to 150 tonnes, along with R&D and expansion of the product range.
Welldone launched its first product in September last year and has experienced discernible success over the past 10 months. Its products are currently available through retail listings and B2C sales, as well as being served in numerous restaurants across Russian cities. The Moscow-based start-up’s products are sold in approximately 500 stores throughout Russia, including five top supermarket chains, and the company hopes to extend its distribution range across Eastern Europe and further afield. At the moment, the products are also available in Belarus and Kazakstan.
Its soy and coconut oil-based products are created to deliver on both taste and pricing, with the company website describing the alternative to be: “as tasty as meat”. Welldone products also sit at a lower price point to its competitors like Beyond Meat.
Russia is seeing considerable growth in the plant-based food sector. The Russian Agricultural Bank has predicted that alternative meat products will account for 1.5% of the meat market in the next 4 years, according to the press release.
“Today more and more people in Russia are starting to think about their diet.”, says Welldone CEO Alexander Kiselev.“They understand that there are ingredients in animal meat which are not good for them, such as cholesterol. The plant-based market is poised to grow very quickly in Russia and Eastern Europe, and with our significant investment in R&D, world-class yet affordable products, and partnership with Phystech Ventures and Lever VC, we look forward to leading the growth of the category.” .
Phystech Ventures Principal Anna Gishko comments: “Welldone’s key advantages include an experienced team, deep R&D expertise, and strong collaboration with the country’s leading food biotech institutes.
“With excellent scientific talent available in the country and much lower input costs, the efficiency of R&D in Russia is an important competitive advantage for international expansion.”.
So far this year, Russia has launched two new alternative protein conferences and welcomed its first plant-based food-tech accelerator, working to develop sustainable meat alternatives through techniques such as 3D bioprinting, a technology that KFC Russia already started exploring last year.
According to a recent Deloitte Consulting study, it was found that approximately 47% of Russians from the ages of 16 to 40 are ready to replace conventional meat with plant-based substitutes, notes Forbes Russia.
Launched in 2020, Welldone’s timely entrance into the plant-based meat market has equated to strong growth thus far and will be aided by the additional $1.5 million funding. It is estimated that the value of the start-up may sit somewhere between $5 and $7 million.