MINNEAPOLIS — Aleph Farms Ltd., a start-up that grows meat cuts directly from cattle cells, has raised $12 million in Series A investments. The funding round was led by VisVires New Protein and included Cargill Protein, Strauss Group and others.
"Cargill is committed to innovation, and we are delighted to be a part of Aleph's accelerated growth," said Sonya Roberts, managing director of growth ventures and strategic pricing for Cargill Protein North America. "This partnership connects new frontiers in cell-based technology with insights in the global food system and supply chains to meet future customer and consumer needs."
Founded in 2017, Aleph Farms grow meat directly from beef cells using a 3D tissue engineering platform. The non-G.M.O. technology relies on a natural process occurring in cows to regenerate and build muscle tissues. Aleph Farms discovered a way to isolate the cells responsible for that process and grow them outside the animal to form the same muscle tissue typical to steaks.
Aleph Farms released its prototype in December 2018, demonstrating the company could grow steak directly from bovine cells. The new investment will allow Aleph Farms to transform this prototype into a commercial product that will grow in bio-farm facilities similar to dairy facilities. The company plans to begin building these farms within three to five years.
Through its slaughter-free meat, Aleph Farms seeks to address concerns, including sustainability of meat production, antibiotic resistance and foodborne illnesses. The company is committed to providing new tools to feed the growing world population without harming animals.
"We will be part of the long-term solution," said Didier Toubia, co-founder and chief executive officer of Aleph Farms. "We intend to lead an open dialogue with farmers and food and feed producers. In addition, we continue to work closely with the regulators to ensure our products will be completely safe, healthy and properly labeled. We welcome the collaboration with the U.S.D.A. and F.D.A. as an opportunity to promote transparency and build trust with all stakeholders."
Cargill’s investment in the start-up reflects a shared goal.
"We all need to work together to address the increasing global need for protein in the coming years, especially as more consumers move into the middle class and the demand for protein increases,” said Jon Nash, president of Cargill Protein North America. “We have a responsibility to look at all innovations that can help us feed the world. We believe in the power of protein and the critical role animal protein will continue to play in nourishing the world for the long term.”
Cargill’s investment in Aleph Farms builds on its other partnerships in alternative protein. In 2017, Cargill invested in the cultured meat company Memphis Meats. Additionally, Cargill is an investor in plant-based protein through Puris, a company producing pea-based protein that is non-G.M.O., organic and allergen-friendly. These investments complement Cargill’s investment portfolio in animal proteins, Ms. Roberts said.
"Consumer demand for protein continues to be very strong,” she said. “That means there's an opportunity for plant and cultured protein growth to complement our traditional animal protein portfolio.”