Plant-based ingredients startup Better Meat Co. announced today they have raised an $8.1 million seed round. The new funding round was led by Greenlight Capital and Green Circle Foodtech Ventures. Johnsonville, the maker of Johnsonville Sausages, also participated alongside alt-protein investment fund Level VC. This brings the total funding for Better Meat Co. to $9.7 million.
Better Meat Co. describes itself as a business-to-business ingredients company. They sell plant-based ingredients to food companies that then incorporate them into meat products. The plant-based ingredients typically account for anywhere between 25 to 50 percent of the ingredients in these blended products.
“We offer a range of ingredients to major meat companies,” Better Meat Co. CEO Paul Shapiro told The Spoon. “We enable them to use fewer animals and more plants.”
According to Shapiro, the ingredients aren’t just a way to replace meat with lower-cost fillers, but instead to improve the overall nutritional value and enhance the flavor.
“What we offer are meat enhancers,” said Shapiro. “We’re going to improve the yield. We’re going to improve the mouthfeel.”
As mentioned, the company also aims to improve the overall nutritional value of the products. Adding these ingredients can reduce the sodium or cholesterol compared to a 100 percent meat-based offering. The ingredients also round out a diet by adding more vegetables, something Better Meat customers like Perdue like to tout.
While plant-based ingredients enhancers for products like chicken nuggets may not be as sexy as, say, the Impossible Whopper or a futuristic vision of meat grown in bioreactors, Better Meat Co. and its products are a recognition that we aren’t going to be a post-animal food world anytime soon and we’d better figure out a way to transition.
CEO Shapiro put his company’s products into context by pointing to the electric vehicle market.
“What we offer is not necessarily a totally electric hybrid like the Tesla, but instead a technology that allows for the major meat makers to hybridize their products.”
In short, while Better Meat Co.’s technology is more Prius than Tesla, the company still serves an important role by acting as a bridge to help big CPGs transition over time to a more sustainable, plant-based future.