Last week, Bond Pets announced that they raised $1.2 million in their seed round of funding. Based in Boulder, Colorado, Bond Pets’ round of funding was led by Lever VC, a venture capital firm focused on the future of sustainable protein. Other investors in the round include Agronomics, KBW Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures, and Andante Asset Management.
Founded by Rich Kelleman and Pernilla Audibert, Bond Pets is a pet food startup that uses cellular agriculture to produce sustainable pet food. Cellular agriculture is the field of producing animal products, like meat, directly from cell cultures instead of raising animals for the same products. Compared to the conventional pet food industry system, cellular agriculture provides an alternative and sustainable way to produce the same animal products.
Considering how incredible pets are, it’s not surprising that approximately 68% of Americans own either a dog or a cat and spend $30 billion annually to take care of their furry friends. What is surprising, however, is the environmental impact of pet foods.
America’s dogs and cats consume around 25% of all meat sold in the country. A 2017 study investigating the environmental impact of pet food found that American pets consume enough meat alone that they would be the fifth most meat-consuming nation in the world. Meat consumption by pets specifically is responsible for 64 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.
There clearly needs to be a more responsible way to feed all our pets the healthy diet they need as well as be environmentally responsible. And Bond Pets is one of several pet food startups using cellular agriculture to offer that solution.
While other startups are using cell cultures to directly grow animal meat from cells, Bond Pets uses acellular agriculture to produce their animal-free pet food. Also known as fermentation, acellular agriculture involves growing and harvesting an animal product that the cell cultures make (and not the cells themselves). Instead of growing the cells found in meat, Bond Pets inserts copies of animal muscle protein genes into microbes like yeast to produce the animal meat proteins. These muscle proteins can then be harvest to make Bond Pets’ animal-free pet food. Without requiring any animals.
While this process does not produce a piece of meat like beef or chicken, Bond Pets’ approach creates the same proteins found in animal meat to produce nutritional pet foods. This is the same process used by Perfect Day and Clara Foods to produce dairy and egg white proteins via cellular agriculture, respectively.
Considering that both Perfect Day and Clara Foods aim to launch their first products in 2020, using acellular agriculture may help Bond Pets get to market faster than trying to grow animal meats directly from cell cultures. Earlier this summer, Perfect Day made history by showcasing and launching the first ever animal-free dairy ice cream.
Bond Pets plans to use of the round of funding to accelerate research and development needed to scale Bond Pets’ animal-free cultured pet food. Bond Pets also shared that they plan to launch their first product, a pure yeast dog treat bar, in 2020. While their first dog treat will not involve any of their cultured meat proteins, Bond Pets hopes their debut product will start a conversation where pet owners will be more open to the idea of feeding cultured pet foods to their pets down the road.
Bond Pets is one of several startups applying cellular agriculture to the pet food sector. Earlier this year, Because Animals announced the close of their seed round to make pet food without animal meat. In addition, Wild Earth raised $11 million in Series A funding to develop its koji-protein dog food and treats.