US: Tender Food raises $12m seed round

Tender Food
Tender Food plant-based pulled pork

Boston-based foodtech start-up Tender Food has raised $12 million in a seed round, led by Lowercarbon Capital, with participation from pre-seed lead investor Rhapsody Venture Partners, actress and animal rights activist Natalie Portman, Safar Partners, Bread and Butter Ventures, MCJ Collective, and foodtech specialist investor Unovis.

The company said its technology enables the creation of whole muscle cut products, including chicken breasts, pulled pork and steaks, that look, taste, and feel like the real thing, with applications from plant-based to cultured meat. Using a process licensed from Harvard University, Tender spins plant protein into strands that mimic real meat muscle fibres.

Tender claims that, in contrast to other plant-based products that imitate processed meat like sausages and burgers, its results have textures and cooking properties that are indistinguishable from animal meat, with high protein nutritional profiles but no additives or fillers.

Tender Food stated it will use the funding to scale production of its plant-based meat products

Chris Sacca, co-founder of Lowercarbon Capital, said: “The roughly six billion carnivorous humans that eat meat drive about 15% of total carbon emissions. Cheers to the vegans, but to win over everybody else you need steaks and chops made from plants that are just as tasty off the grill as what gets cleaved off a carcass.”

Christophe Chantre, co-founder and chief executive of Tender, added: “Our ambition is to make products that are indistinguishable from butchered meat. By recreating the textures and fibres of animal-based meats, we can ensure that no matter what cut of meat you want, a plant-based product from Tender is what you reach for.”

Tender co-founder Kevin Kit Parker commented: “The texture of real meat has been very difficult to imitate with current alternative meat texturising solutions. Our technology’s ability to replicate the architecture and mechanics of animal muscle in a plant-based protein food item, while meeting the nutritional goals of protein consumption, should impact the industry significantly.”