A London-based startup has raised £2.7 million seed funding in a bid to solve the big issue that dogs the alternative meat market – fat.
According to Hoxton Farms, fat defines how meat looks, cooks, and tastes – and it does this in a way that cannot be replicated by plant oils currently used in meat alternatives.
Many meat alternatives use plant oils as a substitute for animal fat. However, some, especially palm and coconut oil, can have a damaging environmental impact. The company says that they also make plant-based meat greasy and unpalatable.
Dr Max Jamilly, Co-Founder of Hoxton Farms, said, “We want to bring back fat: it’s the single most important ingredient in the meat that we eat. The technology we’re developing will allow us to customise fat for any application – and we’re making it healthier too. Cultivated fat is the hero ingredient for meat alternatives, and it will solve a huge problem in this growing industry. We believe the future of meat alternatives will be a blend of plant-based protein and cultivated fat.”
The company has attracted some big investment names -m with backers including the Silicon Valley VC Founders Fund, founded by Peter Thiel, alongside Backed, Presight Capital, CPT Capital, Sustainable Food Ventures, and angel investors.
The investment will be used to develop a proof of concept of its production platform and build customer partnerships,
The initiative comes at a key time in the development of both plant-based meat and cultured, lab processed meat. According to a recent study by MarketsandMarkets, the plant-based meat market will be worth a whopping $8.3 billion by the year 2025, who also suggest that the global cultured meat market is estimated to be valued at USD 214 million in the same period.
It appears that Hoxton Farms uses a similar method to the way that cultured meat providers work in growing purified animal fat, which is taken from tiny animal cells, in cultivators similar to those fermentors used for brewing beer.
They also face the same problems as cultured meat companies in that the process is difficult and challenging to scale.
Ed Steele, Co-Founder of Hoxton Farms, commented, “Our mathematical approach drives everything we do at Hoxton Farms. We simulate the entire process computationally, from biopsy to bacon. This “digital twin” allows us to optimise every raw input in parallel, massively improving the cost-efficiency and performance of our cultivated fat for our customers.”
Steele continued, “The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the fragility of traditional meat supply chains and the risks they pose to human health and the environment. We wanted to bring together our skills to address a pressing problem: how to satisfy a growing demand for meat without compromising on health, sustainability or animal ethics.“
Eric Scott, Principal at Founders Fund, added, “The market for plant-based meat has exploded in recent years, especially during the pandemic. But plant-based meat has a long way to go – and that’s because it’s missing out on real cell-based animal fat. The team’s ability to tailor the precise sensory and functional properties of fat allows them to produce exactly what their customers need. Hoxton Farms has the potential to change an industry.”