Perfect Day announced the expansion of its Series C round to an enormous $300 million to become 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 $300 million expanded Series C round was led by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board(CPP Investments). This total includes the 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 updated funding round brings Perfect Days’ total funding to $361.5 million.
Perfect Day and Animal-Free Dairy
Since making their initial 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’s expanded funding announcement continues their strong start to the summer of 2020.
In April, Perfect Day announced that the company received a letter from the US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) stating that the FDA has no objections or questions about the company’s Generally Recognized as Safe(GRAS) determination for their flora-based whey protein. Described as‘coveted’, the FDA's letter is an important regulatory step forward for Perfect Day to bring their animal-free whey protein to market. Regulatory challenges have been an obstacle moving forward for the field, particularly for cell-based meat companies, and it’s great to see Perfect Day leading the way with their flora-based dairy proteins.
The FDA's review will help Perfect Day continue to bring their flora-based dairy proteins to market. In July 2019, Perfect Day became the first cellular agriculture food company to launch a product through a limited release of the first animal-free dairy ice cream. At the time, Perfect Day had secured self-determined GRAS status for their animal-free whey protein and had submitted its determination to the FDA for a no objections letter.
Instead of launching another product like ice cream, Perfect Day plans to become an ingredients supplier and partner with companies in the food and beverage industry. And those partnerships began in California.
In May, Perfect Day announced that the company partnered with Smitten Ice Cream to launch an animal-free dairy ice cream. Called“N’Ice Cream”, the Smitten Ice Cream product is made using Perfect Day’s flora-based dairy proteins and is now available in the San Francisco Bay Area and nationwide in the US.
At the time of launch, Smitten Ice Cream announced 4 flavours for the N’Ice Cream line: Fresh Strawberry, Brown Sugar Chocolate, Coconut Pecan, and Root Beer Float. It’s notable that the prices for the N’Ice Cream pints, $12 per pint or $13 per delivery, are on par with the prices of other animal-free ice cream products. This suggests that Perfect Day successfully managed to scale production to reduce the costs compared to their initial limited ice cream release the previous summer.
In regard to labeling, the N’Ice Cream packaging includes a‘Perfect Day clean-label base’ to the ingredient list of each co-branded frozen dairy dessert. The ice cream pints are also labelled‘vegan’ and‘lactose-free’.
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.
Beyond ice cream, Perfect Day previously released several images highlighting that their flora-based dairy proteins can be used to create a range of products. From coffee milk froth to a glass of milk to different types of cheese(like mozzarella, feta, and cream cheese), the range of products highlight how versatile Perfect Day’s dairy proteins can be.
In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is remarkable to see Perfect Day raise the largest funding to date for a cellular agriculture company. While it may be difficult for new startups in the field to raise capital to get started, it appears like investors are continuing to support established cellular agriculture companies that have previously raised funding rounds and continue to reach milestones.
Compared to the conventional animal product supply chain, cellular agriculture can offer a way to develop a new, resilient food supply chain that allows for a smaller, decentralized model of producing animal products. This would avoid the issues of mass centralization that have been exposed by the coronavirus pandemic in the US food chain. For the future of food.
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Ahmed Khan is a cellular agriculture consultant and passionate about the future of food. As the founder and editor of CellAgri, Ahmed shares the latest insights on a range of topics relating to cellular agriculture and how this field is emerging to provide a solution in sustainable animal products.