Leo DiCaprio, Jeff Bezos, Blake Griffin part of Wildtype's USD 100 million funding round
Cell-based salmon start-up Wildtype announced on Wednesday, 23 February, it had raised USD 100 million (EUR 88 million) in its latest funding round.
San Francisco, California, U.S.A.-based Wildtype, which is creating sushi-grade cell-cultivated salmon for fine dining restaurants, said investments in the funding round came from Bezos Expeditions, S2G Ventures Oceans and Seafood Fund, Robert Downey Jr.'s FootPrint Coalition, Cargill, actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio, and several prominent chefs and professional athletes. Private equity firm L Catterton led the funding round.
The funding will allow Wildtype to expand production capacity as it prepares for its U.S. market launch, the company said in a press release.
“Wildtype expects to bring its product to market via soon-to-be-announced fine dining restaurant partners following the completion of the FDA’s pre-market consultation process,” it said.
The investment provides Wildtype the capital necessary to “dramatically expand our production capabilities to match the rapid growth in awareness and demand for cultivated seafood,” Wildtype Co-Founder and CEO Justin Kolbeck said. “Whether you are looking for mercury and microplastic-free seafood options, or trying to eat more sustainably, we want Wildtype seafood to be accessible to as many people as possible. The enthusiastic support from our high-caliber group of investors will help us achieve this.”
Wild fish populations are “threatened more than ever before,” and Wiltype has a solution to ease pressures on fish stocks, DiCaprio said.
“Wildtype is the clear leader in cultivated seafood, which will give us the chance to protect our oceans while creating the cleanest seafood on the planet,” he said.
Since its founding in 2016, Wildtype has raised more than USD 120 million (EUR 106 million). Wildtype unveiled its sushi-grade salmon offering in 2021 and opened a pilot production plant in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood.
Wildtype’s process involves isolating cells from salmon found along the northern Pacific coast, which are grown in cultivators similar to those found in breweries to provide a renewable and sustainable source of seafood.
In the past year, Wildtype has “worked to innovate across product development, process design, and research and development to improve the taste, texture, and appearance of its cultivated salmon, which has earned unprecedented accolades from world-renowned chefs,” according to the company.
“Finding nutritious foods that are made sustainably is extremely hard, but Wildtype is doing just that,” NBA All-Star and Wildtype investor Blake Griffin said. "The progress in the cultivated seafood industry as a whole has been fascinating to me and I am excited for the innovation to come in the next several years. This is the future of seafood and I’m happy to be investing in one of the industry leaders.”
In an October 2021 interview with SeafoodSource, Wildtype’s founders Kolbeck and Aryé Elfenbein said the company is close to getting product to market.
“We should be able to launch fairly soon,” Kolbeck said. “We’ve had really transparent and open conversations with the [U.S. Food & Drug Administration] going back two years now. And I believe those are starting to get to a place where everybody is a lot more comfortable with what this is going to look like when it is commercialized.”
Photo courtesy of Wildtype