With $6 Million In Funding, Planetarians Plots a Future for Low-Carbon Vegan Meat

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Planetarians, the San Francisco-based company that creates plant-based protein from minimal ingredients, has received a $6 million venture capital infusion to help it move to its next phase of commercial production.

San Francisco-based Mindrock led the Seed II investment round, with support from Traction Fund, Techstars, SOSV, and ZX Ventures, the corporate venture arm of AB InBev — the world’s leading beer brewer, which has recently turned its focus toward the plant-based sector.

Two-ingredient vegan meat

Planetarians, which was founded in 2013 by Aleh Manchuliantsau and chef Max Barnthouse, uses spent yeast from commercial fermentation facilities and native plant proteins, such as soy leftover from the vegetable oil extraction process to produce its whole-cut carbon-neutral vegan protein that is made from just two ingredients.

“It took 7 years of R&D to work through the long list of ingredients that are possible for plant-based proteins,” Manchuliantsau said in a statement. “before we realized that one readily available fermented protein, spent yeast from breweries, could combine with soy flakes and other native plant proteins to deliver a meaty taste and texture at a low cost compared to the alternatives.”

“We are deeply grateful for the support of Mindrock, AB InBev, and the rest of our investors,” said  Barnthouse.

planetarians co-founder
Planetarians co-founders Max Barnthouse and Aleh Manchuliantsau

The new investment will be used to build a pilot facility and ramp up sales. The company has already verified its technology works at an industrial scale and has secured its first commercial contract. Manchuliantsau said the facility can be as small as 3,000 square feet because it gets the fermented product without having to do that process itself.

Food waste potential

“While the protein industry was developing new ways of manufacturing that poured money into expensive infrastructure,’ said Ulvi Rashid, head of investments at Mindrock, “Planetarians acted from first principles to re-purpose already existing ingredients to create affordable and sustainable meat.”

anheuser busch
Anheuser-Busch InBev is identifying new market opportunities for spent beer yeast and grains | Courtesy

True to its name, Planetarians is tackling one of the biggest reasons people are shifting away from conventional meat: its carbon footprint. Analysts at IAMECON calculated that Planetarians vegan meat has a carbon footprint that’s 50 times better than animal meat and nine times better than most other plant-based meat, due in large part to its upcycling of existing ingredients leftover from other industries, which lowers both water and power consumption. “Eating Planetarians Vegan Meat once a week equals planting 19 trees,” the company says.

Planetarians has already tested its product with hotels, restaurants, and schools, and has secured its first commercial contract. It is now preparing its second line and is collecting orders to begin production in October. It is also working with AB InBev to place its lines across every brewery it has around the world.

“Like many other hard-working entrepreneurs and scientists, we have been trying to discover an alternative protein that hits all the marks,” Barnthouse said. “I think we have finally found it. I cannot wait to see Planetarians’ technology deployed across every brewery in the world.”


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