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Perdue's Chicken Plus range features plant-based protein from the Better Meat Co. Photo credit: Better Meat Co

Better Meat Co gets $8.1m to ‘enhance’ animal products with its plant-based protein

July 28, 2020

The Better Meat Co has raised $8.1 million in a seed round co-led by US funds Greenlight Capital and Green Circle Foodtech Ventures, a division of Green Circle Capital.

Also participating in the fundraise were US sausage maker Johnsonville and Hong Kong alt-protein investor Lever VC. The startup previously netted $1.6 million in pre-seed funding from undisclosed investors, taking its total capital raised to date to just shy of $10 million.

Sacramento-based Better Meat Co produces plant-based protein that can be blended with animal meat to create hybrid products. It offers white-label ‘meat enhancers‘ for beef, chicken, crab, fish, pork, and turkey, and claims that all are allergen-free and cost-competitive with similar animal-derived ingredients.

The startup sells its plant-based formulations to food manufacturers who are looking to boost the sustainability and nutrition credentials of their animal-derived products, as well as to increase their cost effectiveness.

“Meat consumers are increasingly diversifying their protein sources, and enhancing meat with […] plant-protein formulas is a win-win for the consumer and the planet,” said CEO Paul Shapiro in a statement.

Green Circle Capital managing director Stu Strumwasser said his firm was “amazed” by Better Meat Co’s B2B model of providing non-branded, plant-based blends for animal meat products. “We were also drawn to [its] strategy of partnering with major meat companies to immediately make an environmental and public health impact,” he added.

One of the startup’s customers is US meat and grain processor Perdue Farms. Last year, it launched its Perdue Chicken Plus range of nuggets, patties, and tenders made from chicken flesh and plant-based ballast from Better Meat.

Perdue claims that each serving of its ‘chicken-plus’ nuggets counts as one-quarter cup of vegetables, and features only all-natural ingredients and ‘no antibiotics ever’ chicken meat. The product is aimed at “the growing number of ‘flexitarian’ families who have an increased commitment to getting more plants and vegetables in their […] diets.” In February, media portal Food Network voted them the best-tasting frozen chicken nuggets available to US consumers.

Perdue competitor Tyson Foods has also launched a blended range of late. Its Raised & Rooted brand of burgers and nuggets mix meat with pea-derived protein.

Blended products like these could have a significant positive impact on the environment and human health, according to the World Resources Institute. It says that agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 10.5 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year if just 30% of the animal meat in each of the 10 billion burgers consumed by Americans each year were to be replaced with mushroom protein (this is the theme behind the James Beard Foundation‘s annual Blended Burger Project.) Likewise, this 70:30 ratio could reduce demand for irrigation water by 83 billion gallons, and for farmland by more than 14,000 square miles globally, each year.

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