He’s an actor and environmentalist. He was designated as the United Nations Messenger of Peace for climate change in 2014. And now Leonardo DiCaprio has joined the Neat foods group as a strategic investor. By supporting a fast growing alternative-protein food group, he’s expanding his personal mission to do what’s in his reach to reduce global emissions.
The announcement about DiCaprio’s investment in Neat Food Co. emerges as part of its major strategic developments and international expansion plans. In an online statement, a Neat company spokesperson stated, “Welcome to the team, Leo. We’re thrilled to have you on our journey as we continue to shake up the global food space, one plant-based burger at a time.”
The Academy Award-winning actor for The Revenant recently starred in the parody Don’t Look Up, which shows what happens if we humans wait too long to interrogate our culture and ourselves, lose sight of truth, and fail to take action. That film is just one piece of DiCaprio’s long time climate advocacy, which reaches back over two decades.
In 1998, DiCaprio was invited to the White House to meet Vice President Al Gore and discuss the looming climate crisis. DiCaprio cites the occasion as a landmark moment for his climate activism.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation was established that same year with an initial mission to protect the Earth’s last wild places and to find ways of achieving a harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world. It now supports over 35 innovative conservation projects around the world that protect fragile ecosystems and key species. Today, the foundation, together with its Alliance partners Emerson Collective and Global Wildlife Conservation, addresses the intertwined threats of climate change and biodiversity loss through its global work to protect ecosystems and wildlife, ensure climate justice, support renewable energy, and secure indigenous rights to the benefit of all life on Earth.
DiCaprio’s climate philanthropy includes producing the climate documentary, The Eleventh Hour; endorsing efforts to save tigers in Nepal and elephants in Thailand; easing the transition to fully sustainable food, energy, water, and forests in Los Angeles through the Environment Now statewide program; and, bringing conservation and grassroots environmentalism into the 21st century through media and the latest in technological innovation, among others.
.@NeatBurger_‘s pioneering approach to alternative proteins is a great example of the type of solutions we need to disrupt our food system and make a real difference in reducing global emissions and I’m excited to support as an investor. https://t.co/X2a3DG136f
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) April 28, 2022
What Should We Know about Neat Foods?
Established in 2019, Neat is a fast-growing alternative-protein food group. The company has a slightly different approach than other plant based entities; it is vertically integrated, serving as both a restaurant and alternative protein Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) business. The reason behind this duality is to be unified by branding — familiarizing consumers with the brand ahead of launching into New York site trading — then global expansion in the coming months and scaling to 15 US units and a US franchise program by the end of 2022. After that, the plan is for 1000 additional units by 2030 across US and UK, followed by Europe and the Middle East through corporately owned online and offline restaurants and franchise partnerships.
Neat foods expects to have 42 sites globally by the end of 2022, 231 by the end of 2024, and 436 by the end of 2026.
How will Neat accomplish such ambitious goals? In October, 2021, Neat completed a $7 million funding round led by SoftBank’s Rajeev Misra. At the end of April, 2022, Neat initiated a $30 million Series B funding round to accelerate its growth. The fundraiser — primarily with US investors — should accelerate the group’s global growth, underpin its new product development and CPG pipeline, and allow the group to extend its team for new hires.
The company’s expansion plan follows UK success of Neat Burger restaurants and award-winning status for its patties and food, which is attracting a loyal fanbase and industry recognition. The company won the UK’s Best Vegan Restaurant of the year for the second year in a row. It was nominated for the 2021 GQ Food & Drink Sustainability Award. Most recently, the brand was given PETA’s anaugural Company of the Year Award for its innovative approach to a plant based diet.
NEAT’s expansion will start in New York City with a flagship Neat Burger store opening in Fall, 2022. A pop-up in Urbanspace Vanderbilt recently opened to join in the rotation of chef-driven artisanal food concepts, engage with the local community, and build a dialogue with consumers ahead of the flagship launch. The roll out will then span major hubs across the US.
Bloomberg reports that NEAT’s most recent value is $100 million.
Target Audiences & Investors for Neat Food
A recent press release describes how Neat gained a reputation for its “pioneering approach” that embraced flexitarian and plant-based consumers alike. Neat plans to debut its award winning burger patty, fish filet, and a range of other IP-owned products by the end of 2022. With a focus on high quality, fresh ingredients and taste, Neat wants to provide diners with a plant-based Alternative that’s also ethical, sustainable, and delicious.
- All of NEAT’s plant-based food is suitable for vegans and is allergen and GMO-free.
- The ingredients combine to provide healthy products while avoiding ultra-processed ingredients. There is no added refined sugar, its emulsifiers are all plant based, and it avoids using leghemoglobin, glucose syrup, or sweeteners.
- Its signature patty has a lower fat content than other plant-based and meat equivalents.
- The company’s proprietary manufacturing process imbues the products with appealing consistency and texture.
Part of the product line’s allure is its celebrity investor group.
DiCaprio is not the only famous name associated with Neat foods. The plant-based company was co-founded by 7-time Formula One world racing champion Lewis Hamilton, alongside Zack Bishti, who owns the Cirque le Soir nightclubs in London, Manchester, Barcelona, and Mykonos. Another prominent investor is Italian entrepreneur Tommaso Chiabra, who was one of the first backers of the US vegan burger maker Beyond Meat.
Hamilton, who stopped eating meat in 2017, is the UK’s richest sportsperson, with a net worth of $285 million (£218 million).
As part of its mission to save the planet, one bite at a time, Neat is working with Eden Projects on its large scale reforestation initiatives. In 2021 Neat funded the planting of over one million trees in Madagascar, and it is now planting 50,000 mangrove trees with a concurrent goal to reach the same number of Instagram followers. The mangroves are being planted in Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, and Nepal.
Such climate activism is in keeping with the company’s plant-based essence, as meat and dairy accounts for around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization. The company adds climate labels to its entire menu so consumers can see the positive impact Neat favorites have on the planet. Independent analysis shows Neat’s products have a carbon footprint a fraction of the size of equivalent meat products. The team at Neat has worked to achieve low CO2e scores, with its average carbon footprint already well below 0.5kg.
They’re promising to keep it that way.
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