Foodtech startup fattens up on $43 million Series A

- October 20, 2022 2 MIN READ
Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Image: Universal Pictures
Canberra food tech startup Nourish Ingredients has raised US$28.6 million (A$43m) in Series A to produce synthetic fats that make fake meats taste better.

Horizons Ventures – the private investment arm of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing – doubled down on the idea, having backed the initial US$11 million raise by Nourish in 2021. Horizon’s Australian investment portfolio includes nanosatellite startup Fleet Space as well as the AI-based healthcare venture Harrison.

Also chipping in again was CSIRO’s deep tech VC arm Main Sequence Ventures, with super fund Hostplus also signing on.

Cofounders James Petrie and Ben Leita met in 2013 while working as scientists at CSIRO, where they spotted the market need for non-animal fats to add flavour to the growing alternative “meats” industry. They founded Nourish in 2019, departing the government-funded science body while also attracting funding from its VC fund.

Nourish produces synthetic fats for food and is hoping to see them used in retail products next year.

The funds will be used to scale production and further product development, and the business has signed partnership deal with the University of Queensland to develop a new range of synthetic foods.

The problem the startup is solving is that plant-based “meats” often use products such as palm and coconut oils for flavour and nutrition in the products, but production of both oils has led to widespread environmental devastation and rainforest destruction.

Nourish developed a fermentation process that mimics the molecular structure of animal fats without having to use animal products or traditional materials such as coconut or palm oils. The process allows them to tailor flavour profiles and mouth-feel properties that mirror animal proteins including seafood, pork, beef and chicken.

The fake meat industry is predicted to be worth around A$3 billion  by 2030.

Main Sequence has backed plant-based burger business V2food, a joint venture between burger billionaire Jack Cowin of Hungry Jacks fame and CSIRO.

  • Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story described Nourish as a CSIRO spin out. This was incorrect.