Nourish Ingredients, a food tech company that creates animal-free fats using synthetic biology, secured $28.6 million in Series A funding, led by Horizons Ventures and supported by Main Sequence Ventures and Hostplus.
We previously profiled the Australian company in 2021 when it raised $11 million. It is one of the few companies in the food tech sector focused on developing the fats and oils that make alternative proteins have better smell, taste and cooking capabilities than traditional meat.
Creating that flavor parity has been one of the lingering challenges for alternative protein makers, James Petrie, co-founder and CEO at Nourish Ingredients, told TechCrunch.
“I think that heat has gone out of the market to a large extent, which is pretty much the main reason we exist, because our view is that these foods can improve,” he said. “Until they do improve, you really cannot see market ignition. You’re reaching through, not only to the vegans and vegetarians, but also reaching through to the carnivores and getting them to keep coming back to the foods. That’s our mission.”
It was that need to reach a wide variety of customers that has been most helpful to Nourish. People began realizing that they were “trying to fit a square peg into a round hole with these ingredients,” he explained. Instead, the company engineered proprietary precision fermentation strains that can manufacture fat molecules at scale to give alternative proteins that animal meat-like flavor, smell and taste, Petrie added.
Including the new capital infusion, Nourish has raised about $40 million in total and increased its valuation, though Petrie declined to disclose the actual value. The CEO said the company wanted to achieve some internal milestones before going after new funding, including getting to the point where it could translate the science into product validation.
The company has since put its product into foods and is getting the cooking results it was looking for. Now it is working on scale. Petrie plans to use the new funds to continue scaling that production and additional product development.
Those next R&D and scaling steps include forming alliances with universities, including the University of California, at Riverside; Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO; University of Nottingham, UK; and Deakin University. In addition, the company is partnering with the University of Queensland to accelerate the production of next-generation foods in Australia.
Petrie expects its first fats product to go into alternative protein product lines and specialty foods in 2023.
“We are still doing R&D and have a pipeline of products,” he added. “We also need to accelerate the conversion of our MVP to the point of which we have realistic quantities that people can actually do something meaningful with.”