Spain-based Heura Foods has raised a €40m Series B round to grow its plant-based food business. It also plans to boost production using its new technology, which improves the texture of plant-based meat without artificial additives.
The round was led by Upfield, one of the world’s largest plant-based food manufacturers and the brand behind dairy-free margarine products Flora and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Other investors included Unovis Asset Management, European Circular Bioeconomy Fund and Newtree Impact.
Patent-pending plant-based processing
Many plant-based meat alternatives, including most of Heura Foods’ products, are made using a process called high moisture extrusion, whereby the colour, shape and texture of plant-based matter is manipulated to make it resemble meat.
Companies that use this technique often mix in artificial additives to improve the texture of the product and make it feel more like the meat it’s mimicking.
Artificial additives are a turnoff for many consumers — especially when plant-based food is marketed as a healthier alternative to meat. In 2021, a survey from the International Food Information Council found that 64% of respondents strongly agreed that they prioritise food with clean ingredients and without artificial additives.
Heura Foods says that it’s developed a new way to texturise its plant-based meat that doesn’t require artificial additives, which it is currently trying to patent. It adds that this new process will produce products that are nutritionally better for consumers than other plant-based options and real meat.
In October 2023, it released York-style plant-based “ham” slices developed using this new technology, in what it called a “world first”.
International — and culinary — expansion
With the money raised in its Series B round, CEO and cofounder Marc Coloma says that the company will be strengthening its presence in Europe, with a focus on Spain, Italy, France, the UK, DACH and Portugal. The company said that in 2022, 23% of its sales took place in markets outside of its Spanish HQ, up from 12% in 2021; globally, its products can be found in 20 countries.
Alongside expanding its distribution, Heura Foods is also planning to use its partnership with Upfield and its new patent-pending processing technology to expand its product range, by developing a plant-based cheese alternative. The aim is to help create a more planet-friendly option: “livestock farming currently accounts for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, and dairy products account for a big stake of it,” says Coloma.