SuperMeat produces cultured meat – also known as lab-grown or clean meat – that it says is animal-friendly and suitable for vegetarians. The meat is grown from cells that are painlessly extracted from chickens without using animal serum.
"A single biopsy will allow for potentially indefinite production of meat products,” it says.
PHW's equity investment in SuperMeat is evidence of the meat company's forward-thinking strategy, its CEO Peter Wesjohann said in a statement.
“SuperMeat is consistent with our pursuit to provide Europe with sustainable, clean foods– we do not see this transaction as a financial investment but rather as the beginning of a long-term strategic partnership."
PHW, which generated a turnover of €2.46 billion in the 2016 financial year, will support SuperMeat in R&D and strategic positioning for its products in Europe.
“Our R&D, marketing and distribution expertise will contribute to the success of this exciting and promising company -- thereby contributing to the development of cultured meat,” added Wesjohann.
Co-founder and CEO of Supermeat Ido Savir said the firm was proud to partner with “a top-tier meat producer like PHW” and that the partnership would help the start-up bring lab-grown meat to market throughout Europe and beyond.
In the same week, SuperMeat also announced securing $3 million in a seed funding round led by New Crop Capital, a venture capital firm which only invests in sustainable start-ups developing cultured and plant-based meat, dairy or egg products, and Stray Dog Capital, which invests in vegan businesses aiming to “transform the animal-based economy”.
Both New Crop Capital and Stray Dog Capital have previously invested in Beyond Meat and Sunfed.
SuperMeat's previous funding campaign on Indiegogo raised $230,000 (€191,000) in pre-orders for its products.
These investments mean SuperMeat expects to launch its products "in the very near future" and at a price point similar to conventional chicken products. The firm is ultimately aiming to develop the means for consumers to grow cultured meat individually in their own homes.
The Tel Aviv-based biotech firm claims clean meat will have a much smaller environmental footprint than conventional meat, requiring 99% less land, up to 96% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and up to 90% less water usage.
While other cultured meat companies, such as Memphis Meats, have been investing R&D dollars into beef, but SuperMeat is exclusively developing chicken.
Consumer demand for 'clean protein'
This investment into alternative protein is not completely new territory for the German meat company.
Like other German meat companies, PHW already has a vegan meat range under its well-known Wiesenhof brand. Wesjohann said this was part of its strategy to play a leading role in “the global consumer trend towards a cleaner, more protein-rich diet”.
Want to know more about cutting-edge food science devoted to securing a sustainable global protein supply? Sign up for Protein Vision, a three-day event in Amsterdam in March 2018 where industry experts will gather to discuss cultured meat, insects for food and feed protein made from electricity.