US-based Impossible Foods, which makes meatless burgers, has attracted US$75m in investment led by Singapore’s state-owned Temasek Holdings.
The latest investment round at Impossible Foods is the first time Temasek has invested in the California-based business. The San Francisco-based Open Philanthropy Project has also backed the company for the first time.
Existing investors Bill Gates, California fund Khosla Ventures and Hong Kong-based Horizon Ventures will also make contributions, although Impossible Foods did not provide any other financial details.
Impossible Foods, located in Redwood City, California, produces meat from plants using “modern science and technology to create wholesome food, restore natural ecosystems and feed a growing population sustainably”, according to a statement.
A key ingredient for its flagship Impossible Burger is soy leghemoglobin, a protein that carries heme, an iron-containing molecule that occurs naturally in animals and plants.
“To satisfy global demand for meat at a fraction of the environmental impact, Impossible Foods discovered a scalable, affordable way to make heme without animals. The company genetically modifies yeast and uses fermentation to produce a heme protein naturally found in plants, called soy leghemoglobin,” it said.
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The Impossible Burger uses 75% less water, generates 87% fewer greenhouse gases and requires 95% less land than conventional ground beef from cows, the company said. It’s produced without hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol or articifial flavours. Impossible Foods has received a US patent for its technology to use leghemoglobin in plant-based meat.
“Our scientists spent so much time and effort studying a single molecule – heme – because heme is what makes meat taste like meat,” said CEO and founder Patrick Brown. “It turns out finding a sustainable way to make massive amounts of heme from plants is a critical step in solving the world’s greatest environmental threat.”
In 2014, soy leghemoglobin was announced in the US as “generally recognised as safe”, or GRAS.
This month, Impossible Foods is to publish a study conducted last year that it claims “provided even more objective, scientific data that the product is safe”. The company said the research examined whether consumption of soy leghemoglobin in amounts orders of magnitude above normal dietary exposure would produce any adverse effects. “There were none,” the company said.
A search of allergen databases has found soy leghemoglobin has a very low risk of allergenicity and it has shown no adverse effects in exhaustive testing, the company added.