Today Clara Foods, a startup using cellular agriculture to develop animal-free proteins, announced it has raised a Series B funding round. The round was led by ingredients corporation Ingredion with participation from Hemisphere Ventures, SOS Ventures and B37. The amount of funding was not disclosed.
Based in San Francisco, Clara Foods has been working to create animal proteins without the animals. They use a similar technology to Perfect Day or New Culture, feeding sugar to genetically engineered yeast to “ferment” protein in various forms. So far, Clara Foods has been focused on creating egg whites to use as vegan alternatives in baking.
Under the agreement, Ingredion will work with Clara Foods to distribute and market multiple animal-free proteins means to be used as egg substitutes.
This partnership gives a big leg up to Clara Foods. The startup has been developing its chicken-less egg whites since 2014. When I visited the Clara Foods team a few months ago at the Winter Fancy Food Show, they told me it would likely still be a while before they brought a product to market. Now, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that their “egg” proteins could be available as soon as 2020.
Clara Foods’ partnership with Ingredion is a smart way for them to leverage the massive ingredient provider’s manufacturing capabilities, supply chain, and retail partnerships to get to market much more quickly. Perfect Day made a similar strategic partnership last year when they teamed up with ADM to accelerate production of their animal-free whey.
This is also a smart move on Ingredion’s part. The ingredient supplier has had its eye on the vegan protein space for a while. In fact, its investment in Clara Foods comes months after Ingredion committed to investing $140 million in plant-based proteins. True, Clara Foods’ proteins are made through fermentation, not from plants, but still: Ingredion knows that alternative proteins are a hot investment opportunity, and it’s making moves.
In its press release Clara Foods stated that it had raised a $15 million Series A in 2016. (Though Crunchbase reports that the startup’s total funding — prior to the Series B — was only $3.5 million.) In addition to jumpstarting manufacturing, Clara Foods will also use its new funding to expand beyond egg proteins and develop other animal-free products.