Meat production, in general, generates a lot of greenhouse gases, consumes a lot of energy, and requires a lot of water and antibiotics. In contrast, plant-based meat and fish alternatives are more sustainable, but they lack the taste and nutritional value of meat and fish alternatives.
In response, Paleo, a Brussels-based startup, has taken up the challenge and developed a technology to overcome these obstacles.
In order to scale its technology (from 10L to 10,000L fermenters) and begin commercial production, the Leuven-based foodtech company has now raised €12M in a Series A funding round led by US-based VC DSM Venturing and Planet A Ventures, alongside Gimv, SFPIM Relaunch, Beyond Impact, and Siddhi Capital.
Founded by Andy de Jong and Hermes Sanctorum, who met each other in Tel Aviv, trying cultured meat, Paleo researches and develops new functional ingredients to improve plant-based meat and fish alternatives. With the latest funding, the company is planning to file regulatory approval in key markets. In addition, Paleo produces a GMO-free final product.
“The market for plant-based meat and fish is ready to grow further, provided that consumers find the taste convincing. There’s only so much you can do with artificial coloring and additives. Adding our ingredients to plant-based meat alternatives is a game changer that brings the experience of ‘real’ meat. You can smell it, you can taste it, and you can see it because our ingredients provide that vibrant red color that transforms into caramelized brown when you grill it. And no animal is involved whatsoever defining our ingredients as vegan. It’s great that our venture round is joined by industry expert investors, who tasted our Paleo ingredients and are fully convinced of their potential.”, says Hermes Sanctorum, co-founder, and CEO of Paleo.
Making fish and meat tasty
Using precision fermentation, Paleo produces meat and fish proteins that are highly bio-identical to animal proteins and are non-GMO. Precision fermentation uses microorganisms, such as yeasts, which are programmed to produce certain proteins. Many industries, such as pharmaceuticals (e.g. insulin), are already using it due to its versatility, scalability, and versatility.
The company focuses on myoglobin, a protein that makes plant-based foods look and taste like meat or fish in terms of colour, smell, taste, and aromatic experience, and provides added nutritional value.
There are currently six different species of protein available in Paleo (beef, chicken, pork, lamb, tuna, and even mammoth). The company says it makes mammoth proteins to showcase their capabilities.
“It depends on our clients whether they would like to make a mammoth burger or just something with a very functional ingredient,” states Paleo.
Jan Christoph Gras, Partner at Planet A Ventures says, “Transitioning to a plant-based diet is crucial for accomplishing our net-zero objectives. Animal agriculture accounts for nearly 15% of total global emissions, while also driving biodiversity loss, water consumption, and nitrogen & phosphorus pollution. With its innovative precision fermentation technology, Paleo has broken down barriers to the widespread adoption of plant-based meat alternatives. Its realistic taste and highly functional protein make it an attractive option for even the most skeptical consumers of meat and fish substitutes.”
Andy de Jong, co-founder, and COO says “We think 2025 is a credible timeline to have plant-based food with Paleo ingredients on the market. We are happy to see keen interest from international, established food manufacturers in our ingredient portfolio. The food industry has barely scratched the surface of what is possible with precision fermentation, and Paleo will be at the forefront of this revolution in food production.”