Rebellyous Foods CEO Champions Bezos’s $60M Boost for Alternative Meat Sector


Key Takeaways:
– The Bezos Earth Fund pledges $60 million to establish university research centers for sustainable protein study.
– The commitment is a part of the Future of Food program, led by Andy Jarvis.
– Rebellyous Foods, a Seattle-based plant-based protein company, attests to the crucial need for improving manufacturing and production technology.
– The alternative meat sector needs widespread public acceptance and substantial investment for significant impact.

As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, ramps up support for alternative meats with a $60 million infusion, Christie Lagally, the founder and CEO of Rebellyous Foods, a Seattle-based venture, suggests some ways to elevate the alternative meat sector.

Rebellyous Foods: Advocates of Plant-Based Proteins

Lagally emphasized her company’s ability to create high-quality products, but underscored the importance of finding tools that can scale up production beyond the scope of the kitchen. Rebellyous Foods has crafted a line of faux chicken products derived from plants, which range from nuggets to tenders. Since its inception seven years ago, the company has successfully penetrated 241 major school districts across America, establishing a strong retail presence on the West Coast.

Bezos Earth Fund: Future of Sustainable Protein

The Bezos Earth Fund recently opened a window to its plans to create university centers dedicated to researching environmentally friendly alternatives to animal protein sourced from livestock such as cows, pigs, and chickens. Through the Bezos Centers for Sustainable Protein, the fund aims to reduce the manufacturing costs of food production over the next five years.

The Innovative Reality of Alternative Meats

Undoubtedly, numerous companies like Impossible Foods, Beyond Beef, Gardein, Tofurky, and Quorn are exploring the alternative meat space. However, according to Lagally, for these products to have a substantial environmental impact, hefty investment in research and development to refine manufacturing and production technology is a must. More innovative methods for increasing yields of plant-based and cultivated meats are crucial for the genre’s survival, competing in the meat industry’s scale.

Scaling Up: The Quintessential Challenge

Lagally points out that scaling up production involves either leveraging additional equipment or augmenting the size of existing machinery to accommodate larger food batches. Yet, this introduces potential difficulties – larger-scale production can alter the physics and biology of the process. For example, larger mixers could generate excess friction and warm ingredients to a point where their properties change.

The Bezos funding arrives at a time when the industry, after years of hype and investment, has experienced a slowdown. In spite of a surge in venture capital funding, from $1.1 billion in 2018 to $6.8 billion in 2021, alternative meat products have not sold as well as expected, leading to reduced investment down to $2.3 billion in 2022.

Nevertheless, Rebellyous managed to secure $9.5 million last year, taking its total funding to an impressive $30 million.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Alternative Protein

While applauding the Earth Fund’s support, Lagally stressed, “A $60 million infusion into R&D for [alternative] meat comes at a critical time.” This investment could be a game-changer in elevating the sector, bringing about advancements in both cultivated and plant-based meats, and fittingly so. As Andy Jarvis, the director of the Bezos Earth Fund’s Future of Food program puts it, “We’re investing in alternative proteins because they need to be successful.”

In the wake of climate change, and with agriculture accounting for 10% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, the success of alternative meats is integral to a sustainable future. The industry now awaits the fruits of Bezos’s funds and Lagally’s vision.

Jonathan Browne
Jonathan Browne
Jonathan Browne is the CEO and Founder of Livy.AI

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