Aleph Farms, a cultivated meat company growing steaks directly from animal cells that are not genetically engineered and not immortalized, has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) protein leader Thai Union and food and lifestyle company CJ CheilJedang. These Asian companies will help to accelerate Aleph's scale-up, go-to-market activities and elevate distribution of cultivated meat in existing marketing channels across the APAC region. Aleph Farms announced a similar agreement with Mitsubishi in Japan.
Aleph's $105 million Series B funding round was led by L Catterton, the largest global consumer-focused private equity firm, and DisruptAD, ADQ's venture platform, and included participation from Temasek, a global investment company headquartered in Singapore.
"We are excited to partner with key players in the Asia market and establish a new category of meat products to address increasing consumption in the region," said Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms. "We carefully consider partnerships that reflect our core values and sustainability commitments, and both Thai Union and CJ share our resolutions for achieving carbon-neutrality and enhancing food security for all people of Asia and around the world. Temasek is an ideal investment partner with an intrinsic understanding of the Asian market."
Asia is leading the global food industry in supporting and adopting cell-cultured meats. Singapore is the first country in the world to approve cultivated meat and to offer it on a restaurant menu. Cultured chicken had its global debut in Asia, a region of the world that, while vulnerable to food insecurity and struggling with scarcity of natural resources, is also seeing increased meat consumption thanks to rising income, growing populations and increased urbanization.
"We are highly excited to deepen the relationship with Aleph Farms to explore the market potential of alternative beef produced from cultured cells.," said Sze Cotte Tan, CTO of Food R&D at CJ CheilJedang. "We are at the forefront of a trend in Asia food industry as Asian consumers show increasing interest in alternative proteins, and we have the opportunity to lead consumption patterns toward a more sustainable, resilient future that benefits all of Asia and the world."
Beef is Southeast Asia's second fastest growing meat category, with consumption expected to increase as much as 16% by 2022 in a region that, historically speaking, has primarily consumed fish and other seafood. Research from Thai Union and Aleph Farms reveals that 74% of Singaporeans and 97% of Thais are willing to try cultivated meat. In Singapore, a key motivator for trying cultivated meat is the environmental benefits, while in Thailand, diners favor the ability to trace the meat's origins.
Thai Union is closely tracking changing consumer demands and the need to find new, sustainable ways to meet increased global protein demands to respond to the growing population of the world. Thiraphong Chansiri, President and CEO of Thai Union, said "Following our investment, we are excited to work with Aleph Farms, which is already well known for its technological advancement and strong commitment to sustainability, to further explore collaboration opportunities in Asia."
Aleph Farms revealed the world's first cultivated beef steak in 2018, produced meat in space in 2019 and cultivated the world's first ribeye steak earlier this year. The company is planning an initial market launch in 2022, pending regulatory approval.
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