Atlast Food Co., a plant-based protein startup, has raised a whopping $40 million from investors, including 40 North and Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition Ventures and Viking Global Investors LP. The funds will help build the world’s largest farm of aerial mycelium, a mushroom root that’s the key ingredient in Atlast’s products.
The company is one of several startups that is perfecting plant-based meat alternatives that mimic the texture and flavour of so-called whole cuts, such as steaks and bacon rashers. Replicating the caramelized sear and tender, juicy centre of such amounts will be one of the toughest challenges for alternative protein producers seeking to tap a market projected to reach $290 billion by 2035.
“We’re trying to get the people who are not going to go full vegetarian to choose this over bacon,” Eben Bayer, Atlast’s Chief Executive Officer, said in an interview. “You can’t just be better for the planet. The Atlast MyEats looks like bacon, it fries like bacon, it crisps up like bacon, it crunches in your mouth like bacon and we think it tastes a lot like bacon.”