Plant-based meat alternatives make up a small portion of the U.S. diet, and sales have been sluggish as consumer enthusiasm for beef, pork and chicken substitutes has waned.
Food tech startup Black Sheep Foods wants to rekindle interest with a lamb alternative.
In early December, the San Francisco-based company announced it had raised $18.05 million ($12.3 million in Series A funding) from sources including Unovis, an early investor in Oatly and Beyond. The funding will help the company increase production and expand distribution to restaurants outside of California.
The GFI reports that consumption of plant-based meat alternatives will account for just 1.4% of the total meat category and just 2.7% of retail package sales in 2021. According to US Department of Agriculture statistics, Americans eat about a pound of lamb annually, and the market for animal meat is $897.5 billion, compared to a plant based meat at $7.5 billion.
Black Sheep CEO Sunny Kumar said in a press release the key to encouraging consumers to switch to plant-based meat alternatives is to provide the taste and texture of the real thing.
Considering lamb isn’t a major component of the U.S. diet, Brittany Lubeck, nutritional consultant at Oh So Spotless, said consumers may be drawn to the novelty initially. The bigger draw for some consumers might be from an environmental standpoint.
Read: Will cultured meat be available in U.S. grocery stores this year?