Tyson Foods invests in cultured meat specialist

Cell-based meat start-up secures $3.5m to scale-up
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ anyaivanova

Cultured meat specialist, Future Meat Technologies, has raised $2.2 million in a seed investment round co-led by Tyson Ventures, the venture capital arm of major food producer, Tyson Foods.

This is the latest in Tyson’s recent streak of investing in disruptive clean- and plant-based meat companies, having thrown its financial weight behind Memphis Meats and Beyond Meat in the last six months.

Future Meat Technologies is a Jerusalem-based biotechnology company advancing a distributive manufacturing platform for the cost-efficient, non-GMO production of meat directly from animal cells, without the need to raise or harvest animals.

Future Meat Technologies focuses on developing a new generation of manufacturing technology that enables the cost-efficient production of fat and muscle cells, the core building blocks of meat.

“It is difficult to imagine cultured meat becoming a reality with a current production price of about $10,000 per kilogram,” said Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, the company’s founder and Chief Scientist.

“We redesigned the manufacturing process until we brought it down to $800 per kilogram today, with a clear roadmap to $5-10 per kg by 2020.”

“This is our first investment in an Israel-based company and we’re excited about this opportunity to broaden our exposure to innovative, new ways of producing protein,” added Justin Whitmore, Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Chief Sustainability Officer of Tyson Foods.

“We continue to invest significantly in our traditional meat business but also believe in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices.”

Animal fat produces the unique aroma and flavour of meat that “makes our mouth water,” noted Nahmias, and Future Meat Technologies is now the only company that can produce this fat, without harvesting animals and without any genetic modification.

“I want my children to eat meat that is delicious, sustainable and safe,” said Nahmias. “This is our commitment to future generations.”

“Global demand for protein and meat is growing at a rapid pace, with an estimated worldwide market of more than a trillion dollars, including explosive growth in China. We believe that making a healthy, non-GMO product that can meet this demand is an essential part of our mission,” said Rom Kshuk, CEO of Future Meat Technologies.

Cultured meat production may also be eco-friendlier than traditional meat production. “We want to feed the world while protecting the environment,” noted Kshuk.

Future Meat Technologies expects to use the funds to establish its engineering activities and increase its biological research. The company is currently recruiting engineers, chefs and scientists.