Faux-Meat Protein Maker Raises $21.5 Million for New Factory
(Bloomberg) -- A San Diego-based startup that’s developing a protein for use in imitation meat and egg products has received $21.5 million in funding to build its first commercial facility.
Plantible Foods Inc. is growing and harvesting a crop commonly known as duckweed, and plans to first develop an egg white substitute before expanding to other animal products. Investors in the Series A funding round include Kellogg Co.’s venture-capital fund, Astanor Ventures and Piva Capital Inc.
“We all know that animal agriculture is one of the largest single contributors to climate change,” Plantible’s Chief Executive Officer Tony Martens said in an interview. “We therefore need to change the way we eat in order to produce and potentially at one point even mitigate the influence of climate change on our lives.”
The alternative protein market has been booming as consumers look for options that might be more sustainable or healthier than traditional animal products. Demand is increasing as companies like Beyond Meat Inc., Impossible Foods Inc. and Oatly Inc. bring products like imitation burgers and oat milk lattes to stores and restaurants.
Plantible says duckweed has advantages over the crops currently most popular in imitation meat production. It can be harvested year round, unlike peas and soybeans, which are only harvested once a year. Duckweed also requires less water.
Martens said the cost of production of the company’s egg substitute is comparable to the real ones.
The company plans to begin construction of its first commercial facility in 2022, which will be built somewhere in the U.S. The company is eyeing space in the Midwest, Martens said.
Plantible has raised a total of $27 million. Kellogg’s venture capital arm is called eighteen94 capital.
Martens said Plantible could fill a need in the market that’s currently not being met.
“If you look at a lot of the ingredients that we’re using in plant-based foods today, the majority of them just happen to be available in bulk but aren’t necessarily adequate replacements for these animal-based ingredients,” Martens said.
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