Cargill Inc. was among the investors in a $12 million round of funding for Aleph Farms, an Israeli cultured meat company focused on growing complex meat varieties like steak.
The size of Cargill's investment was not disclosed. The startup grows meat directly from beef cells using a 3D tissue engineering platform.
Cargill in 2017 invested in cultured meat firm Memphis Meats, as has Tyson.
The funding round was led by VisVires New Protein, "a venture capital fund [focused] on disruptive technologies for the food and feed system." The purpose of funding is "to move Aleph Farms’ product from prototype to the commercial marketplace."
The announcement noted, "In December 2018, [Aleph Farms,] achieved a world-first by demonstrating it could grow a steak directly from bovine cells."
“Consumer demand for protein continues to be very strong. That means there’s an opportunity for plant and cultured protein growth to complement our traditional animal protein portfolio,” said Sonya Roberts, managing director of growth ventures and strategic pricing for Cargill Protein North America.
Cargill also is an investor in plant-based protein through Puris, a firm that has launched a new pea-based protein for meat analogues.
Aleph Farms plans to begin building bio-farms and move toward a limited consumer product launch with steak grown under controlled conditions within three to five years.