- Dutch cell-based meat maker Mosa Meat announced $55 million in new funding as part of a larger Series B round. The company, known for making the first cell-based hamburger in 2013, plans to use the money to extend its pilot plant, develop an industrial-sized production line, expand its team and work toward an actual product launch.
- The funding was led by Blue Horizon Ventures. Other participants include Bell Food Group and M Ventures. Regina Hecker, a partner at Blue Horizon, is also joining Mosa Meat's board to focus on science, scaling and regulatory issues.
- Cell-based meat companies worldwide have been raising funds, building out production facilities and making prototypes, but there are no products on the market anywhere yet. Because these offerings represent a completely new way of making food, countries are still figuring out how they should be regulated. Mosa Meat's announcement said the company does not have a target date for product introduction, but the company will be working with European regulators to demonstrate safety.
While the pandemic has slowed a lot of economic activity, it seems to have had no adverse impact on funding for companies that are bringing cutting-edge technology to food. This funding round, which represents nearly five times the total fundraising Mosa Meat had previously done in its history, is further proof of the value investors are placing on this technology.
Mosa Meat has had a big year with major technological breakthroughs. It started 2020 with two key partnerships. Animal nutrition company Nutreco signed on to help Mosa Meat develop the nutrient-filled medium where the cells are grown. Lowercarbon Capital, an influential funder that puts money toward companies taking big steps to slow climate change, also pledged its support.
During the summer, Most Meat moved to its new pilot plant and removed pricey fetal bovine serum from its cell-growing medium. Today, according to the funding announcement, the cell-growing medium is 88 times less expensive.
Considering that Mosa Meat is a true first mover in the cell-based meat space, it makes sense that it would be among the first to push toward getting products on the market. In an interview in January about the Nutreco and Lowercarbon Capital partnerships, CEO Maarten Bosch told Food Dive the largest issues the company needed to work through were price and scale. Mosa Meat's first hamburger cost $280,000 to make, though the cost was mainly due to the price of the fetal bovine syrup.
"We're able to make a few hamburgers, but we need to make millions or billions of hamburgers," Bosch said in January. "It's about scaling up the process and bringing down the costs. And that's something that's not going to happen overnight, obviously. ... We're hoping to enter the market in a couple of years with a relatively small scale and relatively still a high price.
"But that's not the big vision. The big vision is that we want to have a global impact and want to offer delicious meat at a very competitive price," he said.
Bosch told Food Dive Mosa Meat was hoping to have cell-based hamburgers on the market in Europe in the first half of 2022.
Pandemic aside, 2020 was going to be a big year for the cell-based meat industry. As the decade opened, many players were getting to the point where they were ready to scale-up and build pilot plants to begin manufacturing products in a larger quantity.
According to a report from the Good Food Institute, the first quarter of 2020 brought cell-based meat companies a total of $189 million in funding — more than double the $77 million that was invested in them in all of 2019. It also was more than had been invested in the segment in its history. Memphis Meats, BlueNalu and New Age Meats have also banked large funding rounds this year.
Though it may seem strange that so much capital is flowing to high-tech food makers during a worldwide economic slowdown, investors have said the pandemic may actually be driving some of these investments.
Arama Kukutai, a co-founder and partner at Finistere Ventures, told Food Dive this summer that many investors want to continue supporting companies they believe are working to make a difference in the food space. The economic recovery from the pandemic is likely to be difficult, and if companies need to spend time searching for investment in 2021, they may lose momentum.
With this investment, Mosa Meat has the capital it needs to continue its mission, as well as the support from a new board member with expertise in the areas the company still needs to tackle. While the pandemic may have gotten the company — or European regulators — off track for a 2022 product launch, progress will undoubtedly continue.