Bezos-backed startup partners with Brazil retailer GPA to sell plant-based products

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A Chilean startup whose investors include Inc CEO Jeff Bezos is partnering with Brazilian supermarket operator GPA to start selling its plant-based food products in the first step of a regional roll-out, it said on Wednesday.

The company, known as NotCo, uses artificial intelligence to recreate food normally made with meat or dairy ingredients solely using vegetable components. Bezos took part in a $30 million fundraising round for the firm earlier this month, led by venture capital group The Craftory.

“A big chunk of this investment is going to Brazil ... We are betting Brazil is to become our biggest market within a year,” NotCo’s Chief Executive Officer and Cofounder Matias Muchnick told Reuters in an interview.

Initially, the company will be shipping its products from Chile to Brazil, but the plan is to produce them locally within three to four months. “The strategy is never to build a factory ... Here we found several partners to produce our products locally,” said Muchnick.

The first product to be launched in Brazil is NotMayo, a chickpea-based mayonnaise without eggs in the recipe, followed by its vegetable milk NotMilk and its ice cream brand Not Ice Cream. “We expect to reach a double-digit market share in these three categories in the next three years,” said Muchnick.

He added that conversations with GPA, a Brazilian food retailer controlled by French group Casino, started almost a year ago and will make it the exclusive distributor for the three products when they are launched.

“But we are also looking at different partnerships with other players,” the executive said.

After Brazil, NotCo plans to roll out its products, already on sale in Chile for roughly three years, in Argentina, then Mexico in the third-quarter and the United States in the beginning of 2020, said Muchnick.

Reporting by Gabriela Mello, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien