Memphis Meats, which grows meat from animal cells, just got a huge endorsement from some big-named backers. That will take it one step closer to selling its product, but it’s still a long way off from hitting store shelves.
The five-year-old startup said Wednesday it raised another $161 million in a new round of financing. The latest round of fundraising is led by SoftBank Group, Norwest and Temasek. It also includes flashy investors like Bill Gates and Richard Branson, as well as meat companies Tyson and Cargill.
That brings the company’s total funding above $180 million.
Memphis Meats is one of a number of young companies attempting to source meat from animal cells rather than by slaughtering animals. Consumers shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between cultured and traditional meat, the company claims.
Theoretically, cultured meats should appeal to the same type of customer who is interested in plant-based meat alternatives. Cell-based meats have a relatively low impact on the environment and don’t harm animals. They may not be nutritionally different from animal meat, but they are potentially safer — because there’s no risk of contamination from animal matter, such as feces or blood.