Robert Downey Jr. Invests in Plant-Based Bacon Startup

Bacon that sizzles and tastes like the real thing but is made from a type of fungus has attracted financing from investors including a fund led by actor Robert Downey Jr.

Atlast Food Co., an alternative protein startup, has raised $40 million from investors including Viking Global Investors LP, 40 North and Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition Ventures. The money will help build the world’s largest farm for aerial mycelium, a type of mushroom root that’s a key ingredient in Atlast’s products.

Robert Downey Jr. Invests in Plant-Based Bacon Startup

The company is one of several startups racing to perfect plant-based meat alternatives that mimic the texture and flavor of so-called whole cuts, such as steaks and bacon rashers. Replicating the caramelized sear and tender juicy center of such cuts will be one of the toughest challenges for alternative protein producers seeking to tap a market projected to reach $290 billion by 2035.

“We’re trying to get the people who are not going to go full vegetarian to choose this over bacon,” Eben Bayer, Atlast’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. “You can’t just be better for the planet. The Atlast MyEats looks like bacon, it fries like bacon, it crisps up like bacon, it crunches in your mouth like bacon and we think it tastes a lot like bacon.”

Robert Downey Jr. Invests in Plant-Based Bacon Startup

While many alternative protein products have a long list of ingredients, MyBacon has only six: mycelium, coconut oil, cane sugar, sea salt, smoked flavors and beet juice for color.

Atlast, which started selling the bacon through MyEats in November, said it’s working with major brands to supply it on a commercial scale. It also wants to expand into new markets including Europe and Asia, Bayer said.

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