California-based biotech startup Wild Earth recently raised $16 million in funding to develop slaughter-free dog food made from an eco-friendly and renewably sourced fungi—a complete protein containing all 10 essential amino acids. The Series A investment round included an $11 million investment from VegInvest, a venture capital firm that supports early-stage companies striving to replace the use of animals in the food system and other industries. Current investments by VegInvest also include vegan companies such as JUST and Veggie Grill.
“Wild Earth and VegInvest share a foundation of values and innovation in this effort to achieve a food system that works better for people, the planet, and animals,” Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt said. “Their experience helping future-of-food companies reach the market will absolutely increase our timeline for commercial availability of our dog food with fungi protein.”
Similar to innovative food companies creating cultured meat for human consumption, Wild Earth is developing high-protein foods for companion animals that are healthier, better for the environment, and more humane than conventional products. Last year, the startup received $450,000 in funding from billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel—co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook—which was used to expand distribution of its current products. Wild Earth expects its new dry kibble dog food formula to become available later this year.