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Heura raises €20m as Europe’s alternative meat sector gathers pace

It's been a busy month for Europe's alternative meat startups

By Freya Pratty

Marc Coloma, cofounder of Heura.

Barcelona-based Heura — which makes plant-based “chicken” strips, “beef” burgers and “meatballs” — has raised €20m, the latest in a flurry of deals for European alternative meat companies in the last few months. 

Heura opened a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, which brought in €4m. It then secured funding from a number of angel investors to bump up the figure. 

Its angel investors include NBA star Ricky Rubio, comedian David Broncano and football players Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto. Unovis, a New York-based climate VC, also put money in. 

The capital comes via a convertible note: a kind of debt that converts to equity at the next round of funding, which is usually used when investors want to delay putting a valuation on a company. 

The new funding follows a €16m round raised in June last year, and brings Heura’s total financing to €38m. Previous investors include another New York-based VC, Lever, and another footballer — Chris Smalling, proving that the footballer to angel investor path is becoming an increasingly well-trodden one.

What does Heura do?

Heura’s got a range of plant-based meat products — things like chicken strips and chorizo made from soy proteins, spices and vegetables — that it sells in 12 markets from the UK to Singapore. In Spain, Heura says it’s the most-sold alternative meat product.

Olive oil is a key part of Heura’s products. While many competitors use saturated fats — due to their solidity and stability at room temperature — Heura’s research and development team has devised a method for making olive oil into a solid, which it says improves the nutritional value of its products. 

Meat production has a high carbon footprint. A kilogram of beef produces nearly 200% more greenhouse gas emissions than a kilogram of potatoes, for example. So, creating meat-like alternatives from vegetables and other proteins could mean a big climate win. 

A busy month for Europe’s alternative meat sector

The last few months have seen a flurry of alternative meat deals in Europe. 

This month, France’s Gourmey and the UK’s Hoxton Farms raised €48m and $22m respectively. They’re both working on cultivated meat, where stem cells are taken from animals and replicated in a lab, thereby creating products that are the same as meat on a cellular level but have a lower carbon footprint. 

Several plant-based meat companies have also raised funding in the last few months. Dutch company Rival Foods raised €6m in September and Switzerland’s Planted Foods, which is the best funded of the plant-based meat startups, raised a $70m round in the same month. 

And, although known for its love of Iberico ham and chorizo, Spain has become home to an increasing number of alternative meat companies. 

Alongside Heura, there’s Novameat, which created the largest ever piece of cellular “meat” using 3D printing technology, and Navarra-based Cocuus, which is “bioprinting” steaks and lamb chops that are starting to look like the real thing.

What’s next for Heura?

Heura has announced several partnerships with retailers this year, including Ocado in the UK, Migros in Switzerland, Carrefour in Italy and France’s Super U, E.Leclerc and Intermarché. 

Its focus now is on developing new technology, filing for patents on some of the tech it’s already using and building its presence outside of Spain.

Freya Pratty is a reporter at Sifted. She tweets from @FPratty and writes our climate tech newsletter you can sign up here

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