BOSTON — Food technology startup Tender Foods, formerly Boston Meats, raised $12 million in seed funding to scale production of its plant-based meat products.
Launched just over a year ago, Tender is focused on replicating the structures and textures of whole muscle cuts from animals, according to the company. Using a process licensed from Harvard University, Tender spins plant protein into strands that mimic meat muscle fibers. The startup’s technology creates whole muscle cut products like chicken breast, pulled pork and steak, with applications from plant-based to cultivated meat.
Tender’s approach leverages innovations in materials and protein fiber manufacturing originally conceived in the Harvard lab of Kevin Kit Parker, PhD, a professor at Harvard’s John A. Paulson school of engineering and applied sciences and an associate faculty member at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for biologically inspired engineering. Christophe Chantre, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tender, was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Wyss Institute prior to launching the company.
“Our ambition is to make products that are indistinguishable from butchered meat,” Mr. Chantre said. “By recreating the textures and fibers of animal-based meats, we can ensure that no matter what cut of meat you want, a plant-based product from Tender is what you reach for.”
Tender is collaborating with chefs in Boston to serve taste tests of its pulled pork alternative. The new funding will help it scale production to launch its first products later this year.
The $12 million seed round was led by Lowercarbon Capital, with participation from Rhapsody Venture Partners, actress Natalie Portman, Safar Partners, Bread and Butter Ventures, MCJ Collective and Unovis.“The roughly 6 billion carnivorous humans that eat meat drive about 15% of total carbon emissions,” said Chris Sacca, co-founder of Lowercarbon Capital. “Cheers to the vegans, but to win over everybody else you need steaks and chops made from plants that are just as tasty off the grill as what gets cleaved off a carcass.”