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Biotech company Because, Animals has announced the closing of its seed stage financing round led by Orkla ASA that puts the startup’s total financing to date at US$6.7 million. The company aims to use these funds to help ramp up the production of its cell-cultured meat for dogs and cats.
Philadelphia-based Because, Animals was founded in 2016 with the aim of creating animal-free pet food employing cell-based technology. The startup launched its first product back in 2018, a cell-based probiotic supplement that helps cats and dogs with digestion and immunity. After successfully raising seed funding in 2019, Because unveiled organic cookies developed with cultivated nutritional yeast called “noochies” for dogs.
The company then unveiled a prototype for the world’s first-ever fetal bovine serum-free (FBS) cultured meat for cats developed out of mouse tissue. The company eschews FBS, which requires extracting blood from pregnant cows.
Because’s latest round was led by European consumer packaged goods group Orkla ASA, marking the latter’s first-ever investment into pet food, made from its Orkla Alternative Proteins division. In addition, the oversubscribed round also saw support from SOSV, Draper Associates, Keen Growth Capital, and others.
In a press release seen by Green Queen, CEO of Because, Animals, Dr. Shannon Falconer said: “Partnering with a major international food player like Orkla is exactly what we sought to do from the beginning. We were not interested in just any corporate food heavyweight, we needed them to be firm believers in sustainability and the future of food, and we’ve found exactly that combination in Orkla.”
We were not interested in just any corporate food heavyweight, we needed them to be firm believers in sustainability and the future of food, and we’ve found exactly that combination in OrklaShannon Falconer, PhD, CEO of Because, Animals
CEO of Orkla Alternative Proteins, Elin Tveito Lidman, said that Because, Animals was the obvious choice for investment as its goals resonate with Orkla’s goals as well. “As a company deeply committed to health and sustainability, we see cultured meat as having interesting potential in terms of sustainability, animal welfare, and food safety. Because, Animals’ products and technology are truly differentiated, and stand out as a sustainable, healthy, humane way to feed pets. Their progress in developing cell lines, growth media, and driving down cost is impressive – all vital steps in bringing cultured meat technology to market.”
With this capital, the company will ramp up production and development of its first commercial cultured meat pet product for cats and going forward, it will work on developing nutrition-based plant and cultured dog foods.
A 2017 study found that the carbon pawprint of pet food is at 64 million tons of carbon-dioxide per year in the U.S. alone.
At a recent industry event, Maya Fano-Carotti of the American Sustainable Business Council asked an important question: “What do we do about the pet industry’s participation in the meat industry, which is often very unsustainable?”
“What we know is that about 25% of the proteins raised in the United States goes to feed pets, so that’s a big impact,” she added.
A couple more companies are understanding this and are working towards reducing the impact of pet food on the environment, for instance, Bond Pet Foods is also using cultivated meat technology to produce animal-free foods for pets and has developed a cultured chicken meat protein for cats and dogs and then we have V-planet that creates 100% plant-based kibble products created out of peas, ground oats, brown rice and potato protein and is high in nutritional value for dogs.
Lead image courtesy of Because, Animals.