Meat Wars: Recent Startup Funding Escalates Tensions

by Simons Chase

At Wired’s Business Conference in New York this month, Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown suggested to an audience of mostly technology industry professionals that we all suffer from, “OCD – obsessive chicken disorder.”  Ethan’s company is all about innovating with plants to get, “the fibrous structure of meat.” Backed by Kleiner Perkins and Obvious Corp, an investment vehicle started by Twitter founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, Beyond Meat has grander ambitions for the future beyond chicken substitutes including mock meat for cows.  Adding to the meat hate tornado is Bill Gates, who also has taken a directional view on the global food crisis by backing various companies involved in producing meat analogues.  Peter Thiel is taking on the issue of resource intensity in meat production by investing in Modern Meadow, a startup developing 3D bioprinted meat.  

With the future of meat analogues being planned by Silicon Valley’s digital pioneers, Ashton Kutchers’ Thrash Labs seemingly is fighting back by profiling the revival of neighborhood butchers in a video reminiscent of a time when butchery was an art and a craft.  In the video, Kent Schoberle, a chef at 4505 Meats in San Francisco, shows us the inner-muscular fat and marbling present in a side of beef and even suggests the sea salts present in his grass fed beef raised next to the sea can contain a hint of the ocean in its flavor.   With that kind of marketing, I don't think we'll all be veganized just yet.

According to CB Insights, VC investments in Food Tech have grown from about $50 million in 2008 to $350 million in 2012.   

by Simons Chase - LBS.CO