GREEN ISLAND, NY. — Atlast Food Co., a maker of mycelium-based meat alternatives, raised $40 million in a Series A funding round led by Viking Global Ventures, with participation from 40 North, Aiim Partners, Senator Investment Group, Stray Dog Capital and Footprint Coalition.
The leaders and founders of several food companies, including Applegate, Stonyfield and Whole Foods Market, also participated in the round.
Atlast uses mycelium, the vegetative part of a fungus consisting of branching, thread-like fibers, to replicate the texture and mouthfeel of whole-cut meats. While most meat alternatives use plant protein isolates to mimic the finely minced texture of ground meat, mycelium’s long, branching fibers help recreate the caramelized crust, juicy center and mouthfeel of fatty and savory flavors that come from chewing a whole cut of meat, according to the company.
The Green Island, NY-based startup in November launched its first product, a meat-free bacon alternative called MyBacon, through MyEats, its direct-to-consumer brand. It currently is working with Ecovative, a mycelium technology company, to expand its production capacity and supply the product to partners in the CPG and foodservice industries at commercial scale.
“We chose bacon as an entry point to the whole cut meat market because it is a cultural touchstone for so many consumers,” said Stephen Lomnes, president of Atlast Food Co. “We set out to make a plant-based bacon that imitates the salty sweet experience of pork bacon without the negative trade-offs. We’ve heard from our consumers that they love cooking MyBacon strips because it is cleaner and healthier than traditional pork-based bacon.”
The Series A fundraise will speed up both the discovery and production process for Atlast and MyEats by supporting the construction of the country’s largest aerial mycelium farm, he said.
“We can grow mycelium in near limitless combinations of shape, thickness and texture to replicate the mouthfeel of a number of whole cut animal meats,” Mr. Lomnes said. “We just happened to identify the perfect mushroom to replicate pork-bacon first.”
The company also is testing different varieties of mushrooms and targeting whole cuts of protein such as chicken, beef and fish.
“Whole cuts of meats are the majority of the market and the next frontier for plant-based food companies,” Mr. Lomnes said. “With our current scale, funding and partners, we are well-positioned to bring a range of mycelium meats to market in the coming years.”