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Neat Food is the latest plant-based burger company to make its American debut, thanks in part to investment from actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
“I challenge you to recognize this is a plant-based burger and not a real burger,” the company's founder Tommaso Chiabra said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “What you are eating really is a Burger 3.0 where we are inserting super food.”
The company states that the burger is made with proteins consisting of pea, corn, and rice in addition to quinoa, chickpea, and potato.
And although vegans currently represent just 0.5% of the U.S. population (1.6 million), the company has stated that it's “here for the vegans, the vegetarians, the flexitarians and the meat heads alike.”
Launched in the UK in 2019, Neat Food now has expanded to 11 locations throughout the nation. The first U.S. location, a Manhattan pop-up, opened in April and there are plans to open three more American-based sites this year.
How Neat Food stands apart from the pack is simple: “None … have a [business-to-consumer] dialogue with the restaurant experience, with our brick-and-mortar stores, which are the boutique and the flagship of our brand,” Chiabra said.
With backers like DiCaprio and seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, the company is hoping to open more than 400 locations around the world by the end of 2026.
'A mission of convincing people'
The meatless meat industry hasn't been entirely smooth sailing this year.
Beyond Meat (BYND) is down 80% from its peak market cap of more than $13 billion, and down 57% in 2022 so far. Chiabra, who was an early investor of Beyond, said that part of the company’s struggles has to do with the fact that “a lot of food services didn’t do too well” during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think that what was missing in the market till we came to the market is really the approach to the consumer, the educational part where there’s a lot of people that are still skeptical about eating differently and changing their diet,” Chiabra said. “And we’re on a mission of convincing people with the easiest step possible.”
Neat Food’s meatless menu features burgers, chicken and fish sandwiches, hot dogs, protein bowls, french fries, and tater tots as well as chicken nuggets and even Buffalo-style nuggets. Chiabra also revealed on Yahoo Finance Live that a new plant-based lobster roll will soon be added to the menu.
Choosing where to go next in terms of location is about finding the best challenge.
“We like to choose the difficult market before and the competitive market before, and then to expand in the easier ones,” Chiabra said. “We started off in the UK and now in New York, where New York is the capital of fast casual food and food traffic. We really want to win the community there before expanding in other cities. The UK and U.S. will be our corporate focus countries.”
Dave is an anchor for Yahoo Finance Live.