Planetarians claims it ‘makes alternative meat better’ by combining the power of plant-based proteins and fermentation technology.
The start-up has patented technology that allows it to process ‘multiple types of plant-based protein sources’ into alternative meat through fermentation – without the need for any additional ingredients.
The company is positioning itself as the ultimate in clean-label meat analogues. It says the results of its unique process are a meaty texture, umami flavour, and a lower cost than traditional meat and other meat alternatives.
“My stomach rejects alternative meat,” explained Anastasia Tkacheva, Planetarians’ Co-Founder. “Looking around, we identified that it’s not specific to me. Many healthy folks are willing to eat plant-based food but concerned about too long ingredient lists of it.”
Building on this insight, the plant-based ingredient start-up has completed scale-up trials of its zero-emission and zero-waste technology at a Clextral pilot facility. The company has also developed and tested prototypes of its single-ingredient meat analogue.
“Planetarians technology uses fermentation to convert the carbohydrates in the plants into additional protein without extraction. Simultaneously fermentation clears the aftertaste, adds BBQ flavour and colour without using chemicals, which influence digestion,” revealed Aleh Manchuliantsau, the company’s Founder & CEO. “Consumers feel good seeing a single ingredient on the label; it’s clean.”
Proof of concept
Using this technology, the team have built ‘working prototypes’ and a product roadmap showcasing applications across multiple categories. It has been able to develop ‘elastic jerky without gluten’ as well as ‘BBQ tasting and coloured’ skewers without the addition of flavours and colours, and a ‘juicy’ burger without methylcellulose.
“Clean flavour is easy to tweak in applications and lends itself to several outstanding market share products,” noted Max Barnthouse, Planetarians chef. “It adapts incredibly well to flavours and is easily coaxed into a number of shapes and textures. It retains moisture well and offers a juicy end-product.”
The chef stressed that there are plenty of further innovation opportunities, pointing to possibilities to develop as algae-based pulled pork, sunflower steaks or pea-based bars using the technology.
Feasibility tests also look positive, the start-up claimed.
Running consecutive samplings in July through August 2021, the team saw evidence that their solution solves critical pain points - the current Net Promoter Score is 8.28 after sampling to over 100 people. Team also said it has evidence that customers will pay the target price - the company sold the first batch of alternative meat to San Francisco restaurants. In parallel, several large companies are evaluating samples, contributing to a $2M pipeline of future orders.
Funding the next step
“It took us four years since the point where Planetarians has completed feasibility tests at the University of Minnesota and received a preliminary investment from the TechStars Accelerator,” reflected James Valenti-Jordan, Head of Engineering.
“Supported by Food-X, Arch Grants, The Yield Lab, and backed by notable investors Brad Feld, Barilla, SOSV, we have done the hard work to develop an understanding of how the dynamic alternative meat market operates, the value proposition, the cost structures, and the strong industry contacts necessary to execute our mission.”
Planetarians is now raising funds to launch a manufacturing facility and sell alternative meat it says is ‘on par with beef’. The funding will fuel the next steps of the company’s development.
“Now we feel ready to move further,” said Manchuliantsau. “And I’m so happy to see an opportunity to extend the ability to invest along with existing investors to the general public using Wefunder’s equity crowdfunding platform - anyone can invest with as little as $100.”
Form & Fiction Ventures, Wefunder campaign’s lead investor, added: “We invested in Planetarians because of their ambition to revolutionize the plant-based meat alternatives industry. After several years of research and development, the colour, texture, and most importantly, flavour achieved from their zero-waste, single-ingredient process is outstanding. We are incredibly impressed with the tastes and textures, from skewers to curries to salads, that Aleh and his team have perfected.”
Shawn Broderick, SOSV, three-times investor, added: ”SOSV has been working with Aleh for a couple of years now as Planetarians has engaged in a number of impressive R&D exercises. Aleh and his team have been steadfast, committed, resourceful, and smart. I'm impressed with where the company is at and look forward to continuing to invest in them."