Good Meat approved to sell serum-free cultivated meat in Singapore

Good Meat announced today it has received regulatory approval from the Singapore Food Agency to use serum-free media for the production of its cultivated meat. The brand, which is the cultivated meat division of U.S.-based food startup Eat Just, says it is the only cultivated meat producer in the world with the ability to sell to consumers. Its lab-grown chicken is currently available in Singapore, where Eat Just gained regulatory approval to sell its lab-grown chicken meat in 2020.

“Today’s news is another historic milestone for us and for the entire industry as it brings us all closer to a more scalable and sustainable production of real meat without slaughter,” said Eat Just head of communications Andrew Noyes. “Our R&D team worked diligently to replace serum with other nutrients that provide the same functionality and their hard work over several years paid off.”

The latest approval from the SFA means Good Meat will be able to sell chicken meat cultivated without using animal serums. Serums like fetal bovine serum (FBS), which is made from the blood of fetuses extracted from cows during the slaughter process, are usually needed for cells from a living animal to duplicate. Finding way to produce cultivated meat without animal serums is one of the key challenges alternative protein startups are trying to solve.

Good Meat is currently working on its Singapore production facility, which it says will house the largest bioreactor (a 6,000-liter vessel built with ABEC) in the cultivated meat industry. Once it opens next year, the facility will be capable of using the serum-free production process and producing tens of thousands of pounds of meat.

Eat Just’s backers include the Qatar Investment Authority (the sovereign wealth fund of the state of Qatar), Vulcan Capital and C2 Capital Partners, which has Alibaba as its anchor investor.

The Singaporean government has supported alternative protein startups as the island nation seeks to make its food industry more self-sustaining. In a statement, Singapore Economic Development Board executive vice president Damian Chan said, “Good Meat is a key member of our growing ecosystem of more than 70 alternative protein companies and we look forward to their continued contributions in driving agrifood innovation from Singapore for the region and beyond.”


Good Meat approved to sell serum-free cultivated meat in Singapore by Catherine Shu originally published on TechCrunch

Meati Foods sinks teeth into $150M to expand its mushroom-root meat operations

Meati Foods, which is developing the Eat Meati brand of proteins made from mushroom root, is poised to begin shipping its plant-based meat product later this year after closing on $150 million in new Series C funding.

The round, which gives the company $278.6 million in total funding, according to Crunchbase data, was led by Revolution Growth, with participation from existing and new investors, including CPP Investments, Grosvenor, Wellington Management and Chipotle Mexican Grill’s new venture fund, Cultivate Next. Meati is among Cultivate’s first cohort of investments.

Founded in 2017, Meati makes whole-cut meats that are 95% mushroom root and have as much as 17 grams of protein, 12 grams of dietary fiber and a healthy dose of zinc and vitamin B12.

The company is among a handful of startups leveraging mycelium, the structural fibers of fungi, to make healthier protein options than traditional animal products. Fellow companies include Perfect Day, MyForest Foods and Fable Food.

We profiled Meati in 2021, when the company announced $46 million in both equity and debt investments. At that time, co-founder and CEO Tyler Huggins, who started Meati with Justin Whiteley, had 30 employees and was starting a pilot plant.

Today, it has 150 people and made its retail debut this month in restaurants throughout Colorado and Arizona after selling mainly online. Meati has had “multiple months of record sellouts” online, and the company has plans to expand its national footprint in the U.S. by 2023, Huggins said.

The new funding enables the company to complete its over 100,000-square-foot Mega Ranch facility in Colorado. Once it ramps up, the facility will have the capability of producing over 45 million pounds of product. In addition, the company is also breaking ground on its first Giga Ranch, a facility it will replicate all over the world, with plans to produce hundreds of millions of pounds annually.

“We will be, at that point, one of the largest single ‘beef’ producers in the United States,” Huggins told TechCrunch. “We will set the gold standard for how we can produce in a clean, nutritious, delicious and sustainable way.”

Huggins plans to get Meati into “10,000 doors by the end of 2023,” with a goal of reaching a $1 billion in revenue run rate by 2025. For now, “it’s more of an issue for us to supply and demand in order to move as fast as we possibly can,” he added.

Indeed, how companies in the plant-based and cultivated meat sectors scale to meet consumer demand has long been a burning question, especially as companies like Meati and UPSIDE Foods take in hundreds of millions of dollars in funding.

For example, this week, Meatable, a Dutch company in the cultivated meat space, unveiled its first pork sausage product but told my colleague Paul Sawers that it is still looking at another three years before it launches commercially.

Therefore, it is promising to finally see companies like Meati and UPSIDE Foods announce how closer they are to broader commercialization of their products.

“The research is done,” Huggins said. “It’s now time to scale. We are continuing to finish out our production facility with the Mega Ranch and lay the groundwork for the Giga brands. We want to have the support mechanisms of staff in place to make sure that we can support this rapid growth.”

Yo! Egg cracks into US restaurants with plant-based sunny-side-up, poached eggs

Plant-based food options are increasingly becoming more of a fixture in the grocery aisles and restaurants, and Yo! Egg is getting in on the action, poised to launch in U.S. restaurants this year with what CEO Eran Groner says is “the world’s first plant-based sunny-side-up and poached eggs.”

The global plant-based eggs market is expected to rise an average of 27% year over year by 2027 to reach just under $800 million in value, up from $148 million in 2020.

The Israel-based company was founded by Groner in 2019. He had been in agriculture and food tech for the past 20 years. He felt there was whitespace in the plant-based egg and seafood space and began looking at the problems, especially the amount of water needed to produce each poultry egg — 53 gallons, Groner said.

“Not to mention the diseases,” he added. “We learned in April there was a case recorded by the CDC of a person testing positive for avian influenza. That is a disease that, for a very long time, was thought could not be transferred to humans. Those are major problems that I became fascinated with solving, and I know that the only way to solve that is to remove the animals from the building.”

Yo! Egg, plant-based egg

Yo! Egg team Image credit: Yo! Egg

That’s when he met one of his co-founders, Yosefa Ben Cohen, who was a long-time vegan and chef working on solutions for restaurants, and the idea for Yo! Egg (Groner chose “yo” to mean “wow”) came about.

Most of the startups tackling this space, including Perfeggt, Simply Eggless and Eat Just, have started with powdered and liquid varieties, but Yo! Egg is going after the more difficult “whole egg” experience, having developed an egg white and running yolk for consumers who like the taste and texture of that style of eggs but prefer a more sustainable and cholesterol-free option.

Yo! Egg is already on the market in Israel, starting in a breakfast chain that mainly serves poultry eggs.

“We could have easily chosen a vegan joint and played it safe, but no, we chose the hardest, which is a hardcore egg place, serving breakfast of all kinds,” Groner said. “They were willing to put us on our menu after tasting our product. We’ve been there since December, and now we’ve also reached major tech companies, such as Google and Facebook, and some hotels and other food service operations.”

Buoyed by $5 million in seed funding, the company will debut its products at the National Restaurant Association trade show in Chicago next week.

Following the trade show, Groner expects to have Yo! Egg products on menus in the Los Angeles area by the end of the year. The company will also use the funding to scale the sunny-side-up and poached products and to start working on hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs and baking solutions for the household.

Development of the product is pretty much done, and the company was able to grow from three full-time employees to 10 over the past couple of months, Groner said.

Scaling is a challenge with plant-based and other alternative protein products, and Groner says Yo! Egg has not been without challenges. The company had to engineer its own equipment, which took a lot of iterations, and it has already developed a third prototype. He expects the final design to produce 50,000 eggs per day, up from the current 6,000 eggs per day now.

“Our vision is to create the world’s largest egg company, not egg alternative company, and not the largest plant-based egg company, but the largest egg company without using chickens,” Groner added. “If we want to do that, we have to move as quickly as possible. That was the main reason why we wanted to raise venture capital.”

Meanwhile, the seed round was co-led by NFX and Stray Dog Capital with Surround Ventures and Secret Chord Ventures also participating.

“With over 95 billion eggs consumed every year in the U.S., and each egg requiring 53 gallons of water to produce, we need a better solution,” said Stray Dog Capital partner Jonny Ream in a statement. “After tasting Yo! Egg, we knew that this company could change the world. We are proud to support their work and excited to see their eggs on menus everywhere.”

Is cell-cultured meat ready for prime time?

Meat has been part of the human diet since before we found fire, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the production of meat at scale is more of a detriment to the environment and the world than a benefit.

Across cultures and geographies, animals have been such a vital part of the food chain that it’s hard to imagine a world where animals are not put to the knife to produce protein.

There’s no stopping innovation, however, and alternative sources of protein are increasingly becoming a choice people would rather make.

Cell-cultured meat is one such source. Also known as cultivated or lab-grown meat, this process uses cells from animals to make meat without slaughter. While the nascent sector is a hot topic for the benefits it promises, the process remains slow and costly.

Investments in this sector are heating up, though. If 2021 was anything to go by, there is an abundance of both companies and investors hungry for ways to scale and speed up the process — and do it profitably.

However, it’s not yet clear when meat grown in labs will reach the kind of scale required to see it at your local grocery store.

This is not a revolution, it is a transformation, and it is going to take time. Friederike Grosse-Holz

High steaks

Cell-cultured meat owes its growing popularity, at least in part, to some of the macro challenges the world faces with food production. Overcultivation, human-made climate change and diminishing sources of water are all contributing to a future where food insecurity will be a gigantic problem.

The outlook is bleak: The United Nations estimates food production will need to double to feed the nearly 10 billion people expected to populate the planet by 2050. As for protein, people around the world consumed about 324 million metric tons of meat in 2020, and that number is set to rise even further.

Changing how we cultivate and produce food is key to solving this problem, and we already have systems like vertical farming to address the problem of overcultivation, as well as protein sources other than meat. Currently, alternative protein makes up just about 2% of the animal protein market, but it is expected to increase more than 7x by 2025.

“We are trying to meet the Paris Agreement, but we can’t meet that without addressing the food system and the way we produce meat, eggs and dairy,” said Sharyn Murray, senior investor engagement specialist at Good Food Institute, a nonprofit advocating for reimagined meat production. “The conversion ratio for calories in versus calories out is seven to eight calories for a chicken for one calorie out, while plant-based is one calorie in and one out.”

Cultivated meat is just one of the approaches to meeting future demand for protein alongside plant-based and fermentation techniques. Murray and others I spoke to referred to the movement as “a massive transformation of the food system that will take time.” Meaning the shift will not happen overnight, Murray said.

There is also only one company with cell-cultured meat products available in the market currently: Eat Just, whose subsidiary GOOD Meat has received regulatory approval to produce and sell its cell-cultured meat in Singapore. Eat Just also recently received approval to sell chicken breasts made with cell cultures.

A nugget made from lab-grown chicken meat is seen during a media presentation in Singapore, the first country to allow the sale of meat created without slaughtering any animals, on December 22, 2020. (Photo by Nicholas YEO / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS YEO/AFP via Getty Images)

A nugget made from lab-grown chicken meat is seen during a December media presentation in Singapore, the first country to allow the sale of meat created without slaughtering any animals. Image Credits: Nicholas YEO / AFP / Getty Images

Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, said the movement is here even if people are not buying a lot of lab-grown meat yet.

“It is still small-scale, and the most important thing we are doing that other companies should do is focus on the design, engineering and full-scale installations of vessels and the supporting systems to make a lot of it.”

The EVERY Co. grabs $175M as it cracks code on animal-free protein products

The EVERY Co., a company that has developed a precision fermentation technology to make animal-free proteins, like eggs, is having a good 2021.

First the company, formerly known as Clara Foods, secured a deal in April with BioBrew, an investment of AB InBev’s investment arm, ZX Ventures, to brew its animal-free protein at scale. EVERY’s first egg protein will be launching as a co-branded ingredient with its first retail customer later this year.

Then today, it announced an oversubscribed Series C round of $175 million. The investment was co-led by new investor, McWin, and existing investor, Rage Capital. They were joined by other new and existing investors, including Temasek, Wheatsheaf Group and TO Ventures. Prosus Ventures also contributed to the funding, marking its first investment in synthetic biology, according to EVERY.

The latest investment brings EVERY’s total funding to $233 million. We profiled the company back in 2015 when it raised $1.7 million in seed funding. It then went on to secure another $15 million in Series A funding and $40 million in Series B funding in 2019. It changed its name to The EVERY Co. in October.

At that time, CEO and founder Arturo Elizondo said via a press release that, “Our new branding conveys our vision to fundamentally transform the food system for the 21st century so that every human, everywhere can enjoy the food they know and love without harming our planet or animals in the process.”


Arturo Elizondo, founder and CEO of The EVERY Co. Image Credits: The EVERY Co.

In addition to the name change, the company launched its first animal-free egg protein in November, called EVERY ClearEgg, making its retail debut via a partnership with cold-pressed juice brand Pressed, which is putting EVERY’s product into smoothies.

This is the culmination of seven years of work by the company, Elizondo told TechCrunch. The Series B in 2019 was about proving the technology and now with Series C, it can bring products to market and leverage the capital to drive scale, he added.

Also in the past two years, EVERY went from pre-revenue to revenue, grew from 30 employees to 60 employees, received U.S Food and Drug Administration approval for all of its products and is now selling in the U.S., Europe and Asia. In addition, the company now has two products in commercialization, including a pepsin protein, and one on the way, he added.

The new capital will enable the company to scale production, commercialize further products in its pipeline and expand into new food applications for its technology.

“We are now focused on scaling to drive adoption,” Elizondo said. “There has been a lot of press around B2C, but companies like Kellogg’s and General Mills want to catch up and launch these kinds of products, but infrastructure has not caught up. For these technologies to work and enable transition, you have to have the scale to match that. For us, we have started putting the Legos in place.”

Meanwhile, the egg market is still dominated by, well, eggs — worldwide, more than 1.3 trillion eggs are produced annually — something EVERY is working to change. The size of the company’s raise signifies that its technology is working and getting traction.

It joins with others working on similar animal-free egg products, like Simply Eggless and Eat Just, which raised $200 million earlier in the summer, and Perfeggt, a Berlin-based foodtech company poised to debut its chicken-less egg product in the first quarter of 2022. It secured $2.8 million in November.

Elizondo sees more companies in this area as “a rising tide lifts all boats” rather than competition. Instead, the battle is in awareness and getting the products just right so they can be a 1:1 ratio to real eggs.

“You can’t just make a tasty product because eggs are a functional ingredient in almost everything,” he added. “To have a shot at dominating the market, we have to allow consumers to make the transition and have a 1:1 ratio so we can have the biggest shot at giving the incumbents a run for their money.”

“It’s rare for a company to credibly claim revolutionizing a century-old industry,” said Gabriel Ruimy, managing partner of Rage Capital, in a written statement. “Arturo and the team at EVERY are doing just that.”

“The restaurant industry is one of the early adopters of new food technologies and their introduction to the consumer,” added Henry McGovern, founder of McWin Food Ecosystem Fund and AmRest, which operates over 2,300 restaurants globally. “Given our deep roots in restaurants and as a prolific investor in the leading alternative protein companies, McWin is uniquely equipped to support EVERY’s ambitious plans to bring its products to menus worldwide. Eggs are not only ubiquitous, but they are also incredibly difficult to replace; we see tremendous potential in EVERY’s revolutionary technology.”

Perfeggt brings in first capital to shell out plant-based egg alternative

Sales of plant-based alternatives, like dairy and meat, are surging in the global market, and Perfeggt wants to do the same for the egg.

The Berlin-based foodtech company is poised to debut its chicken-less egg product in the first quarter of 2022 in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Today, the company announced it raised $2.8 million in its first funding round to aid the initial launch and then expand further in Europe later in 2022.

Backers in the round include EVIG Group, Stray Dog Capital, E2JDJ, Tet Ventures, Good Seed Ventures, Sustainable Food Ventures and Shio Capital.

Perfeggt CEO Tanja Bogumil co-founded the company, which is part of Lovely Day Foods GmbH, earlier this year with Gary Lin, EVIG’s founder and CEO, and Bernd Becker, who was a long-time head of R&D for Rügenwalder Mühle, a German vegetarian and vegan meat maker.

Bernd Becker, Gary Lin, Tanja Bogumil v.l.n.r. Perfeggt

Perfeggt co-founders, from left, Bernd Becker, Gary Lin and Tanja Bogumil. Image Credits: Patrycia Lukaszewicz

“I really believe we deserve better food,” Bogumil told TechCrunch. “My mother’s family is from an agriculture background in small-scale farming, so I have always been conscious of where the food we eat comes from. I turned vegetarian at 12 when my uncle brought me to a slaughterhouse to show me that the sausages I ate were not made the right way. I didn’t fully get what was happening there, but it didn’t feel right or humane.”

Unlike dairy, where there is already sustainability, she believes the egg is still largely untapped. Sure, there are companies making similar plant-based alternatives, like Simply Eggless and Just Eat, which raised $200 million earlier in the summer, but worldwide, more than 1.3 trillion eggs are produced annually, meaning there is room to grow, and applications are versatile, Bogumil said.

Perfeggt’s first plant-based egg product is a protein-rich liquid alternative made from fava beans. It can be prepared as a scrambled egg or omelet in the pan. The company will initially be launching its product with food service organizations.

As with all food, taste is king, and with this product, the co-founders worked to create similar mouth feel, sensory, flavors and textures — all elements that Bogumil says are needed to get people to switch to a plant-based equivalent.

“This is something we spent time on figuring out,” she added. “Our product is built around the fava bean, which is very suited to mimic functionality required for these applications.”

To do this, Perfeggt’s R&D site in Emsland, Germany works closely with Wageningen University & Research, known for its life sciences research, to test plant-based protein sources and their combinations that come closest to the nutritional and functional properties of animal products.

The new funding enables the company to build out its team at its headquarters and R&D facility. The company is currently hiring for food scientists, marketing and R&D.

Meanwhile, Bogumil believes that more companies coming into the egg alternative space will help Perfeggt’s mission to shift people to plant-based foods.

“This is not a one-winner-takes-all market,” she said. “We have never in history seen alternative proteins be so close to the mainstream market. Clearly that is reflected in the capital markets, and not just for developing niche markets, but for the future of food.”

“We are incredibly impressed by the team’s rapid technological progress in developing next-generation alternative proteins and finding solutions that improve human, planetary and animal health,” Stephanie Dorsey, founding partner at E2JDJ, added in a written statement. “The egg market is a massive opportunity and this is just the beginning.”

LIVEKINDLY screams its way to the top of new plant brands with the close of a $335 million round

LIVEKINDLY Collective, the shouty parent company behind a family of plant-based food brands, has snagged cash from the global impact investing arm of $103 billion investment firm TPG to close its latest round of funding at $335 million.

The company’s fundraising shows that investors still have high hopes for plant-based food brands and that despite the money that’s flowed to companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods — and the resurgence of older brands in the category like Quorn or Kelloggs’ Morningstar Farms — there’s still a healthy appetite among investors for more brands.

LIVEKINDLY was founded by some heavy hitters from the food industry, including Kees Kruythoff, the former president of Unilever North America; Roger Lienhard, the founder of Blue Horizon; and Jodi Monelle, the chief executive and founder of LIVEKINDLY Media. Food industry veterans like Mick Van Ettinger, a former Unilever employee, and Aldo Uva, a former Nestlé employee, round out the team.

Founded as a rollup for a number of different vegetarian and alternative protein food brands, the LIVEKINDLY Collective is now one of the largest plant-based food companies, by funding.

The company said it would use the money to expand into the U.S. and China and to power additional acquisitions, partnerships and investments in plant-based foods.

The company raised money previously from S2G Ventures and Rabo Corporate Investments, the investment arm of the giant Dutch financial services firm, Rabobank.

Fundamentally, the founding investors behind LIVEKINDLY believe that the technology has a long way to go before it matures. And it’s likely that this latest round will be LIVEKINDLY’s last before an initial public offering of its own. 

“We are building a global pureplay in plant-based alternatives — which we believe is the future of food,” said Roger Lienhard, founder and executive chairman of Blue Horizon and founder of LIVEKINDLY Collective. “In just one year, we have raised a significant amount of capital, which testifies to the urgency of our mission and the enormous investment opportunity it represents. We believe the momentum behind plant-based living will continue to grow in both the private and public markets.”

As a result of its investment, Steve Ellis, co-managing partner of The Rise Fund, has joined the LIVEKINDLY Collective board of directors, effective March 1, 2021.

“We are excited to work with LIVEKINDLY Collective and its ecosystem of innovative companies and world-class leaders to meet the growing global demand for healthy, plant-based, clean-label options,” said Ellis. “The company’s unique, mission-driven model operates across the entire value chain, from seed to fork, to drive worldwide adoption of plant-based alternatives and create a healthier planet for all.”

Eat Just (the alt-protein company formerly known as Hampton Creek) has raised another $200 million

Eat Just, the purveyor of eggless eggs and mayonnaise and the first government-approved vendor of lab-grown chicken, has raised $200 million in a new round of funding, the company said.

The funding was led by the Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the state of Qatar, with additional participation from Charlesbank Capital Partners and Vulcan Capital, the investment arm of the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen.

Since its launch in 2011 as Hampton Creek, the company has raised more than $650 million all to build out capacity for its egg replacement products and its new line of lab-grown meat.

“We are very excited to work with our investors to build a healthier, safer and more sustainable food system. Their knowledge and experience partnering with companies that are transforming numerous industries were fundamental in our decision to partner with them,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, in a statement.

Eat Just’s evolution hasn’t been without controversy. In 2017, the company and its chief executive withstood a failed coup, which forced the firing of several executives. The company also saw its entire board resign in the aftermath of those firings, only to replace them with a new slate of directors months later.

In the aftermath, Hampton Creek rebranded and refocused. These days the company’s products fall into two somewhat related categories. There’re the plant-based egg replacement products and eggless mayonnaise and the lab grown chicken products that are meant to replace poultry farmed chicken meat.

Since the egg side of Eat Just’s chicken and egg business definitely came first, it’s worth noting that the company’s products are sold in more than 20,000 retail outlets and 1,000 foodservice locations. since it began selling the product, the company has moved more than 100 million eggs to roughly one million U.S. households.

The company’s eggs are also on offer in Dicos, a fast food chain in China, and it’s got a deal to put out a sous vide egg replacement product with Cuisine Solutions. The eggs are also available in Peet’s Coffee locations around the country and Eat Just has expanded its eggless distribution platform into Canada.

Then there’s the company’s GOOD Meat product. That was available for a short time in Singapore. The company expects to slash production costs and expand its commercial operations while working on other kinds of meats as well, according to a statement.

It’s a long way from where the Eat Just started, when it raised its first millions from Khosla Ventures and Founders Fund.

Bill Gates wants Western countries to eat “synthetic meat”; Meatable has raised $47 million to make it

In a recent interview discussing Bill Gates’ recent book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster“, the Microsoft and Breakthrough Energy founder (and the world’s third wealthiest man) advocated for citizens of the richest countries in the world to switch to diets consisting entirely of what he called synthetic meat in an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Gates’ call is being met by startups and public companies hailing from everywhere from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv, London to Los Angeles, and Berkeley to… um… Chicago.

Indeed, two of the best funded companies in the lab-grown meat market hail from The Netherlands, where Mosa Meat is being challenged by a newer upstart, Meatable, which just announced $47 million in new financing.

The company aims to have its first product approved by European regulators by 2023 and notching commercial sales by 2025.

Meatable has a long road ahead of it, because, as Gates acknowledged in his interview with MIT Technology Review (ed. note: I’m available for a call, too, Bill), “the people like Memphis Meats who do it at a cellular level—I don’t know that that will ever be economical.”

Beyond the economics, there’s also the open question of whether consumers will be willing to make the switch to lab grown meat. Some companies, like the San Francisco-based Just Foods and Tel Aviv’s Supermeat are already selling chicken patties and nuggets made from cultured cells at select restaurants.

These products don’t get at the full potential for cellular technology according to Daan Luining, Meatable’s chief technology officer. “We have seen the nugget and the chicken burger, but we’re working on whole muscle tissue,” Luining said.

The sheer number of entrants in the category — and the capital they’ve raised — points to the opportunity for several winners if companies can walk the tightrope balancing cost at scale and quality replacements for free range food.

“The mission of the company is to be a global leader in providing proteins for the planet. Pork and beef and regularly eaten cuts have on environmental and land management,” Luining said. “The technology that we are using allows us to go into different species. First we’re focused on the animals that have the biggest impact on climate change and planetary health.”

For Meatable right now, price remains an issue. The company is currently producing meat at roughly $10,000 per pound, but, unlike its competitors, the company said it is producing whole meat. That’s including the fat and connective tissue that makes meat… well… meat.

Now with 35 employees and new financing, the company is trying to shift from research and development into a food production company. Strategic investors like DSM, one of the largest food biotech companies in Europe should help. So should angel investors like Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, the executive chairman of Vertex Pharmaceuticals; and Dr. Rick Klausner, the former executive director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a founder of Juno Therapeutics, GRAIL, and Mindstrong Health, after leaving Illumina where he served as chief medical officer.

Institutional investors in the company’s latest round include Google Ventures founder Bill Maris’ new fund, Section 32,  and existing investors like: BlueYard Capital, Agronomics, Humboldt, and Taavet Hinrikus. 

The company’s first commercial offering will likely be a lab-grown pork product, but with expanded facilities in Delft, the location of one of the top universities in The Netherlands, a beef product may not be far behind.

“[Meatable has] a great team and game-changing technology that can address the challenges around the global food insecurity issues our planet is facing,” said Klausner. “They have all the right ingredients to become the leading choice for sustainably and efficiently produced meat.”

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California vegan egg startup Eat Just yokes itself to China’s fast food chain

Eat Just, a food startup from San Francisco making chicken-less eggs, has ambitions to crack the Chinese market where consumer appetite for plant-based food is growing and other Western vegan substitute brands like Beyond became available in recent quarters.

The startup said this week it will be suppling to fast-food chain Dicos, a local rival to McDonald’s and KFC in China. The agreement will see Eat Just add its plant-based eggs to the restaurant’s breakfast items across more than 500 locations. The eggs are derived from a legume called mung beans, which have long been a popular ingredient for soup, noodles and dessert in China.

At Dicos in major Chinese cities, consumers will find Eat Just eggs in breakfast burgers, bagel sandwiches and Western-style breakfast plates. That diversifies the Dicos plant-based menu which already includes a vegan chicken burger supplied by local startup Starfield. Dicos also offers a gateway into China’s low-tier cities where it has built a stronghold and can potentially help evangelize plant-based proteins in communities beyond China’s urban yuppies. The chain operates a total of 2,600 stores in China and serves 600 million customers a year.

Eat Just first entered China in 2019 and currently generates less than 5% of its revenue from the country, Andrew Noyes, head of global communications at Eat Just, told TechCrunch. But over time, the company expects China to account for more than half of its revenue. Ten of its 160 employees are based in China.

Eat Just’s vegan egg recipe / Photo: Eat Just

“We have been intentional about starting small, going slow and hiring people who know the market and understand how to build a sustainable business there. We’ve also been focused on finding the right partners to work with on downstream manufacturing, sales and distribution, and that work continues,” said Noyes.

The partnership with Dicos arrived on the heels of Eat Just’s announcement to set up an Asia subsidiary. The nine-year-old company, formerly Hampton Creek, has raised over $300 million from prominent investors including Li Ka-Shing, Peter Thiel, Bill Gates and Khosla Ventures. It was last valued at $1.2 billion.

Before its tie-up with Dicos, Eat Just had already been selling online in China through Alibaba and among other retail channels. Its China business is currently growing by 70% year-over-year.

While there’s no shortage of strong competition in the plant-based food race in China, Eat Just claims it’s taken a unique angle by zeroing in on eggs.

“Plant-based meat companies offer products that pair deliciously with Just Egg,” the brand name of the startup’s main product, Noyes noted.

“Plant-based foods are increasing in popularity among Chinese consumers and more sustainable eating is becoming part of a national dialogue about the feeding of the country in the future. China produces about 435 billion eggs per year and demand for protein is increasing.”

Indeed, Euromonitor predicted that China, the world’s largest meat-consuming country, would see its “free from meat” market size grow to $12 billion by 2023, compared to $10 billion in 2018.