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New Pick: A Hidden Treasure in the Plant-Based Meat Market

New Pick: A Hidden Treasure in the Plant-Based Meat Market
By Vin Narayanan
Date June 1, 2023
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In the article

Blackbird Foods

Valuation $15,000,000
Total Raised $80,215
KingsCrowd

Editor’s Note: This recommendation was co-authored by KingsCrowd Investment Research Manager Olivia Strobl.


Mmmm, pizza. Much like Homer Simpson, I was born eating pizza. I’m also a vegetarian who dabbles in veganism. So when it comes to plant-based pizzas and meat, I’m a serious connoisseur.

I also follow the plant-based food business closely. It directly impacts what I eat, so I like to know which businesses are doing well, which ones aren’t, and why they’re doing well or poorly.

It’s no secret that the best-known plant-based meat companies, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, have been struggling lately. Beyond Meat’s stock is down 85% from its IPO price. Impossible Foods laid off 20% of its workforce earlier this year. And last year, Impossible Foods’ founder stepped down as CEO and was replaced by an executive from Chobani.

I believe these struggles aren’t about plant-based food’s popularity. The U.S. plant-based meat market stood at around $1.3 billion last year and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 23.9%. 

The bigger issue is price. Right now, plant-based meat is expensive. And with inflation driving prices up, it’s a luxury that many people who want to eat plant-based meats can’t afford.

That doesn’t mean investing in plant-based food is a bad idea. It just means you have to make sure you’re investing at the right price — and are willing to be patient. The sector is growing. But it’s going to take time for prices to hit a point where people won’t run away during tough economic times.

That’s why I like Blackbird Foods, which makes plant-based frozen pizzas and meat. It’s rare to find this much value in a startup investment.

With a $4.8 million annual run rate (as of April 2023), Blackbird Foods is undervalued at a $7 million valuation cap. Even if you just based valuation on last year’s $2.8 million in revenue, a $7 million valuation cap is very reasonable.

Blackbird Foods sells its meat alternatives to both restaurants and retailers. The company’s plant-based pizza, seitan, and chicken wings can be found across the U.S. in chains like Target, Sprouts, and Whole Foods. 

Blackbird Foods’ restaurant presence is mainly in the Northeastern U.S. With a strong presence in the region, the team plans to replicate the model and expand across the U.S. in the near future. There is still plenty of room for retail growth, but this is a very strong start. 

Blackbird Foods’ pizza doesn’t just compete with other plant-based foods. It also competes directly against other frozen pizzas. The company wisely chose to offer traditional crust pizzas instead of the healthier gluten-free option. That widens the appeal of the pizza products to customers who want to avoid meat but are not gluten-free. There are a few others that have this combination — like Tattooed Chef, available at Target.

Blackbird Foods has far fewer competitors in the plant-based seitan and chicken wing space. Tyson and Impossible Foods both make vegan chicken nuggets. Gardein, Field Roast, and MorningStar Farms make plant-based wings. Blackbird Foods is in line with the others when it comes to price. 

Blackbird Foods prides itself on providing top-quality, restaurant-level offerings. And quality is important. The frozen pizza and plant-based meat markets are not winner-take-all. There’s room for multiple companies to be successful. The key is to develop a brand that connects with customers. And quality plays a key role in making that happen. 

Team Members Who Complement Each Other 

Blackbird Foods is led by Emanuel Storch and Mike Pease. Emanuel was on the Simply Gum founding team in an operational role prior to founding Blackbird Foods. His prior experience there should help him as he tries to help Blackbird Foods grow. 

Mike has a restaurant background and has been in the plant-based food space for more than two decades. He owned Terri, a vegan restaurant in New York, for 10 years before joining NuLeaf Restaurants as the head of operations. 

These two founders have ideal complementary experience for a consumer goods company targeting both retail consumers and professional chefs. They know how to sell in these verticals because they have firsthand experience. 

A Hidden Treasure

Blackbird Foods is a sneaky-good find in an unexpected space. With a revenue run rate of $4.8 million, Blackbird Foods has strong traction and is a bargain at a $7 million valuation. The company has consistently grown revenue year over year, which is reflective of the founders’ ability to execute. 

The team is off to an impressive start retailing in Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Target. But there is still plenty of room to expand both in retailers and in restaurants outside of the Northeastern U.S. Plus, they’re moving into an additional 300 Target stores this year. That should help drive the company’s already consistent revenue growth. 

Finally, the market is growing more than 20% annually. Consumer trends like environmental and health consciousness will continue to drive consumer adoption of meat alternatives. 

Blackbird Foods presents a rare opportunity to invest in a growing startup in a good market at a cheap price. Don’t miss out.


Deal Details
Startup: Blackbird Foods
Security type: Convertible note
Valuation: $7 million
Minimum investment: $100
Where to invest: Wefunder
Deadline: April 29, 2024


How to Invest

Blackbird Foods is raising capital on Wefunder. If you don’t already have an account, you can sign up for one here.

Once you’re logged in, visit the Blackbird Foods raise page. Be sure to review the deal page and offering documents thoroughly before making an investment. When you’re ready, click the red “invest” button. Enter in the amount you want to invest, starting as low as $100, and then move through the required steps. Make sure that your investment is confirmed, and then you’re good to go.

Risk

Startup investing is inherently risky, and startup investors should expect to hold their investments without liquidity for five to 10 years. Never invest more money than you can afford to lose.

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