Meati nets $150M investment for expansion as products hit store shelves

Dive Brief:

  • Mycelium-based meat analog maker Meati Foods closed a $150 million Series C funding round to help expand its production and accessibility. The round, which more than doubles the total amount Meati has raised since its founding five years ago, was led by Revolution Growth and included participation from both new and old investors. These include Cultivate Next, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s new venture fund, and Grosvenor Food & Ag Tech. 
  • The company officially launched products under the Eat Meati brand at retail earlier this week, with its Classic Cutlet and Crispy Cutlet chicken analogs and its Classic Steak at three Colorado locations of Sprouts Farmers Market. Meati said its products will be available at all Sprouts locations by the end of the year, and it plans to have a national omnichannel presence by late 2023.
  • Fermented meat analog companies have been positioning themselves to make a big splash on the market in 2022. Analysts said this type of product development parallels the alternative protein sector’s strategy of appealing to both meat-eaters and vegetarians. 

Dive Insight:

Meati’s ambitions keep on getting bigger. In the release announcing the funding, the company says it wants to become the U.S. market share leader in plant-based meat by 2025.

This money will help it get closer to that goal. Some of these funds will go toward completing Meati’s under-construction “Mega Ranch,” a more than 100,000-square-foot production facility in Colorado that will produce more than 45 million pounds of product each year.

As the company begins its retail and food service distribution, the seeds are being planted to help Meati continue to expand. According to Crunchbase, Meati’s lifetime funding is now $278.6 million.

“The continued growth and momentum that Meati is experiencing underscores how differentiated and scalable our products and vision are,” Tyler Huggins, Meati’s CEO and co-founder, said in a statement.

Unlike plant-based meat analogs, Meati’s products are built from the root structure of mushrooms. The natural fibers of mycelium naturally mimic the fibrous structure of animal meat. The company then uses drying, shaping, oils, colors and flavors to create analogs that are similar to the meat they replace.

In an interview earlier this year, Huggins said Meati’s mission is to democratize nutrient-rich and desirable proteins in a more sustainable way. In order to do that, he said Meati needed to make its products through minimally processed whole food nutrition. “This is really nature harnessed, and that’s really a key differentiator from us,” he said at the time.

According to the company, Meati’s products are made of 95% mycelium. They have as much as 17 grams of complete protein and 12 grams of dietary fiber. They also contain high amounts of zinc and vitamin B12.

Last December, Meati hired Scott Tassani as its president. Tassani is a General Mills veteran with vast experience in forging partnerships, getting products on shelves, creating and growing new categories, keeping products relevant and finding M&A opportunities.

Tassani’s expertise is starting to make itself seen as products — which had a soft launch on the company’s DTC site earlier this year — move onto shelves. Along with Sprouts, Meati also announced a food service partnership with Birdcall, an all-natural, fast-casual restaurant with locations in Colorado and Arizona. 

Chipotle’s backing in this funding round may offer a hint of where Meati’s products will land next. The upstart’s whole cut analogs could be adapted to the fast-casual chain’s bowls and burritos, and that could introduce many new consumers to Meati. In the release announcing the funding, Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief technology officer,  said Meati is “bring[ing] an exciting, new alternative protein to market.”

But even if Chipotle doesn’t pick up Meati, the brand is likely to find its way to many new consumers. In May, it launched one of the first alternative protein steaks, something that is not currently available from other major players in the U.S. market. The company said it’s planning its first larger factory — dubbed the “Giga Ranch” — which will produce hundreds of millions of pounds of product a year. It plans to break ground on it in 2023.