What’s significant about this?
Most animal cell-based products have concentrated on conventional minced meat equivalents due to the lower level of 3D structure required. Aleph Farms are the first company to put out a plan for commercial manufacture of 3D steaklike products. Success here will dramatically raise the st(e)akes in the conventional vs cell-based face-off. This is because it opens the door to cell-based products as whole of animal meat replacements, not just mince.
Israeli startup Aleph Farms have raised USD12m in Series A funding from investors including Cargill, a major conventional meat supplier. Coming off the back of the Beyond IPO and the USD300 m raised by Impossible Foods it certainly demonstrates the investment appetite for alternative proteins. The only question here is whether the issues between Tyson Foods and Beyond Meat affect how Aleph and other startups will view Big Meat companies.
Aleph showed a proof of concept prototype product a few cm wide and 5mm thick in December 2018. Their claim to fame is that they can grow all 4 cell types, muscle, fat, blood vessels and connective tissue in the one product. This then allows them to produce a product which closely mimics conventional meat. Furthermore Aleph claims to be growing the cells “in a medium that is free of fetal bovine serum”, which is the holy grail of cell-based product growth media.
Video of 2018 prototype – courtesy of Aleph Farms
This new round of funding will be used to further develop and refine this prototype product and to reduce commercial costs.
Like all startups scaling is the major issue and this money will be partly used to build “bio-farms” in 2021 to manufacture their cellbased steaks. It’s great to see some forward thinking here as it takes up to 2 years from concept to commercialisation to build a new food facility. The design and construction will have to be several orders of magnitude more sophisticated than a conventional slaughterhouse! Probably more like a pharmaceutical factory!
They’re predicting a “limited launch within 3-4 years” (2025) which would be a spectacular development feat!
Will Aleph meet the 2024-2025 release date?
How closely will their product mimic conventional meat in texture and flavour?
What will be the costs of the end product?
What will the bio-farm look like?
Will Cargill eventually buy Aleph?
Sooo many fascinating questions, can’t wait to see what the future brings!