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Leonardo DiCaprio backs London vegan burger startup Neat Burger

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Leonardo DiCaprio has become an investor in the Lewis Hamilton-backed, plant-based restaurant chain Neat burger.  (Getty Images)
Leonardo DiCaprio has become an investor in the Lewis Hamilton-backed, plant-based restaurant chain Neat burger. (Getty Images)

Neat Burger, the plant-based restaurant chain backed by Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, has bagged Leonardo DiCaprio as an investor in its latest fundraising.

The London-based firm said the Hollywood actor had become a “strategic investor” as part of its latest fundraise, which focused predominantly on US investors.

Neat Burger founder Tommaso Chiabra told the Standard: “People like Leonardo think like we do and know how much needs to be done, and how much the animal farming industry can be disrupted.

“The fact Leonardo has embraced our mission and come on board is astonishing — it shows how much we can do to bring change to the world.”

DiCaprio, an outspoken figure on environmental issues, said in a statement: “Disrupting our food system with sustainable alternatives is one of the key ways we can make a real difference in reducing global emissions.”

Meat and dairy accounts for around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation.

Neat Burger, established in 2019, said independent analysis shows its products have a carbon footprint a fraction of the size of equivalent meat products.

The proceeds from the new fundraising, which weren’t disclosed, will be used to help the company meet global growth goals and launch a new supermarket range.

Neat Burger currently has sites in London and a pop-up site in New York, but plans to open a flagship store in New York in the autumn. Locations in Italy and the Middle East this year, via owned and franchised sites, are also planned.

The company hopes to have 42 sites globally by the end of 2022, rising to 436 by the end of 2026.

Chiabra said his firm’s ambitious targets could be reached “very comfortably” given the dining revolution caused by the pandemic. Many more people had embraced online and virtual dining, he said, and his company’s new sites will include so-called ‘online stores’, sometimes called ‘dark kitchens’, which solely service online orders.

The Neat Burger range (Neat Burger)
The Neat Burger range (Neat Burger)

Chiabra said the current funding round was aiming to secure $30 million, but that it was likely that there would be excess demand.

“We were oversubscribed in our previous funding round and it looks like we’ll be oversubscribed for this one too,” he said.

The fundraising, which follows a $7 million investment round in October last year, will also be used to help the firm establish a range of products in US and UK supermarkets by the end of the year.

“Consumers want healthier choices and we have had demands from customers to launch a supermarket range,” Chiabra said. “It’s a very organic step, and is being taken because of demand from our customers.”

Any supermarket products would likely appear in the UK first and then the US, he said.

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