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Stephen Michael Co is the co-founder and CEO of WTH Foods – aka Worth The Health – the first homegrown plant-based meat startup in the Philippines. Having recently joined Big Idea Ventures’ (BIV) latest food tech accelerator programme, the company is set to make waves with its plant-based sustainable meat alternatives that targets the taste buds of Filipinos and the wider Asian market. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Stephen, who shared with us the story behind WTH Foods, what the young food tech now working on, and what’s in store for the future.

GQ: Could you tell us a bit about your story and how you met your co-founders to start WTH Foods?

SMC: My background is in Biology – I graduated locally in the Philippines ten years ago and undertook my Masters degree in the U.K. in Bioscience Enterprise at the University of Cambridge. When I came back, I thought a lot about expressing science through food. Especially here in the Philippines, there isn’t much funding going into pharmaceutical innovation, so I thought that combining my science background into a food business was ideal. I really wanted to promote Philippine natural resources, people and creativity. 

So around five years ago, I found my co-founders Carissa Jane Lim and Carlo Antonio Ng and we started Nipa Brew – it was the heyday of craft beers at the time. Carissa is my childhood friend and I met Carlo, a Chemistry professor, at a beer festival. We all shared the same vision of commercialising science, but Nipa Brew remained a local play. We wanted to expand internationally, but the appeal of craft beers is local and we imported a lot of our ingredients. That’s when we thought that we’re not really showcasing Philippine talent or resources and we started to think about what’s next.

Co-Founders Carlo Antonio Ng (L), Carissa Jane Lim (C) & Stephen Michael Co (R)

GQ: Tell us about the inspiration that led you to start a plant-based meat company. 

SMC: In 2018, the three of us started thinking about our next project. We were chatting with Ryan Bethencourt, an early investor in Nipa Brew back in 2017, and during one chat he told us about Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods and their story. I was also lucky to get a fellowship at the Food Innovation Centre at Rutgers University. When I was there, I tried plant-based burgers and looked at the ingredients and I thought wow – some of these ingredients and plant-based proteins are local to the Philippines and the market for plant-based was starting to grow there too. So we entered this plant-based market in 2019 and began spending a lot of our time mostly researching which plants, legumes and local plants could be developed into our products. 

GQ: So are the team and yourself vegans or are you flexitarians? 

SMC: No, we’re not yet vegan. We want to go mainstream and we don’t want to just appeal to vegans. So in a way, we’re customers of our own products. We want to reduce our meat consumption and we recognise the fact that in the Philippines, people do eat meat and it’s hard to eliminate meat 100%. But we want to convince people to cut down.

GQ: What are some of the products developed by WTH Foods? Are they all vegan-friendly and what are the key ingredients? 

SMC: Our direction is making plant-based Filipino favourites of pantry staples that have been traditionally made up of processed meat. We have a mung bean-based ground meat, a jackfruit-based pulled meat, we have a plant-based corned beef and coming up, we also have a new hot dog product. All of them are completely vegan.

Dishes made with WTH Foods’ plant-based meat products

GQ: As the first homegrown plant-based food tech from the Philippines, what makes WTH Foods different from other food tech companies out there? Will you focus on dishes that cater to local cuisine? 

SMC: Philippine cuisine has admittedly been lagging behind other Asian cuisines in terms of popularity, but there is a growing trend and recognition of our dishes. We like a weird mix of sweet, sour and mildly spicy – and this is unique. What we want to do is to be at the intersection of the growth of the plant-based market and the growth of Philippine cuisine at the global stage. As you know, there are Filipinos everywhere with over 12 million of us living in over 100 in overseas countries and we want them to be our brand ambassadors as we grow across the world.

GQ: Where is it currently being sold? Is it available directly to consumers or via foodservice?

SMC: So currently, you can order directly from our website and we’re available at 50 specialty grocery stores and retailers in the Philippines. We are in talks with some chefs to use our products in their restaurant menus, but with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this is a bit delayed. Our goal is to saturate the Philippine market. We have 7,000 islands here and we are hoping to have a presence in most of the major cities and islands.

GQ: How is WTH Foods currently being funded? 

SMC: We are a portfolio company of Big Idea Ventures (BIV) Singapore, so we have investment from BIV and we are actively raising capital as well.

GQ: Some may say that Southeast Asia’s plant-based market is still in its early stages and far smaller than that of the U.S. or Europe. Do you see this changing rapidly with growing demand for plant-based meat? 

SMC: I’m fairly conservative but I believe it’s a growing trend. In the Philippines, with the very recent advent of Netflix and documentaries like The Game Changers and What The Health, we saw a really positive uptick in the plant-based trend here. Filipinos are very culturally close to the U.S. in terms of following trends, and although not as much as Hong Kong or Singapore, OmniPork and Beyond Meat have made their presence felt here in the Philippines. Even San Miguel has released a meatless product – though it contains egg, it is vegetarian – so people are seeing plant-based choices in their groceries. The entry of super big companies like these means that there is growth.

WTH Foods’ Plant-Based Corned Beef

GQ: Is the Filipino plant-based market in particular ready, in your opinion? What are consumers in the Philippines looking for – are they price sensitive? What are some of the key obstacles to reaching mainstream consumers in Asia? 

SMC: This is a question we think about a lot – how to get our products mainstream. We’re going against a meat industry that has been very efficient and has been decades in the making. Hopefully in the post-pandemic scene, if the trend continues, the Philippines is getting richer and consumers here are having more disposable income. We’re banking on this trend of income growth and education to support the plant-based meat market here. Absolutely, the Philippines is a relatively cheap country. Corned beef, for example, is sold for around US$1, and our own plant-based products are priced around US$4. Of course, Beyond Meat products cost much higher than that, at around US$16. I think to make plant-based meat appeal to the masses here is, of course, taste as the number one. And we’ve been in the F&B market for a while so I believe we know what consumers want in terms of taste. Then it’s price. So price and taste is what consumers are looking for.

GQ: What’s in store for the future for WTH Foods? 

SMC: We’re completing a six item line up. We currently have four products and we’re thinking of adding two more that will complete a nice pantry staples collection. We are keen on exploring the Singapore market as a testbed with its diverse population and as a springboard to help us expand across Southeast Asia. What I’m really keen on is following the Filipino community around the world in the U.S., the Middle East and even in Hong Kong, and seeing how they respond to our products. Trying to get them away from their San Miguel hot dog and corned beef will be a challenge, but I’m curious to see if we can make plant-based products as good as their authentic breakfast meals that they miss.

GQ: Final question – team rice or team noodles?

SMC: I’m a fan of rice!

Lead image courtesy of WTH Foods.

By Avery Parkinson


As promising as cellular agriculture may be for making our food production system more environmentally sustainable, ethical and healthy, the field is definitely not without its challenges.

The main challenge this technology faces is the cost — the world’s first cultured burger, which was produced by Dutch scientist Mark Post and his lab in 2013, cost about $330,000.

It currently costs around $50,000 to produce one pound of meat in vitro, and that’s mostly because of the culture media. Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS), which is probably the most important ingredient, can cost up to $1000 per litre!



Additionally, FBS comes from cow fetuses. Due to the (very painful) way it is sourced, it does not align with the ethical intent of cellular agriculture — to be unreliant on animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has devised a comprehensive list of plant-based substitutes for FBS– however, scientists maintain that fetal bovine serum is still far more effective than the proposed alternatives.


Besides the essential nutrients, most mammalian cells require things called “growth factors” to grow. In an animal, these growth factors are supplied by the animal’s blood, so using FBS is an intuitive way to conveniently source them all.

If we want to eliminate the role of the animal entirely, our current alternative is recombinant protein production which involves synthesizing each growth factor individually. This is usually very expensive.

But luckily, researchers are starting to demonstrate the effectiveness of “serum-free culture media” (media that doesn’t include animal byproducts) and are also considering how to produce them cheaply.

Continuing in this vein, as much as cellular agriculture aims to be unreliant on animals, since it by definition entails culturing a set of animal cells, we can not be completely animal independent. We can, however, limit the number of cells that we do directly take from the animal.

Ideally, we could improve the technology to the point where one group of cells produces all the meat we ever need! This requires sustaining one cell line indefinitely. Unfortunately, this is impossible because of the Hayflick limit, which implies that cells can not replicate forever. Satellite stem cells, which are just a specific variation of stem cells, can duplicate at most 40 times.


One way we can get around this is by creating stem cells called Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs). These cells are created by taking a normal specialized cell and editing its DNA so that it returns to being a stem cell — kind of like reverse engineering.

On the end of a DNA strand, there is a protective telomere cap. When our cells divide, these telomere caps get shorter and shorter until they are nonexistent and the cell becomes senescent cells — which for our purposes, basically renders them useless. When we reverse engineer our cells, we can make the telomere long enough so that it exceeds the Hayflick Limit and our cells are effectively immortal!

Beyond the actual technical challenges of cellular agriculture, there are also societal ones that may prevent finished products from reaching consumers.

Firstly, few countries actually have any set guidelines and regulations which govern the production and selling of cultured meat– although recently, the USDA and FDA announced a joint responsibility for cellular agriculture products with each organization overseeing part of the process. The Good Food Institute is assisting various governments in coming up with their own policies that can support the industry. For starters, many existing laws are somewhat problematic. For instance, when used in marketing, terms such as “meat” and “meat products” specifically refer to animal slaughter.

Then there’s public acceptance. As the technology is quite new and unfamiliar to people, it will take some getting used to in order for consumers to feel comfortable enough to want to buy it. Like with anything, this can be done through education and awareness. Organizations like CellAgri and Cell Based News aim to do this by keeping people up to date with what’s going on in the industry.

Once these challenges are overcome, we may one day see cultured animal products available at the grocery store. Luckily, there are a whole bunch of startups, non for profits, and research institutions working on solving them!

Meat-Tech 3D Ltd, a developer of industrial-scale cultivated meat production technologies based on advanced 3D bioprinting, announces it has made an initial €1M investment in Belgian cultured fat startup Peace of Meat, as part of a planned full acquisition.

Peace of Meat has developed a unique, proprietary, stem-cell-based technology to produce animal fats, such as those from cattle, chicken or geese without harming any animals. In 2020 POM was awarded a subsidy of €1.2 million (US$1.33 million) from the Flemish government as part of the €3.6 million Foieture project.

The acquisition of the remainder of the company remains subject to the completion of a final agreement. Upon completion of the final agreement and, as POM achieves pre-agreed technological milestones over the course of two years, Meat-Tech will purchase all of POM’s equity for a total of approximately $17.5 million, for a combination of cash and Meat-Tech equity.

Meat-Tech expects to leverage POM’s cultured fat technologies to expand its cell-based offerings by accelerating cultured fat development and shortening times to market. Peace of Meat has already held tasting events demonstrating the potential of cultured fats to enhance plant-based protein products. Such products are being called hybrid products as they are made of both plant based and cultured animal cell ingredients.

“Meat-Tech believes that hybrid products, such as plant-based burgers made with cultured fat, may prove to be an exciting new product category. Such fats may offer improved aromas, flavors and textures as compared to purely plant-based proteins. Completing this acquisition will add technological capabilities to support Meat-Tech’s core center-of-plate product offering.” added Steve H. Lavin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Meat-Tech.

“POM shares the strategic vision of Meat-Tech 3D and is excited to join forces. We are convinced that the strong scientific and commercial synergies between both parties paired with our approach of creating hybrid products based on savory cultured fats is the perfect setting to bring cultured meat to market in an increasingly competitive space” said David Brandes, Managing Director of Peace of Meat.

Big Idea Ventures runs a $50 million fund, deploying the capital into $200,000 investments in early-stage alternative protein companies. Founded two years ago by Andrew Ive, BIV has quickly become a forefront player in the new food arena. It operates as an accelerator and venture capital investor, a hybrid model that has served it well to attract trailblazer brands before anyone else, preparing them for exponential growth.

The company has offices in New York and Singapore, both equipped with teams that scout the cities and the regions nearby for the best businesses in which to invest.

“We’ve invested in companies throughout Asia and North America, but also in Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore. We invest globally,” says Ive. The plan, he adds, is to invest in about 100 companies in the next four years. “That’s our goal, and I anticipate that by the end of next year we’ll have 50 companies in our portfolio.”

Andrew Ive, founder and managing general partner
Andrew Ive

Today, BIV is working with 25 start-ups running the gamut of snacks, dairy and meat alternatives, from plant- to cell-based products. “We’re very happy with the portfolio,” says Ive. “All these companies have really good teams, great technology, and interesting opportunities in the marketplace. Many of our companies have got more investment from other investors, which further validates the decisions we’ve made.”

Cheese alternative brands Grounded and Pleese, snacks brand Confetti, and jackfruit-based meat Karana are all names hailing from BIV’s first cohorts.

India’s liquid egg replacement start-up Evo Foods and MeliBio, the California biotech company on track to produce bee-free honey, form part of the second New York cohort – but there’s more, and NutritionInvestor presents four new brands to watch.

Actual Veggies

Actual Veggies is a plant-based burger brand like no other – it produces chef-crafted fresh and refrigerated burgers that celebrate vegetables instead of trying to mask them.

Co-founder Jason Rosenbaum entered the CPG food space with a plant-based product that satisfies his taste buds – he turned vegan for health reasons and immediately struggled to find a fresh and ‘clean’ burger in shops.

“We touched on all the pain points of traditional veggie burgers and imitation meats, then took the positives and merged it all into one,” says Rosenbaum. “We’ve created a thick, filling, refrigerated and private chef-designed line of burgers made with only ingredients you can pronounce. We are a plant-only burger that celebrates the taste and natural colours of ‘actual veggies’.”

Jason Rosenbaum

The product line comprises four SKUs including burgers branded as Orange, Purple, Black, and Green. The range uses common vegetables such as kale, mushrooms, sweet potato and beetroot.

Rosenbaum ran the start-up by himself for a while, but then he brought in co-founders Hailey and Alex Swartz and together hired a chef to bring their vision to life.

“Actual Veggies wouldn’t be where it is without my team, and that includes BIV, our first investor,” says Rosenbaum.

Founded this year, Actual Veggies is a Covid-19-born start-up, and as such, the team has found it natural to connect with investors, suppliers and potential clients over video calls.

This virtual-based operation has allowed the company to run without an office, enabling the start-up to remain lean and frugal without compromising the business.

“Since in-person sampling is not happening, we spent extra time making sure that our packaging and branding really tells our story,” says Rosenbaum. “The attention to detail and work we put in will open up many doors for us when we are ready to scale in 2021.”

Actual Veggies secured a listing this month with a New York retailer and is in talks with many more. “This is our soft launch where our focus will be on consumer feedback,” says Rosenbaum, noting next year will see the company scale and grow. “We are ready from a manufacturing standpoint.”

Actual Veggies product range. Photo as seen on the company website

Rosenbaum says that, based on interest from key national accounts, the company is projected to become a multimillion-dollar business by Q3 next year. “Our brand is really going to shine when we launch seasonal and limited batch burgers where we will utilise rare vegetables,” he says, adding a new ‘Actual Sunchoke Burger’ is in the pipeline.

“We’re also working on incorporating celebrity designed burgers, and aside from burgers, we have plans to enter other categories where we believe we can offer fresher, healthier and tastier products,” he concludes.

Actual Veggies is currently raising capital to support its expansion plans.

Orbillion Bio

Cell-based meat producer Orbillion Bio is the brainchild of Patricia Bubner, PhD in biotechnology and biosciences – who founded the company last year. “I’m following a lifelong curiosity of how to build nutritious and healthy food from ‘molecular’ scratch,” she says. Orbillion makes cultivated meat from animal cells without slaughter.

Patricia Bubner

Bubner also co-founded The Millet Project, an agriculture and food systems project focused on diversifying agriculture and raising public awareness and consumption of lesser-known grains like millets.

“I have always been aware of the important roles that farmers play in food security through my childhood visits to my great-grandparents’ farm and my close collaboration with farmers at The Millet Project. I brought this sentiment with me to Orbillion Bio,” she says.

Bubner knows that many opportunities lie ahead for challenger brands like Orbillion, but also many hurdles. “There are no cultivated meat products on the market yet due to regulatory and cost issues. Understanding both the customer and the regulatory requirements and anticipating where the market moves are the main challenges for us.”

She says Orbillion Bio is addressing this by providing ‘food with a story’. “We produce cell lines sourced directly from farmers, which will provide customers with farmers market-style meat grown in a stainless-steel fermenter, just like beer is brewed,” she explains.

Orbillion has created a bioplatform for functional testing of cell lines for cultivated meat across species. Bubner argues this infrastructure mitigates the risk of locked-in production scale economics before scaling up investment.

Photo as seen on Orbillion Bio’s website

She notes that co-founders have 30-plus years of combined experience in biotech, biopharma, business and product development, foodtech, and sustainability. “We have complementary technical skill sets and experiences needed for cultivated meat.”

Orbillion Bio is working on porcine, bovine, and bison cell lines to commercialise initial products. “We are in the pre-revenue stage, like all cultivated meat companies. We aim to have our first revenue in 2021,” Bubner concludes.


Cell-based meat companies are cropping up, and as Bubner says, production costs make go-to-market plans expensive due to the high costs of cell line production. Founded in 2018, Biftek has entered the market with a novel culture medium supplement formulation to grow muscle stem cells, and claims to lower the costs of cell-based production significantly.

Kerem Erikçi

“We are going to enable cultivated meat companies the world over to bring their products to the market fast,” says Biftek co-founder Kerem Erikçi.

Erikçi explains that Biftek’s growth medium supplement has critical competitive advantages. “We are harvesting our molecules from microorganisms and plants naturally. We are not modifying genes or using recombinant growth factors,” he says.

He also notes that Biftek’s methodology enables it to produce a growth medium supplement that is as potent as the conventional growth medium with the fraction of the cost. “Being natural and affordable will make our product an industry standard,” he claims.

Biftek is in the pre-launch stage – and Erikçi foresees initial sales beginning by the end of next year. “We expect to tap into the growth medium market for pharmaceutical companies well before meat production companies,” he says. “This market is worth around $800 million, and with our disruptive supplement, our initial sales figure can go up to two-digit million dollars,” he adds.

Photo as seen on Biftek’s website

Innovation at Biftek doesn’t stop at the medium. The company is looking at solving additional problems such as re-usability of the medium to increase cost-effectiveness.

“We are also innovating around filtering mechanisms and associated structures to act like kidneys to bioreactors, and developing materials for different cell lines,” Erikçi concludes.

Novel Farms

“We have chosen to solve one of the biggest challenges in the cellular agriculture industry: creating muscle tissue from the ground up – marbled meat with structure,” says Nieves Martinez, founder of Novel Farms, PhD in molecular biology.

Nieves Martinez

Martinez explains that scaffolding is needed to deliver a cell-based meat product to the dinner table that looks, feels, and tastes like a steak. However, current scaffolding approaches are not scalable, are costly, and do not enable the co-culturing of fat and muscle cells necessary to achieve marbling throughout the cultured muscle – Novel Farms has a solution to that.

The company uses synthetic biology to design highly tuneable and low-cost ‘bioscaffolds’ for the production of structured, steak-like cell-based meats.

Martinez says that without structural support, cell-based meat companies are restricted to products made out of minced or ground meat such as sausages, meatballs, and burgers – and only 2.4% of the global pork sales and 40.9% of beef sales is in the form of ground meat.

“In tissue engineering, scaffolds are needed to build tissue de novo, since animal cells require a surface to grow on. Without a surface to attach to, cells are unable to grow to form the muscle – meat,” explains Martinez.

Cell-based meat companies use scaffolds borrowed from regenerative medicine applications, which are made of materials that are extremely expensive, hence unsuitable for scaling up cell-based meat production.

Novel Farms’ bioscaffoldings are made from natural sources, are edible, and yet tasteless, so they don’t interfere with the meat flavour.

“Due to the ability to fully customise the scaffolds, we can design them to contain features that will reduce the cost of cell-based meat production, and even include further nutritional benefits,” says Martinez. She argues cell-based meat manufacturers will be able to expand their current product lines to include whole cuts of cell-based meat such a pork loin or flank steaks, for example.

Following the pre-seed investment from BIV, Novel Farms is gearing up to raise $1.5 million in a seed round.

“We plan on developing our bioscaffolds further to test the new features we have added to reduce manufacturing costs, and we will work intensively on replicating the muscle as close as possible,” says Martinez.

Novel Farms is also planning to recruit an expert in bioengineering and working on how to incorporate its bioscaffolds into the manufacturing process so it can start scaling up throughout next year.

These four challenger brands have what it takes to continue making headlines on their own in the coming months.

Cross-border impact investment firm Dao Foods International has invested in four Chinese plant-based startups, as the company joins a rising number of investors seeking to cash in on the nascent yet rapidly-growing alternative protein industry in the world’s largest meat consumption market.

“The alternative protein industry in the US and Europe has grown substantially over the last few years, whereas the market is underdeveloped in China,” said Albert Tseng, co-founder of Dao Foods International, in an interview with DealStreetAsia on Monday.

In addition to help combat greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional meat production industry, “more diversification” of protein sources will grow more important in China, where the population is “[nearly] 20 per cent of the world, but the country only has seven per cent of the world’s arable land,” said Tseng.

Dao Foods completed the four new deals through Dao Foods Venture Fund 1, an investment platform that it had set up this September with a target to back about 30 China-based alternative protein startups in the next three years.

The firm plans to invest in four to six startups every six months with an average cheque size of about 500,000 yuan ($74,780.9).

Patient money Dao Foods is the latest player to join the race in cultivating China’s future mock food giant to rival foreign counterparts like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods.

London-based consultancy Euromonitor predicted in 2019 that China’s “free from meat” market, including plant-based products meant to replace meat, would be worth nearly $12 billion by 2023, up from just under $10 billion in 2018.

A handful of institutional investors had flagged their ambition in the Chinese market earlier this year, as demand for meat substitutes is expected to further increase amid people’s risen food safety awareness since the pandemic outbreak.

Food-tech investment firm Big Idea Ventures, a Temasek-backed investor of Chinese plant-based local cuisines developer Zhen Meats, was in the market raising capital for a $50-million New Protein Fund.

Lever VC, a New York and Hong Kong-based venture capital firm that invests in early-stage alternative protein startups, had reached the first closing of Lever VC Fund I with $23 million in capital commitments this August. The fund had amassed a portfolio of 10 startups in Greater China, Singapore, and the rest of the world, including Chinese plant-based yoghurt brand Marvelous Foods.

Global venture accelerator Brinc in June had launched a three-month China accelerator programme on a rolling basis for interested food-tech portfolio companies at its new 3,500-square-metre (37,674 square feet) space in Guangzhou. The firm invests $80,000 per company with follow-on capital for teams that demonstrate traction.

“We were originally going to raise a large fund to invest in a lot of transactions in China as we believe China will ultimately become the world’s largest market for alternative protein… But we realized there wasn’t enough deal flow. That’s why we created an incubator to basically find entrepreneurs and help them get started,” said Tseng.

While focusing on startups targeting the mainland market, Dao Foods plans to be a patient investor and could wait for probably five to seven years, if not longer, before the exit comes. Tseng said that it is “a reasonable benchmark” of investment duration for pre-revenue, early-stage food-tech firms to reach a sizeable scale.

“Investors have to be patient. Returns [from China’s alternative protein sector] might take a little longer than from other industries,” he said.

Capture consumer imagination Dao Foods, which supports alternative protein startups targeting China’s 400 million millennials, was launched by Dao Ventures founder & managing director Zhang Tao and Tseng, who created Canada-based impact investing and advisory firm Moonspire Social Ventures.

Zhang and Tseng founded the firm in collaboration with US-based New Corp Capital, a former investor of plant-based burger maker Beyond Meat (the firm’s website shows that it has exited from the deal); and the Good Food Institute, a US-based non-profit organisation that promotes the development of plant-based alternatives.

“If we create an Impossible-like company in China, it will capture the imagination of consumers and, perhaps, drive the demand sooner,” said Tseng.

As their equivalents in the US have reached major milestones in this journey, Alternative protein businesses are taking off in China.

Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat had launched a $240-million initial public offering (IPO) on Nasdaq in May 2019. Its shares rose over 160 per cent from the offering price of $25 apiece and have gained 636.4 per cent so far based on the closing price of $184.1 on October 19.

Impossible Foods, which has raised nearly $1.5 billion in total financing, announced that its faux beef burgers would be sold in grocery stores in Hong Kong and Singapore starting on October 20, as the firm prepares its entry into the mainland China market.

“When you look at the Impossible story and the Beyond story in the last five years, these two companies did a lot to increase the speed at which alternative proteins were put forward in the market… We think that it is the same theory in China,” he said. “If we can support companies that can increase the consumer demand and consumer desire for these dishes, I think we’re going to be able to achieve our goals, both socially but also financially.”

Apart from early-stage seed capital, Dao Foods also plans to provide these portfolio firms with customized training and mentoring through its Dao Foods Incubator initiative over a duration of six months. Its four new portfolio firms all joined the initiative as the first cohort of ventures:

Kitchen 70/30: A Shanghai-based food delivery startup that works on plant-based takeaway food;

Fresh Foods: A Shenzhen-based startup that develops proprietary plant-based yogurt and potentially other dairy products;

Raw Plant-Based: A Beijing-based venture that mainly develops plant-based, organic smoothie products for younger-generation consumers

WOW Foods: A Beijing-based firm that works on plant-based functional protein drinks for children aged 6-12

Dao Foods had made its first investment in China by participating in the angel round of food-tech startup Starfield Food and Science Technology Limited in March 2020, along with other investors like New Corp Capital and Matrix Partners China.

In August, the Shenzhen-based developer of plant-based meat had secured its Series A round at over $10 million from Matrix Partners China, China-focused venture capital firm Sky9 Capital, and Beijing-based Joy Capital, which focuses on China’s TMT and innovative consumption sectors.

NESS ZIONA, IsraelOct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Meat-Tech 3D Ltd. (TASE: MEAT), a developer of industrial-scale cultivated meat production technologies based on advanced 3D bioprinting, today announced that it has made an initial €1M investment in Peace of Meat, a leading developer of cultured fat products. With this investment, Meat-Tech is expanding its strategy of developing scalable cell-based agriculture technologies. Meat-Tech’s investment is part of the planned full acquisition of the target company, as announced in September 2020.

The acquisition of the remainder of the company remains subject to the completion of a final agreement. Upon completion of the final agreement and, as POM achieves pre-agreed technological milestones over the course of two years, Meat-Tech will purchase all of POM’s equity for a total of approximately $17.5 million, for a combination of cash and Meat-Tech equity.

Peace of Meat (POM) is an Antwerp, Belgium based B2B company developing cultured fat technologies. POM has developed a unique, proprietary, stem-cell-based technology to produce animal fats, such as those from cattle, chicken or geese without harming any animals. In 2020 POM was awarded a subsidy of €1.2 million (US$1.33 million) from the Flemish government as part of the €3.6 million Foieture project. Peace of Meat has also received 1mn USD in private investments from supporters such as Joyance Partners, Big Idea Ventures and Food Angels.

Meat-Tech expects to leverage POM’s cultured fat technologies to expand its cell-based offerings by accelerating cultured fat development and shortening times to market. Peace of Meat has already held tasting events demonstrating the potential of cultured fats to enhance plant-based protein products. Such products are being called hybrid products as they are made of both plant based and cultured animal cell ingredients.

“Expediting the development of a broader range of cultured fat options will accelerate our go-to-market plans and support our current activities while opening the door to new product opportunities,” said Sharon Fima, CEO and CTO of Meat-Tech.

“Meat-Tech believes that hybrid products, such as plant-based burgers made with cultured fat, may prove to be an exciting new product category. Such fats may offer improved aromas, flavors and textures as compared to purely plant-based proteins. Completing this acquisition will add technological capabilities to support Meat-Tech’s core center-of-plate product offering.” added Steve H. Lavin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Meat-Tech.

“POM shares the strategic vision of Meat-Tech 3D and is excited to join forces. We are convinced that the strong scientific and commercial synergies between both parties paired with our approach of creating hybrid products based on savory cultured fats is the perfect setting to bring cultured meat to market in an increasingly competitive space” said David Brandes, Managing Director of Peace of Meat.

This acquisition is part of Meat-Tech’s growth strategy of complementing its processes and diversifying its product range along the cultured meat production value chain in order to introduce cultured products to the global market as quickly as possible. Through a combination of internal development and acquisitions, Meat-Tech is developing multiple cutting-edge technologies intended to be leased to major food producers globally. Meat-Tech intends for its technologies to be utilized by value-added food producers to make advanced cultivated meat and related products. This in tandem to minimizing the use of natural resources, improving animal welfare and meeting the growing demand for meat sustainably.

About Meat-Tech 3D

Meat-Tech 3D (TASE: MEAT) is a research and development company aiming to develop commercial and sustainable technologies to manufacture alternative proteins with no need for animal slaughter. Meat-Tech is developing a unique, proprietary bioprinter to deposit layers of cells (including stem cells and differentiated stem cells), scaffolding, and cell nutrients in a three-dimensional form of structured cultured meat, often called “clean meat” or “cultured meat”. For more information, please visit

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains “forward-looking statements” that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Words such as “believes,” “intends,” “expects,” “projects,” “anticipates” and “future” or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to the inherent uncertainties in predicting future results and conditions, many of which are beyond the control of Meat-Tech, including, without limitation, the risk factors and other matters set forth in its filings with the Israeli Securities Authority, including its Annual Report for the year ended December 31, 2019. Meat-Tech undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by law.


Meron Aronovitch
Communications Specialist, PressTarget

SOURCE Meat-Tech 3D Ltd.

As startups make milk proteins without cows and palm oil without palm trees, researchers at a lab in the San Francisco Bay Area are working on one of the next challenges: how to make honey that’s identical to the traditional product but doesn’t require the work of any honeybees.

MeliBio’s founders wanted to address one of the issues caused by honey production—the impact that honeybees have on biodiversity. “There are 20,000 other bee species that are wild and native species,” says Darko Mandich, CEO of the Berkeley, California-based startup. “And those species are jeopardized with current honey production, which completely relies on commercial beekeeping.” While the plight of honeybees and colony collapse has gotten more attention, native bees are more at risk, in part because honeybees compete for their food. The more honey production increases, the more the pressure grows. That’s on top of the challenges that wild bees are already facing from pesticides, climate change, and loss of habitat. Hundreds of native bee species in the U.S. now risk extinction.

Aaron Schaller, cofounder and chief scientific officer at MeliBio (left), and the startup’s CEO, Darko Mandich [Photo: MeliBio]

“We decided to look into science to produce honey just like honeybees make it, but removing them from the supply chain so we can help wild bees to thrive,” Mandich says. Using synthetic biology, the company can reproduce the compounds found in honey, including variations based on the flowers that bees normally visit, which help give the final product its flavor. While the startup’s technology is proprietary, the basic process is likely similar to the way that cow-free dairy company Perfect Day makes its milk proteins, by isolating DNA and then giving that genetic blueprint to microorganisms in a bioreactor to begin production.While the company is still at an early stage, it recently created a prototype that “resembles the taste, the texture, and the viscosity of bee-made honey,” Mandich says. In a blind taste test, he says, tasters found it indistinguishable from the traditional product; 14 companies have signed letters of intent to begin purchasing it to use as an ingredient.

The startup plans to focus on sales to other businesses—from food companies to those that use honey in soap or shampoo—with an initial product coming to market next year. It will soon raise a seed round of investment to expand its R&D team, working on reaching a production cost that is significantly less than honey from bees.

On its own, the product can’t solve the issues facing wild bees; the same bees used to produce honey are also used to pollinate crops. For better or worse, though, other companies are also working on artificial pollination technology. In the meantime, bee-free honey may succeed in the quickly growing market for vegan food, which is expected to grow to $31 billion by 2026.


Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world’s largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book “Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century.”

TASE-traded MeaTech Ltd., the Israeli startup that is developing technology for bioprinting meat using stem cells, announced on Sunday that it is investing a million euros in Belgian company Peace Of Meat (POM), a B2B supplier of cultured fat, produced from animal cells.

The investment decision followed MeaTech’s announcement last month that it had signed a memorandum of understanding on the acquisition of the then-unnamed company for $17.5 million, as part of the company’s strategic plan for implementing cell-based agricultural technologies. The Belgian company has developed a proprietary stem cell-based technology to manufacture fat without harming animals.

MeaTech's 3D meat printer. Photo: PRMeaTech’s 3D meat printer. Photo: PR

MeaTech plans to leverage POM’s cultured fat technology to expand its own range of cell-based products by accelerating the development of cultured fat products and shortening its time to market.

“This is a synergistic acquisition that helps expedite the development process and opens a wide range of opportunities for the production of cultured fat, which in itself is a high demand product. This acquisition will reduce the time it will take us to achieve initial sales in the target markets,” MeaTech’s co-founder and CEO Sharon Fima said.

“Hybrid products such as vegetarian hamburgers made with cultured fat may turn out to be exciting new product categories. These fats can provide smells, flavors, and textures that improve on the existing plant protein-based products. The acquisition will provide MeaTech with important new technological capabilities to diversify its core range of products,” said MeaTech’s chairman Steve Lavin.

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