Joes Future Food, the first Chinese cell-based meat producer, announced its successful funding from a Series A funding round last week, which will help it produce its first line of lab-grown pork.
The company is now backed by private equity firm Hillhouse Capital, Matrix Partners China, Crystal Stream, and Nanjing Innovation Capital Group.
Joes Future Food started making cell-based meats in 2019. They created a FBS serum-free cultivated minced pork with a group of scientists at Najing Agricultural University who were managed by Professor Zhou Guanghong. Guanghong works in the College of Food Science and Technology at the University and is known for his research on the biochemical mechanisms that can be used to give certain textural quality in meats.
Co-founder and CEO of Joes Future Food, Dr. Ding Shijie said in a statement: “We will strive to bring cell-cultured meat to the table and provide Chinese consumers with healthier, safer, and lower carbon meat products.”
The company has previously gained approximately $3M in an angel round of funding when it was then known as Nanjing Zhouzi.
The current investors in Joes Future Food see the company as pioneers in the Chinese cell-culture meat industry. Hillhouse Capital’s Li Liang commented: “The field of cultivated meat is of great importance to China and the world’s food system, in order to tackle climate change and move towards a carbon-neutral economy. We’re pleased to be able to support Joes Future Food on its journey.”
Zuo Lingye of Matrix Partners added: “We are pleased to have been the company’s only angel round investor and to continue our support in this Series A.
“We look forward to seeing the firm’s continued leadership in the Chinese cell-based meat industry”.
Following heavy disruption to China’s supply chain in 2020, which saw the country tackle an outbreak of African swine fever, the Government has now become more favourable towards the cell-based meat sector due to it being a safer and more sustainable option.
Being a country that eats half the amount of pork produced globally there is justifiably concern with regards to whether cultivated pork will appeal as much to Chinese consumers. In 2019 however, Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems conducted a study which showed that more Asian consumers were willing to eat lab-grown meat than those in the West.
A study presented by researcher Chloe Dempsey at last year’s Future Food Asia conference also showed that 70% of Chinese consumers were keen to try cultured meats, with 62% of them prepared to swap to cultivated meats as a solution for food safety, and because these foods represented ‘high-tech innovation’.