Tag: Investment

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BlueNalu nets new funding for cell-based seafood products

Lou Cooperhouse, BlueNalu’s President + CEO, standing in front of their headquarters and pilot food production facility in San Diego; Photo Courtesy of BlueNalu

With a new round of funding secured, the California-based company aims to make the first products available to US diners in the near future.

BlueNalu, a US provider of cell-based seafood cultured in bioreactors, announced last week that it had recently secured US$60 million in financing. This comes in addition to the financing round of US$20 million announced in early 2020. “This will help us finance our work until the next milestone, allowing us to get our pilot facility completed and equipped, and the documentation in place to meet the requirements of the FDA,” said President and CEO Lou Cooperhouse. “As soon as we have met both of these requirements, we will be able to launch our first product to restaurants in the US.”

Speaking at an online event, Cooperhouse touted the potential of cell-based seafood compared to traditional fishing and aquaculture. Wild fishery is lagging due to depleted stocks, and aquaculture is struggling to make up for those shortfalls, he noted, adding that provisions of fish and seafood are highly vulnerable due to their globe-spanning supply chains (the US, for instance, imports 90 percent of its seafood). Not only does the industry have a devastating impact on animal stocks, coral reefs, and other oceanic ecosystems, but the product yield in restaurants is only 50 to 60 percent due to losses or spoilage in transport and the fact that many animal parts such as fins, tails, bones, or skin are discarded.

“This highly inefficient approach leads to variations in supplies, quality, and freshness of products,” said Cooperhouse. “Our cell-based product can be 100 percent local, with an environmental footprint that will be transformative for the entire global supply chain.” The ability to make seafood in close proximity to consumers in a bioreactor also means that the products can be demand-driven and responsive to the wishes of the customers, rather than being supply-restricted and determined by what catch is available on any given day.

cell-based seafood
BlueNalu’s whole-muscle, cell-based yellowtail prepared in four different recipes (clockwise from top left): roasted butternut squash & yellowtail bisque, poke bowl, fish taco, and kimchi; Photo courtesy of BlueNalu

BlueNalu has already developed well over 100 stable cell lines for mahi mahi, bluefin tuna, red snapper, and other fish species, with more planned for the future. The company’s goal is to complete its pilot facility in San Diego and have limited amounts of product commercially available over the next year, with full-scale commercialization a realistic prospect in the not-too-distant future.

“The BlueNalu team has done a stellar job with each step of the growth process,” said Chuck Laue, a board member and investor in BlueNalu and founder and chair of Stray Dog Capital.They have assembled a highly capable and mission-driven team with experience in myriad disciplines, and they are going to change the way the world consumes seafood. They are using science, technology, engineering and innovation to protect our planet. I’m excited and honored to participate in such an important venture.”

While the nascent cell-based meat industry in the US is experiencing a great deal of pushback from the strong lobby of traditional beef, pork, and chicken producers, Cooperhouse notes that there has been less opposition from the seafood industry. “We do not expect as much competition from the US fishing industry because we are targeting species that are typically imported from overseas, illegally fished, or have a high mercury content,” he says. “We see ourselves as working with existing players, and complementing our global supply chain of seafood, rather than being in competition.” Ultimately, he anticipates that there will be three ways of sourcing fish and seafood – from wild catch, conventional aquaculture, and cellular aquaculture via cell-based processes.


At Supertrends, we are co-creating the future – and you can be a part of it

A growing number of companies are striving to bring cell-based food to consumers, including cultured meat as well as fish and seafood. When do you think the first cell-based seafood will be available in restaurants? When will the first large-scale bioreactors be operational? How long before regulators approve cell-based animal muscle for human consumption in the US? Visit the Supertrends App and make your own predictions! Not an App user yet? Visit the Supertrends Pro – page to learn about your benefits and request a trial – for free!

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Financial investments in the cultured meat sector. Hype or real opportunity?

With widespread disruptions of the traditional supply chain of meat and the emergence of new technologies as well as an increasing sentiment toward animal welfare, cultured meat is emerging as a viable investment option in the future of protein.

Cultured meat (in-vitro meat, lab-meat, clean meat) is developed in bioreactors, taking just a few cells (biopsy) from a living animal and multiplying them under sterile conditions in order to obtain the final product – minced meat, filet, steak, etc. Pioneered by the Dutch university professor Mark Post in 2013, the idea soon speeded all over the word. Currently, there are research centers and companies active in this field on every continent, each competing for market share and trying to come up with a scalable product. 

Mathematical models and financial analysts predict that the cultured meat market has the potential to grow by US$200.21 million during 2020-2024[1], reaching US$593 million by 2032[2]. Futurists dare to push the envelope and predict the total collapse of the cattle industry by 2030[3].  

More conservative opinions predict that these trends will coexist for a while. As soon as cultured meat is produced on a larger scale, at a lower cost, and with improved nutritional content, traditional meat might become an exclusive and exquisite treat in high-end restaurants. 

Cultured meat, an attractive investment 

Investor interest has been rising dramatically over the last four years, ranging from investments of less than US$20 million in 2016 to over US$160 million in 2020[4]. The US is the country with the highest investments, mainly due to Memphis Meat’s most recent fundraising, which surpassed US$160 million. Despite its small size, Israel has managed to secure over US$37 million in investments. 

Most of the investments are in an early financing stage (seed phase), raising funds of up to  US$2 million and aiming to cover their research and product development expenses.  

Only six companies among those that chose to disclose their financial status are in the Series A funding rounds, securing up to US$10-15 million in exchange for equity, while only one company works towards a scalable business trying to market their products on a larger scale through Series B financing (average estimated capital raised of US$32 million). 

Funds raised by cultured meat companies between 2016 and 2020[4]  

…In conclusion 

Some cultured meat start-ups are financially supported by established companies, usually in a similar or tangential industry. For example, in its Series B funding round, Memphis Meat raised money both from venture capital companies, public persons (Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Kimbal Musk), but also from the food giant Cargill. Investing in cultured meat might prove useful for traditional meat producers as a back-up solution for situations such as the current COVID pandemic. 

As every emerging niche, cultured meat has both high potential as well as drawbacks. The current development phase of the industry is still relatively far away from the promised benefits. Problems such as consumer perception, scalability, energy consumption, taste, and appearance still need to be addressed. 


The Supertrends dynamic report on cultured meat addresses in greater depth the current financial landscape and future opportunities that cultured meat presents as an investment. For more information on the report and the option to receive a sample, click here.

© 2020 Supertrends

Reference

[1] TechNavio. 2019. Cultured Meat Market by Product and Geography – Forecast and Analysis 2020-2024. Market Report, Toronto: Infiniti Research Limited.

[2] Markets and Markets. 2019. Cultured Meat Market by Source, End-User and Region – Global Forecast to 2032. Market Report, Hadapsar, India: MarketsandMarkets Research

[3] Tubb, Catherine, and Tony Seba. 2019. Rethinking Food and Agriculture 2020-2030. RetinkX.

[4] Swartz, Eliot. 2019. A Bit of Science. May 31. Accessed May 11, 2020. http://elliotswartz.com/.

Does cultured meat have what it takes for high investment returns? Does cultured meat have what it takes for high investment returns? Does cultured meat have what it takes for high investment returns? Does cultured meat have what it takes for high investment returns?

Investing in solutions for big problems

As a novel technology, will cell-based meat provide good investment returns? What will be the impact of COVID-19 on the future of food? When will a cultured meat company make its IPO debut? Few experts are better positioned than Andrew D. Ive, the founder and managing general partner for Big Idea Ventures, to answer these questions. 

It’s a chilly Wednesday morning in New York, and the coronavirus pandemic is in full swing. Since face-to-face meetings are still out of the question, I met up for a virtual walk with Andrew D. Ive, the founder and GP of Big Idea Ventures (BIV), which just kick-started their investment fund for plant- and cell-based protein start-ups.

Having grown up in both the UK and the US, Andrew spent most of his career building companies and teams. Now he wants to use his experience to make an even more positive impact. Or as he puts it, “I want my daughter to have a world which is better than the world I have lived in.”

Supertrends: BIV views both plant- and cell-based protein products as solutions for our future nutrition needs. Do you think plant- and cell-based protein companies are competitors in terms of being environmentally sustainable businesses?

Andrew D. Ive: We are all influenced by how we were brought up, our culture, and what kind of food we love. I think that over time, entrepreneurs and chefs will be able to create food that allows us to continue to have the same experiences, but in a healthier, more sustainable way. 

I see plant- and cell-based companies as providing different ways of achieving some of the solutions we need. Plant-based meat allows us to have very similar experiences as the original products. You can get plant-based meat with the same taste, texture, and experience as animal protein, but with a lower eco-footprint. Plant-based and cell-based proteins are similar in that sense. The main difference is that cell-based meat is not yet approved by the regulatory bodies as food for human consumption. I also think cell-based meat can be created from a technology perspective, but it still has to be accepted by consumers. What will happen in the next decade with consumer demand will be that people will begin to trust the cell-based meat system as being safer and healthier than the traditional animal livestock system. 

It may still take five years or more for cell-based meat to make a financial profit. As an investor, how do you view the return on investment for these companies?

Food production is just one of the many applications of cell-based technology. Another key area of application for cell-based protein is collagen and gelatin production. Gelatin can be used not only in food, but also in life science, photography, regenerative medicine, drug delivery and other areas. I think cell-based technology has the potential to be deployed across multiple markets above and beyond food. Let’s say the technology may take three to five years to be commercially viable in the food industry; it can also be commercially viable earlier than that in other applications to improve the quality of life.     

As an investor, I am prepared to wait five or six years to see a transformation in this multi-billion-dollar industry

Andrew D. Ive, the founder and GP of Big Idea Ventures

As far as food production is concerned, it is potentially transformative for the entire meat industry, which is a multi-billion-dollar business. As an investor, I am prepared to wait five or six years to be able to be a transform of a multi-billion-dollar industry, reduce our impact on the planet and potentially capture some of that value for the investors who help to create this new industry. The financial returns will be there from a financial perspective.  

Supertrends: What will be the impact of COVID-19 on the food industry?

COVID-19 made us look at the food industry in a different way. It made us realize how fragile our food system is, both domestically and internationally. For countries that rely on their neighbors to provide food and raw ingredients, the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted their concerns about food security. It has made us realize that life is not as predictable and controllable as we originally thought. In that sense, the only technology that can get you to self-sufficiency in protein during a border lockdown period is cell-based technology. It’s relevant to governments, it’s a matter of a country’s security. If I am a country that relies on my neighbors to supply me with food, I will want a backup. That backup will likely be cell-based protein. 

Supertrends: When could we see the first IPO from a cultured meat company? 

Usually, from an IPO perspective, companies need to achieve significant revenues; for instance, US$100 million in annual revenues. It will be a long time before a cell-based meat company hits that kind of revenue based on their current business model and the stage of the technology life cycle. What I think will happen is that the market will be excited about the long term potential for cell-based meat technology and will be prepared to respond to an IPO and invest in a cell-based meat company even though it hasn’t hit a revenue threshold such as a US$100 million in revenue.


Visit the Supertrends App and search for ‘cultured meat’ to find out when Andrew D. Ive thinks the first cell-based meat company will make an IPO. Not an App user yet? Visit the Supertrends Pro – page to learn about your benefits and request a trial – for free!

© 2020 Supertrends

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