Cultivated foie gras maker Gourmey has closed a Series A funding round worth €48m, the ‘largest Series A round for a cultivated meat start-up’ to date.
The round was led by Earlybird Venture Capital with participation from a new syndicate of investors including Keen Venture Partners and Instacart CEO Fidji Simo, as well as existing investors such as Heartcore Capital, Point Nine Capital, Air Street Capital, Pazrtech and Beyond Investing.
The investment will help Gourmey move from ‘R&D to production to commercialisation’, explained Gourmey co-founder and CEO Nicolas Morin-Forest, who has announced plans to open a commercial production facility in Paris.
How will Gourmey spend the funding?
The 46,000-square-foot commercial production facility and R&D centre will be the ‘largest cultivated meat hub in Europe’, according to the start-up. With the repurposed building, Gourmey plans to ‘fast-track’ commercialisation globally.
“The commercial production facility will be in the Paris region, adjacent to [the capital], and our R&D Centre and Innovation Centre in central Paris,” Morin-Forest told FoodNavigator.
The site will welcome 120 engineers, culinary experts and operators by 2024, with a planned annual production capacity of ‘tens of thousands’ of pounds of cultivated meats, starting with its flagship product: cultivated foie gras.
In total, the start-up plans to triple it current headcount of more than 40 employees. “We will recruit 80 new staff members to strengthen our current teams with very diverse expertise: food engineers, cell biologists, process engineers,” explained the CEO. “We will also expand our commercial functions as well as welcome operators to run the commercial production facility.”
‘The hub will serve our partners around the world’
The latest funding round will bring total investment to €56m. For Gourmey, the Series A round has come about at a ‘key moment’ of its development, as well as for the growing interest of cultivated meat.
Citing a recent survey conducted by Opinion Way on behalf of the Good Food Institute, Gourmey noted that cultivated meat is ‘getting more and more traction’ in Europe. “Seventy-percent of young Europeans are ready to buy some.”
As it stands, the only region cultivated meat can be purchased for human consumption is Singapore, which approved the first cell-based chicken product in late 2020.
Gourmey, who had previously expressed interest in markets with less stringent regulation than the EU, such as Asia and the US, reiterated this sentiment on the occasion of its Series A closure. “Our brand-new hub will initially help us serve our partners around the world, including our European partners as soon as market approval is obtained,” said Morin-Forest.
Looking beyond foie gras
Gourmey makes ‘slaughter-free' poultry from real animal cells. Its first product is cell-based foie gras, made from duck egg cells fed with growth media.
This production method is markedly different from the conventional French delicacy, made from the liver of a duck or a goose that has been force-fed with more food than they would eat naturally in the wild.
While cultivated foie gras is its flagship product, Morin-Forest told FoodNavigator its ‘ambition does not stop here’.
“Our mission is to reimagine meat for an uncompromising and conscious generation.
“We continue to work on expanding our portfolio of high-quality, sustainable meat products in poultry, but also other species and we have several exciting announcements coming up.”