U.S. plant-based meat company SIMULATE, producer of a plant-based chicken nugget alternative NUGGS, has raised US$50M from high profile investors such as Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. The funding round, which values SIMULATE at more than US$250 million, was led by Ohanian’s fund Seven Seven Six, and included food giant (and previous investor) McCain Foods, in addition to other venture capital firms across Europe and the U.S.

Australian Ben Pasternak founded SIMULATE in 2018, saying previously that he hopes to encourage consumers to eat more sustainably by developing a better tasting alternative to conventional animal meat. NUGGS have since won fans across the U.S. and are currently stocked in more than 5000 retail locations, including retail giants Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods.

Sales of meat alternatives worldwide are steadily increasing, while Food Frontier’s 2020 State of the Industry report featuring data by Deloitte Access Economics showed consumer sales of plant-based meat in Australia topped $185 million in FY20.

Pasternak says the company intends to use the latest funding round to grow its team threefold, develop new products and enter international markets, with NUGGS set to launch in Canada next. “Eventually SIMULATE products will be available everywhere,” he said. “Given that I am from Australia, I’d really like to launch NUGGS there quite soon.”

Pasternak said having Ohanian as an investor allowed Simulate to take advantage of the Reddit co-founder’s background in tech software. “As a software guy, what I love about software is that it’s infinitely scalable,” Mr Pasternak explained. “And we have tried to apply the same principles to nutrition. I think he was attracted to that.” Pasternak also added that Ohanian, his wife Serena Williams and their daughter Alexis were all keen NUGGS connoisseurs: “I’ve heard the entire family is a fan.”

READ MORE: Aussie aces deal with Serena Williams’ hubby for cult chicken nugget alternative [The Age]