Plant-based proteins have been all the rage in startup circles. From blockbuster IPOs to big funding rounds, investors have made clear they see real money in fake meat.
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Now, a new player is scaling up with a rather unique offering. Nature’s Fynd, a food startup producing a protein from a microbe discovered in the geothermal springs of Yellowstone’s ancient volcano, has raised $80 million in a new Series B round.
Two sustainability-focused investors, Generation Investment Management and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, led the financing for the Chicago-based company, formerly named Sustainable Bioproducts. Other participants include 1955 Capital, Mousse Partners, ADM Ventures and Danone Manifesto Ventures.
“What we have is pretty unique in that it is an organism we discovered that was not known to man before,” CEO and co-founder Thomas Jonas told Crunchbase News.
The company emerged out of NASA-supported research into organisms that thrive in the extreme environmental conditions of Yellowstone National Park’s geothermal springs. Researchers identified a microorganism that had evolved in an environment with very limited resources to sustain itself, and thus it had to be very efficient.
That efficiency translates into a high level of yield relative to feedstock, a valuable trait for food production. Using one ton of sugar, Jonas said, Nature’s Fynd can produce two tons of a “meat-like” product offering a complete protein.
What does it taste like? Jonas said the product is engineered to have a bland taste. That way it can take on the taste of added flavorings be they meat-inspired, fruit-based or something else. As for texture, Jonas compares it to a raw chicken breast initially, noting that it can be processed into essentially whatever texture is desired for the end product.
Production began this month at a new 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Chicago’s South Side. The company will commercialize food and beverage products across breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack categories.
The company previously raised $33 million in Series A funding in 2018.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.