Israel’s biggest food maker enters JV to put ‘affordable cultured food on the table’
The objective of the joint venture is to develop, manufacture, and commercialise cell-cultivated products for the food industry.
Who will do what?
The venture, whose name and logo will be announced ‘soon’, will receive exclusive, global, royalty-bearing licensing rights to use Pluristem’s proprietary technology, intellectual property and know-how. Pluristem will support the establishment, research, and development activities of the JV.
“Pluristem brings 18 years of experience in mass-scale, cost-effective, and consistent cell production,” a Pluristem CEO and President Yaky Yanay told FoodNavigator. “We produce cells under the highest quality manufacturing standards.”
Indeed, over the last two decades, Pluristem developed a proprietary 3D expansion platform that can produce high-quality cells in a cost-effective manner with ‘batch-to-batch consistency'.
Israeli food major Tnuva Group will invest $7.5m into the business, as per a pre-money valuation of $40m, with the option to invest up to an additional $7.5m over a period of 12 months following the closing. It will also provide the R&D platform to develop consumer products and will receive preferred marketing rights of any of the JV’s new products in Israel.
“Tnuva Group is the largest food conglomerate in Israel,” said Tnuva Group CEO Eyal Malis. “Tnuva was founded 96 years ago and is heavily involved in the world of alternative protein. Currently, the company holds a 60% share of Israel’s alternative protein market.”
According to Pluristem, the collaboration ‘uniquely’ combines two ‘proven pioneers’ in their fields.
“This unique partnership is expected to accelerate time to market with innovative technology and development,” we were told. “Our shared goal is to make cultured food affordable and available to all.”
Products in the pipeline
First up in the JV’s cell-cultured pipeline is a raw meat product.
“Cultured meat can be produced in different ways with different types of equipment,” Yanay told this publication. “Our cultured meat will be produced in a way that will receive kosher certification.
“We are currently in the development stage. After consultation and clarification with kosher committees and certification agencies, we will be able to specify the exact process and determine the level of kashrut.”
Following on from the development of cultivated meat, Tnuva and Pluristem’s goal is to expand the collaboration to milk and seafood via other ventures.
“Our unique technology will manufacture whole milk from cell culture, not via precision fermentation,” Yanay stressed.
The JV’s objective is to complete technological proof of concept of its raw cultivated meat product in late 2022 with the view to launch in 2023.
“The priority will be to launch in Israel, based on regulatory approval,” we were told.
“Due to the very dynamic and innovative environment in Israel, regulators are working with industry leaders to facilitate approval.
“As the largest food company in Israel, Tnuva has vast experience working with federal regulations. We will also address global markets.”