Alternative proteins come in every shape and form, and Sundial Food makes its mark on one of the favorite sports bar staples: wings.
Co-founders Jessica Schwabach and Siwen Deng started the company in 2019 to create vegan chicken wings that look just like the traditional cut of meat. The pair met on UC Berkeley’s alternative meat program.
“We were assigned to a project to try and solve the dryness problem of the alternative meat product,” Deng told TechCrunch. “We came up with the idea of putting a physical barrier on all sides to lock in all the moisture and increase juiciness.”
What the co-founders went for was the same fried food that meat eaters know, but with all-vegetable skin, flesh, and bones. Their proprietary technology simulates a whole piece of meat, complete with similar texture and muscle structure. It’s also made with ingredients like water, chickpeas and sunflower oil and has more fiber and less saturated fat than chicken, but about the same amount of protein.
They then participated in the Nestlé R&D Accelerator in Switzerland, where they tested their formula for the plant-based wings. This included a co-branded product with Nestlé’s plant-based food brand Garden Gourmet and a test launch in more than 40 stores across Switzerland.
While exhibiting as part of the Battlefield 200 at TC Disrupt, they told TechCrunch that they are actively raising a Series A – after raising a $4 million seed round in 2021 — and have plans to expand beyond foodservice and into retail early next year.
Sundial Foods started its pilot line of restaurants. You can already find their wings at two San Francisco locations, Farming Hope at Manny’s and Foghorn Taproom. Farming Hope at Manny’s sells Sundial’s wings for $8 for two, meaning the price is about three times that of traditional wings, which is currently about $1.68 per pound.
“Demand is greater than we can support at the moment, so we are moving to full production,” Schwabach said in an interview. “We have already identified our manufacturing partner and will be working with them for the next six to eight months before moving to retail next year.”
The plan is to initially focus on local retailers and work on getting volume, packaging and other items before expanding to larger retailers. And as they approach full production, the co-founders say they will work to meet the price parity of chicken wings.