Investments & Finance

Paleo Raises €12M to Produce Animal-Free Heme for “Real Taste” Plant-Based Foods

Brussels-based precision fermentation firm Paleo, which aims to be a functional ingredient supplier for the alt protein sector, has raised €12 million in a Series A funding round to scale up the production of animal-free heme proteins and help manufacturers bring the “real taste” of meat to plant-based foods.

“No animal is involved whatsoever, defining our ingredients as vegan”

Paleo focuses on producing myoglobin, a heme protein found in animal muscles that, when added to plant-based alternatives as an ingredient, replicates meat’s colour, smell, taste, and aromatic experience, providing iron and thus an increased nutritional value. 

DSM Venturing and Planet A Ventures led the investment round, joined by Gimv, SFPIM Relaunch, Beyond Impact, and Siddhi Capital.

Paleo founders
© Paleo

GM-free heme proteins

The Belgian food tech claims to be the first company to produce bioidentical GMO-free heme proteins of six animals: chicken, beef, pork, lamb, tuna, and mammoth, a portfolio that will allow manufacturers to develop NPDs with realistic animal meat features.

Hermes Sanctorum, co-founder and CEO of Paleo, commented: “Adding our ingredients to plant-based meat alternatives is a game changer that brings the experience of ‘real’ meat. You can smell it, you can taste it, and you can see it because our ingredients provide that vibrant red colour that transforms into caramelized brown when you grill it.

“Adding our ingredients to plant-based meat alternatives is a game changer that brings the experience of ‘real’ meat

“And no animal is involved whatsoever, defining our ingredients as vegan. It’s great that our venture round is joined by industry expert investors, who tasted our Paleo ingredients and are fully convinced of their potential.”

paleo's banner for animal-free meat
© Paleo

2025, a credible timeline

In December 2021, Paleo raised €2 million in a Seed round to fund an R&D centre, pilot plant and experience centre, with the funds enabling the firm to hit strategic milestones and commercial objectives. Making strategic alliances with contract manufacturers will also be fundamental to rolling out Paleo’s ingredients. 

Scaling the technology, developing a commercial production strategy, and seeking regulatory approvals in markets such as the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, and Asia will be the company’s following priorities for 2023. 

“We think 2025 is a credible timeline for plant-based food with Paleo ingredients on the market,” said Andy de Jong, Paleo’s co-founder and COO.

Jan Christoph Gras, Partner at Planet A Ventures, commented on the investment: “Transitioning to a plant-based diet is crucial for accomplishing our net-zero objectives. Animal agriculture accounts for nearly 15% of total global emissions, driving biodiversity loss, water consumption, and nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

“With its innovative precision fermentation technology, Paleo has broken down barriers to the widespread adoption of plant-based meat alternatives. Its realistic taste and highly functional protein make it an attractive option for even the most sceptical consumers of meat and fish substitutes.”

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