US chicken giant Tyson Foods has co-led a US$2.2m seed investment round in Israel-based Future Meat Technologies through its Tyson Ventures arm.

Tyson describes the target of its investment as a “ground-breaking start-up developing affordable, non-GMO technology for cultured meat production”.

Future Meat Technologies is a Jerusalem-based biotechnology company advancing a distributive manufacturing platform for cost-efficient, non-GMO production of meat directly from animal cells, without the need to raise or harvest animals.

In addition to Tyson Ventures, the Neto Group, one of the largest food conglomerates in Israel, S2G Ventures, a Chicago-based venture capital fund, BitsXBites, China’s first food technology venture capital fund, New York-based HB Ventures and Agrinnovation, an Israeli investment fund founded by Yissum, linked to The Hebrew University, participated in this round.

Future Meat Technologies focuses on developing a “new generation of manufacturing technology” that enables the cost-efficient production of fat and muscle cells, the core building blocks of meat.

Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, the company’s founder and chief scientist, said: “It is difficult to imagine cultured meat becoming a reality with a current production price of about $10,000 per kilogram.

“We redesigned the manufacturing process until we brought it down to $800 per kilogram today, with a clear roadmap to $5-10 per kg by 2020.”

Justin Whitmore, executive vice president, corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods, said: “This is our first investment in an Israel-based company and we’re excited about this opportunity to broaden our exposure to innovative, new ways of producing protein. 

“We continue to invest significantly in our traditional meat business but also believe in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices.”
Future Meat Technologies expects to use the funds to establish its engineering activities and increase its biological research. The company is currently recruiting engineers, chefs and scientists.

Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest food companies, has previously invested in alternative protein businesses such as Beyond Meat and Memphis Meats.

Read Big Food’s stake in the future – in-house venture-capital funds