ASIA – Cargill is investing in Israeli cultured meat company, Aleph Farms which has raised US$11.65 million in a series A round of funding.

According to Cargill, the investment diversifies its protein interests to meet future consumer demand and complements its focus on animal protein.

The round was led by VisVires New Protein and also backed by M-Industry (Industrial Group of Migros).

Founded by Didier Toubia, Dr. Neta Lavon and Prof. Shulamit Levenberg, Aleph Farms grows meat directly from beef cells using a 3D tissue engineering platform.

It uses unique non-GMO technology and relies on a natural process occurring in cows to regenerate and build muscle tissues.

The company developed a way to isolate the cells responsible for that process and grow them outside of the animal to form the same complex tissue typical to steaks.

The company said the capital will allow it to accelerate product development of its slaughter-free meat and to transform Alephs prototype released last December into a commercial product.

“Cargill is committed to innovation and we are delighted to be a part of Aleph’s accelerated growth,” said Sonya Roberts, managing director of growth ventures and strategic pricing for Cargill Protein North America.

“This partnership connects new frontiers in cell-based technology with insights in the global food system and supply chains to meet future customer and consumer needs.

“Consumer demand for protein continues to be very strong. That means there’s an opportunity for plant and cultured protein growth to complement our traditional animal protein portfolio.”

The investment in Aleph Farms builds on Cargill’s other partnerships in alternative protein.

In 2017, Cargill was an early investor in Memphis Meats, a company leading the way in development of cultured meat.

Cargill also is an investor in plant-based protein through Puris, a firm that has launched a new pea-based protein that is non-GMO, organic and allergen-friendly.

These investments complement the company’s investment in its traditional animal protein portfolio, which has totaled more than US$1.5 billion over the several years, according to Cargill.

“We all need to work together to address the increasing global need for protein in the coming years, especially as more consumers move into the middle-class and the demand for protein increases,” said Jon Nash, president, Cargill Protein-North America.

“We have a responsibility to look at all innovations that can help us feed the world.

“We believe in the power of protein and the critical role animal protein will continue to play in nourishing the world for the long-term.”