Tyson Foods has invested in Israeli cultured clean meat company Future Meat Technologies, co-leading the startup's $2.2 million seed round.
Future Meat’s main goal is to develop a cost-efficient production method for this innovative but expensive technology, boasting a "clear roadmap" to reaching a production price of under $10 per kilogram by 2020, according to Professor Yaakov Nahmias, the company’s founder and chief scientist.
“It is difficult to imagine cultured meat becoming a reality with a current production price of about $10,000 per kilogram,” says Nahmias in a press release.
Future Meats is also looking to move away from a reliance on fetal bovine serum, currently the key to lab-grown meats.
"To avoid the dependency on animals for serum, more research is needed in order create new serum free media, or existing serum free media that will be efficient and cheap enough to be used as a world-wide substitute for cell growth," writes Future Meat, noting that company scientists are currently conducting such research.
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Tyson Foods has already invested in lab-grown meat company Memphis Meats, which has developed lab-grown beef, chicken, and duck. Tyson's investment in Future Food marks the American company’s first Israeli investment.
“We’re excited about this opportunity to broaden our exposure to innovative, new ways of producing protein,” said Justin Whitmore, Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Chief Sustainability Officer of Tyson Foods. “We continue to invest significantly in our traditional meat business but also believe in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices.”
Other companies that participated in this seed round include the Neto Group, one of the largest food conglomerates in Israel; S2G Ventures, a Chicago-based venture capital fund; BitsXBites, China’s first food technology venture capital fund; and Agrinnovation, an Israeli investment fund founded by Yissum, the Technology Transfer Company of The Hebrew University.
The Spoon points to the success of Future Meat as evidence of a growing “clean meat revolution” in Israel, thanks to the country's status as both a leader in tissue engineering and the home of the largest number of vegans per capita in the world.
Cultured or lab-grown meats are a fast-growing portion of the alternative meat industry. Other companies currently developing lab-grown meats include JUST, formerly Hampton Creek, and Mosa Meats.
This technology is distinct from but linked to plant-based meat innovations, championed by companies such as Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat. Both companies have developed meat alternatives that look and taste like meat but are entirely derived from plants.
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