Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Cargill is participating in a Series A investment round led by VisVires New Protein and joined by several other investors looking to move Aleph Farms’ product from prototype to the commercial marketplace. Aleph Farms grows meat directly from beef cells using a 3D tissue engineering platform. In December 2018, it achieved a world-first by demonstrating it could grow a steak directly from bovine cells.
“Cargill is committed to innovation and we are delighted to be a part of Aleph’s accelerated growth,” said Sonya Roberts, managing director of growth ventures and strategic pricing for Cargill Protein North America. “This partnership connects new frontiers in cell-based technology with insights in the global food system and supply chains to meet future customer and consumer needs.”
While cultured proteins represent a relatively small portion of Cargill’s portfolio, the company sees value in investments in innovators like Aleph Farms.
“Consumer demand for protein continues to be very strong. That means there’s an opportunity for plant and cultured protein growth to complement our traditional animal protein portfolio,” said Roberts.
Aleph Farms plans to begin building bio-farms and move toward a limited consumer product launch with steak grown under controlled conditions within three to five years.
Aleph Farms, co-founded by The Kitchen Hub, is the first company to grow real meat cuts directly from cattle cells.
The company announced it has raised $12 million (U.S.) in series A investments. This new influx of support includes a blend of classic venture capitalists and strategic partners.
Aleph Farms’ unique non-GMO technology, co-developed with Professor Shulamit Levenberg of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, relies on a natural process occurring in cows to regenerate and build muscle tissues. The company discovered a way to isolate the cells responsible for that process and grow them outside of the animal to form the same muscle tissue typical to steaks.
The injection of capital will allow Aleph Farms to accelerate product development of its slaughter-free meat and to transform Aleph’s prototype into a commercial product. Its cultured meat will grow in large, clean bio-farm facilities similar to a dairy facility.
“We will be part of the long-term solution,” said Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms. “We intend to lead an open dialog with farmers and food and feed producers. In addition, we continue to work closely with the regulators to ensure our products will be completely safe, healthy and properly labeled. We welcome the collaboration with the USDA and FDA as an opportunity to promote transparency and build trust with all stakeholders.”
The investment in Aleph Farms builds on Cargill’s other partnerships in alternative protein. In 2017, Cargill was an early investor in Memphis Meats, a company leading the way in the development of cultured meat. Cargill also is an investor in plant-based protein through Puris, a firm that has launched a new pea-based protein that is non-GMO, organic and allergen-friendly. These investments complement the company’s investment in its traditional animal protein portfolio, which has totaled more than $1.5 billion over several years.
“We all need to work together to address the increasing global need for protein in the coming years, especially as more consumers move into the middle-class and the demand for protein increases. We have a responsibility to look at all innovations that can help us feed the world,” said Jon Nash, president, Cargill Protein-North America.”We believe in the power of protein and the critical role animal protein will continue to play in nourishing the world for the long-term.”