While venture funding has slowed this year, one area that remains hot is alternative proteins, and in particular cell-grown meats.
Funding in the cultivated meat space has reached close to $700 million so far in 2022, per Crunchbase data. Meanwhile, copious investment also continues to flow to plant-based protein startups. Collectively, founders working on everything from faux foie gras to shelf-stable mock goat meat are pulling in millions.
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But not all meats are equally sought-after. To get a sense of how beef, chicken, pork, seafood and other categories 1 rank, we pulled together a dataset of top-funded companies in the alternative meat space.
Not all funded companies have products to sample. In the cultivated meat space in particular, goods aren’t likely to reach store shelves for a few years.
Still, most faux meat companies are actively promoting their brands. For a sense of who’s making what, we’ve put together lists below of funded companies in each meat category:
Chicken and poultry
Pork (including bacon!)
Lamb, goat and mammoth
While chicken, beef, pork and fish are the top focus areas for alternative meat innovators, other proteins are getting a look too.
San Francisco-based Black Sheep Foods makes a plant-based lamb with textured pea protein as a key ingredient. The company raised $5.3 million in a January round.
Good Dot, an India-based startup, makes a product called “UnMutton,” which is intended to offer a shelf-stable, protein-rich, plant-based alternative to goat meat that can be used in the kinds of slow-cooked dishes popular in Indian cuisine.
Last but not least is Paleo, a Belgian food ingredient company that makes heme proteins it says are bio-identical to animal sources, but are made without animals. In addition to staple flavors like beef, chicken and pork, the company also offers a mammoth heme made through precision fermentation and based on the DNA sequence of a 1 million-year-old steppe mammoth.
In addition to the curiosity factor, plant-based mammoth meat strikes me as having an advantage over competing protein alternatives: No one living today could authoritatively say how much it does or does not taste like the real thing.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
The categories include companies that are focused on or best known for one kind of meat, but may be working on other meats, potentially for future release.↩
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