California based start-up Memphis Meats, founded in 2015, has raised an additional $161 million from investors in a huge Series B funding round. No cell-based meat company has ever raised a sum this big before and it takes the total investment in Memphis Meats to $180 million. That certainly puts this month’s $2.7 million for New Age Meats into perspective.
Memphis Meats, which has already produced the world’s first cell-based beef meatballs (in 2016) and cell-based chicken and duck (in 2017) is on a mission to feed 10 billion people by 2050. The company is committed to removing animal slaughter from the food production process – for the benefit of the environment among other things. Instead animal cells are selected, grown, and fed a range of amino acids, sugars, trace minerals, and vitamins until they grow into what is essentially ‘cultured’ or ‘clean’ meat. The entire process from cell to meat takes Memphis Meats between four and six weeks.
A very excited Memphis Meats co-founder and CEO, Uma Valeti, M.D. stated that “Memphis Meats is revolutionizing how meat is brought to every table around the world. We are providing compelling and delicious choices by producing real meat from animal cells, its natural building blocks. Cell-based meat is poised to dramatically expand humanity’s capacity to feed a growing global population while preserving our culinary traditions and protecting our planet.”
This latest funding round was led by investments from SoftBank Group, Norwest and Temasek with existing investors like Bill Gates, Cargill and Richard Branson adding additional funds.
Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group) said that he is “proud to invest once again in Memphis Meats, the world’s leading cell-based meat company.” He went on “In the next few decades I believe that cell-based meat will become a major part of our global meat supply. I cannot wait for that day!”
This is a message echoed by the Guardian newspaper’s George Monbiot in a recent article [Lab-grown food will soon destroy farming – and save the planet] – and reinforced on a Channel 4 TV show in which he appeared called ‘Apocalypse Cow’. Understandably ‘How meat killed the planet’ hasn’t gone down well with British livestock farmers who are sceptical about the promise of a cell-based meat future. However, it goes without saying that for a company to have received a total of $180 million in funding the future of cell-based meat will surely be more than just hype.
Memphis Meats say that they expect to use the new funds to build a pilot production facility so that they can begin launching products into the market. As yet the company has not announced a date for product launch, and it will have to work with regulatory agencies to ensure a timely and safe market entry.
Image source: Memphis Meats