Osher Günsberg & ethicist Peter Singer back mushroom ‘meat’ startup Fable Food Co in $12.3 million Series A

- February 9, 2023 3 MIN READ
Jim Fuller, Michael Fox, Fable Food
Fable Food Co. cofounders Jim Fuller and Michael Fox
Queensland meat alternative startup Fable has raised US$8.5 million (A$12.3m) as it  ramps up its expansion in global markets.

The round was led by Singapore VC 3 Ventures, supported by Better Bite Ventures, former YUM CEO Greg Creed, the expat Australian ethicist and animal rights campaigner Professor Peter Singer, SaladStop founders Frantz Braha and Adrien Desbaillet, TV star Osher Günsberg and his wife Audrey Griffen, and TV producer Michael Simkin. Existing investors Blackbird, AgFunder and Aera VC also chipped in.

Fable also has Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes on its cap table through his family fund, Grok, and British chef Heston Blumenthal.

The raise comes 18 months after Fable raised $6.5 million in a seed round in 2021. It’s now taken more than $20 million in venture capital on board.

Based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Fable launched in December 2019, cofounded by former Shoes of Prey cofounder Michael Fox, with chef and mycologist Jim Fuller, and organic mushroom farmer Chris McLoghlin.

Fable makes vegetarian “meat” from shiitake mushroom stems to imitate beef brisket and pulled pork and has launched a range of ready-made meals.

Fable cofounder Jim Fuller (centre) with Darin Olien and Zac Efron, co-presenters of the Netflix series Down To Earth

The cash injection will accelerate research and development on new mushroom products, and international expansion with a focus on North America, the UK and Singapore.

Next month, Fable will be expanding its US footprint with the national launch of its mushroom burger slider patties at STK Steakhouse, the chain’s first plant-based menu option.

Taking a leaf out of the V2foods playbook, a joint venture between CSIRO and Hungry Jacks founder Jack Cowin, who has the product on the menu as the Rebel Whopper, Fox and the Fable team have built their brand through fast food outlets, including local burger chain Grill’d, which services its mushroom burger pattie, plus Guzman y Gomez and The Coffee Club, as well as UK chain Honest Burgers, the US plant-based brand Beatnic (formerly By Chloe), New Zealand’s Hell Pizza, and Singapore’s SaladStop!.

You’ll also find Fable products in local supermarkets.

Last year Fable launched into the UK through meal delivery companies Gousto and Planty, and supermarket brand Planet Organic.

Fable kicked off 2023 with new US partnerships, including New York-based meal delivery service CookUnity, and cult plant-based restaurant chain The Butcher’s Daughter, as well as Canadian meal delivery service Ethey.

The North American push reveals the ambition of Fox and friends, taking on the might and capital of Silicon Valley-backed Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, companies that so far have failed to deliver on the traction and transformation promised by their founders.

Fad or fab?

Bloomberg recently labelled plant-based fake meats as “just another food fad“.

Fox, a vegetarian for the last six years, is equally ambitious with his “mission to end industrial animal agriculture” as Fable’S CEO.

“We want to inspire the world to make more sustainable food choices,” he said.

“We believe that eating more delicious, meaty food made from mushrooms will help the world reduce global meat consumption – without compromising on taste, texture, or experience – and this is how we will be able to achieve a more sustainable food system.”

Burger, Heston Blumenthal, Fable

Fable Brioche Burgers by Heston Blumenthal. Photo: Southworks Creative

K3 Ventures managing partner said Fable “is reshaping the future of food” using mushrooms as an alternative plant-based protein compared to the pulses used in rival products.

“We’re excited to be a part of the next stage of Fable’s growth and to support their ambitions to combat arguably one of the biggest issues of our time – climate change,” he said.

Greg Creed, former Global CEO of the company behind KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell said Fable nails one of the biggest challenges in the food, flavour.

“After four decades working in the consumer goods and food industries, first with Unilever, then with YUM Brands, I have witnessed the changing demands of consumers around the world when it comes to what they eat. I’ve seen plenty of fads and gimmicks along the way and I know one thing that consumers will never compromise on, is taste,” he said.

“What Fable has nailed is the intersection of health, sustainability, and taste with their range of mushroom products. Their early success in retail and restaurants with the likes of Grill’d and Guzman y Gomez drew my attention, but it’s their team and mission that secured my investment in them.

“Blending their obsession with mushrooms and clean ingredient ethos with real world experience, the Fable team is going to cut through the clutter and win over consumers around the world.”

Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, said: “I’m delighted to be able to invest in a company that seeks to end industrial agriculture by making plant-based food I love to cook with.”