Venture capital funding to the cultivated meat industry has largely followed other industries in fewer investments made this year; however, there’s still movement in this sector yet.
Here in the United States, cultivated meat companies saw regulatory doors open widely after the Food and Drug Administration cleared Upside Foods and Good Meat in June to sell their cultivated chicken products across the country, and now both are in restaurants. In that same month, Omeat came out of stealth with its technology for making beef.
Europe is heating up as well. Just last week, Israel-based Aleph Farms submitted an application in the United Kingdom to sell its cultivated beef steaks under the Aleph Cuts brand in that country. This followed Aleph’s application submitted July 26 for regulatory approval in Switzerland. Meanwhile, U.K.-based Uncommon, formerly known as Higher Steaks, which also makes a wide assortment of cultivated meats, grabbed $30 million in Series A funding.
Now Meatable, based in The Netherlands, is adding to that excitement with the announcement of $35 million of its own new financing. The company, initially making pork products, has now raised $95 million in total funding.
Agronomics led the new investment and was joined by new investor Invest-NL, which contributed $17 million, according to the company. Existing investors coming back include BlueYard, Bridford, MilkyWay, DSM Venturing and Wise chairman and founder Taavet Hinrikus.
Anthony Chow, co-founder of Agronomics, was blunt during an interview when he said that it’s “the worst possible time you could want to raise money,” and that there has been a “real drought of announcements” in the cultivated meat sector, and that many of the more recent announcements, Omeat included, were for investments made “some time ago.”
“As far as I’m concerned, this [Meatable’s] is the only material financing that has been completed probably for 18 months, maybe even 24 months, of any meaningful size,” Chow said.
TechCrunch has followed Meatable since it picked up $10 million in funding back in 2019. At that time, the company was in its infancy, but had already unveiled its technology which takes animal cells without hurting the animal and then replicates the natural growth process of the cells using its patented “opti-ox” technology combined with pluripotent stem cells, which have the ability to continuously and rapidly multiple. Typically, the cultivated meat process uses precision fermentation technology and bioreactors to make meat.
Since its inception five years ago, the company has grown to a team of 100, started production in Singapore and held the first external tastings of its pork products after The Netherlands gave the green light for companies to organize tastings, Meatable’s co-founder and CEO Krijn de Nood told TechCrunch. Oh, and raised $47 million.
More recently, de Nood unveiled the company’s ability to slash production time it takes to make fat and muscle, from three weeks to eight days, telling AgFunder in May that while rivals are achieving 50-liter bioreactors, Meatable is currently able to reach 500-liter bioreactors and grow cells at 80 million cells per milliliter, thus enabling the company to make fat and muscle within days.
Faster production also helps narrow the gap in production costs, which has been the bane of the cultivated meat industry for years and why we haven’t seen a lot of it on grocery shelves yet.
Meanwhile, the new funding will help Meatable, which is still pre-revenue, scale its processes and accelerate the commercialization of its first products, which will include sausages and pork dumplings, in Singapore starting in 2024, de Nood said. The company also plans to establish a presence in the United States in two years.
“To build a profitable factory, you will need to put in $50 million to $60 million at least, probably a little bit more,” de Nood said. “We really want to make sure that we spend the capital wisely and first focus on scalability and cost reduction. Then in the next 18 to 24 months start building that large scale.”
Editor’s note: Aug. 8, 5:17 a.m. Edited to better explain Meatable’s cultivated meat-making technology.