Leonardo DiCaprio invests in Israeli cultured meat start-up Aleph Farms

Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio recently invested an undisclosed amount in Israeli alternative meat start-up Aleph Farms, a cultured meat maker that grows steaks from modified cattle cells, according to an announcement released Wednesday. .

The investment was made as part of Aleph Farms’ $ 105 million Series B funding round in July.

The movie star has also supported Netherlands-based alternative meat startup Mosa Meat, according to the announcement. The Dutch company unveiled the first burger grown in 2013 and recently announced an $ 85 million funding round.

Aleph Farms, meanwhile, released the first steak grown in 2018 and a rib eye grown earlier this year.

DiCaprio will join the two startups as an advisor, according to the statement. The actor has long championed the environment with his environmentally-focused Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, providing $ 100 million in grants for everything from lion recovery and mangrove restoration to indigenous rights advocacy and a better access to affordable solar energy.

In 2019, he joined billionaire investors and philanthropists to create a new nonprofit, Earth Alliance, tasked with tackling climate change and biodiversity loss.

“One of the most effective ways to tackle the climate crisis is to transform our food system,” DiCaprio said in a statement released Wednesday. “Mosa Meat and Aleph Farms offer new ways to meet global demand for beef, while solving some of the most pressing problems in today’s industrial beef production. I am very happy to join them as an advisor and investor as they prepare to introduce farmed beef to consumers.

Aleph Farms Thin Sliced ​​Steak. (Courtesy)

Dr Didier Toubia, Co-Founder and CEO of Aleph Farms, said, “As a committed environmentalist, we welcome Leonardo DiCaprio to our Advisory Board and our family of top investors. Our team is committed to improving the sustainability of our global food systems and we are delighted that Leo shares our vision.

“With her passion and dedication to climate action, we hope this collaboration will lead to great things together,” Toubia added in a video announcement.

“Food systems affect everyone, and it will take all of us for this change to happen,” he said.

Toubia founded Aleph Farms in 2017 with Professor Shulamit Levenberg of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, alongside Israeli food technology incubator The Kitchen, which is part of the Strauss Group.

To produce his meat, Aleph relies on the ability of animals to constantly develop muscle tissue and isolates the cells responsible. It then reproduces the optimal conditions for these cells to develop into tissue, essentially growing meat on the outside of the animal.

A rib eye produced from meat cells grown in the laboratory by Israeli start-up Aleph Farms. (Courtesy: Aleph Farms / Technion Institute of Technology)

The tissue is grown in tanks that act as fermenters, similar to those in a brewery. There the cells are nourished and shaped into a 3D structure that makes meat.

Aleph Farms’ most recent investors are L Catterton, a consumer-focused French-American private equity firm with over $ 30 billion in equity, and DisruptAD, the venture capital arm of the holding company. of Abu Dhabi ADQ. The startup is also backed by a consortium of global food and meat companies, including Thai Union, BRF and CJ CheilJedang.

The company has raised more than $ 110 million to date and expects a market launch in 2022. It signed an agreement earlier this year with the food industry group of Mitsubishi Corporation to bring cultured meat to the Japanese table.

The Aleph Farms management team (left to right): Prof. Technion Shulamit Levenberg, co-founder and chief scientific advisor; Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO; Dr Neta Lavon, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Research and Development. (Rami Chaloch)

The Israeli firm has also set up similar partnerships with other multinationals: the Swiss industrial group Migros and the American food company Cargill have also invested in the startup.

Aleph Farms is a leading player in Israel’s growing food technology sector. The global cultured meat industry could reach $ 25 billion by 2030, analysts estimate.

AP contributed to this report.

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