MycoTechnology Secures $85 Million To Further Capitalise On Fermentation Platform With Worldwide Product Launches
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Colorado-based MycoTechnology has closed an $85 million Series E funding round. The investment was led by a representative of the Omani sovereign wealth fund, the Oman Investment Authority. Previous investors joined the round, including Tyson Foods, S2G Ventures, and Evolution VC partners. New backers joined alongside.
Funding has been raised to help with the global rollout of mycelium-based novel food ingredients. Asia, Europe, and the Middle East have been specifically cited as target locations. Myco will bring its ClearIQ, and FermentIQ to new regions, in a bid to support burgeoning plant-based sectors.
Speaking about the new raise, Alan Hahn, co-founder and CEO said: “This fundraise is a validation of the potential of our breakthrough proposition and next-generation ingredients. [It] will power the imagination of our incredible team, driving our plans to add more new-to-the-world ingredients from the fungal kingdom.”
Leveraging the power of fungi
Myco’s plant-based ingredients platform successfully weathered the storm of Covid-19. In a previous interview, company CEO Alan Hahn chalked this up to not selling products per se, but a whole solutions platform. Increased availability of products has become increasingly important, as the plant-based sector continues to grow.
ClearIQ, known as Myco’s ‘bitter blocker’, can be added to a range of food and beverages, to offset unappetising notes. It has particular applications for sweeteners, plant protein, chocolate, and coffee. The last two could prove significant, as more startups are moving into developing sustainable alternatives to everyday items. Similarly, FermentIQ, the pea and rice protein ingredient made using shitake mycelium is expected to appeal to the slew of new plant-based meat manufacturers. The product is claimed to enhance flavour, functionality and nutrition.
Improving taste and health benefits of plant-based meat are thought to be a potential final stumbling block to wonder adoption. A recent study in traditionally meat-loving Germany revealed that consumers will happily pay a premium for plant-based meat, as long as it tastes good. This appears to be supported by research unveiled by Chew, which found plant-based meat lagging behind even mid-range conventional burgers, due to less appealing flavour and questionable nutrition.
Big meat investing in plant-based innovation
Myco is backed by a number of large agricultural interests; Tyson Foods, for example, has been developing alternatives to its conventional meat offerings. Last year, it launched its first fully plant-based offerings through its Raised & Rooted label.
The market for plant-based is growing, even though some sales have stalled in recent months. Food giant Nestlé saw its 2021 sales for plant-based food tip near $860 million last year. Recent data show the category grew more than six percent last year despite flat sales for the vegan protein category. The report recorded no growth for vegan meat, with sales at $1.4 billion from retail.
Fuelling fungi fermentation’s popularity
Boulder-based Meati has just announced that its fermented mycelium cutlets are available for consumers to buy. It follows a sold-out pre-order round that saw thousands of cutlets reserved in under 24 hours. Chef David Chang gave support to the launch as a brand ambassador, a role he had previously undertaken for Impossible Foods’ burger launch in 2016.
Over in Germany, Keen 4 Greens recently scooped €1.8 million in seed funding to continue its pursuit of whole cut meats made from fermented mycelium. In February this year, the startup revealed that it is scaling its production facilities and looking to develop new clean vegan meat lines. Chicken, beef and bacon have all been earmarked for creation, while the startup looks to phase out its wheat-based products.
Sweden’s Mycorena celebrated a milestone victory earlier this month. The startup bagged €24 million in a Series A round, representing the largest ever alt-protein Nordic raise. Investment will be used to take its flagship fermented mycelium protein innovation, Promyc, from concept to commercial release.
Lead photo by Kier In Sight on Unsplash.