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Agri food tech

Black Sheep Foods secures $12.3M in Series A to scale plant-based lamb

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
plant-based meat assorted dishes on wooden plank, bowl and white plates, glasses on yellow background

San Francisco-based foodtech company Black Sheep Foods has raised $12.3 million (approximately £10 million) to prepare its plant-based lamb for nationwide distribution in the US.

The Series A round was led by Unovis, with other contributing investors including Bessemer Venture Partners and AgFunder. Having already raised $5.25 in its seed round in January, the company’s total investment now stands at $18.05 million (£14.71 million).

Black Sheep Foods intends to utilise this money to start selling its plant-based lamb in more regions across the States. Its vegan lamb already features on the menus of 44 restaurants across the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, including Greek chain Souvla and Californian-Indian inspired Ettan.

The company creates its plant-based product using a patent-pending technology that isolates flavour molecules in lamb meat and finds matching molecules in plants, which can then be used to develop identical flavour and mouthfeel.

Other ingredients in the Black Sheep Lamb include pomegranate, beetroot, grains, peas, potato, bamboo and cocoa butter.

The start-up’s focus on developing animal-free lamb has also gained interest from investors in the Middle East, where the meat features heavily in many national dishes.

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed – Saudi prince, entrepreneur and founder of venture capital firm KBW Ventures – was one of the contributors to Black Sheep Foods’ round. Known for following a plant-based lifestyle himself, Prince Khaled is a prominent foodtech investor in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In 2018 he contributed to Upside Food’s $17 million Series A round, and has also opened several plant-based restaurants in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE.

In an interview with Khaleej Times the Prince commented on why he decided to invest: “I have a few reasons – founding a team is on top of the list. They are passionate about making a positive mark on the food system and giving us healthy alternative proteins that taste great.

“The product’s nutritional profile is impressive, and Black Sheep Foods is doing what most Silicon Valley food tech isn’t: They are looking beyond North America for the food that the rest of the world eats several times per week. Heritage meats is a really underserved market in terms of alt-protein innovation, and there is a big flavour profile pipeline ripe for exploration.”

He continued: “I think of a lot of alt-protein options as food 2.0 — great tasting, easier on the environment, [and] doesn’t involve using so many of our quickly dwindling resources. We need to feed billions of people, and alt-protein food companies like Black Sheep Foods are giving us quick paths to food security.”

Alternative proteins are continuously developing and changing. Find out how mycoprotein could sustainably feed a growing population in this Food Matters Live Podcast episode:

The highly versatile mycoprotein heading to a plate near you

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