B2B plant-based food company Planetarians has raised $6 million in a seed II investment round to produce its vegetarian meat blocks on a commercial scale and supply them to the foodservice industry.
The food technology company invested seven years in R&D to develop a sustainable, low-cost alternative to meat made from just two upcycled ingredients: oil cake and brewer’s yeast.
Funds raised will be used to build a pilot facility capable of producing tons of vegan blocks per year and move to a commercial production phase.
Mindrock led the investment round, joined by Traction Fund, Techstars, SOSV, and AB InBev, a yeast supplier to some of the world’s biggest beer brands and Planetarians Brewers, which is committed to recycling barley and yeast from its brewing process.
In 2013, Aleah Manchuliantsou and Max Barnhaus founded Planetarians in San Francisco as a nutritional beverage company. But in 2015, amazed by the waste produced by the sunflower oil industry, they decided to upcycle the sunflower cake into nutritious chips and then pasta. Both products failed.
In 2019, they started using solid-state fermentation to make burger patties, but the process required a huge CapEx. TThat same year, the company won the AgFunder Innovation Award and received investment from Barilla’s venture arm Blue1877 and Amadori.
After two years, to reduce production costs by Avoiding the solid-state fermentation process, they successfully harnessed the fermentation capabilities of brewer’s yeast mixed with plant protein to create a “meaty, umami flavor” and fibrous texture prototype that could be turned into any type of meat.
Super sustainable vegetarian ribs
According to Planetarians, its alternative meat is made with only two FDA GRAS ingredients and has a carbon footprint 50 times better than animal meat and nine times better than plant-based meat.
The company is turning its clear-label meat blocks into consumer-ready vegan ribs called Planet Ribs to demonstrate the product’s versatility and test its market viability. Planetologists say its goal is to replace animal meat in the food service industry through mass production and B2B sales. Hotels, restaurants and schools have expressed interest in serving these products, and the first commercial contracts have been secured, Planetarians said.
Planetarian’s sustainable vegan meat block and the company’s technology have received patent approval USPTO in 2022.
“If we use whole ingredients with all the nutrients and minimal processing, we make food healthier for us and the planet,” says Aleh Manchuliansou on the company’s website.