Wicked Kitchen, the diversified plant-based retail and foodservice brand, has been acquired by the Ahimsa group of companies.

Included in the transaction, struck for an undisclosed sum, are the alternative-seafood lines Good Catch and Current Foods, which were acquired by Wicked Kitchen in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

Chefs and brothers Derek and Chad Sarno, who set up Wicked Kitchen in 2016 with associate Chris Kerr before taking the brand into the UK and the US, are “stakeholders in the new brand business”, according to a statement.

Ahimsa Companies is the acquiring party, confirmed by a Wicked Foods spokesperson as a holding company under the purview of the Ahimsa Foundation, which is also connected with Ahimsa VC.

Ahimsa VC was set up in 2020 in Bengaluru, India, and is centred on start-ups in the plant-based and fermentation spaces, along with cell-cultured foods. The investor took part in a $20m bridge financing round for Austin, Texas-headquartered Wicked Kitchen in 2022, taking the company’s external funding at the time to $34m.

The mantra of Niwot, Colorado-based the Ahimsa Foundation is “investing in a vegan future” to encourage a shift away from animal proteins, according to its website.

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Ahimsa Companies’ aim is to foster consolidation in the plant-based arena, where new start-ups have entered to take a slice of what was a booming category. Demand has, however, waned in the last couple of years, linked to factors such as taste and price, along with criticism some products on the market are overly processed.

Consequently, financing started to dry up and a number of companies have gone to the wall – The Tattooed Chef and The Very Good Food Company in the US and Canada, respectively, and Plant & Bean and The Meatless Farm in the UK, to name a few examples.

Matt Tullman, the group CEO of Ahimsa Companies, said the business will Target further brand acquisitions beyond Wicked Kitchen with the aim to “vertically integrate and leverage resources to build momentum”.

He added: “We've said all along that consolidation will drive success for the plant-based industry. As Ahimsa Companies brings together more brands, it can leverage this strength to help stabilise and shape the new landscape for the plant-based industry.”

Wicked Kitchen’s portfolio encompasses the whole meal occasion, from frozen and chilled ready meals, plant-based burgers sausages and seafood, to ice cream and desserts, and snacks and seasonings, among others.

The products are sold in a various mix across Wicked Kitchen’s major retail markets of the US and UK, and to a lesser degree in Thailand following a launch in 2022.
Tesco in the UK stocks more than 150 items, according to Wicked Kitchen, while the brand has a US presence with Target, Wal-Mart and Kroger.

The out-of-home channel is also served in the US and UK.

Wicked Kitchen CEO Pete Speranza said: “Wicked Kitchen is proud to join the Ahimsa Companies. We are aligned in our mission and we believe that Wicked Kitchen is stronger today and better positioned to serve the health and environmentally-conscious consumer who does not want to sacrifice on taste or convenience.”