Food startup SIMULATE just launched its NUGGS vegan chicken nuggets at 800 Walmart stores nationwide. This month, NUGGS also became available at 596 locations of bulk store Sam’s Club with a further launch of the vegan chicken nuggets planned for April 26 at 388 Target locations. NUGGS will be available in both spicy and original flavors at Target and Walmart while Sam’s Club offers the original flavor only. 

Founded in 2018 by then 19-year-old technology entrepreneur Ben Pasternak, SIMULATE—which positions itself as “the Tesla of chicken”—creates “simulations” of plant-based products and uses customer feedback to iterate versions to better approximate their animal-derived counterparts. NUGGS are made with a proprietary blend of soy and wheat and have undergone several consumer-driven iterations to bring them as close to the flavor and texture of chicken nuggets as possible without any animal cruelty. 

Previously, NUGGS were available through SIMULATE’s website ($44.99 for two, 32-ounce boxes) and select retailers. For its retail expansion, NUGGS will be sold at a suggested retail price of $5.49 for a 10.4-ounce box and $12.98 for a 32-ounce box. SIMULATE’s launch at Target, Walmart, and Sam’s Club will increase its retail footprint by 200 percent by the end of April. By the end of year, Pasternak told VegNews that NUGGS will expand to 3,200 Walmart locations. 

Simulating vegan chicken

In addition to NUGGS, SIMULATE recently released DISCS (plant-based vegan chicken patties currently in their 1.0 iteration) and plans to launch DINO NUGGS (dinosaur-shaped vegan chicken nuggets) this summer with the mission of creating alternatives to traditional chicken products that are healthier for people, animals, and the environment. “SIMULATE products’ availability at some of the largest retailers on the planet is a big step towards our mission of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable nutrition,” Pasternak told VegNews.

Last year, SIMULATE raised $4.1 million in new capital—bringing its total funding to more than $15 million—with the help of Whole Foods chief executive Walter Robb, model Jasmine Tookes, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. With the launch at Target, Walmart, and Sam’s Club, the company is expecting to increase its revenue from $8 million in 2020 to $40 million in 2021—an increase of 400 percent year-over-year.

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