Chunk Foods, an Israeli company leveraging cutting-edge fermentation technology to produce whole-cut plant-based meat products, has announced a $2 million pre-seed round led by VC fund Stray Dog Capital, Germany’s Good Seed Ventures, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-affiliated E14 Fund.
Stray Dog Capital specializes in investments in the alternative protein sectors, and has invested in firms including Los Angeles-based meat substitute maker Beyond Meat, whose shares are traded on Nasdaq, and Israeli startup Aleph Farms, a maker of cultivated meat. Good Seed Ventures focuses on technologies that help transition to a sustainable food system; E14 Fund invests in startups stemming from MIT labs.
The plant-based industry has grown rapidly in recent years and is drawing the interest of major investment groups and food conglomerates. According to the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that tracks the industry, alternative protein companies saw $3.1 billion in investment in 2020, three times the amount in any other single year in the industry’s history.
Specifically, within the fermentation sector of the industry, where Chunk Foods operates, there were almost $600 million worth of investments in 2020, more than double the amount raised in 2019.
The Tel Aviv-based startup was founded by its CEO Amos Golan in September 2020. It uses fermentation technology spun out of MIT that combines plant ingredients and food-grade, or safe for consumption, microorganisms. This enables the creation of “realistic whole-muscle meat alternatives,” with the right textures and flavors, via a large-scale manufacturing process, the company said.
Chunk Foods will initially develop beef and fish alternatives, the statement said.
“Development of plant-based alternative proteins that resemble traditional whole-muscle products such as steak are often regarded as the most difficult and complex to achieve,” said Johnny Ream, partner at Stray Dog Capital, in the statement. “We believe Chunk’s technologies and proprietary processes have strong potential to play a significant role in bringing these types of products to market.”
The current round of funding will be used to further improve the startup’s products and boost the number of employees, the statement said.
“Consumers expect healthy, nutritious and clean label options for their daily staples like meat and fish. They want their food to be aligned with their values, and they’re no longer willing to make compromises,” said Golan.
“Whole muscle cuts of beef such as sirloin, chuck or ribs have been the Holy Grail of alternative meats as they account for about 60% of the beef market in the USA. We’ve overcome the technological limitations of other approaches by naturally creating delicious and realistic products with many of the attributes of meat, while ensuring a clean and short ingredient list using our novel fermentation technology. Stray Dog Capital shares our vision of the future of food and we’re excited to be partnering to make that vision into reality.”