Plant-based meat ingredient manufacturer Harvest B ripe for investment
Australia’s first ingredient manufacturer for plant-based meat products, Harvest B, is raising a $A2-2.5m Seed II round to fund its transition from a successful research and development phase to a business with commercial operations and tier 1 FMCG customers.
Harvest B is coming into its own, and redefining Australia’s plant-based meat system along the way.
In the 18 months since the early-stage tech startup successfully secured its A$4.5 million first seed round with combined venture capital and grant funding, Harvest B has designed, installed and commissioned Australia’s first production line for plant-based meat ingredients, in Penrith, Sydney.
With the factory now up and running, Harvest B is garnering plenty of engagement and is actively seeking A$2-2.5m Seed II round investment to continue developing its R&D, production capabilities, and sales resources.
The company has developed a range of patent-pending whole piece and strip products, and is servicing retail, wholesale and food service businesses through both direct sales and distributors.
Harvest B Co-founder Kristi Riordan said they have achieved class leading texture at costs less than animal protein while creating a local supply chain to replace the imported components used in the plant-based meat products currently on Australian supermarket shelves.
“The biggest problems holding the category back today is the use of technologies that have inferior textures and cost far too much for the mainstream shopper,” said Kristi.
“Consumers want to add more plant proteins to their diet, but they need products that taste great and aren’t $50/kg. Our range of plant-based pieces and strips enable food brands and chefs to create products at affordable prices when cost of living for consumers is more important than ever.”
- Interested in Harvest B’s A$2-2.5million Seed II round? Or looking for partnerships in R&D, product development, supply chain and distribution? Learn more about the opportunity here.
Industry must go beyond ‘nuggets, mince and burgers’
For the plant-based meats industry to reach its potential and boost protein supply, Kristi said it has to develop versatile, affordable products that go beyond nuggets, mince and burger patties.
“Products must match the taste, texture, and nutritional value of traditional meat at a comparable price. Harvest B has developed plant-based proteins in pieces and strips that are designed for use in everyday and restaurant cooking and for a range of cuisine types, such as salads, stir-fries and curries,” she said.
“We have a protein piece our food technologists describe as a ‘rump roast’, with texture that breaks apart beautifully in a rendang curry sauce, pan-fried or put over a salad.
“Other chicken-style pieces have a colour and texture that prepare easily into butter chicken, or come in strips that can be used in noodle soup or shredded for a salad or stir-fry.”
While many plant-based meats contain long ingredients lists to improve taste and texture, Kristi said the Harvest B products use just natural plants and flavours, without binders like methylcellulose or fats and oils.
Using low-moisture extrusion and drying technologies during production creates product that is supplied ambient, enabling shelf-stable products, lower-cost shipping and reduced food waste, which benefits customers and Harvest B’s market usability.
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Investment opportunity backed by wealth of experience
Harvest B’s Seed II round offers investors a high impact environmental, social governance (ESG) investment opportunity, as well as food distributors and manufacturers requiring better tasting, affordable plant protein products, and corporates seeking partnerships in the plant protein sector.
First round investors of Harvest B included Woolworths’ venture capital fund W23, Aura Ventures and the capital support of Australia’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC ).
Kristi Riordan brings a wealth of experience to her role as CEO of Harvest B, which she co-founded in 2020 with Alfred Lo, previously Chief Investment Officer at Cicada Innovations.
Kristi is an experienced operating executive of multiple venture backed tech companies that redefined categories in highly regulated industries over the past 20 years. During this time, she was a founding partner at Flatiron School, a new educational model that designed software and training to rapidly reskill adults into new careers in software engineering, UX/UI design, data science or cyber security. She took the business from 10 employees, leveraged multiple rounds of venture fundraising from CRV, Matrix and Thrive Capital to rapidly scale the organisation globally to a workforce of 650 and a sale to WeWork.
Prior to this, she spent ten years building GLG, one of the earliest fintech companies out of NYC which is now considered a tech unicorn. Having spent most of her career in New York City, Kristi was granted a Distinguished Visa in 2019 under the new Global Talent program and is now permanently residing in Australia.
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Plant-based protein transitions to next decade
Building a business in a new category like plant-based protein is challenging, Kristi admits but the potential to drive impact is huge.
“I love new economy models that strive to create a better society, and I’ve had the privilege of using the power of technology to build, scale and evolve businesses in categories that are being redefined.
“Opportunities in agribusiness are one of the most significant ways we can address the climate crisis.”
“We’re at a real transition point with plant proteins. The last decade created the market for plant-based meats that serve meat eaters but it was very idealistically driven with the idea of ‘You’re doing this for the environment, or for animal welfare’,” explained Kristi.
“The next decade will look very different. To win mainstream consumers and create real environmental impact, we have to deliver great tasting products that not only are in price parity with animal protein but are even cheaper. No compromise. When the consumer doesn’t have to sacrifice on taste, the nutrition is better and price is cheaper, habits change. That’s the job for the supply chain.”
“We’re already seeing supply chain disruptions here in Australia with short orders of animal protein and significant price increases due to climate and political volatility. The impact of improved plant protein technology on performance and cost is improving while animal protein costs are rising. We can see it in the purchasing switch from beef protein to chicken. Consumers need more affordable protein.”
Last month’s evokeAG. Down To Earth event in Adelaide was an ‘amazing’ opportunity Kristi explained to connect with senior level individuals and potential collaborators, and articulate the value in Harvest B’s different approach.
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‘Amazing’ evokeAG. delivers exciting outcomes
Kristi described evokeAG. as one of the best conferences she’d attended in years, and said the quality of attendees was so high that delegates came away exhausted from engaging in so many conversations.
“I’ve never been more excited about what we’re doing than when we came back from evokeAG.. Investors were very enthusiastic about our wholesale business model and had a chance to taste our product, which is where the magic is in food,” said Kristi.
“We’ve taken a very different approach to almost everyone else. Most of the players have developed B2C branded solutions, but it takes a lot of capital to build a B2C brand. We’re a texture house and have focused our capital raising on technology advancement that we can bring across the entire market to offer better, more affordable solutions.
“We’ve invested in developing a whole range of different textures so we can make a wholesale offering of protein products to places like nursing homes, hospitals, mines, food service, and food brands. Our product is also shelf stable, providing advantages both domestically in supply chain management as well as in export.”
In the changing climate for proteins, Kristi is clear about what’s important in meeting the challenges of the future.
“Recognise that the category is changing, be small and nimble, make decisions quickly. And make sure you’re surrounded by smart people who are really committed to the work.”
Learn more about Harvest B’s opportunity, via growAG. here.
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