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Cellular agriculture startup Aleph Farms has announced a US$105 million Series B funding round today led by L Catterton’s Growth Fund. The Israeli cultivated meat makers will use the capital to scale up its manufacturing capabilities. In addition, the company says it will expand its operations internationally ahead of its initial market launch in 2022.
Israel-based Aleph farms focus on developing meat steaks directly from non-genetically modified animal cells. They claim the designation of being the first company globally to grow steaks from the cells of cows: in 2018, they made headlines when they debuted the world’s first cell-cultured thin-cut steak.
Earlier this year, using 3D bioprinting and cellular agriculture technologies, the company unveiled the world’s first cultivated ribeye steak.
A record Series B round
Co-founded by Didier Toubia and Shulamit Levenberg along with Israel food giant Strauss Group, the company raised US$105 million in its latest round, a huge sum in the exploding alternative meat sector. This brings Aleph Farms total funding to just over US$118 million.
According to a Good Food Institute (GFI) report, cultivated meat companies have received over US$360 million in investments in 2020, six times the 2019 total. This figure includes the first two series B raises in the sector: Upside Foods’ (formerly known as Memphis Meats record-breaking US$186 million round and Mosa Meat’s US$75 million round, making Aleph’s news the second largest Series B round on record.
In 2021, the flooding of capital into companies making animal meat from cells has continued with Eat Just raising US$170 million in a venture round for its GOOD Meat division, which made history last December when it became the first company in the world to get regulatory approval to commercialize its cell-cultured chicken in Singapore.
Co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms Didier Toubia said in a press release that the team is excited to welcome its new investors and grow its existing relationships with old investors. “This additional capital from top-tier partners with unparalleled experience and expertise brings us significantly closer to our vision of providing secure and unconditional access to high-quality nutrition to anyone, anytime, anywhere. We see our investors as partners for building this new category of meat and it was critical to us that they share our strong commitment to improving the sustainability of our global food systems.”
This additional capital from top-tier partners with unparalleled experience and expertise brings us significantly closer to our vision of providing secure and unconditional access to high-quality nutrition to anyone, anytime, anywhereDidier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms
Strong global investor backing
Aleph Farms’ latest funding round was led by the Growth Fund of L Catterton, the largest global consumer-focused private equity firm, and DisruptAD, one of the largest venture companies in the Middle East.
Managing partner at L Catterton’s Growth Fund, Michael Farello, said, “With cultivated whole-muscle cut steaks, an optimized platform for cost parity at scale, and a global partnership network with the world’s largest meat producers, Aleph Farms has differentiated itself as the leading cultivated meat company poised to go to market. We are excited to support their success as they prepare for a global launch, and we look forward to leveraging our significant expertise in food and sustainable businesses that meet the needs of a changing consumer and a changing world.”
In addition, the round saw participation from Skyviews Life Science, along with a consortium of major global food and meat companies like Thai Union, BRF, and CJ CheilJedang. Existing investors that supported the company included VisVires New Protein, Strauss Group, Cargill, Peregrine Ventures, and CPT Capital.
The raised funds will go towards the large-scale global commercialization of its cultivated beef steaks and new product innovations. The company says it will ramp up its tech platform and its manufacturing capacities while expanding its operations internationally. Aleph had initially planned to launch in 2022 and they say they are ahead of schedule. They are currently working on receiving regulatory approval.
With cultivated whole-muscle cut steaks, an optimized platform for cost parity at scale, and a global partnership network with the world’s largest meat producers, Aleph Farms has differentiated itself as the leading cultivated meat company poised to go to marketMichael Farello, managing partner at L Catterton’s Growth Fund
The company also said DisruptAD’s investment in Aleph Farms is in line with Abu Dhabi’s long-term plans with respect to food resilience. As part of this, the food-tech will assess if it can set up a manufacturing facility in Abu Dhabi to deliver its cultivated meat products across the UAE and the broader GCC region.
Mayank Singhal, speaking on behalf of DisruptAD, with Aleph Farms as its first Israel-based partner, said: “Our belief is that the future of food will be built around evolved consumer choices and redressal of climate concerns, with Aleph playing a central role in shaping this agenda across global markets. We are delighted to partner with them.”
An Israeli success story
Last year, in a landmark achievement, the company received the support of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who toured their facility and tasted their cell-based steak. Israel is an alternative protein hotspot, home to over 40 startups in the space. A recent report by the Good Food Institute Israel found that companies tripled their investment in 2020.
Apart from this, Aleph Farms has partnered with food industry arm of Japanese corporate giant Mitsubishi, a collaboration that will see the food tech introduce its cultivated whole-muscle steaks in Japan while leveraging Mitsubishi’s biotech and local distribution experience. They also joined forces with Brazilian food conglomerate BRF to take their meat to Brazil.
Going beyond planet earth, Aleph Farms plans to produce its cultivated meat in outer space. If this project is successful, the company says they will have solved the food scarcity problem on long-duration manned space journeys.
Lead image courtesy of Aleph Farms.