July 2020: The Month in Review

Following a strong end in June, July was a remarkable start to the third quarter of 2020 for the cellular agriculture industry. Cellular agriculture is the field of producing animal products, like meat, dairy and collagen proteins, and animal fats, directly from cells without requiring animals to make them. Compared to conventional livestock agriculture, cellular agriculture offers an alternative and more sustainable way to produce the same animal products to meet the growing demand for animal products globally.
 
From massive investments to new partnerships and product showcases, the cellular agriculture field continued to progress at an incredible this July. We take a look at all the landmarks that happened this July in cellular agriculture. 

Investments

Perfect Day

At the start of July, Perfect Day made history and announced the expansion of its Series C funding round to an enormous $300 million. This is the largest funding round to date for a cellular agriculture company making the future of food. Based in Berkeley, California, Perfect Day is a startup that uses cellular agriculture to produce animal-free dairy proteins. By designing flora to produce the same dairy proteins found in milk from a cow, Perfect Day can make the same milk. Without the cow.
 
 
Perfect Day’s massive $300 million expanded Series C was led by  the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments). This total includes Perfect Day’s initial Series C of $140 million and also features investments from long-time investors Horizon Ventures and Temasek. Both Horizon Ventures and Temasek have previously co-led Perfect Day’s Series B funding round of $34.75 million alongside ADM Ventures. Temasek also led Perfect Day’s Series A round in February 2018.
 
The expanding funding round brings Perfect Days’ total funding to $361.5 million.
 
Since making their initial Series C funding announcement in December 2019, Perfect Day shared that the company has doubled its ability to produce its flora-based dairy proteins while significantly reducing their costs years ahead of expectations. 
 
Scaling production and reducing costs are among the biggest hurdles for cellular agriculture companies, and it is promising to see that Perfect Day is successfully addressing those obstacles.
 
Perfect Day plans to use the new funding to accelerate Perfect Day’s business growth, including expanding production capacity, extending their product portfolio, and exploring new partnership opportunities. Perfect Day shared that the startup will announce new commercial partnerships later in 2020 to expand manufacturing and commercialization on multiple continents.
 

Geltor

Geltor shared that the company raised $91.3 million in their Series B funding round. Geltor is a biodesign company that uses cellular agriculture to grow animal-free collagen and ingredients. Traditionally sourced from the bones and skin of livestock animals or fish, Geltor’s collagen and proteins via cellular agriculture offers an alternative and more sustainable way to produce the same animal proteins.
 
 
Geltor’s Series B financing was led by UK-based CPT Capital. The funding round also included a significant commitment from Taiwan-based WTT Investment Ltd. Returning investors in the round include Cultivian Sandbox, SOSV, iSelect Fund, the investment arm of global collagen protein company GELITA, and ADM Ventures, the venture arm of global food and feed ingredients supplier Archer Daniels Midland Company.
 
New investors in Geltor’s funding round include Blue Horizon Ventures, RIT Capital Partners, Humboldt Fund, and Pegasus Tech Ventures.
 
With the latest funding round, Geltor plans to further scale their custom ingredients-as-a-service platform to allow more companies to work with their biodesign team to develop their own ingredients. Using their biodesign platform, Geltor can develop tailored bioactive ingredients from concept to launch in 12 months.
 
By helping companies design custom proteins, Geltor aims to make it as easy as possible for their customers to transition to more sustainable and less resource-intensive products. 
 

Mosa Meat

Dutch cell-based meat company Mosa Meat shared that the company received a €5 million (approx. $5.6 million) from Bell Food Group, one of the leading meat processors in Europe. Bell Food Group previously invested €2 million in Mosa Meat during Mosa Meat’s Series A round in July 2018. In January, Mosa Meat shared that the company also received an undisclosed investment from Nutreco, a Dutch animal nutrition and fish feed group, and Lowercarbon Capital, a new venture capital fund led by Chris Sacca.
 
 
In additon to the investment, Mosa Meat also shared that the startup successfully removed fetal bovine serum from its media and reduced the price of its animal-free media 88 times since September 2019. The cell culture media is the nutritious mixture that cells grow in, which includes the cell culture serum, that provides all of the nutrients and growth factors that cells may need to replicate or differentiate into another cell type. 
 
The development of an inexpensive and animal-free cell culture media has once been described as the Holy Grail for cellular agriculture companies, and it’s promising to see Mosa Meat to continue to achieve its milestones to make scaling cellar agriculture production feasible and affordable.
 

New Age Meats

New Age Meats announced that the cell-based meat startup raised an additional $2 million in a seed extension round. Based in San Francisco, New Age Meats is a cell-based meat startup looking to bring the best practices in automation and data science into cellular agriculture to help scale production. The seed round extension was led by TechU Ventures and also featured ff Venture Capital, who previously led New Age Meats’ seed round.
 
 
The extended round brings New Age Meats’ total funding to $4.7 million. In January 2020, New Age Meats announced that the company raised $2.7 million in seed round funding to make cell-based pork.
 
New Age Meats plans to use the funding round to expand its Food Science department, implement more automation and robotics, and to continue dropping the production costs of its first product, a cell-based pork sausage. In September 2018, New Age Meats showcased the first cell-based pork sausage. Without requiring animals.
 

Turtle Tree Labs

After announcing their seed round of $3.2 million last month, cell-based dairy company TurtleTree Labs shared that the Singapore-based startup won the annual Livability Challenge by the non-profit organization Temasek Foundation. As the winner of the global competition, TurtleTree Labs was awarded a $1 million fund as well as an investment of $100,000 and a spot in the in an accelerator program from Planet Rise, a Singapore-based investment firm.

BlueNalu Signs MOU with Pulmuone

Cell-based seafood company BlueNalu announced a partnership with Pulmuone, a leader in healthy and environmentally-friendly food products in South Korea. From marketing and distribution to operations, the companies will collaborate together to bring BlueNalu’s cell-based seafood products to South Korea in the coming years. Pulmuone previously invested in BlueNalu’s $20 million Series A round in February as a strategic partner.
 
It’s promising to see BlueNalu announce a strategic partnership with a key player in both supply chain sourcing as well as marketing and distribution. Not only will partnerships reduce costs for cell-based meat companies, it will also encourage specialized vendors to help support and grow the entire cellular agriculture field.
 

Integriculture Partners with Shiok Meats

Partnerships and collaborations will build the future of food.
 
And this month, cellular agriculture companies IntegriCulture and Shiok Meats announced a partnership to help scale production of Shiok Meat’s cell-based shrimp meat through IntegrCulture’s CulNet system. By using the CulNet System, a large-scale culture system for cell-cultured products, the two companies aim to produce an inexpensive and animal-free cell culture serum to produce cell-based shrimp meat.
 
 
Based in Japan and Singapore, respectively, it’s great to see IntegriCulture and Shiok Meats partner to support developing cellular agriculture food products in Asia by overcoming this scaling challenge. The collaboration highlights how different players in the field can work together in their specialized area to help bring products to market.
 

An Urgent Brave Robot: The Perfect Partnership

After announcing the largest funding round to date for a cellular agriculture company, Perfect Day co-founders Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi shared that they teamed up with Paul Kollesoff to launch the Urgent Company.
 
The Urgent Company is a new food company looking to harness the latest in food innovation to make our food choices more sustainable. And to launch, the Urgent Company unveiled its first product - Brave Robot ice cream, a new animal-free ice cream that uses Perfect Day’s flora-based dairy proteins!
 
 
The new animal-free dairy ice cream will initially be available in California before rolling out nationally. It’s notable that the price for Brave Robot’s ice cream, $5.99 per pint, is considerably down from Perfect Day’s limited release of their own ice cream last summer.
 
While Pandya and Gandhi overlap as co-founders of both Perfect Day and Urgent Company, they shared that their work will focus on Perfect day while Kollesoff will run the Urgent Company. Similar to how Perfect Day partnered with Smitten Ice Cream, the Urgent Company's first product - Brave Robot ice cream - is the next food product to integrate Perfect Day’s innovative flora-based dairy proteins. 
 
The announcement continues Perfect Day’s strong summer. Prior to announcing their massive $300 million Series C round, Perfect Day shared that the company received an important regulatory letter from the US Food and Drug Administration to bring their animal-free whey protein to market.
 

What’s in a Name? Finding the best common name for Cell Ag Seafood

What’s in a name, and how do you come up with a name for something that has never existed before, like cell-cultured seafood? Cell-based seafood company BlueNalu hired Dr. Bill Hallman of Rutgers University to conduct a study to answer that question. According to over 3,000 Americans, the study found that ‘cell-based’ may be the most suitable common or usual name of seafood grown directly from cells. Interestingly, the study found that more than half of American consumers surveyed assumed the term ‘cultivated’ meant that the product was farm-raised.
 
 
While a common name for a food is different from product labelling, the survey highlights how cellular agriculture companies, particularly cell-based meat and seafood ones, will need to find an appropriate name to clearly communicate how their products are different from conventional animal products and its benefits. It would also be interesting to observe how the best common name for cell-based seafood would differ if the survey was expanded beyond the US.
 

Bringing Home the Cell-Based Bacon

This month, UK startup Higher Steaks became the first cell-based meat company to showcase both a cell-based bacon and pork belly product. According to CEO Benjamina Bollag, the pork belly product contains up to 50% cell-based meat and the bacon product contains 70% cell-based meat. Higher Steaks also stated that they did not use any fetal bovine serum in their production process, a major milestone in the startup’s product development. Having recently moved the team to Cambridge, UK, the startup aims to have a larger product showcase later in the year.
 
 

KFC Russia Looks at Cell-Based Nuggets

KFC Russia surprised many this month by announcing that the restaurant chain is partnering with 3D Bioprinting Solutions to test a cell-based chicken nugget product this fall in Moscow, Russia.
 
According to the press release, KFC Russia is looking to develop the “Meat of the Future” as a result of the growing demand and popularity of alternatives to conventional meat. And, by offering a more sustainable way to produce the same animal products, KFC Russia has turned to cellular agriculture to do so.
 
Partnering with 3D Bioprinting Solutions, an innovative company exploring novel uses of their bioprinters, the chicken nugget will be a blend of both cell-based chicken and plant-based ingredients. KFC will provide the all the ingredients, like breading and spices, to get their signature KFC chicken taste.
 
While KFC Russia aims to test a cell-based chicken nugget product this fall, there are currently no plans to launch a product to market this year or next year. At the same time, it is still promising to see KFC Russia jump into the cellular agriculture ecosystem and look to bring a product to market.
 
Interestingly, 3D Bioprinting Solutions was part of the international collaboration along with Aleph Farms, Finless Foods, and Meal Source Technologies that grew the first piece of cell-based meat in outer space on the International Space Station in October 2019.
 

Cubiq Foods Launches Smart Fat

Spanish company Cubiq Foods announced the launch of its Smart Fat product, a vegan alternative to animal fat. According to the company, the Smart Fat product behaves just like animal fat in product formulation for plant-based foods. Along with the announcement of their smart fat, Cubiq Foods also shared it is continuing to develop their cell-cultured omega 3 fats. In May 2020, Cubiq Foods shared that the company raised €5 million ($5.5 million) from Blue Horizon Ventures to complete their latest funding round.
 

In the world of Plants: Plant-based News Roundup

Beyond Meat
Beyond Meat is finger lickin’ good. At the same time KFC Russia announced its interest in cell-based meat, KFC in the US announced that the fast-food restaurant chain will sell the plant-based Beyond Meat Chicken product at more than 50 locations in southern California. In August 2019, Beyond Meat did its first Beyond Chicken taste test launch at a KFC in Atlanta, Georgia. And within hours, the Atlanta location was sold out. After a larger test trial  of the plant-based chicken earlier this year, KFC is now prepared to launch the Beyond Meat Chicken across greater Los Angeles and San Diego.
 
Impossible Foods
Plant-based meat company Impossible Foods announced that their Impossible Burger product will now be available at 2,100 Walmart stores in all 50 states. Walmart is a massive distribution channel for the plant-based meat company, and it highlights how Impossible Foods has focused its expansion into retail this year. Since the start of the year, the Impossible Burger product is now available in over 8,000 stores, including Trader Joe’s, Kroger, and Wegmans.
 
Oatly
Got oat milk? Oat milk company Oatly announced a massive $200 million investment round. The funding was led by Blackstone Growth and also included investments from Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, and former Starbucks chairman and chief executive Howard Schultz. Considering that Perfect Day announced an expanded Series C round earlier this month, it’s clear there there is a growing interest for alternatives to conventional dairy milk among investors.

Conclusion

From massive investment rounds to new partnerships and product showcases, July was an incredible month for the cellular agriculture field.
 
As the field continues to grow, there continues to be opportunities for companies to enter and form partnerships to support scaling production in the field. As BlueNalu’s partnership with Pulmuone and Integriculture and Shiok Meat’s partnership highlight, there are plenty of opportunities for both companies within and outside the cellular agriculture to help support the ecosystem. To build the future of food.
 
Along with the partnerships, the cellular agriculture food landscape pushed through and hit a major milestone this month. After Geltor announced its $91.3 million Series B this summer,  more than $1 billion has been invested into cellular agriculture companies with a focus on food.
 
This is an incredible landmark for the field. With over $1 billion in investments, the milestone highlights cellular agriculture’s potential to make our food system more sustainable.
 
In spite of the pandemic, the reality is that during the first 7 months of 2020, more than $490 million has been invested into the field. Nearly half of all investments. It’s an incredible landmark and promosing for what it is to come next.
 
Including Geltor’s recent funding round, 3 of the largest funding rounds for cellular agriculture companies took place in 2020. From Memphis Meat’s Series B in January 2020 to Perfect Day’s expanded $300 million Series C round, there will likely be more sizable investments in the field as the industry continues to grow and more companies reach their scaling milestones.

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