Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

$4M Invested in California Cultured’s Cell-Cultured Chocolate to Solve Deforestation and Child Labor in Cocoa

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Agronomics has led a Seed Funding Round for California Cultured, a food-tech company based in Davis, California, which utilises cell culture technology to produce cocoa products like cocoa powder, chocolate, cocoa butter and flavanols in order to circumvent the serious issues arising from cocoa production such as deforestation and child slave labor.

California Cultured was founded by cell-culture technology veterans Alan Perlstein and Harrison Yoon, as a way to address the need for more ethical and environmentally friendly methods of chocolate production.

The company says, “We select cacao varieties with the best organoleptic properties, take a handful of cells and keep them growing infinitely. We do this by equipping the cells with a proper set of plant nutrients which allows for rapid growth. We harvest our cocoa cells from tanks, let them ferment to create a rich flavor and employ traditional roasting steps to create even more flavor. Then, out come our cell-cultured cocoa nibs, which can be turned into a variety of cocoa products.

California Cultured
©California Cultured

The leadership team is rounded out by Head of Commercial Steve Stearns, former chef at Noma, one of the world’s number one restaurants, and COO Debbie Neumann.

Agronomics led the round with a US$ 2.2 million investment, and also participating was global venture firm SOSV’s IndieBio. Following the close of the round, Agronomics will have the right to a directorship in California Cultured.

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