The New York-based alternative protein startup Atlast Food has just raised $40 million in a Series A round led by Viking Global Investors. Other investors that joined the round included Aiim Partners, Senator Investment Group, 40 North, Stray Dog Capital, and Footprint Coalition. The investment from Footprint Coalition has been grabbing a lot of headlines owing to the fact that it is Robert Downey Jr’s climate fund. You can insert your own jokes about a plant-powered Iron Man here.
Atlast is separating itself from other companies by focusing on creating plant-based versions of whole-cut meats. The majority of alternative protein companies are concentrated on creating plant-based versions of ground meat products such as burgers and sausages. Whole-cuts include products like bacon, chicken breast, and steaks. It is this whole-cut shaped gap in the market that Atlast is aiming to fill.
The first product it has created for this gap is MyBacon, a bacon alternative that is produced and distributed under its own MyEats brand. The bacon itself is mycelium based, and if you don’t know what mycelium is (we didn’t) it’s the vegetative part of a fungus. It consists of thread-like, branching fibers that do a great job of replicating the mouthfeel and texture of whole-cut meats. In total, MyBacon uses just six plant-based ingredients and is cholesterol-free. Right now, it is only available through one retailer – The Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, New York – but this is set to change with the advent of the capital injection. It is also reportedly very popular in the one retailer, with any stock being sold within 48 hours.
Atlast has stated that its intention is to use the funding to scale its operations. The technology, production process, and the team will all be expanded in order to bring MyBacon to a commercial scale. The company has also said that it is in the process of building the largest aerial mycelium farm in the US in order to supply its production of alternative proteins. Atlast will also expand the range of whole-cut products that it offers, and while it hasn’t revealed any details of what products it will offer next, mycelium offers the opportunity to create products like chicken breast, filet mignon, and fish.
This investment is a sign that the alternative protein industry is continuing to boom. Impossible Foods is continuing to expand, vegan meat company Meatless raised $31 million last year, and there are new companies cropping up on a regular basis. Some of these companies are direct competitors for Atlast. For example, Meati is also using mycelium to create plant-based alternatives to steak. There could be a fight emerging in the future for dominance of the alternative protein market, but at least it won’t be a bloody one.