Today Memphis Meats, a Berkeley, CA-based startup making cell-based meat, announced it has closed a $161 million Series B funding round. The round was led by SoftBank Group, Norwest and Temasek, with participation from big names like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Kimbal Musk, Cargill, Vulcan Capital, Fifty Years, and more. In total, Memphis Meats has raised just over $180 million.
Talk about some serious moneys. According to an email from the Good Food Institute, this massive raise more than doubles the total amount invested in cultured meat globally (up until now, all companies combined had only raised $155 million).
With its fresh capital, Memphis Meats plans to build a pilot production facility and continue to push towards launching its first cell-based product.
As to when that will be . . . we don’t exactly know. Despite having the most funding of any cultured meat company, Memphis Meats still has yet to announce when it expects to launch its first product — or even what that product will be.
When I asked David Kay, Memphis Meats’ Senior Communications Manager, at SKS 2019 back in October, he said that there are two reasons they’re holding back on a concrete launch date. First, they want to wait until they can guarantee that their product is both tasty and scalable, so as not to scare off any curious consumers. Second — and perhaps more importantly — they’re going to wait until regulatory frameworks for cultured meat are solidly established.
According to multiple experts I’ve spoken to in the cell ag field, regulatory hurdles are the main reason that cell-based meat and seafood has not already gone to market (and one of the reasons it might first be sold in Asia). As the first cellular agriculture company in the U.S., Memphis Meats is operating with an abundance of caution so as not to derail the regulatory approval process. In fact, the startup is one of the founders of a new coalition to speed up cell-based meats’ path to market.
It may not have announced plans about when it’ll bring its meat to market, but Memphis is clearly already planning for a future where it’ll make massive amounts of product. The company joins BlueNalu and Israel-based Future Meat Technologies, both of whom have also announced plans to build large facilities to produce massive quantities of cell-based meat and seafood.
With $161 million more in its pocket, that future is looking a lot closer for Memphis Meats.