Nestlé Backs Vegan Chicken Wings That Come With ‘Skin’ & ‘Bones’
By Mikelle Leow, 23 Nov 2021
Image via Sundial Foods
It’s been said that bone-in wings taste better. Soon, vegetarian converts who miss that experience might be able to do so with the plant-based “chicken wings” by Sundial Foods, a California-based startup that’s just received a US$4 million investment from a funding round led by food corporation Nestlé.
There’s no lack of meat alternatives in the market, but Sundial’s wings stand out with their “skin” and “bones” which replicate parts of real chicken wings using simple ingredients. They’re also pretty nutritious, with less saturated fat and more fiber than their animal-based counterpart, and about the same amount of protein (27 grams per 100 grams) as regular chicken wings (about 30.5 grams per 100 grams).
Coincidentally, the key ingredient in these chicken wings is (somewhat) hinted at in the name: They’re chick…pea-based, hence the substantial protein level. Meanwhile, the bones are bamboo stalks and the skin is a protein-lipid film.
The plant-based skin is testers’ favorite part of the wings, and they’ve ranked it above protein content and visual resemblance to chicken wings. “[The skin] added to the cooking experience and provided interesting texture while eating,” says 22-year-old Sundial Foods CEO Jessica Schwabach, who’s a vegan, in a statement via Bloomberg.
Image via Sundial Foods
Schwabach met fellow co-founder Siwen Deng at the Alternative Meats Program run by the University of California Berkeley, where they set out to solve challenges associated with plant-based meat products, like the dryness of alt-meat texture. The plant-based wing startup hatched in 2019.
The pair then spent a year in Nestle’s R&D Accelerator program in Lausanne, Switzerland, which helped their product take wing. In late 2020, Sundial teamed up with Nestlé’s plant-based food brand Garden Gourmet and ran a test launch for the bone-in plant-based wings in 40 grocery stores across Switzerland to great success.
“Our goal is to make meats that replace the butcher, so our product can be enjoyed as a center-of-plate experience,” Schwabach describes. “We want to give consumers—whether vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, or meat-eating—a plant-based meat-eating experience that’s interesting, craveable, and versatile.”
The startup will use the US$4 million funding to begin production in the US and grow its team. It intends to launch Sundial wings in restaurants nationwide by spring 2022.
[via VegNews and Bloomberg, images via various sources]
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