Canberra food tech startup Nourish Ingredients has raised $28.6 million (A$43 million) in Series A to produce synthetic fats that make fake meats taste better.
Horizons Ventures – the private investment arm of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing – doubled down on the idea, backing Nourish’s first $11 million in 2021. Horizon’s Australian investment portfolio includes nanosatellite startup Fleet Space and AI-based healthcare company Harrison .
The deep-tech VC branch Main Sequence Ventures of CSIRO, to which super fund Hostplus applied, was also present again.
Co-founders James Petrie and Ben Leita met in 2013 while working as scientists at CSIRO, where they discovered the market need for non-animal fats to add flavor to the growing alternative “meat” industry. They founded Nourish in 2019 when the company grew out of the government-funded scientific body.
Nourish produces synthetic fats for food and hopes to see them in retail products next year.
The funds will be used to scale up production and further product development, and the company has signed a collaboration agreement with the University of Queensland to develop a new range of synthetic foods.
The problem the startup is solving is that plant-based “meats” often use products like palm and coconut oils for flavor and nutrition in the products, but the production of both oils has led to widespread environmental devastation and rainforest destruction.
Nourish developed a fermentation process that mimics the molecular structure of animal fats without using animal products or traditional materials such as coconut or palm oil. The process allows them to tailor flavor profiles and mouthfeel characteristics that are reflective of animal proteins, including seafood, pork, beef and chicken.
The fake meat industry is expected to be worth approximately A$3 billion by 2030.
Main Sequence supports the plant-based burger company V2food, a joint venture between burger billionaire Jack Cowin, known for Hungry Jacks and CSIRO.