Disclosure: AgFunder is AFN’s parent company.
Agrifoodtech VC AgFunder has announced the final close of New Carnivore, its alternative protein fund, on $21 million.
The fund was oversubscribed, surpassing its hard cap.
ADM Ventures, the VC arm of the global food and commodities company Archer-Daniels-Midland, invested in the fund. Alexandria Venture Investments, a unit of $30 billion real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities, also participated.
New Carnivore has made seven investments to date, co-investing with leading VCs such as Andreessen Horowitz, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, DCVC, and Footprint Coalition, as well as celebrities like Natalie Portman, John Legend, and Jay-Z. The fund is targeting 20 investments overall.
The current portfolio includes:
- Nobell Foods (US), a plant-based cheese company using soybean plants to produce casein – one of the key proteins found in cows’ milk that’s responsible for giving cheese its stretch, melt, and mouthfeel.
- SIMULATE (US), a plant-based chicken nuggets and patties company that has drawn an almost cult following through its direct-to-consumer strategy.
- Alpha Foods (US), plant-based company with versions of favorites like burritos, pizzas, and pot pies.
- MycoWorks (US), a cowhide leather alternative using mycelium that has partnered with luxury brand Hermès on a sell-out handbag.
- IntegriCulture (Japan), a picks-and-shovels producer for cell-cultured meat production, solving one of the emergent industry’s biggest challenges.
- Lavva (US), a plant-based yogurt brand using pili nuts, a superfood discovered by the founder while treating her cancer.
- Fable Food Co (Australia), a vegan meat substitute company using shiitake mushrooms that has been endorsed by three Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal.
“ADM is focused on developing innovative new alternative protein ingredients and solutions that center around nutrition, sustainability, and health and wellness to help address the pressing challenge of feeding the world’s growing population,” said Ian Pinner, ADM’s chief strategy and innovation officer.
“Investing in this particular fund allows us to collaborate with new players in the industry and leverage our deep expertise in fermentation to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies and solutions that can become game-changers in this important market.”
AgFunder’s thesis for New Carnivore rests on the fact that humans have consistently replaced animals with technology throughout history: cars replaced horses, tractors replaced oxen, petroleum replaced whales, and so on.
“Food is next,” said Rob Leclerc, founding partner at AgFunder.
“Globally, entrepreneurs are reinventing how we make products we’ve traditionally derived from animals. Applying the latest technologies from biotech, tissue engineering, artificial intelligence, and food science, entrepreneurs are creating new animal-free products that are cheaper, healthier, tastier, and more sustainable.”
“Even if they’re moderately successful, they’ll have an opportunity to capture a meaningful portion of the $1.5 trillion animal protein market. Opportunities don’t come much bigger than that,” he added.
The environmental case is also clear.
Animal agriculture accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, occupies 80% of the world’s agricultural land, and eats one-third of the world’s grain. But it provides only 18% of our calories.
Nevertheless, demand for protein is rising all over the world, and current animal agriculture systems cannot support that growth without wreaking further havoc on the planet. With increasingly conscious consumers, the creation of social media-enhanced food tribes, the emergence of new technologies, and the rise of mission-driven entrepreneurs, the time for ground-breaking innovation in this category is now.