A cultivated meat takeover is imminent: The innovative food category is expected to change the food industry by providing customers with a sustainable “real” meat product while undercutting the meat industry. UPSIDE Foods is pioneering the way, securing a $400 million Series C investment round that brought its valuation to $1 billion and stands as the industry’s largest round to date.

With the additional funding, UPSIDE intends to accelerate its product development and prepare for commercialization. As cultivated meat nears regulatory approval in the United States, UPSIDE aims to usher in a new era of food, making its cell-based products available to American consumers by the end of the year.

“The cultivated meat industry has reached a historic inflection point,” Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Upside Foods Uma Valeti, Ph.D., said. “Our team has a proven track record of overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges in our mission to make our favorite food a force for good. Working in partnership with our world-class coalition of investors, we’re excited to bring delicious, sustainable, and humane meat to the consumers around the world.”

The funding round was co-led by Abu Dhabi Growth Fund and Temasek, featuring an impressive list of other investors. The other investors included Baillie Gifford, John Doerr, SALT fund, Synthesis Capital, Bill Gates, Cercano Management, CPT Capital, Dentsu Ventures, EDBI, Kimbal, and Christiana Musk, Norwest Venture Partners, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, and SOSV’s Indie Bio. UPSIDE also caught the attention of  Cargill, which is ranked as the third-largest meat processor in the US. The investment interest indicates that the meat industry recognizes the value of the growing cell-based sector.

"We're excited to support this next chapter of UPSIDE Foods' growth," COO of Cargill Brian Sikes said. "Our continued support for UPSIDE's innovative work underscores Cargill's commitment to an inclusive approach to wholesome, sustainable protein that will meet customer and consumer needs now and in the future."

The world is looking for sustainable food, but many people resist plant-based foods. Cultivated meat is intended to be the middle ground that will encourage people to eat sustainably. Cultivated beef production is projected to reduce air pollution by 93 percent and minimize the broader climate impact by 92 percent when compared to animal agriculture. With this investment, sustainable foods will become more available than ever.

Cultivated Meat in the US

This monumental funding round is instrumental to UPSIDE’s commercial sector. The food tech company is primarily focused on scale, aiming to build production facilities capable of producing tens of millions of pounds of cultivated meat products. UPSIDE’s products will also include all varieties of meat products with an initial focus on chicken.

Last November, UPSIDE initiated its preparation for commercial distribution by opening its Engineering, Production, and Innovation Center (EPIC). The EPIC facility is capable of producing 50,000 pounds of cultivated meat a year, but the company expects it will eventually have the potential to produce 400,000 pounds per year. Located in Emeryville, California, EPIC will help UPSIDE launch its US distribution effort.

UPSIDE also plans to bring the cultivated chicken directly to people’s plates. The company is partnering with Michelin-starred Chef Dominque Crenn to feature the country’s first cultivated chicken at her San Francisco-based restaurant Atelier Crenn. Crenn will become the first US chef to serve a cultivated chicken, especially significant because the chef removed meat from her menus in 2018.

Cultivated Meat is Already Available

Despite enthusiasm for cultivated meat, the US is trailing behind other countries. Customers can already purchase cell-based meat products across Singapore and Qatar is expected to approve cultivated meat this year. In Singapore, GOOD Meat – the cultivated meat arm of Eat Just – serves cell-based chicken in both retail and foodservice sectors. The brand is also working closely with Qatar to begin distribution pending regulatory approval.

Last year, the cultured meat market is expected to reach $2.7 billion by 2030, registering a remarkable 95.8 percent growth rate. However, with companies like UPSIDE and GOOD Meat pushing the industry into the mainstream, the industry could surpass the expectations. Cultivated meat holds a special advantage over other alternative proteins because it seamlessly replicates the animal products that people worldwide feel reluctant to give up.

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