Hura tucks in $20M funding chunk for its plant-based protein ahead of beefier B round next year

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What’s up with the demand for plant-based meats? The picture looks rosy if you take a look at Barcelona-based Hura – the alt-protein startup boasts “non-stop” momentum and nearly doubled revenue from sales of its fake chicken, beef and pork products in the first half. Is. 2022.

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The mid-year, 2017-founded startup reports that it reached €14.7 million in turnover, up from €7.6M during the same period last year, after seeing the most successful first half of the year in its five-year history. went. Getting a number of major retailers to stock their plant-based foods (including Ocado in the UK, Migros in Switzerland, Carrefour in Italy, E.Leclerc, Intermarché and Super U in France). More new partnerships with “major” European retailers are to come this year, and it’s claiming “triple digit growth” of over 100%.

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As a restaurant-based ingredient to add restaurant products (and brand names) to their menus, enabling them to offer vegetarian alternatives to meat dishes from tacos and bocadillos to curries, poke, it has made it something of a domestic market. Visible success has been achieved. bowls and much more. And Heura is taking credit for 80% of the development of the local plant-based category (though it should be noted that Spain is one of Europe’s largest consumers of animal-based meat, so the development of alt-proteins started from a low base. Happening). It adds that it expects to end the year with a 30% local market share as it advances its efforts to expand into Europe.

It’s also teasing a Series B round coming next year – which is projected to be one of the biggest B rounds in Europe by 2023 in the alternative protein industry (for some context, another European startup, Planted, has announced this). had raised a $72M Series B round before the fall). And today it is announcing a new €20M bridging funding round ahead of the expected (beefier) ​​B. It notes that this (pre-) Series B funding includes the issuance of convertible notes that will move to equity in the full Series B next year. The round is therefore bought by a group of investors explicitly in its sales growth pitch.

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Hura says the bridging round includes contributions from NBA stars Ricky Rubio, football players Sergi Busquets and Sergi Roberto, comedian David Broncano, as well as the Unovis Capital. A portion of the funding was raised earlier this year, when it raised more than €4M in 12 hours through its crowdfunding Equity for Good Rebels campaign – pulling in support from more than 5,000 individual backers.

This round will help it as it continues to scale in the region – with its eye on deepening its presence in key markets such as France, Italy and the UK and adding new European territories including Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and more. with. In the coming years. “With new funding in hand, the primary focus for HURA will be to establish itself as the European plant-based leader by 2027,” it notes in a press release.

Totally on its 2023 menu: New products in a “new segment” since its first patent filing in November 2022 — though it’s not clear exactly what’s cooking it. Its PR says its focus next year will be on delivering new foods that are “nature-positive, nutrient-rich, and achieve culinary excellence”.

So far so yummy-sounding, if we can keep it that way. But the plant-based meat category has been deflation of sometime after the earlier heavy hype.

Which might explain why Hura is banging pans about this bridging round and teasing the big bucks that’s coming next year. Constant speed is not necessarily given.

To wit: US giant Beyond Meat revealed that it was cutting nearly a fifth of its workforce earlier this month, citing a drop in sales.

While Bloomberg reported cooling demand in the plant-based category to take a hit last month, citing a report from Deloitte that said “stable” demand could be down to factors such as addressable market origins. form is more limited than thought (resulting in “cultural” resistance”, perhaps linked to increased political polarization in many societies); inflation (and especially high food price inflation) led to plant-based meat substitutes (which still usually cost more than non-premium meat alternatives) to eat into consumers’ appetites to pay a price premium for food; and to alter consumers’ perceptions of how healthy plant-based proteins are. .

Some of these suggestions may indicate that the meat lobby has found success with negative publicity campaigns targeting plant-based alternatives in a bid to block the wholesale change of the food system, which would, if humanity, It is needed to reduce carbon emissions in line with climate goals. ,

For example, the meat industry is spending money on advertising campaigns that seek to portray plant-based products as ‘frankenfoods’ – while promoting animal-based meats as a simple, honest and (comparatively) healthy alternative. prepare as. Like this US Attack ad campaign (reported by ZME Science last year)—which attacks plant-based proteins by implying products far more heavily processed and filled with scary-sounding chemicals than similar meat products occurs (with absolutely no mention of health issues associated with the consumption of meat products such as bacon, such as the risk of several cancers that the WHO has linked to the consumption of red meat and processed meats over the years); Running all of these self-interest claims under the astroturf-y banner of “cleanfoodfacts.com,” i.e., rather than explicitly disclosing their apparent vested commercial interest.

Countering such cynical attack tactics would require plant-based startups to lift the lid on their comms and product dev games (and ideally production methods, as some already are).

Plant-based startups are at least positioned to amplify their own pro-climate message, drawing support from (broad) environmental campaign groups and movements.

“Clear communication of the benefits of the protein transition, as well as bringing more people together to vote with your fork, will help move [our] Evolution across the continent,” is how Hura’s PR frames its growth prospects at this point in the PBP (plant-based protein) propagation cycle.

There is certainly a very clear and loud story PBP brands can tell climate-related consumers to sell on their meat choices.

For example, HURA alone could point to savings of about 55.9 million liters of water and 3.6 million kilograms of CO2 in the first half of this year, as well as saving the lives of 509,000 chickens, pigs and cows. So expect noisier counter-messaging from more alternative protein brands in response to the meat lobby ‘tobacco’ style attack marketing strategy.

Deloitte reports plant-based/alt-meat producers to “explore ways to expand the addressable market, create formulations that provide health benefits while reducing relative costs and maintaining flavor” to fuel growth advises – while what it says has been rapid growth in the range of VC investments and major consumer brands over the past year (and suggesting that the resulting innovations could pave an easier growth path for the market) .

On the cost side, while plant-based proteins still generally suffer from the problem of premium pricing versus meat (given the level of subsidies that promote traditional food production methods) – which can lead to rising food inflation (and costs). Looking at it is absolutely an issue. of living peril), can be a scale-bearer. Particularly in Europe, as the region is exposed to high energy costs resulting from Russia’s war in Ukraine and the country’s response to Western sanctions, as the bloc seeks to reduce its reliance on Russian gas imports.

Bottom Line: Higher energy costs affect the price of meat more than plant-based food production because the former is a far less efficient way of producing protein for human consumption versus raising animals for slaughter. Blood organisms require themselves to be fed protein. Which means if you feed plant proteins directly to humans and you are cutting a very expensive step.

This dynamic suggests that the price gap between animal-based meat and (at least some) plant-based protein should continue to shrink—with startups like Heura continuing to grow and grow, allowing for greater economies of scale in their production facilities. able to unlock.

So how downright the PBP industry’s ‘pause’ cynicism is to the meat industry’s attacks and self-promotion over the tough climate (and cost of living) remains to be seen.

Commenting on its own growth prospects in a statement, Huro CEO and co-founder Mark Coloma was excited, writing: “By placing mission-driven investors on board who are bold enough to accelerate the plant-based protein transition.” Dare to take action, provide us with resources to continue driving category growth across Europe. We have a clear vision, and this new funding allows us to transition from a successful Spanish plant-based company to a net positive food-tech startup which is leading the protein transition across Europe. This growth path is designed to position us to close the largest Series B round in the industry in 2023, and in the future to help people, the planet and animals is better for.



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