Redefine Meat has scored a whopper of an investment with a new Series A round.
The Israeli company has been developing a method of 3D printing “alt-meat”, a vegetarian alternative to animal meat. We first heard of the company in fall 2019 when their first major investment of US$6M, and had a long chat with their Head of Technology & Innovation to find out how their process works.
It turns out that 3D printing meat is an incredibly challenging venture, for more complex than 3D printing mechanical parts. Like mechanical parts, “alt-steaks” must exhibit specific strength and texture ranges, as well as behaving predictably during all steps of use. This means during cooking, eating, storage, etc.
And the alt-steaks must taste perfectly.
This appears to be the case, as they have performed multiple taste tests, including one this year in a public setting. Eaters were largely unable to determine the difference between animal meat and the alt-meat, suggesting they have a product that could most definitely be sold widely.
Strangely, Redefine Meat discovered during taste tests that there are slight variations expected in different countries, suggesting they have to tweak their recipes when marketing products in different regions. But since the products are 3D printed, this is a simple matter — once you know the recipe changes.
Redefine Meat Operational Strategy
To understand the new investment, you must first understand how Redefine Meat operates.
The company recognizes they aren’t experts in the sales and distribution of meat, so their strategy is to partner with existing meat distributors. They set up a set of meat 3D printers at a meat distribution site, where normally animal meat would be organized for shipment to stores and other wholesale customers. Redefine Meat would ship the vegetarian ingredients in bulk form to the distribution center, where they would produce the alt-meat products as orders arrive.
For distributors this is quite a different process, as they move to a “just in time” mode of distribution. In addition, the entire chain of animal processing events from farm to slaughterhouse essentially evaporates.
So far Redefine Meat has set up this type of distribution arrangement only in Israel. This is not only for their close experimentation purposes, but also because the process is regional: farms produce vegetarian ingredients, Redefine Meat processes them into 3D printable ingredients, and ships them to the distributor.
They could not, for example, efficiently sell product in New York City; the shipping costs would be stupefying. Instead, Redefine Meat has to set up regional operations that not only allow for efficient processing and plug into existing local distributors, but also to ensure the correct recipes are used per region.
Now the investment.
Redefine Meat Series A
Existing and new investors have provided a massive US$29M to Redefine Meat in a Series A round.
For those unfamiliar, investments come in three sizes: “Angel” is small amounts to get a venture started, perhaps in a garage. “Seed” rounds are somewhat larger and allow a successful angel-funded company to grow into a properly operating company. Finally, “Series” investments are huge buckets of cash intended to widely scale up a concept that is proven to work at a smaller scale.
That is what is happening here. The investment will be used to scale up Redefine Meat’s operations worldwide. In fact, they say:
“The investment will be used to expand the company’s meat portfolio and support its commercial launch and international growth in 2021, on the back of the slated completion of a large-scale production facility for Redefine Meat’s industrial 3D Alt-Meat printers set for later this year.”
Redefine Meat’s CEO, Eschar Ben-Shirit, wants the company to become the “world’s biggest alternative meat company by 2030.”
With this amount of cash, Redefine Meat will surely be able to establish beachheads in a number of regions. It’s likely they will land operations in Europe as well as North America.
If these regions accept the alt-meat as well as Redefine Meat’s prior teste tests, they’ll be able to charge a premium for the product and thrive.
Alt-meat: coming soon to your grocery store and restaurant.
Via Redefine Meat