Plant-based pet food brand Wild Earth has announced plans to expand its product line into pet food made with cell-based meat. The announcement comes on the heels of a new $23 million funding round from a group of investors that includes Mark Cuban and the star of Vampire Diaries, Paul Wesley.
Led by alternative protein entrepreneur and investor Ryan Bethencourt, Wild Earth has been one of the early leaders in creating pet food from plant-based ingredients. With products like Clean Protein dog food (which uses pea and potato protein) and Superfood Dog Treats With Koji (Koji is a fungi protein used in fermented food in Asia), company sales have grown more than 700% year over year, according to a release sent to The Spoon.
And now, the company plans to use cell-based meat in a new line of products. From the release:
(Wild Earth) has its sights set on adding new products and launching a new initiative into cell-based meat pet food to deepen their market share and gain new customers. Cell-based meat is a lab-grown meat; a sustainable alternative to traditional meat. Cell-based meat is cruelty-free to produce. Cell-based meat is the future of meat, and pet food is leading the revolution!
The company got a boost in 2019 when Bethencourt appeared on Shark Tank and secured a $550 thousand investment from Cuban. Bethencourt, already well-known in the alternative protein space as one of the earliest employees at seminal biotech accelerator IndieBio, became an influential alt-protein evangelist and helped increase Wild Earth’s profile in the market.
Wild Earth is just one of a number of pet food companies eyeing cell-based meat as an ingredient. Startup Because Animals is working on cat food with meat made from mice cells which it plans to have in the market by 2022. Boulder-based Bond Pet Foods has sourced chicken cells from a heritage hen named Inga and plans to roll out pet food using cultured chicken meat in 2023.
And now, we can add cell-based beef and seafood to the list of ingredients coming to the cell-based pet food market. According to the release, Wild Earth plans to have its new lineup of pet food with beef, chicken, and seafood cell-based meat inputs on the market in 2022.
You can see highlights from Bethencourt’s appearance on Shark Tank in the video below: