Simulate launches Strips and Cutlets with an eye on foodservice

Dive Brief:

  • Plant-based chicken maker Simulate is launching two new products: Strips and Cutlets. These products use high moisture extrusion to create a more fibrous product, which is similar to the texture of animal meat.
  • Strips, which are unbreaded plant-based chicken strips, will initially only be available to foodservice. Simulate calls this product its first “food swap” — a product it says can be swapped into recipes for the actual meat version.
  • Plant-based chicken companies have been working to find new technology to make more realistic analogs. High moisture extrusion technology is used in plant-based chicken products from brands including MorningStar Farms’ Incogmeato, Planterra’s Ozo, and Gardein’s Ultimate Plant-Based Chick’n line.

Dive Insight:

Simulate, which styles itself as a Generation Z-focused tech company that makes food, has upgraded both its technology and its approach with these new launches. While it started as a company that sold its plant-based chicken nuggets only in the direct-to-consumer channel, Simulate’s new offerings could make it a closer simulation of actual meat, both in terms of what the products look and behave like and where they can be found.

Simulate’s Strips are currently available to all restaurants, the company said in a statement. They have ambitions to partner with large chains in the future.

The cutlets are larger patties designed for sandwiches, similar to common QSR offerings nationwide.

Simulate creates its products through iterative development, much like software. Company leaders have said that because they started as a direct-to-consumer operation, they could very easily get feedback from consumers about what they liked, didn’t like and wanted to see next. The company is often tweaking its formula to better meet consumer needs, with a page on its website dedicated to its “version releases” detailing the process and ingredient changes to its “codebase.”

Simulate has since branched out to retail and foodservice. The company says its products are now in about 12,000 stores, including eight of the 10 largest grocery retailers in North America. Its chicken analogs have been in several plant-restaurants, including Daisies and Fatboy’s Vegan Burgers in New York; Hot Chicken Takeover in New York and Ohio; and JuiceUs in Texas.

The company is trendy, well funded, and doubling down on science. Simulate has raised $57 million, according to Crunchbase. The bulk of that funding came in its $50 million Series B round last year, which was led by Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six venture firm. At the time of that fundraising, the company was valued at more than $250 million.

The company’s growth hasn’t just been in its number of products or its retail reach. Simulate has been bulking out its team, more than doubling its employee count in a year, according to Tech Crunch. About 30% of all current employees are Ph.D.s or scientists, Simulate said in an email.