- Cultivated meat maker Vow closed a $49.2 million Series A round, the largest to date for any company in the space. The round was co-led by Blackbird and Prosperity7 Ventures. Other participants include Toyota Ventures, Square Peg Capital, Peakbridge and Tenacious Ventures.
- Vow, which is based in Australia, will use the funds for future product development, manufacturing expansion and hiring. The company has launched Morsel, a brand it plans to launch in Singapore next month. Vow also has plans to launch in the U.S. and Australia in 2023.
- As the economy has tightened worldwide, investments in cultivated meat companies have largely slowed down. This is the largest fundraising round in the space since Upside Foods’ $400 million round in April.
Vow has always stood out from other cultivated meat companies.
While many businesses in the sector focus on commonly consumed species, such as chicken, beef, pork and seafood, Vow looks at a broader spectrum.
Its Morsel brand, which is scheduling private tastings in Singapore, is making Japanese umai quail. In 2020, Vow held a tasting event with cultured meat from six different animals: kangaroo, alpaca, goat, pork, rabbit and lamb. Company leaders have mentioned zebra, yak and Galapagos tortoise as potential meat products for Vow in previous interviews.
Co-founder and CEO George Peppou told Australian business publication Future Alternative that focusing on more exotic animals for cultivated meat frees the company from having to take on technical challenges to meet consumer expectations. People know what chicken looks and tastes like, but they don’t have a frame of reference for tortoise meat.
This differentiator, plus the company’s unique positioning in the market, helped it draw its large financing round. Last month, Vow opened in Sydney what it called the largest cultivated meat facility in the Southern Hemisphere. The company says it can produce 30 tonnes (nearly 66,139 pounds) of cultivated meat annually.
Co-founder and CEO George Peppou told TechCrunch they are producing between one and 10 kilograms of meat every few days. This funding round will help Vow build a second factory, which the company told Future Alternative will have the capacity to produce 100 times the amount of meat as its first plant. The company is projecting the second production location will be operational in 2024.
Vow’s application to sell cultivated meat in Australia is pending. The country already has a process in place to approve cultivated meat products, Future Alternative reported, so Vow’s products could become available in its home country next year. Peppou told TechCrunch they are also interested in a U.S. launch, but the lack of a clear pathway for regulatory approval makes it difficult to estimate when that could happen.
Not only does Vow have a different spin on cultivated meat, a new facility and a potential shorter track to regulatory approval in multiple countries, it also has a secret ingredient.
In 2021, Vow entered an agreement with Nourish Ingredients, an Australian company that makes animal fats through precision fermentation. Nourish’s fats will be added to Vow’s meats, making an end product that is closer to the taste, mouthfeel and texture of meat. Even without consumer taste and texture expectations, the addition of fats will make Vow’s products more desirable.