Next Gen Foods’ TiNDLE has become a FoodTech sensation worldwide, lauded for its delicious range of plant-based chicken staples. Co-founder and CEO Andre Menezes shares more with Hive Life about his award-winning products, avant-garde approach, and how TiNDLE plans to stay ahead of the global plant-powered movement. 

Next Gen Foods is driving the future of plant-powered innovation and adoption worldwide. Launched in Singapore by foodpreneurs and enthusiasts, Andre Menezes and Timo Recker, the FoodTech company has shaken up the global alternative-protein market with their trailblazing vegan vertical TiNDLE, serving “ridiculously” delicious chicken staples made using plant-based ingredients and their tech-enabled “special” component, LipiTM. 

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As flexitarians and meat-eaters, both Andre and Timo heavily emphasise replicating the umami flavour and texture to serve their customers an authentic taste of meat-protein, while pushing for a cruelty-free and sustainable approach to the fare. Housing a fine range of plant-based chicken essentials, the brand promises deliciousness and quality in every bite. TiNDLE food staples are widely endorsed by elite culinary experts and chefs, and are distributed across the globe, including Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States, the United Kingdom, and more.

This year, the FoodTech innovator embarked on the German market, launching at one of the nation’s largest supermarket chains, EDEKA– which is seen as only the beginning of their legacy to making their products available at every store shelf and corner of the world. 

Illuminating us on the US$44.2 billion plant-based market is the co-founder, Andre Menezes, as he dives into their vision of power mass adoption, and the future and key drivers of the alternative-protein food sector globally. 

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Can You Share a Little Bit More About Yourselves? 

Timo and I met in August 2019. I was running the largest meat distributor in Singapore, while he was [managing] his previous venture “Like Meat.” I was [later] scouting [globally] for the best plant-based products and founders to [help them] expand their offerings in Asia. In a serendipitous [event], I decided to quit my position to start a new [company], and Timo coincidently was exiting his first startup, planning for his next [move to] Asia.

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What Was Your Vision Behind Next Gen Foods, and What Inspired You to Later Launch TiNDLE? 

[For the] foundation of Next Gen, Timo and I were looking to set up a platform that brought new plant-based food brands to life – [especially] ones that delivered taste and experience. 

[With] our time in the food industry, [we realised] how inefficient and unsustainable animal farming is to feed the growing global population, and how most consumers are put off by the experience of existing plant-based products. 

We [combined] our experiences in the industry, [with my] expertise in the operations, scaleup, and distribution, while Timo was the former CEO and founder of a plant-based meat company. By leveraging this, we founded Next Gen Foods to accelerate the transition to a sustainable food system

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In Your Opinion, What has Propelled the Wave of New Plant-Based FoodTech Innovation in Asia and Beyond? 

Humanity’s reliance on animal agriculture for food is fundamentally inefficient and [hinders the attainability] of urgent climate goals. The solution lies in finding new ways to deliver the ingredients and experiences consumers crave – this is where plant-based products come in. 

A major milestone for the food industry was leveraging new technologies to target the US$2 trillion animal farming industry, [by introducing plant-based cuisine as a more viable solution], rather than to [solely] cater to vegans and vegetarians. Despite it being in its early [stages], modern-day products can deliver various “meat-like” aspects that people love, such as taste, texture, and nutrition. 

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Do You Personally Practise Plant-Based or Conscious Eating?

I consider myself a ‘flexitarian’ like most [modern-day] consumers. My past work in the meat [trade] deepened my understanding of animal food production and our planet’s climate crisis, and am [constantly] finding more plant-based foods to integrate into my [everyday] life.   

I am extremely conscious of my food choices and I keep animal-based staples, such as my favourites, sushi and sashimi, for special occasions. 

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Can You Tell Us More About TiNDLE? 

We started the TiNDLE brand with chicken because it is the most widely consumed animal protein in the world. It is a versatile and nutritious protein, with similar qualities and experiences as our plant-based [alternative].  

TiNDLE is made with nine simple ingredients, including soy, oat fibre, and coconut oil. The complete range of our products has been created for all consumers regardless of their dietary preferences. We [crafted] TiNDLE to deliver the aroma, cookability, and taste of chicken fat that consumers love, with our secret ingredient, LipiTM

What Are Some Products That are Available to Consumers? 

We are constantly innovating our product offerings. TiNDLE comes in a raw format, [which] offers chefs the creative freedom and flexibility to include the [meat alternative] in any dish. While our [frozen-breaded] products, including nuggets, tenders, and patties, are designed to give restaurants a convenient ready-to-cook option that still delivers the same great taste. 

Last month, we launched six new products in grocery stores, including TiNDLE Nuggets, Patties, Popcorn, Schnitzels, Tenders, and Wings. 

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Why is it More Crucial Than Ever for People to Start Making Conscious Food Choices?  

Our planet is currently facing irreparable damage, with the largest contributing factor being animal agriculture. The [ecosystem] contributes to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions each year. 

Opting for plant-based chicken requires less land and water, and produces fewer CO2 emissions than [actual meat]. In order to make a significant impact on the planet and with our sustainable goals, mass adoption of alternative proteins is the [way forward].  

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Sustainability is at the Core of TiNDLE’s Values, What are Some Examples of How You Enforce This in Your Day-to-Day Operations? 

We are dedicated to creating products that are more sustainable for the planet. We [take a similar approach with every aspect of] our business, while focusing on maximising our impact.

We encourage the teams to [eat] plant-based [dishes] during company gatherings, and promote remote working to minimise unnecessary transportation use and also flights. Other examples involve selecting materials that can be recycled, [while ensuring] to have the most efficient freight routes for our products and ingredients. 

What Are Common Misconceptions of Plant-Based Eating That TiNDLE Aims to Address?

One common misconception is that plant-based food is unable to deliver the taste, texture, and nutritional [value] that animal meat provides. TiNDLE dispels these myths by providing a product that mirrors real meat across all these elements from the umami taste of chicken fat to the fibrous texture. 

TiNDLE also [aims to break the notion] that plant-based cuisine is primarily for vegans.  

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What Advice Would You Like to Share with Other Plant-Based Innovators? 

The one piece of advice I would give to new plant-based startups would be to avoid the trap of thinking that you will magically pave your path to success. It is important to keep in mind that we are building a business, and it is a combination of a fantastic product or technology, a value chain, a capital deployment strategy, a [strong] team, and a brand. 

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TiNDLE Raised a Record-Breaking US$100 Million in Series A Funding, the Largest Amount Received by Any Plant-Based Company Yet. What Global Opportunities Did This Unlock for Your Brand? 

The funds helped us expand into new major markets including the United Kingdom (UK), United States (US), and Germany, [while allowing] us to enter new sales channels and product categories with our retail launch, enabling us to invest in our growth, and navigate stormy weathers caused by higher interest rates and recession on capital markets. 

We aim to offer a range of plant-based products that not only taste delicious but are also high-quality and better for our planet. This has led to our first acquisition, Mwah!, a startup dedicated to creating creamy and indulgent [vegan] dairy products. [Similar to] TiNDLE, Mwah! upholds taste and texture. 

Mwah! focus on finding the “right” source for the “right” type of consistency and creaminess when developing products.  

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How Does Next Gen Foods Anticipate Contributing to the Resilience of Plant-Based and Sustainable Food Ecosystems?  

Our mission at Next Gen Foods is centred around this concept, by creating sustainable – and delicious – food options for consumers to choose from, we help contribute to the future resilience of our planet. 

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TiNDLE is Now Available Globally, Can You Share More About Your International Distribution Strategy? 

Our long-term plan is to make TiNDLE available everywhere. To achieve this, we are currently focusing on growth across three major markets including Germany, the UK, and the USA. We are also looking to expand our retail presence following our recent debut in German, rolling out our [products across] 6,000 local stores.  

What Does the Future Have in Store for Next Gen Foods? 

We recently celebrated a major milestone for the company, launching nationwide in Germany, [which] marked one of the largest entries ever into retail for a new food brand. We also [released] 6 new products designed for home cooks and aim to diversify our [other] offerings. We plan to continue our retail expansion throughout this year. 

[Additionally,] we will leverage our existing distribution networks to introduce Mwah! to key markets, starting with the UK.  

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How Can Customers Find Your Retail and Restaurant Partners? 

TiNDLE can be found on thousands of restaurant menus across the globe, including the US, Europe, and United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as in Asia– Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, and Japan. German’s local grocery store EDEKA [houses] TiNDLE Schnitzels, Nuggets, Tenders and Popcorn.  

Mwah!’s first product, a plant-based Madagascan Vanilla Gelato, will be exclusively available in London from March 15th at Floozie Cookies and WAVE.

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Featured banner image credit: @tindlefoods


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