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Alternative food

SK Inc, STIC invest $55 million in US alternative dairy maker Perfect Day

SK also signed an MOU with SPC Samlip to jointly look for opportunities in the domestic alternative food business

By Oct 01, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won shows interest in alternative food
SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won shows interest in alternative food

SK Inc., the investment arm of South Korean conglomerate SK Group, and private equity firm STIC Investment Inc., have invested a combined 65 billion won ($55 million) in US alternative dairy maker Perfect Day Inc.

The two Korean companies said on Friday they are joining Perfect Day’s $350 million Series D funding round intended to fuel the US company’s expanded focus across biological engineering, ingredients and consumer products.

STIC will invest $40 million in the US company, while SK Inc. will invest the remaining $15 million.

SK’s latest investment marks its second investment in Perfect Day following a 54 billion won investment in the company in October 2020.

SK said it has also secured a board seat at Perfect Day with its latest investment.

Headquartered in Berkeley, California, Perfect Day is a developer of animal-free dairy products, including ice cream, cheese and yogurt via fermentation.

In 2016, the company expanded into the business-to-business supply chain space and began selling protein products to food companies, including eventually ice cream manufacturers Graeter’s and N!ick’s.

In 2019, Perfect Day launched its ice cream brand Brave Robot made from non-animal whey protein under its subsidiary brand, The Urgent Company.

It also plans to launch its second product, an animal-free cream cheese, under its new Modern Kitchen brand.

Its latest $350 million funding round was co-led by Singapore’s Temasek and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) and included contributions from long-term investors such as Horizons Ventures and Walt Disney Chairman Bob Iger.

SK Inc. increases investment in alternative food makers, including Perfect Day
SK Inc. increases investment in alternative food makers, including Perfect Day

COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY

SK Inc. has invested more than $100 million globally in new food companies as part of its broader commitment to sustainability.

SK Inc.’s investments in new food are part of a transformation across SK Group companies to align their businesses with environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles.

New food companies and the global food chain are gaining attention for their potential to advance sustainability and address global warming. Food systems account for more than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a United Nations study.

SK said it is also seeking growth opportunities in the Asian alternative food market through investment in new food companies.

In July, SK Inc. invested 29 billion won in Chicago-based Nature's Fynd, a maker of microbe-based proteins for meat substitutes and dairy substitutes.

It also said in July the company and Joyvio Group, a unit of Chinese conglomerate Legend Holdings Corp., are jointly creating a 100 billion won fund focused on food tech startups to foray into the Asian food market.

According to global consulting firm Kearney, the alternative meat market will grow to 850 trillion won or 45% of the entire meat market by 2035 from 143 trillion won in 2025.

SK and SPC Samlip sign an MOU on alternative food investments
SK and SPC Samlip sign an MOU on alternative food investments

MOU WITH SPC SAMLIP

On Friday, SK Inc. also said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with local food company SPC Samlip Co. to jointly look for investment opportunities in the domestic alternative food business.

As part of its partnership, SK and Samlip are considering launching an alternative food service by introducing related technology from UK plant-based protein company Meatless Farm.

“Through the business tie-ups with SPC Samlip and China’s Joyvio, we will actively seek business opportunities in the Korean and other Asian alternative food markets,” said Kim Moo-hwan, executive vice president of SK Inc.’s Green Investment Center.

SK Inc.’s investments in the new food companies are made through the Green Investment Center, which seeks to support environmentally friendly technologies and business models.

SK established the center earlier this year as it reorganized under four investment pillars: Green Business, Digital, Advanced Materials and Biopharmaceuticals.

Write to Jeong-Min Nam and Chae-Yeon Kim at peux@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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