London-based start up Hoxton Farms has raised $22 million to build a pilot production facility for its cultivated fat, designed to be an ingredient in meat alternatives.
- Hoxton Farms has completed a $22 million series A round led by Collaborative Fund and Fine Structure Ventures.
- It will use the capital to build a pilot facility in London to scale up production of cultivated fat.
- The investment shows appetite for environmentally-friendly products that taste like meat. While a shift to plant-based foods is needed for climate action, such foods often fail to appeal to meat eaters.
What does Hoxton Farms do?
Hoxton Farms uses machine learning and mathematical modelling to develop proprietary bioreactors and low-cost animal-free culture media, which is the nutrient-rich broth used to feed cells. It cultivates real animal fat in bioreactors and claims its technology allows to produce fat at scale, which is not feasible with existing methods.
The cultivated fat can be combined with plant-based protein to create blended meat alternatives that have similar taste, texture and nutrition to real meat. Hoxton Farms plans to sell its fat as a B2B ingredient for meat alternatives once it receives regulatory approval.
Plant oils, such as coconut, sunflower, palm, and canola oil “taste funky, degrade quickly, burn easily, melt inconsistently and aren’t as healthy as they seem”, the company said. It added that plant-based products end up being “unhealthy and unsatisfying” because manufacturers add flavouring and other ingredients to mask the effects of the plant oils.
Co-founder Max Jamilly said: “Fat is the single most important sensory component in all of the meat that we eat. Using cultivated fat alongside plant proteins, we have shown that we can make products with the juiciness and flavour that plant-based meat has been missing.”
How it plans to use the funding
The funds will be used to build a 13,000 square feet pilot facility in Shoreditch, East London, to scale up Hoxton Farms’ manufacturing capacity. The capital will also allow the start up to submit regulatory dossiers, further develop customer partnerships and expand the team to 50 people by the end of 2023, from the current 20.
The $22 million Series A round comes after a $3.6 million Seed round in 2021. The latest funding was led by Collaborative Fund, an early backer of Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND), and Fine Structure Ventures, which is affiliated with FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments.
Other participants in the round include Systemiq Capital, AgFunder, MCJ Collective, and previous investors such as Founders Fund, BACKED VC, Presight Capital, CPT Capital, and Sustainable Food Ventures.
Does it taste like meat?
The investment suggests that there is appetite for meat alternatives that taste like real meat and have limited environmental impact, as opposed to plant-based foods that have a similar look but a different taste. According to analysis by UBS, taste is the main hurdle in wide adoption of plant-based alternatives.
Consumers tend to turn to plant-based products for the associated environmental benefits, rather than the taste or price point – as they tend to be more expensive than real meat. Analysts said that tackling taste is “a key opportunity” for ingredient makers, and prices are expected to decline once demand grows and production scales up.
According to 2013 estimates, the livestock sector accounts for 14.5% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Although it is crucial to decarbonise the industry as a whole, reducing the amount of meat consumption in individuals’ diets is part of the solution.