It looks like Cargill and Richard Branson are among those who believe the future of meat may not include slaughter houses.
The food company and the well-known English business magnate are among the newest investors in Memphis Meats, which focuses on “clean meat” and already has produced beef, chicken and duck directly from animal cells, without the need to raise and slaughter animals.
The $17M Series A round was led by DFJ, a leading venture capital firm that has previously backed Tesla, SpaceX and Skype. Bill Gates also invested in the round, as did Atomico, one of Europe’s largest VC firms. New Crop Capital, SOSV, Fifty Years, KBW Ventures, Inevitable Ventures, Suzy and Jack Welch, Kyle Vogt, and Kimbal Musk also participated. Multiple research institutions joined the round.
The company has now raised $22M to date.
Sonya McCullum Roberts, president of growth ventures, Cargill Protein, says Cargill is committed to growing its traditional protein business while also investing in innovative new proteins to ultimately provide, “a complete basket of goods to our customers.”
“Our investment in Memphis Meats is an exciting way for Cargill to explore the potential in this growing segment of the protein market,” McCullum Roberts says. “Memphis Meats has the potential to provide our customers and consumers with expanded protein choices and is aligned with our mission to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way.”
Memphis Meats plans to use the funds to continue developing products, to accelerate its work in scaling up clean meat production, and to reduce production costs to levels comparable to — and ultimately below — conventional meat costs.
The company expects to quadruple its headcount, and has already begun growing its team of chefs, scientists creative people and business people.
“We’re going to bring meat to the plate in a more sustainable, affordable and delicious way,” explains Uma Valeti, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats. “The world loves to eat meat, and it is core to many of our cultures and traditions. Meat demand is growing rapidly around the world. We want the world to keep eating what it loves. However, the way conventional meat is produced today creates challenges for the environment, animal welfare and human health. These are problems that everyone wants to solve, and we can solve them by bringing this incredible group of partners under one tent. This group will help us accelerate our progress significantly.”
Steve Jurvetson, DFJ Partner who will join the company’s board of directors, says clean meat is an enormous technological shift for humanity.
“It is thrilling to watch the team work, and to try the products, which the entire DFJ team agreed are the real thing. I am so excited for the future that Memphis Meats will create,” he says.