Investors have joined a $10 million Series A funding for the regenerative chicken breed start-up
Cook Venture heirloom chicken
Photo as seen on Cooks Venture website

Cooks Venture, a regenerative pasture-raised chicken breed start-up, has closed a $10 million Series A investment. SJF Ventures and Cultivian Sandbox led the investment with participation from Larry Schwartz, and John Roulac, the executive producer of the upcoming documentary on regenerative agriculture, Kiss the Ground.

Cooks Venture breeds and raises a proprietary slow-growth heirloom chicken, taking into account the health of the animal and the health of the environment.

Founded in 2018 by Matthew Wadiak, Cooks Venture has been invested in bringing a healthier chicken to market – it reimagined how selective breeding is conducted through more natural criteria and heritage lines.

New-to-market chicken

Cooks Venture’s process is in stark contrast to the industrial-bred and factory-farmed chickens that dominate the broiler industry today.

The start-up claims to be the only vertically integrated chicken producer in the US that has an independent genetics operation (breeding through selection, not genetic engineering) without ties to the two globally consolidated genetics companies.

Cooks Venture also claims that it creates a chicken that yields better taste for consumers, improved animal welfare for their birds, strong natural pathogenic resistance for food systems, new demand for regenerative agricultural crops and better economics for farmers and employees.

“As the structural flaws in the meat industry have recently become painfully clear, we know our vision could not come at a more important time,” said Wadiak

Wadiak explained that Cooks Venture aims to drive the agricultural industry towards greater biodiversity, breed diversity, and true transparency for consumers. “Our innovations provide food security while supporting regional communities,” he said.

Cooks Venture: an impact investment

The Series A investment helps Cooks Venture further grow and commercialise on a national scale as well as strengthens its regenerative crop management programme.

Alan Kelley, managing director at SJF Ventures, commented: “We are very excited about the differences between the breed of chicken that Cooks Venture offers from the two breeds that constitute more than 90% of global chicken consumption and generate uniform taste.”

For Kelley, seeing Cooks Venture’s chickens exhibit unusually healthy, vibrant attributes at one of the company’s farms was a powerful moment. He said: “It helped us to understand why consumers rave about the flavour of Cooks Venture’s chickens and why a pasture-raised environment is a fitting place for these unique birds to roam and grow.”

Dan Phillips, managing director at Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, concurs. “Cooks Venture is that rare company that improves the food system across every dimension; for farmers, animals, consumers, and the planet.

For Phillips, the taste and texture of Cooks’ chicken are unmatched. “We’re thrilled to partner with Matthew and his team to help bring this experience to more consumers.”

Partnership with FoodID

Cooks Venture has also teamed up with Food In Depth (FoodID), a scientific food testing start-up working with forward-looking companies to enable food transparency and the authentication of brand label claims.

“Cooks Venture is foraging a whole new way to raise chicken,” said Niman. “By partnering with FoodID, they are creating full transparency in their process. They are the first company in the United States with a fully verified claim that their meat is truly antibiotic-free.”

FoodId was co-founded by Bill Niman, founder of Niman Ranch and BN Ranch. The company tests for the presence of antibiotics and other adulterants in a comprehensive, rigorous and near real-time proprietary process.

Date published: 22 July 2020

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