Cultured Meat Industry Raises $88 Million in 2016

“Clean meat” and cow-free dairy are pulling in major investment capital.

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According to investment company AgFunder’s 2016 midyear report, cellular agriculture—or “lab grown” meat and dairy—received $88 million across 10 investment deals throughout the first half of this year. Business journalist Frank Vinluan reached out to professionals in the cellular agriculture field for insight. “People have choices,” professor of poultry science at North Carolina State University Paul Mozdziak said. “One of the choices is they want animal products without animals.” Ryan Pandya, CEO of San Francisco-based vegan startup Perfect Day, revealed that while consumers are not expressly demanding cultured meat and dairy options, market behavior points to the necessity of developing animal-free alternatives. Pandya explains that while non-vegan shoppers are buying dairy-free milk such as soy, they often return to the dairy aisle to purchase animal-derived cheese because the vegan options are not what they perceive as viable substitutes. Principal scientist at Tyson Foods Hultz Smith agrees with this notion, stating that he supports cultured meat research as a way to give consumers broader choices. While some cultured meat companies use animal cells as the base to grow meat and dairy, others such as Perfect Day and Bill Gates-backed Impossible Foods start with plant cells. Perfect Day received $118,000 in funding from biotechnology investment firm New Harvest and plans to launch a range of vegan products made with the help of yeast fermentation—from butter to milk to cheese—by the end of 2017.