Cooks Venture had been working in stealth for many years as they bred and raised a proprietary slow-growth, heirloom chicken, taking into account the health of the animal and the health of the environment. Over the last decade, the team has re-imagined how selective breeding is conducted through more natural criteria and heritage lines, which stands in stark contrast to the industrial-bred and factory-farmed chickens that tend to dominate the poultry industry today. Matthew Wadiak, the CEO and founder of Cooks Ventures and former Blue Apron COO, is betting the consumer is looking for something better. Keep in mind, Tyson-owned Cobb and privately held Aviagen dominate the chickens that are consumed, so it will be interesting to see if “Cooks Venture” can break into the marketplace and disrupt the space. If so, it might work towards reshaping agriculture in many channels.
In an elementary explanation, Cooks Venture is trying to reshape agriculture from the ground up, using chickens. Keep in mind, the leading two companies produce broilers that are fast-growing, usually ready to be processed in just over five weeks, making them cheaper and easier to produce. But many activist and special interest groups argue the process is creating birds that are too young to carry around all the weight they put on so quickly, can be more sickly, and simply do not taste as good as naturally selected chickens which eat a more highly diverse diet, are raised in 60 to 65 days, and live in a more natural and healthier environment.
Wadiak saw a need for change as he witnessed first-hand the inefficiencies of America’s food supply chain while COO and Cofounder of Blue Apron, and believes much of the current infrastructure is only encouraging more farmers to grow more corn and soybeans leading to what he calls a backward system. It’s this system that has not only led to a surplus of crops that are fed to chickens that have been specifically bred to digest corn, but it is also a system that has helped negatively impact rural America as more small farms are gobbled up by the larger commercial farming operations.
Cooks Ventures argues by breeding chickens with a more advanced digestive system allows them to eat a broader range of feed, which in turn creates more opportunities for local farmers to work with their company as they transition to crops grown regeneratively for feeding the heirloom chickens.
It’s also worth mentioning, Cooks Ventures recently announced a partnership with “Food In Depth”, a platform that tests for the presence of antibiotics and other adulterants in a comprehensive, rigorous, and near real-time proprietary process. I believe this will be very important play for CV as they address the most pressing concerns of consumers with transparency and regen ag. Until now, the industry lacked a scalable testing solution of this kind, with the predominant validation of antibiotic-free meat coming from trust between producers and buyers, meaning many of the “no-antibiotic” label claims could not be verified. This partnership makes CV the first company in America to test for synthetic inputs.
As the media gets louder and louder each day about healthier food choices, perceived animal abuse, etc. I have to imagine we are going to see more investment dollars from Wall Street thrown at “Socially Sustainable Agriculture”. Remember this term, “Socially Sustainable Agriculture”, I suspect it is going to be another hurdle our families will be required to clear. If not us then for sure our children… (Source: Techcrunch, observer.com, Forbes, alleywatch.com)