Redefine Meat says it has made a ‘major step’ towards becoming the world’s biggest alternative meat company by 2030, in closing a Series A funding round worth $29m (€24m).
The investment was led by two VCs: Hong Kong-headquartered Happiness Capital and New York- and Tel Aviv-based Hanaco Ventures. Other investors include CPT Capital, Losa Group, Sake Bosch, and K3 Ventures.
Redefine Meat, which uses novel and patented technology to produce vegetable-based food with the texture, flavour, and appearance of beef, plans to use the funds to expand its product line. International expansion is also on the cards, CEO and co-founder Eshchar Ben-Shitrit told FoodNavigator.
Filling gaps in alt meat market
In 2020, Redefine Meat launched its 3D printed steak. According to Ben-Shitrit, the start-up focused on disrupting the beef market for two key reasons.
“Firstly, because it has the biggest business potential,” he said, referencing the $500bn global beef industry. “But also because it has the biggest environmental impact.”
Indeed, red meat production has a significantly higher environmental impact compared to other meats such as chicken or pork. It has been estimated that if cows were a country, they would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world behind China and the US.
So while Redefine Meat’s 3D printing technology has the capability to replicate whole meat structures for other meat alternatives – whether that be pork, or seafood such as salmon or tuna – it is bullish about filling the gaps in the alternative beef market.
“In the beef category, today there is a huge variety of products not catered for with alternative meat. It’s pretty much all minced meat, sausages, and a handful of other products,” the CEO explained.
“Our portfolio will include different whole cuts of beef, such as entrecôte, fillet, sirloin, and brisket.” The start-up will also cater to different cooking methods – whether it be grilling, slow cooking, or stewing – and wants to play with differing levels of fat content and marbling ‘customised to consumer needs’.
For Ben-Shitrit, the ‘joy’ with digitally manufacturing meat is that products can be produced ‘on demand’. “All of these different meat types are saved as digital files, each with their own digital matrix and ingredient profile, so meat products can just print whatever they need on demand without the need to change entire formulations.”
First stop, Israel
Redefine Meat is awaiting the completion of a large-scale production facility for its industrial 3D alt meat printers, which it predicts will open later this year. The site will help support the start-up’s commercialisation strategy, which is focused on Israel in the short-term.
Last month, Redefine Meat announced a strategic agreement with Israeli meat distributor Best Meister, which will help rollout its product into restaurants and butchers ‘within the next few months’.
“Best Meister – one of the country’s most prominent meat distributors – has the established infrastructure, supply chain and reach to bring our products to market successfully,” we were told.
What are the key challenges facing Redefine Meat in commercialising within Israel? “Of course, COVID-19 presents a logistical challenge, but Israel is leading the way in the world’s vaccination programme,” Ben-Shitrit told this publication.
Concerning consumer demand, the CEO stressed that generally, the country’s appetite for meat alternatives is high. Last month, Redefine Meat conducted the ‘world’s largest’ blind tasting of its plant-based products to meat-eaters in Tel Aviv. The company secured over a 90% acceptance rate.
“Our recent large-scale blind tasting pilot demonstrated the commercial viability of our meat, with over 90% of the 600-plus meat-eaters involved genuinely astonished that the meat they were eating did not come from an animal,” said Ben-Shitrit.
From the results of this taste-test alone, Redefine Meat is confident it will see a ‘strong uptake’ from restaurants and butchers ‘in the coming months’, before scaling up nationwide throughout the year.
Once launched in Israel, Redefine Meat will rollout into Germany and Switzerland mid-year. As the year progresses, the company will also commercialise into Asia and North America.
The rationale behind this order, we were told, is the start-up’s desire to scale ‘in a healthy way’. “We chose markets that have the ability to support our mission and business ambition, while allowing us to iterate and improve our products, before we deal only with becoming a giant operative company,” revealed Ben-Shitrit.
“Instead of going to the largest market first – such as the US and China – we want to spend the first year working with the best chefs and partners in smaller countries such as Switzerland, Singapore, and a few others.”
Redefine Meat’s strategy is to ‘put the meat production power’ into the hands of businesses, which the CEO believes will help eliminate common supply chain challenges.
“As our business model is to sell our industrial-scale 3D alt meat printers to meat distributors, we eradicate much of the headache of developing supply chains in each country to rollout our meat.
“We are putting the meat production power in their hands, enabling them to produce a range of tasty alt meat products to add to their existing meat portfolio and to be sold via their existing supply chains – first starting with restaurants, butcher shops and other food services, followed by retail stores and supermarkets in 2022.”