Wild Earth is known for its high-protein vegan dog food. But the company now aims to transform the pet industry with a new product: cell-based pet food. The California-based pet food brand made the announcement after revealing it had secured $23 million in capital funding. Investors included Veginvest, At One Ventures, and Big Idea Ventures. Actor and animal rights activist Paul Wesley and Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban were also among the list of investors.
Cuban is no stranger to investing in vegan brands. The owner of the Dallas Mavericks’ plant-based investment portfolio includes the pork-free rind brand Snacklins, Mrs. Goldfarb’s Unreal Deli, vegan meat company Everything Legendary, and dairy-free milk brand Numilk.
In March 2019, Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt secured $550,000 from Cuban for a ten percent stake in the company on an episode of Shark Tank.
“There’s an enormous potential market for lower-cost, sustainable protein to feed the growing worldwide pet population and Wild Earth is now the alpha dog in this space,” Cuban said at the time.
Cell-based pet food
Wild Earth’s venture into the cell-based category should come as no surprise. After all, a team of scientists founded the company. But it’s not the first company to set its sights on cultured pet food.
Biotech company Because, Animals already has cat cultured meat treats ready for pre-order on its website. The cookies feature cultured mouse meat and plant-based ingredients like tempeh, pumpkin purée, sunflower and flaxseed, and nutritional yeast. The company plans to scale up production and add cultured pet food to its range, starting with cell-based rabbit meat.
The emergence of cell-based pet food aims to quell the environmental and animal welfare concerns inherent in the pet food industry. The production of meat for pet food is highly resource-intensive and harmful to the environment, generating dangerous greenhouse gases. A 2017 UCLA study found that dogs and cats are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the U.S.
Wild Earth is working to tackle these issues through its plant-based pet food. Its sustainable range includes a line of treats that feature koji, a fungus superfood.
The brand will use its latest round of funding to develop its cell-based proteins. Scientists grow cell-based meats in a lab from real animal cells. “Every goal we achieve grows our impact on the environment and puts more pressure on cruel pet food companies and factory farming practices,” said Bethencourt.
Wild Earth has cell-based beef, chicken, and seafood pet foods in the pipeline, with an expected launch next year.