JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — Tyson Ventures, the venture capital arm of Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods, Inc., is co-leading a $2.2 million seed investment in Future Meat Technologies. Based in Jerusalem, Future Meat Technologies is a biotechnology company advancing a distributive manufacturing platform for the cost-efficient, non-G.M.O. production of meat directly from animal cells, without the need to raise or harvest animals.
Tyson Ventures is being joined in the seed investment by several groups, including: Neto Group, one of the largest food conglomerates in Israel; S2G Ventures, a Chicago-based venture capital fund; BitsXBites, China’s first food technology venture capital fund; Agrinnovation, an Israeli investment fund founded by Yissum, the Technology Transfer Company of The Hebrew University; and New York-based HB Ventures.
“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,” said 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.”
Earlier this year, Tyson invested in Memphis Meats, a manufacturer of cultured meat produced directly from animal cells. Founded by three scientists, Memphis Meats has produced beef, chicken and duck directly from animal cells without the need to breed or slaughter animals. The company plans to use the funds to accelerate product development and expand its team of chefs and scientists.
Yaakov Nahmias, founder of Future Meat Technologies and chief scientist, said it’s hard to imagine cultured meat becoming a reality with a current production price of about $10,000 per kg.
“We redesigned the manufacturing process until we brought it down to $800 per kg today, with a clear roadmap to $5 to $10 per kg by 2020,” he said.
“I want my children to eat meat that is delicious, sustainable and safe. This is our commitment to future generations.” — Yaakov Nahmias, Future Meat Technologies
Mr. Nahmias said animal fat produces the unique aroma and flavor of meat that “makes our mouth water,” 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,” Mr. Nahmias said. “This is our commitment to future generations.”
Rom Kshuk, chief executive officer of Future Meat Technologies, added that cultured meat also may be eco-friendlier than traditional meat production.
“We want to feed the world while protecting the environment,” he said.
Future Meat Technologies said it plans to use the funds from the seed investment to establish its engineering activities and increase its biological research. The company is currently recruiting engineers, chefs and scientists.