Food technology startup company Nature's Fynd has managed to raise $80 million in its latest funding rounds, which was funded by high-profile investors such as former US vice-president Al Gore, Bill Gates, and Jack Ma. The company is riding on the increasing popularity of plant-based meat alternatives, which could help meet the global demand and offset the environmental impact of traditional livestock farming.
Nature's Fynd is capitalizing on the slew of successful initial public offerings (IPOs) of plant-based meat companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Investors have made it clear that there is money to be made in the fake meat industry.
Unlike its plant-based rivals, Nature's Fynd is utilizing a completely different type of food technology that is based on a protein made by a microbe discovered in the geothermal springs of Yellowstone's ancient volcano.
The company, which was formed as an offshoot of a NASA-supported research into organisms that thrive in the extreme environmental conditions, managed to find an efficient method to extract a meat-like product from the microbes. The microbe has a very high level of yield relative to feedstock, producing two tons of usable products from just one ton of sugar.
The company's co-founder and CEO, Thomas Jonas, mentioned in a statement that their technology could be used to meet the demand for animal proteins in places such as China. The country's hog industry was recently ravaged by the African swine fever and the recent viral epidemic only managed to further reduce its supplies. Jonas explained that China could use its technology to domestically grow meat-alternatives using locally-sourced simple sugars.
The food tech company, which was previously called Sustainable Bioproducts, has so far managed to raise a total of $113 billion through a series of funding rounds. Some of its more well-known investors include Bill Gates' $1 billion tech fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Jack Ma's Alibaba Group, Masayoshi Son's SoftBank Group, and Amazon.
Nature's Fynd plans to use its newly acquired capital to immediately begin production of its products in Chicago as it prepares to expand into other markets. The company plans to have its products available in major US retailers within the next year. It is currently working to obtain regulatory approval in China and Hong Kong within the next 18 to 24 months.
Apart from providing a high-yielding source of edible protein to replace traditional meats, Nature's Fynd is also marketing its product as a method to combat greenhouse gases. The company also stated that it will be critical for humanity to build a cleaner and more sustainable food supply to avoid any future livestock-related illnesses like the coronavirus and the African swine flu.