“I saw my little daughter had a difficult time turning vegetarian, as she especially missed comfort food. So, I want to make it easier for more people to give up meat!”
-Astrid Prajogo, CEO and Founder, HaoFood
Chicken-free chicken that tastes like chicken but is actually made of peanuts: it’s not just a tongue-twister, it’s also HaoFood’s mission.
Growing up in Indonesia, Astrid Prajogo had a special relationship with the ocean. When noticing coral bleaching occurring at an alarming rate because of climate change, she knew she had to do her part to stop it. While dietary change is a key way to reduce our environmental footprint, habits and taste preferences can complicate the process. On Astrid’s part, she loved food—including meat—and yet was aware of its great cost to the environment. For years she found plant-based meat products underwhelming, until she tried new products from Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Eating great plant-based meat for the first time inspired her, and she wondered if her favorite comfort food—fried chicken—could be reimagined this way.
When Astrid’s nine year-old daughter went vegetarian overnight because she felt bad for killing animals (making her mother immensely proud), she took it as her mission to create a nutritious and tasty meat alternative. Upon viewing ads from Lever promoting entrepreneurship in the alternative protein sector, Astrid got in touch with the Lever team. A few weeks later she flew out to meet several Lever staffers, who were impressed with her enthusiasm and drive and agreed to work with her to help her create a new plant-based meat company.
Several months of discussions and strategic planning later, HaoFood was born. Lever helped Astrid and HaoFood with product formulation, raising funding from other investors, team building, and connecting with co-manufacturers and other supply chain resources. When the company debuted its product in early 2021— the world’s first peanut protein-based plant-based chicken, produced using a proprietary extrusion technology—Lever helped the company secure media exposure and other public attention.
A few months later the company launched its products into a variety of Shanghai restaurants, and it hasn’t looked back since. With Lever’s assistance, Astrid transformed a personal hurdle into not just a business opportunity but a delicious option for other chicken lovers concerned about the environmental and ethical implications of their food. With animal protein accounting for roughly one quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, and with chickens accounting for 88% of farmed land animals globally, HaoFood is helping create a world in which Astrid’s daughter and others like her will not have to choose between ethics and taste.
“We want to actively contribute to reversing global warming, through providing a more sustainable choice of protein for consumers,” says Prajogo. “We are aware there will be lots of challenges that we need to conquer on our way. Hence choosing the right investor as our mission aligned partner from the beginning is extremely important.”
“We are very glad that we have a backup from Lever. Their support to us is beyond investing only, but goes further as our “shadow” founding team member. This is very precious for us, so that we can build the right foundation to make the business strong, effective and efficient.”
This work happened because of the support of people like you. Please consider donating today to build a more humane and sustainable protein supply in Asia.