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Gulfood Green 2024

10 May 2024

Meati Raises $100M in Largest Alt-Protein Investment Since 2022, Expands to 6,000 Stores

Meati Raises $100M in Largest Alt-Protein Investment Since 2022, Expands to 6,000 Stores
Colorado-based food tech startup Meati has closed a $100M Series C1 funding round, the largest investment in an alternative protein company since 2022.

Mycelium meat innovator Meati has secured $100M in Series C1 funding, taking its total raised to $365M since being founded seven years ago. It is the largest investment in an alternative protein startup since Meati’s own $150M Series C round in 2022.

The latest round was led by Grosvenor Food & AgTech, and included returning investors like Prelude Ventures, Bond, Revolution Growth and Congruent. The capital injection was accompanied by the appointment of Grosvenor Food & AgTech’s Katrin Burt and Prelude Ventures’ Mark Cupta to Meati’s board.

“We will use the funding for a variety of purposes, including maintaining our high growth momentum and scaling to additional retail locations across the US,” newly appointed CEO Phil Graves tells Green Queen. “We are also working to continue building awareness of MushroomRoot and helping consumers understand that our highly nutritious and nature-based whole food protein is very different from the plant-based alternatives currently available.”

In addition to the funding, the mycelium chicken and beef producer expanded into 2,000 Kroger stores in April, cementing the company’s rapid growth from six retail locations to 6,000 doors nationwide within a year. Meati now aims to reach 10,000 stores by the end of 2024.

A major investment round in a deserted sector

Meati’s sizeable raise comes on the back of a tough year for alternative proteins, both in terms of sales and investment. In the US, retail dollar sales of plant-based meat fell by 12% in 2023, while funding in alternative proteins was down by 44% from the year before, according to industry think tank the Good Food Institute. This was reflective of the wider landscape around food tech, where venture capital dried up last year.

Even fermentation protein companies like Meati – which employs biomass fermentation for its flagship MushroomRoot ingredient – saw funding dip by 39%. That said, this sector has already attracted $228M this year (not counting Meati’s raise), thoroughly outpacing plant-based ($58M) and cultivated meat ($12M) in financing so far.

Meati’s Series C1 round means fermentation companies have now brought in over five times more money than plant-based and 27 times more than cultivated protein startups in 2024.

“It’s a tough investment market for everyone. Unfortunately, plant-based products have experienced a dip in sales, and that’s largely due to a lack of transparency about ingredients and nutrition,” says Graves. “Shoppers care about versatility, nutritional value, and flavour, something we prioritise in our products. MushroomRoot isn’t plant-based; it’s not an animal, either. We are a unique category of whole-food protein.”

He argues that this is exactly what made Meati stand out for investors. “Our MushroomRoot products are second to none – they are the healthiest protein on the planet,” he notes. “The Meati team has deep experience working across high-growth CPG businesses. They are experts in their fields and have successfully brought a novel food product to market, scaling to over 6,000 in a little over a year’s time. That kind of growth is unheard of and largely due to the innovation taking place within our mega ranch [facility in Thornton, which can produce 40 million lbs of product per year].”

Rounding off the reasons why Meati has been successful in raising capital, he adds: “We have a strong and loyal consumer base, as evidenced by our high repurchase rate and continued placement as one of the top-selling SKUs for our retailers in the alternative protein category.”

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