Food From Thought: December 2022
Black Sheep Foods closes $12.3M funding round, UPSIDE Foods receives preliminary FDA approval, cultivated meat debuts at COP27 climate change conference, and more.
First off, congratulations are in order for Black Sheep Foods, which this month closed a $12.3 million Series A funding round, which we led, joined by Bessemer Venture Partners, AgFunder, and KBW Ventures. The capital will go to support the company’s efforts to scale production for its delicious lamb-flavored products, which set it apart from the many other plant-based companies working on alternative beef, chicken and pork products.
Second, in a long-awaited landmark moment, the FDA recently granted preliminary safety approval to UPSIDE Foods for the production and sale of cultivated chicken in the United States.
While this is a huge step forward for cellular agriculture, the company still needs further formal approvals from both the FDA and USDA before we see cultivated products in North American grocery stores or restaurants. Still, it’s the first open door for cultivated meat in the U.S. and a sign of what’s to come for the alt protein industry at large.
Meanwhile, Mosa Meat is working on a strategic partnership with manufacturing organization Esco Aster, the world’s only licensed cultivated meat manufacturer, to get its cultivated meat products approved for European and Asian markets as soon as possible.
And other activities within the food system at large indicate that big changes are expected that will continue to fuel the need, interest, and capability of alt proteins. A survey by London-based information service group GlobalData concluded that alt proteins saw significant growth in 2022, which is only predicted to continue in 2023.
Last month, the European Union funded a €13.9 million, 4-year project called Like-A-Pro, intended to take alt proteins from being a niche category to a mainstream food. Part of the project is aimed at getting younger consumers to be curious about and consume alt proteins — and then spread the word.
There’s also chatter around the 2023 Farm Bill, an update of which is slated to emerge again this month. While the bill unsurprisingly has plenty of lobbying influence from Big Ag, smaller organic and natural companies are hoping for Congress to see the need to focus on what truly needs to happen in food, like bringing more plant-based options to schools. A push for conversations about making the food system more accessible, sustainable, and overall healthier would help to create space to drive curiosity and normalization for alt proteins.
If there’s one thing we can all count on, it’s change. As much as resistance comes with innovation in any industry, success depends on the persistence of changemakers through nonlinear paths.
We’ve seen nothing less in alt protein — which we’re confident could become the predominant players in the protein industry one day, when we look back on today’s animal agriculture as just a page in the history books.
Until then, we’re anxiously awaiting what 2023 has in store.
Black Sheep Foods
Atlantic Sentinel: Europe Is Falling Behind in Cultivated Meat
Medical News Today: New evidence links healthy plant-based diets with lower colorectal cancer risk