Israel’s Future Meat, a Jerusalem-based biotechnology firm that creates chicken, lamb, and beef products made from animal cells, has raised $347 million in a Series B funding round, the largest single investment in a cultured meat company to date.
The investment was co-led by ADM Ventures, the investment arm of Chicago-based food multinational Archer-Daniels-Midland, and an unnamed global tech investor, Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, founder and CEO of Future Meat, told Bloomberg on Saturday.
US meat company Tyson Foods, the second-largest processor and marketer of meat products and an existing investor in Future Meat, also participated in the round.
Nahmias said the company will use the funds to build a production facility in the United States, and hopes to hit US market shelves later in 2022, pending regulatory approval. This past summer, Future Meat opened what it called the world’s first industrial cultured meat production facility in Rehovot, its headquarters, with the capacity to produce 500 kilograms (about half a ton) of cultured product per day.
The facility further supports Future Meat’s larger efforts “to create a more sustainable future,” the company has said.
“We are incredibly excited by the massive support of our global network of strategic and financial investors,” said Nahmias. “This financing consolidates Future Meat’s position as the leading player in the cultivated meat industry, just three years after our launch. Our singular technology reduced production costs faster than anyone thought possible, paving the way for a massive expansion of operations. Our team will break ground on the first-of-its-kind, large-scale production facility in the United States in 2022.”
Future Meat’s technology is based on the work of Nahmias, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is licensed through Yissum, the technology transfer company of the university. The company grows animal cells in bioreactors and says its end product is indistinguishable from animal meat. The cells do not undergo genetic modifications and can multiply indefinitely. The process is more environmentally friendly than farming, producing 80 percent fewer greenhouse emissions and using 99% less land and 96% less freshwater than traditional meat production, according to the company.
“While Future Meat is leading the pack as the fastest-growing company in this space, I truly see the entire cultivated meat industry as a massive agent of change, creating a sustainable future for coming generations,” added Nahmias.
Future Meat also announced Sunday that it was now producing cultivated chicken breast for just $7.70 per pound, or $1.70 per 110-gram chicken breast, down from under $18 per pound just six months ago.
Cultured meat companies have been drawing significant investments in recent years. Eat Just, a San Francisco-based food company, raised $267 million in September for its cultured meat division, GOOD Meat. Memphis-based UPSIDE Foods (formerly Memphis Meats) has raised over $200 million for its cultivated meat, poultry and seafood products and opened a production facility in Emeryville, California, last month.
In July, Israeli cultivated meat startup Aleph Farms received a $105 million investment, including by US actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio, to bring lab-grown steaks to market.
The Israeli cultured meat sector also includes MeaTech 3D, a maker of lab-grown meat products that started research into the production of cultivated pork meat and recently unveiled what it called the largest, bio-printed cultivated steak to date, at 3.67 ounces (104 grams), and SuperMeat, which grows beef and poultry cells.
These food tech companies play a “substantial role” in the alternative proteins global market, according to a report by The Good Food Institute Israel, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote research and innovation in the field.
The cultivated meat sector is poised to thrive in coming years when companies transition from the development stage to production, the report said.
There are some 40 companies worldwide racing to be the first to market with cell-based meat products that taste and look like the real thing, and can be affordably mass-produced to meet the massive demand for protein in a world whose population is increasing and becoming wealthier.