November 2022: The Month in Review

With investments and partnerships worldwide, this November continued the cellular agriculture field’s strong end to 2022. Similar to the previous year in November, this month featured an acquisition announcement in India and various partnerships to scale production. This month featured a range of advancements for the cell-based meat industry, including the largest Series A funding round to date and the first regulatory progress in the US.

From new investments and partnerships to regulatory progress, we look at what happened this November 2022 in cellular agriculture.

Investments

Vow

Australian cell-based meat company Vow announced raising a massive $49 million in Series A funding.

Founded by George Peppou and Tim Noakesmith, Vow is a cell-based meat startup building a library of cell lines from various animal species, both domesticated and undomesticated, to produce a range of meat products.

Vow's cell-cultured Morsel product

Vow’s funding round was co-led by Blackbird Ventures and Prosperity 7, the venture arm of Aramco. Other participants in the round include Square Peg, Grok Ventures, Tenacious Ventures, and Toyota Ventures.

The largest Series A funding round to date for a cell-based meat startup, Vow’s financing is the largest funding round to date for any cellular agriculture company in the Asia-Pacific region. The company previously raised its $6 million seed round in January 2021.

Along with the funding announcement, Vow announced the first product it plans to launch: a Japanese umai quail product called Morsel. While initially aiming to launch its product at the end of this year, Vow now plans to launch its first product in Singapore at the start of 2023.

Moving forward, Vow plans to use the funding round to bring its first product to market, expand its commercial team, and build its new production facility, Factory 2. Vow aims to complete its Factory 2 in the second half of 2024 and be 100 times larger than its pilot plant, Factory 1.

Vow previously launched its Factory 1 at the start of October with a production capacity of up to 30 tons of cell-based meat annually. At the time, Vow shared its plan to receive regulatory approval to sell its cell-based meat in Australia in addition to Singapore.

 

Roslin Technologies

Roslin Technologies announced that the company raised £11 million (approx. $12.5 million) in funding to develop cell lines for cell-based meat production.

For cell-based meat to scale, the field needs to develop stable and immortal stem cell lines to produce their products. Stem cells are unique because they can make more of themselves through self-replication or produce cells that become different cell types via differentiation.

Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Roslin Technologies is the only commercial cell line provider of stem cells for cell-based meat production, specifically induced pluripotent stem cells, that can divide indefinitely and differentiate into a wide range of cells.

Roslin Technologies’ funding round was led by Novo Holdings, a leading international life sciences investor. The funding round also featured Kairos Capital Group, Nutreco, Future Planet Capital, Esco Lifesciences, and Alchimia. 

The company previously received funds from Scottish Enterprise and the University of Edinburgh’s venture capital fund Old College Capital.

Moving forward, Roslin Technologies plans to use the funding round to expand its cell line portfolio and further develop protocols for scaling its cells into cost-competitive cell-based meat products.

Roslin Technologies presently offers a porcine cell line for pork meat and aims to offer an ovine cell line for lamb meat soon. The company is also looking to develop a bovine cell line for beef and a crustacea cell line.

In March 2022, Roslin Technologies and investment firm Agronomics announced the launch of the startup Good Dog Food as a joint venture. The new pet food startup aims to produce cell-based chicken meat for pet food and uses an avian cell line developed by Roslin Technologies.

In addition, during the Singapore Agri-Food Week in October, Esco Aster shared that the company signed a partnership with Roslin Technologies and will collectively work towards establishing the first licensable food regulatory-certified cell line for cell-based meat.

Interestingly, Roslin shared that the startup also plans to invest in its insect venture, which focuses on breeding better insects for the emerging insect protein sector.

 

Bright Biotech

Molecular farming startup Bright Biotech announced raising $3.2 million in seed funding to produce growth factors for cell-based meat production. By harnessing the chloroplasts in plant cells to make growth factors, Bright Biotech claims that the Manchester-based startup can develop growth factors at a minimal cost with high yields. 

Bright Biotech plans to use the funding round to expand its team and develop new genetic engineering methods to produce growth factors from its plant platform. The startup aims to launch its first growth factor products to market in 2023. The funding round was led by FoodLabs and featured investments from Big Idea Ventures, CPT Capital, and the FoodHack Syndicate.

Bright Biotech team

 

Me& FoodTech

Australian startup Me& FoodTech announced raising $2.5 million in seed round funding to develop cell-based human breast milk. Based in Melbourne, Me& Foodtech is the first cell-based milk startup in Australia. According to the announcement, the startup’s funding round was co-led by Horizon Ventures and Main Sequence. The seed financing also featured Better Bite Ventures. 

Moving forward, the startup aims to develop a cell-based milk product with near-identical benefits of breast milk with a lower impact than dairy milk. Me& FoodTech claims its technology platform can capture the complexity of breast tissue cells to allow the startup to control its cell-based milk composition to offer superior nutrition.

 

MeliBio

MeliBio announced raising an additional $2.2 million in funding to develop its animal-free honey products. Investors in the funding round include the Collaborative Fund, Siddhi Capital, and new investor The Greenbaum Foundation.

At the same time, the startup announced a partnership with organic foods company Narayan Foods to launch its plant-based honey product in 75,000 European stores. Aiming to launch the first products in early 2023, Narayan will sell MeliBio’s plant-based honey under the Better Foodie brand. 

While the company’s first product is a plant-based honey product, MeliBio intends to develop a cell-cultured honey product in the future. In March 2022, MeliBio previously raised $5.7 million in seed funding.

 

Opo Bio

New Zealand’s first cell-based meat company, Opo Bio, came out of stealth mode and announced the startup raised $1.5 million NZD (approx. $930,00 USD) in seed funding to develop cell lines for cell-based meat production. 

Opo Bio team

Opo Bio’s first product, a primary bovine muscle cell line called Opo-Moo, is currently available for researchers worldwide to purchase to accelerate research progress and transparency within the field. Opo Bio’s cell lines will also become available for companies to license.

Opo’s seed round was led by MatÅ« Fund, followed by Booster, The Inventors' Fund, Booster Innovation Fund, and angel investors.

 

Phyx44

Based in India, new startup Phyx44 announced raising $1.2 million in seed funding to develop cell-cultured dairy components via precision fermentation (also known as acellular agriculture). Calling itself a ‘full-stack’ cell-cultured dairy player, Phyx44 intends to focus on developing various parts of dairy milk, including whey and casein proteins and dairy fatty acids. 

Looking at ice cream and other dairy applications, Phyx 44 intends to launch in Singapore and India in 2024. While the first cell-cultured dairy player in India, US-based Perfect Day previously acquired three manufacturing plants in India in April 2022.

Phyx44 plans to use the funding round to accelerate its R&D, expand the team, and work on co-developing products for its key partners. Investors in Phyx44’s funding round include Better Bite Ventures, Ahimsa VC, PeerCapital, and Big Idea Ventures.

 

Cultimate Foods

Cell-based fat company Cultimate Foods announced raising EUR 700,000 in pre-seed funding. Based in Germany, Cultimate Foods aims to produce cell-based fat to use as an ingredient to enhance the taste and texture of meat alternatives, such as plant-based meats, to produce the taste and mouthfeel of conventional animal products. 

The startup plans to use the funding round to scale up its production process, validate its cell-based fat solution, and prepare its technology platform for pilot-scale production. Cultimate Foods’ funding round was backed by Big Idea Ventures, ProVeg International, and Realum.cloud.

 

New Culture

Cellular agriculture dairy startup New Culture received an undisclosed investment from South Korean food conglomerate CJ CheilJedang. According to New Culture, the investment will go towards product development and scale-up of New Culture’s cell-cultured mozzarella cheese slated to launch in pizzerias in 2023. 

Considering that CJ CheilJedang has a 25% share in the US frozen pizza market, New Culture states CJ CheilJedang’s experience and connections in the food and pizza industries will provide the startup pivotal scale-up momentum as they move to market launch.

 

Investment Group SK invests in Wildtype and partners with Perfect Day

Investment group SK Inc., the investment arm of South Korean conglomerate SK Group, announced a $7 million investment in cell-cultured seafood company Wildtype at the end of November.

Along with its investment in Wildtype, SK Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea’s leading dairy processing company, Maeil Dairies, and Perfect Day to develop an animal-free dairy protein business through a joint venture. Maeil Dairies would be responsible for manufacturing and distributing the final products using Perfect Day’s dairy proteins. SK Inc. previously invested in Perfect Day in September 2021.

 

Upside Foods Receives Letter of No Questions from FDA for its Cell-Cultured Chicken

The cellular agriculture field reached a significant milestone in the US.

On November 16th, Upside Foods received a letter of no questions from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the safety of its production process of making cell-cultured chicken meat. Formerly known as Memphis Meats, Upside Foods was the first startup founded to use cellular agriculture to produce cell-cultured meats.

Upside Foods' cell-cultured chicken meat

According to the announcement, the FDA conducted a “rigorous evaluation” of Upside Foods’ entire production process, from cell line establishment to cell proliferation and differentiation processes, to evaluate its safety assessment.

After reviewing and agreeing with Upside Foods’ safety conclusion, the FDA published its summary memo and a 104-page document prepared by Upside Foods, providing extensive documentation on its cell-cultured chicken and its production process.

Following the FDA’s pre-market consultation review, Upside Foods will work with the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service agency (USDA-FSIS). Upside Foods will need to secure the remaining approvals required from the USDA-FSIS before launching its cell-based chicken, including the grant of inspection and labeling determination.

Upside Foods did not share a timeline on when the company expects to complete the USDA-FSIS review for approval. Considering that Upside Foods submitted its pre-market consultation for its safety assessment in October 2021, it may be a while before the USDA-FSIS completes its safety review before providing its grant of inspection and labeling determination.

Considering the leadership role that the company has played in the field, particularly when it comes to the regulatory front, it is promising to see Upside Foods become the first cellular agriculture meat company to receive a letter of no questions from the FDA.

Currently, Singapore is the only country in the world to give regulatory approval for selling cell-cultured chicken meat to Eat Just in 2020. Australian startup Vow recently shared its plan to launch its first product, a cell-cultured Japanese umai quail product called Morsel, in Singapore at the start of next year.

 

Perfect Day Receives Regulatory Approval in India and Completes Sterling Biotech Acquisition

At the end of November, cellular agriculture company Perfect Day announced its expansion into India by receiving regulatory approval and acquiring a biotech manufacturing firm.

According to the announcement, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India approved the company’s application for its cell-cultured milk proteins, such as its whey protein. Following launches in Hong Kong and Singapore, the approval marks the third Asian market for Perfect Day to commercialize its dairy proteins.

Various products made with Perfect Day's cell-cultured whey proteins

In addition, following initial reports in April 2022, Perfect Day confirmed the acquisition of Indian biotech manufacturing firm Sterling Biotech Limited for 638 crores INR ($78.1 million USD) during its insolvency and liquidation process.

By acquiring Sterling Biotech, Perfect Day shared that the company will gain four manufacturing assets in India that will double its precision fermentation capabilities, including two plants in Gujurat and a third in Tamil Nadu.

Considering that Sterling Biotech is one of the world’s largest gelatin manufacturers, the acquisition opens the door for Perfect Day to explore developing cell-cultured collagen proteins to serve Sterling Biotech’s gelatin customers.

Moving forward, Perfect Day shared that the company intends to continue serving Sterling Biotech’s existing customers in the pharmaceutical and protein sectors for both pharmaceutical-grade gelatin and dicalcium phosphate.

Instead of launching right away in India, Perfect Day intends to export its cell-cultured dairy proteins to meet its global customers' growing demand while building a roadmap for domestic commercial opportunities.

The acquisition continues Perfect Day’s intention to expand its production capabilities. In April 2022, Perfect Day set up a second facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, to develop its enterprise biology platform, nth Bio

The company first announced its Enterprise Biology arm during its funding round of $350 million in September 2021. At the time of the announcement, Perfect Day shared that it previously acquired the bioprocess scale-up facility SBF Inc. in Logan, Utah, in mid-2020.

 

FAO to Assess Safety ad Regulation of Cultured Meat

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that the organization is assessing the food safety and regulatory concerns relating to cell-cultured meat. As part of its assessment, the FAO published a report exploring various aspects of cell-based meat, including food safety, terminology, and common production processes.

While various terms describe meat produced via cellular agriculture, FAO aimed to provide a basis for global policymakers to select consistent language for legislation and communications about cell-cultured meat. The FAO also encouraged national authorities to establish consistent terminologies for the food in their countries.

The report also identified the major steps common to producing cell-based meat, from cell collection and proliferation to harvesting and food processing. The report identified the associated food safety steps along each step. The report noted that the potential food safety risks are not new for cell-cultured meat and can be addressed through existing strategies.

 

Meatable Partners with Love Handle to build Innovation Center in Singapore

Dutch cell-based meat company Meatable announced a partnership with plant-based company Love Handle to build the Future of Meat Innovation Center in Singapore. According to the announcement, the two companies will use their expertise to develop hybrid meat products that are “indistinguishable” from conventional meat, containing both cell-based and plant-based components. Meatable stated that the partnership would help optimize its cell-based meat with unique plant-based recipes developed with Love Handle.

Meatable's cell-cultured pork sausage

The two companies aim to launch the Future of Meat Innovation Center in 2023. The two companies will invest approximately $6 million and employ up to 10 people in Singapore to develop the Future of Meat Innovation Center, which they aim to launch in 2023.

 

Wildtype Partners with Solaris to Scale

Wildtype announced a partnership with bioprocessing company Solaris to scale the production of its cell-cultured salmon. According to the partnership, the two companies will collaborate to develop and design large-scale bioreactors to develop cell-cultured seafood. After raising the largest funding round to date for a cell-cultured seafood company in February 2022, the partnership continues Wildtype’s focus on building capacity after launching its pilot plant in June 2021

The announcement continues the trend of cell-cultured meat players partnering with bioprocess engineering firms to scale production. For example, in May 2022, Eat Just announced a partnership with ABEC to build the world’s largest bioreactors to produce cell-based meat at 250,000 liters.

 

Standing Ovation Announces Exclusive Partnership with Bel Group.

Multinational cheese company Bel Group announced a partnership with new cell-cultured dairy startup Standing Ovation in France. Famous for cheese brands like Babybel, Laughing Cow, and Boursin, the Bel Group announced an exclusive partnership to leverage Standing Ovation’s technology platform to produce cell-cultured cheese products.

According to the announcement, both companies’ scientific teams will work together to develop future cell-cultured dairy products for the Bel Group. In September 2022, Standing Ovation raised €12 million in Series A funding to produce dairy casein proteins via precision fermentation (also known as acellular agriculture). The recent announcement clarified that Bel Group was the undisclosed leading food player that also invested in Standing Ovation.

 

Umami Meats Partners with Waters Corporation to develop Premium Seafood

Singaporean startup Umami Meats announced a partnership with Waters Corporation to develop laboratory methods to produce premium cell-cultured seafood products. Waters Corporation operates a research lab in Singapore and facilities collaboration with industry and academia to advance food and water safety research. Umami Meats aims to work with Waters’ food and nutrition scientists to advance the development process of its cell-cultured seafood as well as product quality.

In July 2022, Umami Meats announced a partnership with Steakholder Foods (previously MeaTech 3D) to produce 3D-printed cell-cultured fish products. In October, Umami Meats partnered with Ingredion to co-develop the company’s first structured cell-cultured fish product prototypes, including fish cakes and fillets.

 

Planetary To Launch First-of-its-kind Fermentation Facility

Fermentation manufacturing startup Planetary hired Glatt and IE Group to develop a facility for both precision fermentation (also known as acellular agriculture) and mycelium fermentation. Planetary claims this is the first integrated plan for both precision and mycelium fermentation.

According to the news, the facility will be able to produce a range of cell-cultured compounds as well as mycelium biomass. Process solutions firm Glatt will plan the facility's process and safety technology systems, while industrial construction firm IE Group will design the building and infrastructure.

Planetary raised $8.1 million in seed funding in April 2022 to help fermentation companies scale production by providing industrial-scale bioprocess capacity.

 

Good Meat Serves Cultured Chicken at COP27 in Egypt

First Singapore, and now Egypt. 

At the recent COP27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Good Meat showcased its cell-cultured chicken meat to conference attendees at the Singapore Pavillion. In addition, Good Meat served the latest version of its cell-cultured chicken in several invitation-only events at the event.

Good Meats' cell-cultured chicken meat

Considering cellular agriculture's role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from producing animal products like meat or dairy, it is great to see Good Meat showcase its chicken at the summit. In June 2022, Good Meat broke ground for its new facility in Singapore and aims to be operational in 2023.

 

TurtleTree Showcases Zenith drink at COP27 in Egypt

At the recent COP27 climate change conference, cellular agriculture dairy company TurtleTree Labs was named Singapore’s official drink partner. As part of the conference, TurtleTree planned to unveil Zenith, a canned drink prototype containing ingredients produced via precision fermentation (also known as acellular agriculture), to demonstrate how cellular agriculture can be used to create sustainable products. In August 2022, TurtleTree announced its first product line brand: LF+, a bovine lactoferrin protein.

TurtleTree's Zenith beverage

 

Wilk Presents the first Cell-based Yogurt

Cell-based dairy company Wilk announced that it developed the first yogurt product made with its cell-based milk fat and traditional animal dairy components. According to the company, the hybrid product was validated by external labs to meet yogurt's chemical and biological requirements.

While the prototype validates Wilk’s technology platform, the company plans to focus on creating cell-based human milk fat for use in infant formula. The company first announced its yogurt project in July 2022.

Wilk's cell-based yogurt product

 

SuperMeat Makes ‘Moist Maker’ Sandwich for US Thanksgiving

Just in time for American Thanksgiving, Israeli cell-based meat company SuperMeat showcased a prototype of its cell-based turkey meat. Along with the first cell-based turkey prototype, SuperMeat‘s showcase is also a cellular agriculture company's first cold-cut poultry prototype to date. 

Referencing the comedy sitcom Friends, SuperMeat presented its cell-cultured turkey in the form of the “Moist Maker” sandwich. The cell-based turkey sandwich is currently made at SuperMeat’s test kitchen, The Chicken, in Israel.

The 'Moist Maker' sandwich with cell-based turkey meat by SuperMeat

 

Perfect Day Launches Cell-cultured Milk Very Dairy in Singapore

At the end of November, along with its regulatory approval and acquisition in India, Perfect Day announced the launch of its first cell-cultured dairy milk product in Singapore. Branded as Very Dairy, the cell-cultured milk product is the first in Asian supermarkets. 

Perfect Day first launched in Singapore through its Coolhaus ice cream brand in August 2022. Similarly, in June 2022, Perfect Day partnered with Strive Nutrition to launch a hybrid plant-based milk product containing its cell-cultured whey proteins.

Perfect Day's Very Dairy brand in Singapore

 

Celleste Bio Launches to Develop Cell-based Chocolate and Cocoa

In November, investment firm Trendlines Group announced the establishment of the startup Celleste Bio, a new company focusing on developing cell-based chocolate and cocoa ingredients. By using cell culture to develop cocoa ingredients, Celleste’s technology can help ensure cocoa yield supplies would be invariable despite climate and sustainability challenges. The new startup raised its seed round from the Trendline Group, Mondelez International, Barrel Ventures, and the Regba Group. In October, the startup Seminal Biosciences came out of stealth mode to develop cacao butter directly from cells.

 

Future Meat Rebrands to Believer Meats

Future Meat Technologies announced that the cell-based meat company rebranded to Believer Meats. According to the company, the rebranding is a big step in its strategic transformation to a technology-rooted food company to charter a way to “build a better future of meat.”

The company continues the trend of cellular agriculture companies rebranding as they look to launch their first product. Both Upside Foods (formerly Memphis Meats) and Bluu Seafood (formerly Bluu Biosciences) rebranded in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

 

Beyond Meat and Oatly announce Strategy Pivots

As the investment landscape for cellular agriculture companies slows down, publicly traded plant-based companies Beyond Meat and Oatly announced pivots in strategy in reflection of their financial losses.

After posting a year-over-year loss of $101.7 million on net sales for the third quarter, plant-based meat company Beyond Meat shared plans to reduce its operating expenses, including laying off employees and focusing on higher-growth segments like frozen meat alternatives. Beyond Meat also reported a 22.5% decrease in net revenue in Q3 2022 compared to Q3 2021, driven by a 12.8% decrease in total pounds of plant-based products sold.

Similarly, plant-based milk company Oatly announced a pivot to a hybrid manufacturing model to reduce operating costs. Oatly reported a $108 million net loss on net revenues, up 7% to $183 million in Q3 2022. By working with third-party partners to reduce manufacturing costs, Oatly also announced plans to lay off employees to reduce operating costs.

 

Conclusion

From ten investment announcements to a broad range of partnerships, November continued the cellular agriculture field’s strong end to 2022. In particular, with investments in seven countries, the field continues to grow globally.

In addition to the investments and partnerships, it is promising to see the development on the regulatory front for the cellular agriculture field, particularly for cell-based meat in the US. 

Considering the size of the US market, the FDA’s regulatory review of the safety of Upside Foods’ cell-cultured chicken is something that the whole field looked at closely. All eyes will now look onto the USDA to assess how the department evaluates cell-cultured meat products. Many players will watch the process and outcome of both agencies to evaluate and plan how they will go through the same regulatory processes when they are ready to launch.

As the first company looking to launch a cell-based meat product in the US, Upside Foods will play a pivotal role in how the public views the field as more companies aim to commercialize at a later date. 

Therefore, it will be important for Upside Foods to clearly communicate with and inform the public on not just how cell-based meats are produced, but why scientists and entrepreneurs around the world are working to make animal products via cellular agriculture. For the future of food.

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