Consumers are well aware of the many problems associated with the meat industry. Whilst the environmental cost and shocking animal cruelty involved in meat production have been widely reported on, data has shown that very few consumers are prepared to change their diets long-term. Plant-based meat products were heralded as the key to encouraging people to eat less meat yet sales fell 14% in 2022.
Where the plant-based market has failed to win over consumers, cultivated meat is set to have an impact and wrestle share from the meat industry. This is a rapidly growing industry, expected to reach $427 billion in value by 2040, with startups creating a diverse menu of products that ranges from burgers and chicken nuggets to sausages and steaks.
To support its development, Uncommon, a startup leveraging cell technologies for the health of humanity, starting with cultivated pork, has raised €28 million in Series A funding, bringing the total raised to €32.5 million. The funding will be used to continue to bring the cost of goods down, apply for regulatory approval, and scale up production at its pilot manufacturing facility at Cambridge Technopark, whilst doubling the team over the next 18 months to further expand the company’s capabilities.
Balderton Capital and Lowercarbon led the financing round. The funding also includes participation from Red Alpine, East Alpha and previous investors Max and Sam Altman, Miray Zaki and Sebastiano Castiglioni.
Benjamina Bollag, founder and CEO of Uncommon, says: “From a young age, I have always been aware of how diets and food choices can disproportionately impact our health. This led me to found Uncommon, a biocreation company that uses the power of cells to tackle the most pressing challenges to our health, starting with cultivated pork. As the only cultivated meat leveraging RNA technologies, we believe we have a competitive advantage that could help us become the largest protein company in the world. I’m delighted with the progress we’ve made so far as a company and look forward to working closely with our new and existing investors to continue to build on this progress and make a difference to global health.”
Founded in 2017 by Bollag and Dr. Ruth Faram as Higher Steaks, Uncommon leverages RNA, the molecule that contains the chemical instructions that direct cells’ natural machinery into making a protein, to create delicious cultivated bacon and pork belly from animal cells. This unique approach enables the company to quickly reach price parity with conventional meat, scale faster and create safer, healthier products without the use of gene editing, opening up a much wider global market than its competitors.
Uncommon has pioneered a novel approach to cellular agriculture that promises to radically accelerate the availability of cultured meat. Extensive research, based on Nobel Prize winning findings and pioneering biomimicry, utilises exceptional insights to build complex proteins and fats that are packed full of authentic flavour and nutritional benefits. This technology does away with the need for antibiotics, animal products or toxic small molecules and drastically reduces the raw materials needed for alternative protein production.
Daniel Waterhouse, Partner at Balderton Capital, says: “The cultivated meat industry faces significant challenges, from the cost of materials to regulation and scaling. We’re convinced that Uncommon has the formula to become a global leader that will transform how we eat and enjoy meat. We’re excited to be backing Uncommon and look forward to working with Benjamina and the team as they embark on this next growth stage.”
Perhaps most exciting of all, Uncommon’s fierce commitment to quality has resulted in an uncompromising attitude when balancing taste, nutrition and flavour with scalability, sustainability and cost. This has enabled Uncommon to be completely confident in delivering a delicious and affordable product to a hamstrung market struggling with regulations, supply chains and costs.
Requiring just a fraction of the resources utilised in the raising of livestock, Uncommon meat products herald a better future where humanity’s appetite for protein can be fulfilled without the environmental cost. Once achieved at scale, Uncommon products will be able to be delivered more quickly than farm-reared meat, providing quality food to consumers worldwide. The cellular alchemy unlocked by Uncommon’s unique and adaptable technology heralds a cost-efficient future for cellular agriculture that sidesteps regulatory hurdles to deliver a sustainable and delicious product.
Dr Clea Kolster, Partner at Lowercarbon, said: “The meat industry is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions globally and industrial production is also tied to infectious diseases like Swine Fever and Bird Flu. Uncommon is on a mission to build a healthier future by leveraging RNA technologies to create cultivated pork belly and bacon, which could produce up to 52% fewer carbon emissions per pound than traditional pork. We need more founders with the vision and drive of Benjamina if we are to transform the way we eat and reduce the environmental impact of the meat industry for good.”
Furthermore, with over a third of the world’s total antibiotics used solely on pigs in China, and antibiotic resistance predicted to kill more people than cancer by 2050, cultivated meat offers a sustainable solution. Through its delicious and health-focused products, Uncommon aims to own 5% of the global pork market by 2035.