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New York’s MyForest Foods, the Ecovative Design spinoff formerly known as Atlast Food Co, has secured a venture loan to support its production scaling ambitions. The mycelium bacon developer confirmed it has sourced financing from Connecticut’s Horizon Technology Finance Corporation and a private investment vehicle connected to Horizon.
Debt financing was cited as a motivation for the loan. MyForest Foods is currently investing an estimated $50 million into new factories, to increase output of its flagship mycelium bacon.
Going for broke
The alt-meat startup is in the process of building what it claims will be the world’s largest vertical mycelium farm. Housed inside an 80,000 square foot building in Green Island, a similar project has now broken ground in Saratoga Springs. The latter is cited to be 60,000 square feet and earmarked for the sole purpose of transforming mycelium protein slabs into vegan bacon. Both facilities are slated for an official opening ceremony later this year, with the former anticipated to create up to three million pounds of bacon per year. This estimate is expected to rise in 2023.
The decision to scale to such an extent comes from successful pilot sales. Honest Weight Food Co-op, located in Albany, has stocked the bacon since November 2020. Since signing on to trial the product, deliveries have increased, but still, the location has struggled to keep it on the shelves.
MyForest previously scooped $40 million, in a Series A round that closed last April. Viking Global Investors led the round with Robert Downey Jr.’s venture capital interest participating alongside, amongst numerous others. The primary motivation for the raise was to build the largest mycelium production facility within the U.S., aka its new New York vertical farm location.
In January, the company underwent a full-scale rebrand. The Ecovative Design offshoot decided that a name more akin to the habitat of its wonder ingredient felt fitting. The rebrand was revealed shortly after a strategic partnership with Canadian mushroom producer Whitecrest was announced. Together, the two initiatives were deemed to be a marker of new energy coming out of the startup.
“Replicating Mother Earth’s magic, we simulate the forest inside our vertical farms; cool rains, evening fog, morning mist, and afternoon breezes create just the right environment for our mycelium to grow, weaving into delicate, precise, and tender whole-cuts for the world to enjoy,” Eben Bayer, CEO of MyForest Foods said in a statement about the rebrand in January. “The forest, philosophically and physically, is where we hail from, so this felt like a natural move. ‘From the forest. For the future,’ our new company tagline, captures our essence and purpose.”
Mushrooms to the front
Fungi is a darling of the alt-protein sector right now, with multiple companies seeking to leverage the sustainable foodstuff. Last month, Chicago-based Nature’s Fynd unveiled its new breakfast patties, made using its proprietary Fy protein. Created using fermentation, the products are being rolled out into Whole Foods Market stores from this month. The move represents the fulfilment of ambitions cited during last year’s Series C raise that brought $350 million into play for global commercial distribution.
In the mycelium world, Barcelona’s Libre Foods netted $2.5 million last month for the launch of its mushroom bacon. Due to E.U.regualtions not permitting the sale of mycelium food products yet, the startup is seeking to launch with approved mushroom ingredients to start, before tagging in its proprietary mycelium whole cuts. Meanwhile, Colorado’s Meati has pressed go on direct-to-consumer sales of its mycelium superfood whole-cut meats.
All photos by MyForest Foods.