June 2022: The Month in Review

With a wide range of announcements, from investments and product launches to new partnerships, June 2022 marked a solid end to the second quarter for cellular agriculture. As the field continues to grow globally, this month also marked announcements from new players looking to enter the field.

From new investments and funding to new partnerships and regulatory updates, we look at what happened this June 2022 in cellular agriculture.

Investments

SCiFi Foods

SCIFi Foods announced that the startup raised $22 million in Series A funding to develop cell-based meat. Formerly known as Artemys Meats, the company recently rebranded after first launching in early 2020.

SCIFi Foods with its burger prototype

According to the announcement, investment firm Andreessen Horowitz led the Series A funding round. Additionally, SCiFi Foods shared that the company has raised $29 million in total funding.

Interestingly, the company shared its plan to initially develop hybrid meat products by blending cell-based and plant-based components to get to market faster at a more affordable price point. 

SCiFi Foods will use its cell-cultured meat to develop the flavor and meat experience of its blended cell-cultured beef product while using plant-based proteins to reduce its cost. In addition, SCiFi Foods plans to use CRISPR-based gene editing on its bovine cell lines to make them proliferate more easily.

Moving forward, SCiFi Foods plans to use the funding round to expand its team and accelerate its research and development of its cell-cultured meat. 

While SCiFi Foods did not share a timeline on when the company plans to come to market, the company shared that it has been in touch with regulators. The company also moved into a 16,00 square foot facility in the East Bay area of the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

Avant Meats

At the end of June, Avant Meats announced that the startup raised $10.8 million in Series A funding. Based in Hong Kong, Avant meats is a cell-cultured seafood company that uses cellular agriculture to produce a range of seafood products.

Avant Meats' cell-cultured fish fillet

According to the announcement, Avant Meats’ funding round was led by S2G Ventures and featured investments from new investors Blue Ocean of SWEN Capital Partners, Regal Hotels, and Thia Ventures. Existing investors in the financing included Lever VC, CPT Capital, Artesian, and Alwyn Capital.

The funding round brings Avant Meats’ total investments to $13.9 million. In December 2020, the startup raised $3.1 million seed funding to develop its cell-cultured seafood products.

Avant Meats plans to use the funding round to support the construction of its pilot plant in Singapore and advance the marketing of its product globally. The company plans for its pilot plant to be operational in 2023.

As the company looks to scale production, Avant Meats claims it has achieved over a 90% cost reduction with an animal-component free cell culture medium. The company’s plans for its pilot plant include bioreactors up to 2,000 liters.

Along with its cell-cultured fish fillet and fish maw, Avant Meats also plans to develop cell-based marine peptides for the skincare and cosmetic industry. Calling the brand Zellulin, Avant Meats first announced its marine peptide product line in February 2021.

 

Eden Brew

Australian startup Eden Brew announced raising $5 million in new funding to scale its cell-cultured dairy production platform. Leveraging science developed by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, Eden Brew aims to develop animal-free dairy directly from cell cultures. 

Eden Brew dairy prototype

The startup raised the funding round from Main Sequence and Digitalis Ventures as part of an ongoing funding round to raise $20 million. Eden Brew initially raised $2.93 million when launching in August 2021

To address the scaling challenges, Eden Brew aims to initially launch regionally in Australia and then form partnerships to develop larger-scale bioreactors for its dairy products. In addition, the company aims to launch an ice cream product to market by the end of 2023.

 

Brown Foods

New startup Brown Foods raised $2.36 million in seed funding to produce cell-based dairy milk. Based in Boston and India, the startup claims to be the first company in the US to showcase cell-based bovine milk. Branding its product line UnReal Milk, Brown Foods stated it validated its prototype for the major macronutrients, proteins, fats, and carbs in conventional dairy milk. 

Brown Foods plans to use its funding round to explore scaling production and product development. Brown Foods’ funding round investors include Y Combinator, AgFunder, SRI Capital, Amino Capital, and Collaborative Fund.

 

Cocuus

What role will 3D food printing play in the future of food? Spanish startup Cocuus raised €2.5 million in pre-Series A funding to scale its proprietary technology platform to produce plant-based and cell-based meat products. 

While the company has developed a toolbox of 3D printing technologies, it claims its bioprinting and scaffold-printing technologies can produce high volumes of plant-based meats and, eventually, cell-based meat products. In addition, using robotics and mathematical modeling, Cocuus claims the company can produce high volumes of meat alternatives in a scaleable manner.

 

SuperMeat Receives Israeli Innovation Grant and Partners with Thermo Fisher

SuperMeat announced that the cell-based meat startup received a grant from the Israeli Innovation Authority. SuperMeat will use the funding to set up the world’s largest open high-throughput screening system for cell-based meat media ingredients, supplements, and scaffolds for cell-cultured meat production. 

SuperMeat's cell-based chicken burger

As part of the effort, SuperMeat partnered with Thermo Fisher Scientific, which provided the world’s most advanced screening platform and will support the development and operation of the system. SuperMeat believes the screening system will allow it to screen hundreds of materials every month and help identify high-quality ingredients with lower costs.

By optimizing the ingredients for the cell culture media formulation, SuperMeat aims to significantly lower production costs and, ultimately, provide an open standard for cell feed ingredients that can be used by cellular agriculture companies globally.

SuperMeat previously announced a strategic partnership with Ajinomoto and a memorandum of understanding with European poultry producer PHW Group in March 2022.

 

California State includes Cultured Meat Research in the Budget

In the latest California budget, the government allocated $5 million specifically to the University of California system to support the research and development of plant-based and cell-based meats. Dispersed between three campuses (UCLA, Berkeley, and Davis), the budget marks the first time that the Californian state government has dedicated funding directly to cell-based meat research and development. 

Before this announcement, in September 2020, UC Davis in California received the first major US government grant from the National Science Foundation of $3.5 million over five years for cultured meat research. In October 2021, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Tufts University announced that $10 million would be allocated to develop an Institute for Cellular Agriculture.

 

Perfect Day Partners with Mars to Launch Chocolate Bar

Cellular agriculture dairy company Perfect Day announced its latest partnership with chocolate and candy company Mars to develop a milk chocolate bar using its cell-cultured dairy proteins.

Called CO2COA, the limited-time chocolate bar is the first time Perfect Day has partnered with a company to develop a chocolate bar using its dairy proteins. In addition to Perfect Day’s dairy proteins, the CO2COA chocolate bar also contains Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa.

New CO2COA chocolate bar featuring Perfect Day's dairy proteins

The product is labeled as ‘animal-free’ dairy chocolate and contains a warning of a dairy allergen. The ingredient listing states ‘non-animal whey protein’. According to the announcement, the chocolate bar is wrapped in 83% fiber-based paper packaging. 

The announcements continue Perfect Day’s effort to form a range of partnerships to develop products using its cell-cultured dairy proteins. 

In March 2022, Betterland Foods announced its first product using Perfect Day’s cell-cultured dairy proteins: a snack bar called Woo bar. Betterland Foods first announced its partnership with Perfect Day to launch a cow-free dairy product, Betterland Milk, in February 2022.

At the end of last year, in November, Perfect Day announced a partnership with major food company General Mills to launch Bold Cultr, a new animal-free cream cheese using Perfect Day’s animal-free dairy proteins. 

Along with General Mills, Perfect Day also announced a partnership with wellness brand Natreve to use its cell-cultured dairy proteins to produce an animal-free whey protein powder called Mooless whey protein.

Moving forward, Mars shared its interest in continuing to explore the potential of alternative proteins to create more sustainable food products. In May 2019, Mars Petcare previously invested in cell-cultured pet food company Wild Earth.

 

Perfect Day and Strive Partner to develop Hybrid Milk

While many future food players are exploring hybrid meat products, Strive Nutrition partnered with Perfect Day to launch hybrid plant-based milk products containing Perfect Day’s cell-cultured whey proteins. 

Strive Nutrition's animal-free milk products featuring Perfect Day's dairy proteins

In addition to launching hybrid milk products, Strive Nutrition also announced an animal-free whole milk product line containing Perfect Day’s cell-cultured proteins called ‘Freemilk.’ According to the announcement, the animal-free whole milk contains 25% more protein and 7% less sugar and saturated fat than conventional whole cow’s milk.

Strive Nutrition plans to launch the new milk products in July. In May 2022, Perfect Day partnered with Tomorrow Farms to launch an animal-free dairy milk product line called Bored Cow.

 

IntegriCulture Launches Cellament in Skincare Product

Japanese cellular agriculture company IntegriCulture announced that its product Cellament had been adopted in a new skincare brand by the company Baseplus Co. The key ingredient, Cellament, is a cell-cultured egg-derived skincare ingredient developed through IntegriCulture’s CulNet system. 

L'oeuf by essenbase featuring IntegriCulture's Cellament

Known as l’oeuf by essenbase, the new skincare brand launched with two products: l’oeuf advanced booster serum and l’oeuf enrich moisturizing cream. According to the company, this is the second skincare brand that Cellament has been formulated as a main active ingredient. 

After confirming that the liquid supernatant from its chicken egg cell culture media can be beneficial for human skin, IntegriCulture launched Cellement in April 2021 and claims to repair and rejuvenate the skin.

 

Good Meat Breaks Ground on Second Cell-Based Meat Facility in Singapore

Good Meat, the cell-based meat subsidiary of Eat Just, announced its plans to build a second production plant in Singapore and the United States. On June 10th, Good Meat broke ground on its second facility in Singapore. According to the announcement, the company has solved fundamental design and engineering challenges associated with cell-cultured meat production.

Good Meat facility rendition for large-scale facility in the US

The company aims for the new 30,000 sq. ft. facility to be operational in the first quarter of 2023 and will feature a 6,000-liter bioreactor in partnership with ABEC. The new facility is believed to be the largest cultured meat facility to date in Asia. Once complete, Good Meat expressed interest in starting to export its products from the facility.

At the same time, while scouting for a second facility in the US, Good Meat shared plans for its first facility in the US to commence operations by the fourth quarter of 2022. The first site is in Alameda County in California.

Interestingly, Good Meat also shared plans to submit its application for cell-cultured beef before the end of the year to the Singapore Food Agency. Once approved, Good Meat plans to launch a cultured ground beef product. 

 

Remilk Receives GRAS Status in the US

Earlier in June, cellular agriculture dairy company Remilk announced that it received self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status for launching its cell-cultured dairy protein product in the US.

Remilk's cell-cultured dairy milk

Based in Israel, Remilk uses cellular agriculture to produce cell-cultured dairy proteins. By designing microorganisms to produce the same dairy proteins found in cow’s milk, Remilk aims to make the same dairy products more sustainable.

With the self-affirmed GRAS status, Remilk can now launch its cell-cultured dairy protein product and come to market in the US. At the recent Future FoodTech Alt Protein conference, Remilk gave attendees samples of its animal-free dairy ice cream made with its cell-cultured dairy proteins.

Moving forward, Remilk aims to sell its dairy proteins in the US and become an ingredients supplier to CPG companies. In addition, Remilk plans to work with regulators globally to offer its products in other countries.

The milestone marks a great start to the summer for Remilk, following a solid start to the year. In January 2022, Remilk raised a massive $120 million Series B funding, the largest funding round to date for an acellular agriculture (also known as precision fermentation) startup in Asia.

In addition, in April 2022, Remilk announced plans to build its first fully-owned facility in Kalundborg, Denmark. Spanning 750,000 square feet, Remilk claims this will be the largest facility of its kind for acellular agriculture production worldwide.

At the time of the announcement, Remilk did not clarify whether the company received self-affirmed GRAS status for its casein or whey dairy protein. Remilk also did not clarify if the company would notify the US FDA of its self-determination status.

 

Japan to Explore Regulatory Framework for Cultured Meat

At the end of June, the Japanese government announced plans to put together a team of experts to analyze the safety of cell-based meats to explore setting up a regulatory framework for the field.

According to the announcement, the team of experts will look to establish if there are any potential risks to human health from consuming cell-cultured meat products. Curated by the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry, the team will focus on the entire cell-based meat production process as part of its safety analysis.

Once the team’s report is submitted, the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry will conduct a panel to decide on necessary safety precautions. Priority focal points for the ministry include toxic substance contamination and potential consequences to human health.

As a first step towards establishing a regulatory structure, it is promising to see the Japanese government take the initiative to become the following country to develop a regulatory framework around cell-based meat after Singapore. 

The Japanese government’s interest in understanding the safety of cell-based meat highlights the growing interest in cellular agriculture in the country. In April 2022, Japanese company IntegriCulture announced the commercial launch of its animal-free cell culture media serum. IntegriCulture also plans to launch its cell-cultured foie gras product this year.

Several Japanese corporations have looked to form partnerships with cell-based meat startups. In January 2021, Aleph Farms signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mitsubishi’s Food Industry Group to bring cell-based meat to Japan. In April 2021, Mitsubishi partnered with BlueNalu to bring its cell-cultured seafood products to Asia.

More recently, in March 2022, cell-based meat company SuperMeat announced a strategic partnership with Japanese food and biotech corporate Ajinomoto. The two companies will work to establish a viable supply chain platform for the cell-cultured meat industry, focusing on developing ingredient components for an affordable and animal-free cell culture media formulation.

 

Mission Barns submits Information Package for US Regulatory Approval

Cell-based fat company Mission Barns shared that the company submitted its complete information package for regulatory approval to the USDA and FDA. Based on initial consultations with regulators, Mission Barns collected data and all the testing required to establish the safety of its cell-based fat. 

Next, the company aims to partner with plant-based meat companies to use its cell-based fat as an ingredient to make hybrid products to improve their taste and flavor. Mission Barns also shared that it moved into its new San Francisco headquarters. Spanning 32,000 sq. ft., the new headquarters also includes a pilot plant that can supply a handful of restaurants and stores with its cell-based fat. 

 

Remilk Partners with Central Bottling Company in Israel

In addition to receiving GRAS Status in the US, Remilk signed a 10-year cooperation agreement with the Central Bottling Company (CBC) in Israel, which owns the dairy company Tara Dairy.

According to the agreement, Tara Dairy will start marketing most of Remilk’s cell-cultured dairy products within a year. Remilk will produce its cell-cultured dairy proteins, and CBC will use it to create a range of products at Tara Dairy, including dairy drinks, yogurts, and semi-hard cheeses.

Before this agreement, CBC invested $2 million in Israeli cell-based dairy startup Wilk (formerly Biomilk) in July 2021. According to the R&D agreement, CBC will support Wilk’s research to accelerate the market arrival of its cell-based dairy products. As part of that deal, Wilk will transfer future products to Tara Dairy for commercial pilot production.

 

Bon Vivant Announces Partnership to Scale Dairy Production

At the start of June, French cell-cultured dairy startup Bon Vivant announced a partnership with Abolis Biotechnologies, a leading industrial biotechnology company in the country. According to the announcement, the two companies will partner to co-develop production methods for the scale manufacturing of cell-cultured dairy proteins. 

Having demonstrated lab-scale production of its dairy proteins, Bon Vivant believes partnering with Abolis will help them scale production to come to market ultimately. Previously, in April, Bon Vivant raised €4 million in funding to produce its dairy proteins.

 

Future Meat Partners with CP Foods to develop meats for the Asian market

In March 2022, Israeli cell-based meat company Future Meat Technologies announced a partnership with Charoen Pkphand Foods (CP Foods), a leading agri-industrial and food business conglomerate, to develop hybrid cultured meat products for the Asian market. 

Since then, CP Foods shared that producing cell-based dark meats will be essential for the field’s success in the Asia Pacific region. From chicken drumsticks to thigh meat, CP Foods claims the region's customers are fascinated with the softer and juicier flavor of dark meats that do not exist in other markets. Future Meat believes its unique technology platform will help the company produce hybrid products that match the region’s interests.

 

Jellatech Showcases Full-length Collagen Protein

Cell-based collagen startup Jellatech reached the milestone of developing a full-length, triple-helical, and functional collagen protein made from its proprietary cell lines. Focusing on producing collagen type 1 protein, Jellatech initially plans to target the biopharma and biomedical markets before exploring the food and beverage market as the company scales production. Moving forward, the company plans to raise funds as the company moves to pilot scale to increase production capabilities, including optimizing bioreactor design. Jellatech first launched by showcasing the first cell-based jelly prototype.

Jellatech's cell-based collagen

 

Joes Future Food Showcases Cell-Based Pork Belly

Chinese cell-based meat company Joes Future Food showcased a prototype of its pork belly prototype. The company showcased its cell-based pork belly and pigskin noodle prototypes at the New Technology Conference in Nanjing, where the startup is based. According to the startup, the prototype was the first pork belly showcase in the country that attendees could sample. 

Cell-based pork prototype by Joes Future Food

In September 2021, Joes Future Food raised CNY 70 million in funding (approx. 11 million USD). In January 2022, cell-cultured meat was mentioned in China’s 5-Year Agricultural Plan as part of the nation’s food security plan.

 

Wilk Produces Human Lactoferrin Protein

Cell-based dairy company Wilk shared a breakthrough in successfully producing cell-based lactoferrin, a protein found in human breast milk and dairy milk. Formerly known as BioMilk, Wilk stated the breakthrough is a significant milestone toward offering baby formula partners access to vital breast milk components.

According to the company, lactoferrin is an important protein found in higher concentrations in breast milk that carries iron and other key nutrients to nursing children. Previously, in February 2022, Wilk received a patent for its animal and breast milk production process using the company’s technology platform.

 

Simple Planet Aims to make Cultured Meat with Healthier Fats

New South Korean startup Simple Planet shared that the startup produced cell-based meat with a higher content of unsaturated fatty acids. According to the company, unsaturated fatty acids can effectively prevent vascular diseases. By isolating fat-producing stem cells from bovine tissue, Simple Planet could produce bovine fat that contains oleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid. Moving forward, the startup plans to continue its research to understand better how controlling unsaturated fatty acid content can impact cell-cultured meat.

The company claims it is the first in South Korea to produce cell-cultured meat with a higher unsaturated fatty acid profile.

 

Paleo Launches by Producing Cell-Cultured Mammoth Heme

Cell-cultured woolly mammoth heme protein, anyone? European startup Paleo revealed six different heme proteins to improve plant-based meat products, including woolly mammoth heme protein. By harnessing acellular agriculture (also known as precision fermentation), Paleo believes its heme protein products can improve the taste and flavor of plant-based products. Having received its patent for its production process, Paleo shared plans to use its platform to produce other ingredients necessary for the meat and seafood experience, including fats. Paleo has raised $2.5 million in funding to date.

 

Switzerland Cultured Food Hub to Launch in 2023

Swiss companies Givaudan, Buhler, and Migros announced progress on their plan to develop a Cultured Food Innovation Hub in the country. The companies secured approval to form the joint venture and have begun booking time at the new facilities in Kemptthal, Switzerland. They aim for the new facility to be operational from early 2023.

By providing early cell-based meat and seafood players a facility to scale production, the Cultured Food Innovation Hub aims to help companies scale production without requiring as many funding rounds. The Swiss corporates first announced the joint project in September 2021.

 

Buhler Group and Zeta Launch Eridia to help Scale the Future of Food

Food processing company Buhler Group and Austrian biotech company Zeta announced the launch of a joint venture business, Eridia, to support companies scaling production in the future food space. Instead of producing its own food products, Eridia plans to design food and feed biotech facilities to help companies scale in the precision fermentation (also known as acellular agriculture) and cell-cultured meat sectors. Buhler is also part of the companies launching the Switzerland Cultured Food Innovation Hub.

Eridia is a joint venture business by the Buhler Group and Zeta

 

Tnuva to Launch Alt Protein Center

Tnuva Group, one of Israel’s largest food producers, announced that it will be establishing the first R&D center in Israel focused on animal-free dairy products. According to the company, the center will focus on developing end products using ingredients developed by different foodtech companies. Tnuva previously invested in Remilk’s Series A and Series B funding rounds in December 2020 and January 2022, respectively. Tnuva also partnered with Pluristem Therapeutics to develop and produce cell-based meat in January 2022 to produce cell-cultured meat.

 

Moolec Science to Go Public Via SPAC

Harnessing a plant-based platform to produce animal proteins, molecular farming company Moolec Science announced plans to go public on the Nasdaq stock exchange through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). 

While many companies are stepping back from coming to the public market, the deal values Moolec Science at $504 million and will trade under the symbol MLEC. Moolec Science plans to produce bovine and porcine proteins using genetically engineered yellow peas and soybeans. The company currently has two products on the market: chymosin, a protein used in cheesemaking from safflower, and the nutritional oil gamma-linoleic acid.

 

Beyond Meat hit with Lawsuits over Nutrition Label

Another week, another plant-based lawsuit focused on the alternative protein industry. 

Plant-based meat company Beyond Meat received two lawsuits filed in a week alleging the company overstates the protein in its plant-based burgers and other products. The lawsuit focuses on the protein claims made on the Nutrition Label, the total protein grams, and the front-of-package protein statement, which is measured by a different method to get to the percent daily value (%DV) calculations. 

As more companies look to grow, will we continue to see more lawsuits emerging in the alternative protein ecosystem? For example, in March 2022, Impossible Foods filed a lawsuit against Motif FoodWorks.

 

Conclusion

From new funding announcements to new product launches and regulatory progress, June marked a solid end to the second quarter of 2022. This month continues the trend of growing public funding opportunities to support the cellular agriculture field - this month from California’s state government and Israel.

In addition to forming partnerships with cellular agriculture companies, this month also highlighted how more corporates are looking to launch their own centers or facilities to enter the cellular agriculture field. Beyond partnering with individual companies, centers or facilities can be a way for corporates to support startups scale production once they establish the initial proof of concept at lab scale.

Beyond the Swiss Cultured Food Innovation Hub and Eridia in Austria, Israeli company Tnuva highlights how a food corporate can further get involved in the field. Beyond investing in startups in the field, Tnuva likely believes its new Alt Protein Center will position it as a key partner for the growing field.

As a first step towards establishing a regulatory framework, it is promising to see the Japanese government take the initiative to become the following country to develop a regulatory structure around cell-based meat after Singapore. 

Since Singapore established its regulatory framework, Singapore has become a leader in the future of food field. As a result, many cellular agriculture companies have shared an interest in launching their first products in the country. 

Interestingly, the Ministry shared that regulatory frameworks from other countries, including Singapore, will be considered. Back in January 2020, the Singapore Food Agency announced its plan to establish a comprehensive regulatory framework to govern novel food production in the country before Eat Just launched its first product in the country in December 2020. 

While it is too early to determine if the Japanese government will work on a similar timeline, it is important to note that Eat Just previously worked with the Singapore Food Agency for at least two years before regulatory approval. It is unclear if any company has been working with Japanese regulators over the past few years to seek regulatory approval.

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