Cultivated meat innovation company CULT Food Science says it has acquired consumer brand assets and product formulations from cultivated pet food startup Because Animals. Because CEO Shannon Falconer says the company sold “discontinued” products to its former co-founder to focus on cultivated pet food acceleration.
CULT Food Science, a publicly traded Vancouver, Canada-based cultivated meat innovation company, announced yesterday in a press release posted to its website that it had signed a binding Letter of Intent (LOI) to acquire the consumer brand assets, related patents, non-scientific intellectual property, and product formulations (referred to in the release as “the Assets”).
The Assets include a yeast-based dog treat (noochies), a yeast-based dog food and two provisional patents for rehydrated-then-freeze-dried-yeast-probiotic-based pet supplements.
According to the release, these assets will be combined with CULT’s existing pet food brands to form a new Pet Food Division that will work to develop and commercialize cultivated pet food products.
Confusion around LOI news media coverage
There was some initial confusion yesterday surrounding the LOI news, with social media posts and smaller media outlets suggesting that Because Animals had been entirely acquired and one platform that contacted us describing it as the “World’s First Cultured Meat Brand Acquisition”.
In a statement sent to Green Queen via email regarding the original CULT press release, Shannon Falconer, co-founder and CEO of Because Animals reiterated that “We were surprised to see the press release as CULT was at no point involved in our divestiture, nor was Because Animals contacted by CULT prior to their publication. Although it’s not clear from the press release, the consumer brand ‘Because Animals’ was not acquired.”
Instead, Falconer told us that the company is focusing all its resources to accelerate the commercialization of its cultured meat technology. As a result, it discontinued the sale of its nutritional yeast-based products late last year and had recently agreed to sell “all formulations and two provisional patents related to these discontinued products” to Joshua Errett.
“The company’s strength is our scientific prowess. And since scientific innovation is key to bringing cultured meat to market, we made the decision to apply laser focus to achieving that feat and to divest ourselves of any and all non-core assets that were not required to realize that objective,” she said.
Falconer added that “Because Animals retains all of its intellectual property relating to cultured meat – which is our core business – and we are committed to revolutionizing the pet food industry with this technology.”
When asked to confirm the news mentioned in the release, Lejjy Gafour, CEO of CULT Food Sciences, told us via email that “as stated in the release formally on our website”, the news announcement referred only to the acquisition of “Because Animals Inc.’s consumer brand assets, related patents, non-scientific intellectual property, and product formulations” and directed us to “additional clarifying language included in the release which the other outlets or individuals may have overlooked” that says that “Because Animals Inc will continue to innovate in the pet food industry.”
Former Because Animals co-founder joins forces with CULT
Errett is the former COO and co-founder of Because Animals. He departed in September 2022 according to Linkedin profile and on October 31, CULT announced that Errett had joined the company as Vice President.
“The CULT platform is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive in the field of cellular agriculture. It has endless potential to impact the world’s food supply and so I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” added Mr. Errett.
Earlier this month, CULT, which according to its website is focused on “providing investors with unprecedented exposure to the most innovative start-up, private or early-stage cultivated meat, cell-based dairy, and other cultured food companies around the world”, revealed that Canadian biotech and cannabis entrepreneur Marc Lustig had acquired a 15% stake in the company, making him the largest single shareholder
“I am very excited to have taken a significant ownership stake in CULT Food Science. I believe it is inevitable that cell-based foods will sustainably transform our food systems for the better, and that these products will be coming to market much sooner than most people think. As a first-mover in the cellular agriculture space, CULT has the opportunity to play a unique and valuable role in the industry’s exciting scientific innovation,” said Lustig of the investment news.
Pet food is a growing focus area for cultivated meat startups
Because Animals was founded in 2016 by Falconer and Errett, and backed by leading VC funds including Draper Associates and SOSV. It was one of the first companies globally to focus on developing pet food aimed at dogs and cats using cellular agriculture technology and in August 2021, debuted the world’s first commercially available cultivated cat food. In early 2022, Because Animals secured investment from European CPG company Group Orkla SA, bringing the company’s total funding to $6.7 million.
Colorado-based Bond Pet Food created cultured chicken aimed at pets in 2020 and last November, vegan dog food company Wild Earth, which famously got Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban to invest $550,000 in 2019, said it had developed a cultivated chicken broth topper “aimed at making the category more sustainable”.