Bond Pet Foods, known for making plant-based pet treats, is shifting its focus from treats to pet food applications as it leans into the creation of “nature-identical” chicken, beef, fish and other meat proteins using precision fermentation. Last November, Bond kicked this off by announcing a partnership with Hill’s Pet Nutrition to develop a craft meat protein for its product portfolio.
With the new focus, the Boulder, Colorado–based company joins a list of incumbents focused on healthier options for our four-legged friends, including Freshpet, which launched its Spring & Sprout vegetarian dog food last September; Maev, developing human-grade raw dog food; Alpha Paw in the supplement space; and Jinx, focused on clean-label dog food.
The move is buoyed by a $17.5 million Series A investment in June from a group of investors that includes Archer-Daniels-Midland Company’s venture arm ADM Ventures, Cavallo Ventures, Genoa Ventures, Lever VC, Thia Ventures, iSelect Fund, Stage 1 Fund, Lifely VC and Satori Capital. Joining in as individual investors are musicians Sia Isabelle Furler and Joan Jett. Prior to the Series A round, the company raised $2.5 million to bring its total funding since 2017 to $20 million.
Bond Pet Foods was co-founded by Rich Kelleman and Pernilla Audibert and is part of a global pet food market valued at $110 billion in 2021 and poised to grow 5% annually through this decade to be worth $164 billion by 2029.
The new investment will enable the company to expand its meat protein portfolio and scale up production at a new 15,000-square-foot facility in Boulder while also tripling the size of its team, Kelleman told TechCrunch.
Initially, the company was thinking of making its own brand of pet food, but decided to make the shift to meat proteins for other companies to use due to interest from some big pet food names, including Hill’s, and some others in the pipeline.
“All of these global players knocked on our door, and we realized that we can build a healthy business and have a larger material impact if we collaborate with established companies instead of doing it on our own,” he added. “We’re really accelerating our process development work to bring down the cost of goods as well as making some fast work of our strain engineering.”
The facility is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2023, and Kelleman expects initial meat proteins to be ready for commercialization in two years. That period includes pilot feeding programs to collect data that demonstrates performance, safety and efficacy as Bond works through the regulatory process.
Kelleman says Bond is close to having the final specification for its chicken meat protein completed within the next few months. Then it will go through feeding trials in dogs and cats, likely early next year, as it continues to work through the regulatory process and collaborating with strategic pet food partners.