Berlin-based food technology company Project Eaden believes it has cracked the code for producing whole, plant-based meat alternatives using a proprietary fiber-spinning technology.
Investors think so too, adding an additional 2.1 million euros ($2.3 million) to their previous seed round so that Project Eaden can continue development and accelerate the launch of its first product, plant-based steak, this year. .
Materials scientist David Schmelzeisen, mymuesli founder Hubertus Bessau and former Zalando manager Jan Wilmking founded Project Eaden in early 2022.
Schmelzeisen explained to TechCrunch that the not-yet-profitable company is using biofibres, the building blocks of most plants and animals, at the core of its technology, and are a key component in making cuts of meat.
The Eaden project produces edible plant-based protein fibers similar to those already used in the textile, aerospace and automotive industries, mimicking the texture and appearance of animal meat. The fibers start out thin, like thread, and are increasingly wound onto spools before being fed into machines that bundle the fibers together to make the finished product.
Schmelzeisen said the technique could produce a better-tasting product that looks and behaves like traditional meat; it’s juicier, for example.
“The most important thing is texture,” he adds. “The fibers we make have a variety of material compositions, so when you bite through each of the millions of fibers, you have this bite resistance that real meat has when you chew it. We believe we have a unique opportunity to build a great company from a unique technology perspective and create something cool.”
U.S. regulators are still figuring out how to label and monitor the alternative protein industry. At the same time, as scalability and cost are some of the biggest challenges facing mainstream production of alternative proteins, Schmelzeisen believes fiber technology is more scalable and can be used in addition to traditional meats such as chicken, pork, and beef. For making fish and seafood. Plus, it’s cheaper than other methods of producing alternative proteins, such as extrusion, which extracts water to create plant-based protein “chunks” that can be made into a variety of meat-like products.
Project Eaden is one of the few companies utilizing fiber spinning technology and attracting venture capital for its approach. Last March, Tender, formerly Boston Meats, raised $12 million for its fiber technology for making plant-based and cell-cultured proteins.
The new tranche of capital was driven by Creandum, Magnetic and Atlantic Food Labs and closed in December. Including seed expansion, the Eaden project has raised €10.1 million (approximately $10.8 million) in seed funding to date.
The previous €8 million round was raised last June from a group of investors, also led by Creandum, which included Atlantic Food Labs, Shio Capital, Trellis Road and a group of angel investors, including former Rügenwalder Mühle managing director Godo Röben.
“Eating meat has been linked to overuse of land and water and unsustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions,” Creandum general partner Carl Fritjofsson said in a statement. Rejoice. Until today, existing plant-based options have not solved this dilemma because despite their higher prices, they lack convincing taste, texture and appearance. Project Eaden has the potential to be a game-changer for the industry .”
Most of the funding will be used for technology development, including building Project Eaden’s R&D and food-grade materials teams, and working with culinary experts to debut the product once it’s ready. Additionally, Wilmking said in an interview that the company is refurbishing its manufacturing space so it can mass-produce its own products.
A future round of funding will accelerate factory construction, Schmelzeisen said. The company is currently in the stage of establishing a laboratory, and will soon start prototype production and plan to introduce it to the market by the end of this year.
Looking ahead, Schmelzeisen added, the company plans to move from prototyping to a highly automated production facility and then possibly to more facilities and/or partnerships.