Food tech start-up raises US$6m to “revolutionize plant-based sector,” amid global focus on health
14 Apr 2020 --- Rebellyous Foods, a US-based start-up developing production technology specific to the plant-based meat industry, has raised US$6 million in Series A funding, co-led by Clear Current Capital, Fifty Years and Liquid 2 Ventures. Other funders include Agronomics and Vulcan Capital, the investment arm of Vulcan Inc., the company founded by Microsoft Co-Founder and philanthropist Paul Allen. The latest round of funding enables Rebellyous Foods to continue to thrive amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the company states.
In addition to its production technology, the company crafts next-generation plant-based “chicken,” which is touted as a healthy and sustainable food option. Rebellyous will use this investment to accelerate its development of replicable, novel equipment and standardized facilities. In addition, it will fast-track its manufacturing scale-up, hire equipment and mechanical engineers at its Seattle research facility, as well as expand NPD to broaden its portfolio.
“Bird flu, swine flu and now COVID-19 demonstrate that keeping large numbers of animals in close contact with one another presents a tremendous risk for global health,” says Christie Lagally, Founder and CEO of the start-up.
“In order to transition away from our heavy dependence on meat, it’s critical that we make plant-based meat affordable and widely available through innovative production technology,” Lagally continues. “At Rebellyous, our mission is to make plant-based meat that is better than animal meat in every way, from price and convenience to taste and nutrition.”
As a part of the investment round, Rebellyous welcomed Ela Madej, Founding Partner at Fifty Years, a seed fund supporting entrepreneurs with technology, to its board.
“It’s our mission at Fifty Years to partner with companies solving the world’s biggest problems,” Madej says. “We have been Rebellyous’ early supporters and we need a pandemic-proof food system that can meet the nutritional needs of our growing human family. We’re also happy to support job creation in a time when many other businesses are having to lay off workers.”
Plant-based chicken specifically is poised for remarkable segment growth, but only if it can be produced at a cost and in quantities that rival the poultry industry, the start-up highlights. Rebellyous hopes it can do that without opening the door to future disease outbreaks.
Last year, Lagally said that meatless nuggets “used to be half as delicious and twice as expensive as chicken,” and spotlighted the company’s plans to “make plant-based meat that is better than animal meat in every way, from price and convenience to taste and nutrition.”
Despite the growing popularity of plant-based meat, almost all of these products are created using machinery that hasn’t evolved in decades. This lack of innovation has kept the cost of plant-based meat high and the availability low, making consumers reliant on factory-farmed meat for cheap, convenient protein.
Plant-based meats can be two to five times more expensive than factory farmed meat, according to Rebellyous and “more than US$40 billion worth of nuggets and other processed ‘chicken’ products are sold in the US every year.”
Rebellyous aims to scale up plant-based meat production to finally be cost-competitive with animal products.
“Healthy, delicious and sustainable options shouldn’t be reserved for people in big cities with money to burn,” VP of Business Development Kristie Middleton states. “Rebellyous is plant-based meat for the rest of us.”
Rebellyous’ nuggets and strips contain nearly three times the fiber, 40 percent less saturated fat and 40 percent less sodium than its real chicken competition. The start-up underscores the importance of foodservice facilities at hospitals, schools and more to reach the people that need more nutritious options the most.
Edited by Elizabeth Green
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