A new vegan food tech company based in Portland, Oregon just secured funding to begin distributing its innovative, groundbreaking product to American consumers. CHKN Not Chicken (CNC) just closed a $4.5 million funding round led by Stray Dog Capital that will bring allow widespread distribution of its signature plant-based product. The company uses technology that replicates the texture, juiciness, and flavor of conventional animal-based chicken, and the company believes its product could convince meat-eaters to adopt a plant-based diet. The CHKN Not Chicken took two years of intensive research and development to create the final product intended for eCommerce and eventually grocery and foodservice launches.

“Our mission is to inspire consumers to live healthier, more sustainable lives and we believe the best way to achieve this vision is to create easy ways for people to enter the flexitarian lifestyle and cut meat out of their diets a couple of days a week,” CNC co-founder and CEO Brian Pope told VegNews. “Small, sustainable changes in eating behavior for a large segment of the population will have a very large cumulative effect on both people’s health and the environment.”

The CHKN Not Chicken product creates its plant-based product using pea protein. The vegan brand developed a production method that uses proprietary extrusion alongside a flavor infusion technology that manipulates the pea protein to mirror the taste and texture of chicken. The company will initially debut three flavors of its shredded-style plant-based chicken in Naked CHKN, Mexican-Inspired Fiesta CHKN, and pan-Asian-inspired Zen CHKN. The shredded vegan chicken will be completely gluten- and soy-free.

The plant-based brand intends to continue development, with hopes to expand its production methods across other protein sectors. The company claims that its inventive technique will be able to replicate other proteins, including pork, turkey, and others. The recent funding package will allow the company to meet rising consumer demand for vegan protein as well as enhance its manufacturing capabilities.

“We are also innovating to deliver consumers other forms of CHKN Not Chicken including breast and tenders,” Pope said. “But the ultimate vision is to extend the brand into other proteins and our innovation pipeline includes Pork Not Pork, TRKY Not Turkey, and more. CHKN Not Chicken is just the beginning.”

CHKN Not Chicken’s goal is to reduce the presence of chicken farming worldwide, aiming to undercut the animal agriculture industry. Pope – who was wired as an executive for snack brand PopChips and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic – plans to reach at least 5 million consumers over the course of five years. The company’s technology intends to reach directly to meat-eaters or omnivores, and provide those consumers with an alternative so close to the animal-based product.

“Chicken is the most consumed meat in the world. In the US, consumption of chicken is two times that of beef and much higher than pork, turkey, or other proteins,” Pope said. “Chicken is also used in a wide range of recipes including tacos, stir fry, rice bowls, pasta, pizzas, and salads. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have created great alternatives to beef burgers, but there has not been as much innovation in the chicken space.”

The plant-based chicken alternative contains 20 grams of protein and 140 calories per 8-ounce serving. The company is marketing the product as a perfect addition to a variety of cuisines, claiming it to be easy to cook and work with. The partnership with Stray Dog Capital will allow the product to reach consumers nationwide, adding another plant-based chicken to the rapidly expanding market. Joining vegan giants Beyond Meat, Daring, Impossible Foods, and more, CHKN Not Chicken believes this investment will put its product in the spotlight.

“We are excited to partner with Stray Dog Capital and share their passion for creating a healthier, humane, and more sustainable future,” Pope said. “By creating delicious food that also happens to be plant-based, we believe we can dramatically increase the number of flexitarians in the world who are becoming more mindful of the foods they eat and are looking for options that allow them to create delicious meat-free versions of their favorite recipes.”

Pope and other founding members are also working on lowering their meat and animal-product intake. He hopes that his journey will relative to American consumers, pushing his product as a helpful alternative. The company plans to develop alternatives for the meat products American consumers find themselves reliant on. Pope includes himself in this description saying that “if I am being truly honest, the allure of bacon may prevent me from going fully vegan.” CHKN Not Chicken has announced its intention to work on perfecting formulas and methods for plant-based pork products in the future.

“I am on the same journey as millions of Americans who are reducing their reliance on meat products and am incorporating plant-based meals regularly into my diet,” Pope said. “The tremendous innovation that is currently happening in the plant-based food space is making it easier and more delicious to replace meat and brands like Good Planet Cheese are delivering amazing alternatives to dairy so many of my meals today are vegan.”