BOSTON —Food technology company Motif FoodWorks raised $226 million in a Series B funding round.
The round was co-led by investment management company BlackRock and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, through its Teachers’ Innovation Platform, which focuses on late-stage investments in companies developing innovative technologies.
Motif will use funds from the Series B round to increase its research and development capabilities, scale and commercialize its food technologies, expand its facilities and grow its team. Investments in those areas will be key to accelerating its mission of solving sensory and nutritional challenges with existing plant-based foods, including meat and dairy analogues, said Jonathan McIntyre, chief executive officer of Motif FoodWorks.
The company’s new food science and design approach, along with food technologies developed through precision fermentation and material science advancements, comes as more consumers are seeking alternatives to animal-based protein. The plant-based food market grew 27% to reach $7 billion in 2020, nearly double the growth rate of overall US food retail sales during the same period, according to the Plant-Based Foods Association.
Despite that growth, existing plant-based alternatives still have critical gaps in taste and texture, Mr. McIntyre said. He cited a recent study from Yale University that found two-thirds of Americans would be willing to eat more plant-based foods if they tasted better than they do today.
“Plant-based foods have the potential to unlock enormous benefits for people and the planet, but that will only happen if they live up to, or even exceed, what consumers expect from animal-based counterparts,” Mr. McIntyre said. “With support from our investors, we’re advancing the understanding of food science and design to make plant-based foods better tasting, more nutritious and so desirable that people actually crave them.”
Originally spun out of Gingko Bioworks in 2019, Motif has raised a total of $345 million to date. The company recently opened a new 10,600-square-foot office and lab space in Boston. It also has secured licensing partnerships with the University of Guelph and Coasun Inc. for technologies that create melting and stretching characteristics in plant-based cheeses, and healthier fat alternatives that marbleize plant-based meats.