(This article was originally published on CellAgri.)
Clara Foods announced that they raised their Series B financing. Based in San Francisco, California, Clara Foods is a startup that uses cellular agriculture to produce animal-free egg white proteins. By designing yeast to produce the same proteins found in an egg from a chicken, Clara Foods can make the same egg white. Without requiring the chicken.
Clara Foods’ Series B was led by Ingredion, a global ingredients distributor in over 120 countries. Other investors in the round included B37, Hemisphere Ventures, and SOSV. Interestingly, B37 is the strategic partner of Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest baking company. SOSV is the venture capital firm behind the accelerator IndieBio, where many cellular agriculture startups emerged.
The company also recently shared that they raised $15 million in their Series A financing in 2016. Their Series A financing was led by the Production Board, an investment holding company.
While Clara Foods has not disclosed how much they have raised this round, AgFunder reports that sources close to the deal say Clara Foods was raising $40 million. There are still potential investors coming into the round.
If confirmed, Clara Foods’ Series B would be one of the largest amounts raised by any company looking to produce food via cellular agriculture. The largest round, Motif Ingredients’ $90 million Series A in February, is a distant leader.
Animal-Free Egg White
Founded by Arturo Elizondo and David Anchel, Clara Foods was one of the first startups to use agriculture to produce an animal-free product. They joined the first class of biotech startups at IndieBio. Later classes at IndieBio featured other cell ag startups, including Memphis Meats, Geltor, and Finless Foods.
By producing egg white proteins directly from cells, Clara Foods provides a more sustainable and less resource-intensive way to produce the same egg white. One of Arturo’s passions for starting Clara Foods is to also reduce the amount of egg-laying chickens that must deal with poor welfare conditions.
Clara Foods did not announce what their first product will be, but Arturo shared that their first product could be one of two products: an egg white foam that can be used for baking, or a soluble, clean tasting egg white protein mix for sports nutrition drinks and shakes. If we can use whey protein, why not egg white protein?
Funding and Partnerships
Clara Foods plans to use their round of funding to accelerate the commercialization of their animal-free egg white proteins. They plan to enhance their research and development capabilities as well as expand their production scale to commercial levels.
As part of the funding announcement, Clara Foods announced a global partnership with Ingredion. The partnership will help Clara Foods develop, market, and globally distribute their product as an ingredient for other products. Distribution and marketing channels are important aspects of getting a product to market, and it’s promising that Clara Foods can leverage Ingredion’s network to access the global market.
As a global distributor of value-added ingredients, Ingredion could use their network to explore how egg proteins could be added to foods to increase their protein levels. This could improve the nutritional value of different products through egg white proteins.
Clara Foods is not the only company to announce a partnership with a global ingredients company. In November 2018, Perfect Day Foods, a startup that uses cell ag to produce dairy proteins, announced a partnership with Archer Daniel Midland (ADM), a large agricultural processing and food ingredients company. According to Perfect Day, ADM’s expertise in fermentation will help Perfect Day bring their first product to market next year.
While there is no set date, Arturo shared that Clara Foods aims to have their product to market as early as next year. With that timeline, Clara Foods will be one of the first food cell ag products to come to market.
As one of the first cellular agriculture companies to go through IndieBio, the accelerator that helped commercialize the field, it seems fitting that their product may be one of the first to hit the market. Even though Clara Foods is still working on scaling their production, their partnership with Ingredion can help them get their products across the world.
With large companies like McDonalds, Nestle, and Walmart committing to using only ‘cage-free eggs’ in the next 5 to 10 years, could we see a future where these large companies move away from chickens entirely and move to use Clara Foods’ egg whites?