Cultured meat start-ups celebrate M&A milestone
Israeli 3D-printed cultured meat company Meat-Tech 3D has initially invested EUR1 million into Belgium-based cultured fat producer Peace of Meat (POM), aiming to close the full acquisition for around $17.5 million in cash and equity later this year.
Meat-Tech 3D is primarily a research and development company aiming to create numerous cutting-edge technologies that it intends to lease to major food producers globally. Earlier this year, it successfully printed a uniform, thin, meat tissue produced from stem cells. It also recently launched a subsidiary devoted to producing cell-based chicken called Chick&Tech.
Via its acquisition of POM, Meat-Tech said it hopes to expand its strategy of developing what it believes are scalable cell-based agriculture technologies which it can introduce to the global market as quickly as possible.
POM has developed stem-cell-based technology to produce animal fats, such as those from cattle, chickens or geese without harming any animals. After founding in 2019, in 2020 it was awarded a subsidy of €1.2 million (US$1.33 million) from the Flemish government as part of the €3.6 million Foieture project. It has also received 1mn USD in private investments from supporters such as Joyance Partners, Big Idea Ventures and Food Angels.
David Brandes, Peace of Meat’s co-founder and managing director, told FoodNavigator the Meat-Tech deal illustrated the acceleration of the cultured meat sector. “This is the first M&A deal in cultured meat and a break though for the industry. It poses a fantastic and start-up friendly alternative to the traditional growth via VC-fuelled capital increase.”
Meat-Tech 3D – which is listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and the only cultured meat company that is at present publicly traded – added the acquisition will allow it to expand its clean meat offerings, accelerate capability development, and shorten times to market.
"We expect the cultured fat technology to offer significant R&D synergies and help us realise our vision of development and production of a variety of cell-based foods using more sustainable production technologies. We hope to collaborate with new team members very soon," said Sharon Fima, CEO and CTO of Meat-Tech.
"Cultured fats are a promising candidate to be amongst the first cell-based products to be launched at scale," added Steve H. Lavin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Meat-Tech.
Preparing for a new hybrid food category
POM expects food manufacturers will mix its cultured fat with a plant-based protein such a soy or pea to make meat alternative products such as nuggets, burgers and meatballs that can boast a taste, texture, structure and mouthfeel that mimics the real thing as closely as possible. It has faith these foods will appeal to flexitarian and carnivore consumers wanting to reduce their intake of traditional meat for health, environmental and ethical reasons.
Meat-Tech added that its tie-up with the Belgium start-up will open additional market opportunities by leveraging the ability to combine cultured fats with plant proteins, giving plant-based foods a more 'real' meat flavour and texture.
It noted a growing expectation for such "hybrid" products, incorporating both plant components and animal cell-based ingredients, to develop into a significant market akin to the current plant-based alternative meat products.
“Meat-Tech trusts that hybrid products, such as plant-based burgers made with cultured fat, may prove to be an exciting new product category,” said Lavin. “Such fats may offer improved aromas, flavors and textures as compared to purely plant-based proteins. Completing this acquisition will add technological capabilities to support Meat-Tech’s core center-of-plate product offering.”
Brandes added: “POM shares the strategic vision of Meat-Tech 3D and is excited to join forces. We are convinced that the strong scientific and commercial synergies between both parties paired with our approach of creating hybrid products based on savoury cultured fats is the perfect setting to bring cultured meat to market in an increasingly competitive space.”