- Israel-based cultured meat company Aleph Farms received $105 million in a Series B investment round, bringing its funding to date up to $119.4 million, according to Crunchbase. It plans to use the money to prepare for a 2022 product launch by scaling up manufacturing facilities, growing international operations, and expanding its product lines and tech platform.
- The round was led by L Catterton's Growth Fund and DisruptAD, which is one of the largest venture platforms in the Middle East. Other participants include international food giants Thai Union, BRF, CJ CheilJedang, and more funds from existing investors Strauss Group and Cargill. Skyviews Life Science was another new investor in this round, and existing investors VisVires New Protein, Peregrine Ventures and CPT Capital also participated.
- There is only one company currently approved to make cultured meat for public consumption — Eat Just's Good Meat in Singapore — but many other companies are getting closer to being able to make large quantities of cultured meat, and say they are working with regulators to gain approval for sale. In the release, Aleph Farms says it is working with regulators, but does not say where.
As many cell-based meat companies are constructing and operating pilot plants and raising massive amounts of funds to accelerate potential product launches, it's not surprising that Aleph Farms has drawn so much money and from such a diverse group of investors. After all, the company made the world's first cell-based minute steak in 2018, 3D printed cell-based meat in space in 2019, and unveiled the first cell-based ribeye steak earlier this year.
While the world's first cell-based meat product has already gone on the market, there is much speculation as to where the second one will appear and which company will provide it. Aleph Farms has already made several key partnerships and commitments to different geographic areas. In the last year, it's signed partnerships with Brazil's BRF S.A., which participated in this funding round. And in Japan, the company plans to start a push into Asia by making meat with help from Mitsubushi Corp., Bloomberg reported. Aleph Farms even has a formal project dedicated to creating cell-based meat in space, and is working with several national space programs.
These funds — and the partnerships that go with them — further Aleph's reach and technology. DisruptAD, one of the leaders in this round, is part of the sovereign fund of Abu Dhabi. DisruptAD's investment is in part to help bolster the future food security of the United Arab Emirates, which needs to import about 90% of its food. Aleph Farms will evaluate building a facility to produce meat in Abu Dhabi to supply the UAE and region.
As cell-based meat providers get closer to scaling their products and have something ready for regulatory approval, this space has seen a lot of action. In the last month, pilot plants have started operation for Israel-based Future Meat Technologies, which is working first on cell-based chicken, and California-based Wildtype, which is making cell-based salmon. California's Upside Foods — previously known as Memphis Meats — continues to build out its pilot plant. CEO Uma Valeti said last month at the virtual Future Food-Tech conference that the company is close to finalizing its first chicken product and confident it will receive U.S. regulatory approval in the next year. California-based Eat Just, which is also pursuing a U.S. launch for its Good Meat, closed a $170 million funding round for its cell-based meat division in May.
With funds, facilities coming online and maturing technology in the cell-based sector, the real question may be which country will be the next with a regulatory framework to approve products so they may enter the market. Because this kind of meat is so new, each country is working to create its own requirements to ensure that products are safely produced and good for mass consumption. Aleph Farms' sprawling footprint just about guarantees its products should be among the first that consumers get to sample.