Following an incredibly busy end to the second quarter in June, this July 2022 marked a steady start to the third quarter for the cellular agriculture field. While this July did not continue the trend of new investments or government funding initiatives, companies in the cellular agriculture field continued to advance the future of food with cell-cultured food products.
From new partnerships to product launches, we look at what happened this July 2022 in cellular agriculture.
Cell-based meat company MeaTech 3D announced a partnership with Singaporean cell-cultured seafood startup Umami Meats.
According to the announcement, the two cellular agriculture companies signed a memorandum of understanding to develop 3D-printed cell-cultured seafood products for seafood species that will “experience severe supply-side shortages in the coming years.”
Although the announcement did not specify which seafood species, Umami Meats previously shared that the company is focusing on developing cell-cultured Japanese eel as well as red snapper and tuna. In March 2022, Umami Meats raised $2.4 million in pre-seed funding.
While there is no timeline for the partnership, MeaTech noted that its partnership with Umami Meats opens the door into the Asian market for the company, particularly Singapore, as the first country to give regulatory approval for the sale of cell-based meat.
At the end of July, cell-based meat company SuperMeat announced a partnership with Migros, Switzerland’s largest retail supermarket chain and leading meat manufacturer.
According to the announcement, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to accelerate the production and distribution of cell-cultured meat on a commercial scale. As part of the partnership, Migros will also invest in SuperMeat.
Considering Migros’ work in retail and food service, SuperMeat believes Migros is strongly positioned to understand consumer needs for its cell-based meat and propose products that will match the needs of European customers.
The announcement continues SuperMeat’s effort to form a range of partnerships to accelerate the scaling of its cell-based chicken meat.
In March 2022, SuperMeat announced a strategic partnership with Japanese food and biotech corporate Ajinomoto to establish a viable supply chain platform for the cell-based meat industry.
At the same time, SuperMeat also announced a partnership with European poultry giant PHW Group to be one of the first companies to manufacture and distribute cell-cultured meat on a large scale.
More recently, SuperMeat partnered with biotech company Thermo Fisher Scientific to set up the world’s largest open high-throughput screening system for cell-based meat production components in June.
Moving forward, Migros plans to continue supporting the cellular agriculture field. In September 2021, alongside Buhler and Givaudan, Migros announced the Cultured Food Innovation Hub to develop cellular agriculture products in Switzerland.
In May 2019, Migros’ venture arm, M Ventures, previously invested in Aleph Farms’ Series A funding round.
Cell-cultured seafood company Shiok Meats announced a partnership with Vietnamese shrimp company Minh Phu Seafood. According to the memorandum of understanding, the two companies will establish a satellite R&D facility in Vietnam to research sustainable seafood.
In addition to the facility, Shiok Meats and Minh Phu will explore opportunities to develop, produce, market, and distribute cell-cultured shrimp products. As its first partnership with an established seafood corporate, the partnership is a milestone for Shiok Meats. Shiok Meats previously set up satellite research facilities in Thailand and Australia.
Cell-cultured dairy company Perfect Day announced a new partnership with Myprotein, a leading online sports nutrition brand, to launch a protein powder product. Called Whey Forward, the product contains Perfect Day’s cell-cultured whey proteins produced via acellular agriculture (also known as precision fermentation).
In November 2021, Perfect Day partnered with wellness brand Natreve to use its cell-cultured dairy proteins to produce an animal-free whey protein powder called Mooless whey protein. At the same time, Perfect Day also launched its own whey protein powder brand through the Urgent Company: California Performance Co.
Cell-based meat company SCi-Fi Foods claims to have developed the first bovine cell line that can grow in single-cell suspension without using microcarriers. Without including microcarriers in the bioreactor, SCi-Fi Foods believes it can grow more cells for cell-based meat at a higher density in its bioreactors.
As the field looks to scale, cell density in bioreactors will impact how companies can scale their production processes. SCi-Fi Foods claims it achieved the breakthrough through CRISPR gene-editing technology and plans to develop hybrid meat products through blending with plant-based components.
Earlier in July, the European Parliament held its first debate about the future of food with cell-based meat. Organized by European Parliament Members Tilly Metz and Ulrike Muller, the discussions focused on the potential sustainability benefits of cell-based meat and the need for funding to help the field scale and achieve its sustainability goals.
Debate attendees included different players in the European cellular agriculture field, including Mosa Meat, Cellular Agriculture Europe, and Good Food Institute Europe.
Considering the importance of government support and regulation to advance the field, it is promising to see the European Parliament engage in a debate about cell-based meat.
Considering the European Parliament’s past amendments on plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, it will be important to see how its regulatory position on cellular agriculture food products will compare to its stances on plant-based products.
In addition to the debate, there has been growing funding support for the cellular agriculture field in Europe. In April 2022, the Dutch government announced €60 million ($65.4 million) in public funding to support the formation of a cellular agriculture ecosystem in the Netherlands.
Cell-cultured oil, anyone? The startup Zero Acre Farms announced that the company produced and launched a new oil product via microorganisms. Zero Acre Farms claims its cell-cultured oil is more sustainable, healthier, and functional than conventional vegetable oils like canola, soybean, or corn.
Regarding functionality and health, Zero Acre states its cultured oil has a higher smoking point than olive oil and contains heat-stable monounsaturated fats and low linoleic acid. Zero Acre’s cultured oil is currently available on its website in the US. The company aims to bring its product to retail soon. Zero Acre Farms previously raised $37 million in February 2022.
Cell-based meat company Meatable showcased its cell-cultured pork sausages. The first time the company showcased its sausage product, the Dutch startup aims to launch its first products to consumers in 2025, pending regulatory approval. Considering their popularity in Europe, Meatable chose to do cell-cultured sausages to focus on potential customers across Europe, particularly Germany and the US.
In September 2021, Meatable announced a partnership with Dutch company DSM to co-develop a cell culture media formulation for its cell-based meat production process. DSM previously invested in Meatable through its venture arm, including in Meatable’s Series A funding round in March 2021.
After showcasing the first cell-cultured Dokdo shrimp prototype in December 2021, South Korean cell-based meat startup CellMeat showcased its Dokdo shrimp products in Seoul in its first offline tasting event. From tacos to mini burgers and salads, CellMeat showcased its shrimp product in various dishes at the restaurant Sigolo.
The company also shared plans to scale production with the launch of a new production facility with a mass production capacity of 250,500 pounds per year in the first half of 2023. In April 2022, CellMeat raised $8.1 million in Series A funding. At the time, CellMeat shared plans to enter Singapore as early as 2023 to explore the commercial launch of its products.
MeliBio announced that its plant-based honey product is available for a limited time at the plant-based restaurant BAIA in San Francisco. From July to September, guests at the restaurant can order MeliBio’s honey in two dishes for its summertime menu. The collaboration comes ahead of MeliBio’s official launch at select US restaurants later this year.
While the company’s first product is a plant-based honey product, the company aims to produce a cell-cultured honey product in the future. In March 2022, MeliBio raised $5.7 million in seed funding. MeliBio first showcased its plant-based honey alternative in October 2021.
Cell-based dairy company Wilk announced the launch of a new project to develop the first yogurt using cell-cultured dairy fats. According to the announcement, developing cell-cultured fats for yogurt will serve as a proof of concept for Wilk’s cell-based technology platform to produce dairy components directly from cell cultures.
The project is expected to last approximately six months and will culminate in incorporating cell-cultured dairy fats into a yogurt product. At the same time, Wilk will continue working on producing cell-cultured human breast milk components that can be integrated into infant formula products.
Japanese fine chemicals company DIC Corporation announced an undisclosed investment in Chicago-based startup Back of the Yards Algae Sciences (BYAS). According to the announcement, BYAS has developed a heme analog using blue-green algae spirulina that it claims can enhance the taste and aroma of meat alternatives.
As part of the investment, DIC and BYAS will share algae technology to develop new products, improve process efficiency and reduce waste products. BYAS has previously worked on using its algae platform to develop an affordable and animal-free cell culture media formulation.
Cellular agriculture company New Age meats announced it is rebranding to New Age Eats as the company looks to develop cell-based pork hybrid products. According to the announcement, the company chose to rebrand to reflect its mission of developing familiar products in a new and more sustainable way.
Pending regulatory approval, New Age aims to launch its first product in 2023. In September 2021, the startup raised $25 million in Series A funding to expand its team and develop a pilot facility.
New Age joins a number of companies that rebranded as they look to bring their products to market. Previously, Upside Foods rebranded from Memphis Meats, and Bluu Seafood rebranded from Bluu Biosciences. Within the acellular agriculture sector, Clara Foods changed its brand to The Every Company while Legendairy Foods rebranded to Formo.
As the investment landscape in the future of food industry continues to grow, GlassWall Syndicate and the Good Food Institute announced the large of the Emerging Growth Consortium. The first investor group of its kind for later-stage institutional investors, the consortium aims to provide Series B and beyond investors with a formal network to increase investor capacity to support the future food field.
This July marked a steady start to the third quarter for the cellular agriculture field, from new partnerships to product showcases. Interestingly, there were no disclosed funding announcements this month.
Barring the investment associated with SuperMeat’s partnership with Migros, July was the first month since April 2020 where there were no disclosed funding announcements by a cellular agriculture food player. However, considering the economic climate, it will be interesting to see how the investment landscape shapes for the year's second half.
While this month saw the European Parliament discuss the topic of cellular agriculture, compared to previous months, this July did not continue the trend of newly announced government funding to support the field’s research and work.
At the same time, this July continued the trend of companies forming partnerships to help produce and distribute their cell-based products at scale. In particular, MeaTech 3D and Umami Meats’ partnership marks Umami Meats’ first partnership with another company in the field.
While the partnership also marks MeaTech’s first collaboration with a cell-cultured seafood startup, it continues MeaTech’s strategy to form partnerships across the alternative protein sector.
In May 2022, MeaTech shared that its cell-cultured fat subsidiary, Peace of Meat, signed a joint development agreement with mycoprotein company Enough Food to develop hybrid meat products. MeaTech previously acquired Peace of Meat in 2020.
In addition, in July 2021, MeaTech signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Israeli food corporation Tiv Ta’am to cooperate in the joint development of cell-based meat products with a particular interest in cell-based pork fat as a raw ingredient.
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