Chinese plant-based meat startup Starfield raises $100m

 Chinese plant-based meat startup Starfield raises $100m

Company wants to accelerate product development for Generation Z

HONG KONG — Starfield Food Science & Technology, a Chinese startup that develops plant-based meat alternatives, announced on Tuesday the completion of a $100 million Series B funding round led by private equity firm Primavera Capital Group.

E-commerce giant Alibaba’s strategy chief, Ming Zeng, participated in the deal, alongside existing investors Sky9 Capital, Joy Capital, Matrix Partners China and Lightspeed China Partners.

This investment is the fifth round that Starfield has completed since its inception in 2019, said Sky9 Capital in a post on its official WeChat account. Sky9 Capital had led the startup’s $10 million Series A round in August 2020.

“It [Starfield’s fundraising trajectory] reflects the rapid development of plant-based protein foods, as well as … recognition from consumers and the market,” said Sky9 Capital.

Shenzhen-based Starfield operates under the so-called B2B2C model — an abbreviation of “business to business to consumer” — under which it collaborates with other businesses such as beverage and coffee chains, restaurants and convenience stores to sell plant-based protein foods to customers.

It now sells products across over 14,000 stores nationwide through partnerships with over 100 brands like teahouse chains Nayuki and Heytea, convenience store chain FamilyMart, fast food restaurant chains Tim Hortons and Dicos, as well as coffee chain operator Luckin Coffee. Its first manufacturing facility is located in the city of Xiaogan in central China’s Hubei Province.

“After the financing, Starfield will continue to introduce more reasonably priced, tasty, and healthy green food products based on our plant-based protein technology,” Kiki Wu, co-founder and CEO of Starfield, said in the post.

Wu said that Starfield’s loyal users are largely aged between 18 and 30 with the proportion of female customers being slightly more than male customers. It means, she said, a growing population of China’s Generation Z — the demographic cohort born between the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s — favor plant-based food options amid “their rising pursuit of a healthy life.”

The startup will mainly invest the fresh capital in new product development and buying laboratory equipment. It also plans to recruit talent and improve distribution channels, as well as enhancing marketing and brand promotion.

Source: Nikkei Asia