US – Eclipse Foods, a maker of plant-based dairy products, has raised more than US$40 million in a Series B funding round, to further drive growth in the plant-based market.

The company plans to use the investment to expand the marketing and distribution of its ice cream, and invest in Research and Development.

The funding will also help the company transition from a plant-based ice cream company to a full-service plant-based dairy provider, with products in several different categories.

The round was led by Sozo Ventures, a firm with strong ties to Japan that co-founder of Eclipse Aylon Steinhart said will help Eclipse eventually expand into the Asian market.

Forerunner Ventures, Initialized Capital, Gaingels, and KBW Ventures also participated in this round, which has brought the funding to more than $60 million, according to Eclipse.

Unlike other plant-based dairy companies, Eclipse didn’t start out wanting to turn a single ingredient into a dairy substitute, instead, it started out with the desire to put together a basic platform that could be used to remake many dairy products, Steinhart revealed.

The startup launched its ice cream in late 2019, with the plan that its creamy dessert would first win over restaurant diners, then spread into retail and other dairy products.

Steinhart said that while Eclipse is still building its name as an ice cream brand, the company plans to launch completely different plant-based dairy products starting at the beginning of next year.

He believes the funds could help Eclipse transform the plant-based dairy segment because its process and products are different than those of its competitors.

Steinhart pointed out that nearly seven in 10 people are lactose intolerant, and Eclipse uses its technology and formula to make something that is more like traditional dairy than plant-based.

The co-founder stated that Eclipse’s formula blend of cassava, potato, and corn is part of the secret of its success, which gives products a similar taste, texture, and mouthfeel.

The formula blend attributes are similar to other dairy counterparts and can be used to make any plant-based dairy product.

The blend works so well as a stand-in for dairy because it behaves like Casein proteins that naturally organize into large clumps called micelles, which give dairy a lot of its taste and function, Steinhart revealed.

The company makes the blend using a mechanical process that is not expensive compared to biotech or any other process of plant-based processing technology, according to Aylon Steinhart and Thomas Bowman, the founders.

This versatility, Steinhart said, helps Eclipse compete with dairy ice cream in price as it strives on creating a superior and creamy plant-based ice cream.

The company aims to take a substantial stake in the market share from conventional dairy, which Steinhart said there’s incredible white space for non-dairy ice cream and only 3% of options are plant-based.

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