The Van Trump Report

More Money for Cultured Meat

US-based “UPSIDE Foods” (formerly known as Memphis Meats) has closed a +$400 million Series C in the largest funding round for a cultivated meat company to-date. UPSIDE is saying they will use the funds to build a commercial-scale facility for “any species” of cultivated meat, as well as develop a supply chain for cell media and other necessary inputs. 

In case you are wondering, they define “cultivated meat,” also known as cultured meat, as genuine animal meat (including seafood and organ meats) that is produced by cultivating animal cells directly. In theory, some say this production method could eventually eliminate the need to commercially raise animals for food. 

Cultivated meat is made of the same cell types arranged in the same or similar structure as animal tissues, thus replicating the sensory and nutritional profiles of conventional meat. The manufacturing process begins with acquiring and banking stem cells from an animal. These cells are then grown in bioreactors (known colloquially as cultivators) at high densities and volumes. Similar to what happens inside an animal’s body, the cells are fed an oxygen-rich cell culture medium made up of basic nutrients such as amino acids, glucose, vitamins, and inorganic salts, and supplemented with proteins and other growth factors. Changes in the medium composition, often in tandem with cues from a scaffolding structure, trigger immature cells to differentiate into the skeletal muscle, fat, and connective tissues that make up meat. The differentiated cells are then harvested, prepared, and packaged into final products. This process is expected to take between 2 to 8 weeks, depending on what kind of meat is being cultivated. Some companies are pursuing a similar strategy to create milk and other dairy products. 

Much of the focus over the past five to ten years has been on the technology to create these new foods and not so much on how companies will make enough of it. Now we are seeing companies taking on the scalability of these products. 

For example, this week, Planetary announced an $8 million investment toward building facilities to help companies leveraging fermentation technology create and scale their alternative proteins quicker. In addition, Perfect Day, a biotechnology company that developed an animal-free milk protein, also announced this week that it was opening a new facility in Salt Lake City in The Gateway BioHive hub. This is the company’s second location and will be a base for Perfect Day to scale its enterprise biology business. Meanwhile, Nowadays, which raised $7 million this week, is tapping into existing meat-producing channels to make more of its plant-based nuggets.

The Good Food Institute reports that $5 billion in investments were pumped into the alternative proteins space in 2021, a 60% increase from the year prior. Of that amount, cultivated meat and seafood companies secured $1.4 billion in investments in 2021. (Source: TechCrunch; GoodFoodInstitute)

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