Vegan Pet Food Pioneer Wild Earth Raises $23M, Announces Cell-Based Meat Products

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Plant-based dog food company Wild Earth has secured $23 million in a new Series A Plus funding round and plans to launch new cat and dog foods in 2022 — including cell-based beef, chicken and seafood products.

Wild Earth was founded by IndioBio co-founder Ryan Bethencourt and is headquartered in Berkeley, California and Durham, North Carolina. The company pioneered “cleaner label”, high-quality vegan dog food when it launched back in 2018. It offers supplements and treats as well as dog food via direct-to-consumer retail.

Cleaner food for pets

Bethencourt is a longtime vegan as well as an entrepreneur and impact investor, having backed more than 120 early-stage food and biotech startups over the last several years. In 2020, he and food scientist Mariliis Holm (formerly of Finless Foods) launched Sustainable Food Ventures, a rolling fund dedicated to future food companies.

Wild Earth’s current dog food products are made from yeast, pea protein, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and other plant-based ingredients. Bethencourt closed a deal for the company with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank in 2020, which helped bring the concept of plant-based pet food further into the mainstream. Cuban contributed to this new round of funding, which also saw participation from At One Ventures Veginvest, Big Idea Ventures, Bitburger Ventures, Gaingels, and actor Paul Wesley.

Wild Earth founder Ryan Bethencourt

Disrupting the $40B pet food industry

Wild Earth will release new products in the next year, including cell-based dog and cat food, which the company says it is currently developing. So far, it is working on beef, chicken, and seafood cell-based meat products. 

“With the skyrocketing growth of plant-based dog food and Wild Earth having grown our revenue 700%, more than double the growth rate of the plant based meat and dairy industry, we’re excited to win market share in the $40 billion US pet food industry and create two new categories in the pet food industry,” Bethencourt told Green Queen.

He added that the company’s 40,000-plus customers have been a major contributor to growth.

Cell-based pet food

Wild Earth’s announcement that it will develop cell-based pet food comes just a few weeks after Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based startup Because, Animals debuted a cultured mouse meat product for cats. And in 2020, biotech company Bond Pet Foods, Inc. said it had developed the world’s first cultured chicken protein for cats and dogs. 

None of these products have actually reached the market yet, since cell-based pet food will presumably have to go through a regulatory approvals process much like meat being developed for human consumption. 

The pet food industry currently accounts for about a quarter of meat production, and as much as 21% of the world’s GHG emissions come from the production of meat and dairy.

“Meat production is the most climate intensive part of our food system, driving nearly as many emissions as the global energy sector,” Tom Chi of At One Ventures noted in today’s press release. “Wild Earth is changing the game by addressing the 20+% of meat consumption that goes to pets.” 

Wild Earth says it is “on track” to release cell-based pet food in 2022, though the company has provided no further details at this time about where and via which channels (e.g., retail) it might do this.


Lead image courtesy of Wild Earth.

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