Saudi Arabia's KBW Ventures, which was founded by Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, has invested in US plant-based alternative meat producer Black Sheep Foods.
The food technology start-up raised $12.3 million in a series A funding round led by plant-based venture investor Unovis, an early backer of Oatly and Beyond Meat.
KBW Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and AgFunder are among other investors in the financing round, KBW said on Friday.
The latest funding round brings the total investment in Black Sheep Foods to more than $18 million since the company was founded in 2019.
The San Francisco-based company plans to use the funding to speed up its research and development to scale up production of its debut lamb made from plants and distribute it across the US.
“Our minds associate meat with a shape, a texture and a flavour,” said Sunny Kumar, chief executive and co-founder of Black Sheep Foods.
“While texture has been the focus of meat innovation, flavour is a white space. Our debut lamb made from plants has more depth of flavour, richness … [as] we are in the business of giving consumers access to the most delicious meat variety, using plants instead of animals.”
The company is using its patent-pending flavour technology to produce alternative meat.
The timing is also ripe for the flavour technology as consumers have begun to experiment more with their culinary options since the pandemic, the company said.
“With taste being a vital aspect of customer adoption, Black Sheep Foods will easily dominate amongst plant-based meats,” Prince Khaled said.
Additionally, game meats are still an open playing field, and there is a whole range of taste profiles that Black Sheep will be able to explore using its technology, he said.
KBW Ventures has invested in a number of companies in the FoodTech sector. Its portfolio includes plant-based alternatives and cultivated cellular product companies.
These include plant-based chicken product manufacturer Rebellyous Foods, US fast food company Veggie Grill and vegan jerky company Moku Foods.
In June, KBW Ventures invested in Eclipse Foods, a plant-based dairy alternative producer based in the US.
The Oakland, California-based start-up raised $40 million in a series B funding round led by Sozo Ventures, with participation from other funds such as Forerunner Ventures, Initialized Capital, Gaingels and KBW Ventures.
Earlier this year, KBW Ventures participated in a pre-seed funding round by TurtleTree Labs, a Singapore company that uses biotechnology to create milk from cells.
In January, it agreed to a follow-on investment in California-based BlueNalu, which produces laboratory-grown seafood.
BlueNalu raised $60 million in debt through the issue of new convertible notes to both new and existing investors.