Earlier this week, Eclipse Foods, a maker of plant-based dairy alternatives that the company says taste more like real milk, got $40 million worth of validation in the form of new cash to grow its business.
The new funding, part of a continuing wave of investment into dairy alternatives, means that consumers looking for a more milky alternative to the almond, cashew, mushroom, oat, and soy offerings that most non-dairy alternatives pitch can have another option on the menu.
A taste test convinced the team at Sozo Ventures to lead the $40 million funding round that Eclipse Foods just raised, according to a statement from the company.
"The number one reason consumers avoid plant-based dairy is taste. As self-proclaimed ice cream lovers, our team at Sozo Ventures recognized that Eclipse's ice cream is in a league of its own after just one bite," said Bob Roe, Vice President of Narrative Development at Sozo Ventures, in a press release.
Founded in 2019 by Aylon Steinhart and James Beard award wining chef Thomas Bowman, Eclipse graduated from the famous startup company accelerator Y combinator and immediately attracted the attention of investors like the Chairman of Beyond Meat and founder of Honest Tea, Seth Goldman; Alexis Ohanian, the founder of Reddit, and the Saudi investor Khaled bin Alwaleed.
Eclipse Foods will really have to step up to cream the competition that already exists in the dairy aisle.
Investors have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into competitors like the U.S.-based food company Perfect Day and Israel's Remilk to make for a very, very frothy dairy alternative market.
Nearly $5.8 billion was invested into companies making alternatives to slaughterhouse meat, industrially harvested seafood and mass-milked dairy products, according to data published earlier this year from the industry tracker, Crunchbase.
One reason for the flood of cash into these early stage businesses is the potential size of the market.
"70% of the world's population is lactose intolerant and with the alternative protein space projected to grow to $1.4 trillion by 2050, Eclipse is positioned to completely transform the dairy industry with its proprietary plant-based dairy platform," Sozo Ventures' Roe said in a statement.
Eclipse seems to be taking a somewhat different path from Perfect Day whose offerings line grocery store aisles through its brands like Brave Robot and Coolhaus, and partnerships with a number of other consumer brands.
While the company has its own line of ice cream, it's also selling to fast food chains like Smashburger, which uses the company's dairy alternative in the first nationally available plant-based milkshake.
Eclipse also differentiates itself by underlining the fact that no genetic modifications were used to make its dairy replacement. The company's product comes from a mixture of corn, cassava, and potatoes.
"With 10 billion people to feed by 2050, we recognized that global diets must change," said Aylon Steinhart, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Eclipse Foods, in a statement. "Consumers want more than just a dairy alternative like almond milk—they want a true replacement. Our plant-based dairy platform uses micelles (the microscopic magic of milk) to create the replacement products that consumers have been craving, and our growth over the last three years is a testament to that."
Curious customers can find Eclipse's products in stores like Whole Foods, Albertsons, Vons, and GoPuff.