Sydney, Australia-based Fable Meals is the most recent plant-based meals startup to announce funding. The corporate, which makes use of mushrooms in its meat options, has raised $6.5 million AUD (about $4.eight million USD) in a seed spherical led by Blackbird Ventures, the Australian enterprise capital agency whose portfolio additionally consists of Canva, Tradition Amp and SafetyCulture. Different individuals included agriculture and meals tech enterprise agency AgFunder, sustainability-focused Aera VC and Higher Chew Ventures, together with Singapore-based produce importer Ban Choon Advertising and marketing and former Sequoia Capital accomplice Warren Hogarth.
Fable is making ready to launch in the USA by the top of this yr. In Australia, its merchandise can be found at retailers like Woolworths, Coles and Harris Farm Markets, together with eating places together with Grill’d, which not too long ago began serving its Meaty Mushroom Burger Pattie at 136 areas. Fable’s merchandise are additionally obtainable at eating places in Singapore and the UK.
The startup was based in 2019 by advantageous eating chef turned chemical engineer and mycologist (mushroom scientist) Jim Fuller, natural mushroom farmer Chris McLoghlin and Michael Fox, whose earlier startup was Footwear of Prey.
Fox, Fable’s chief government officer, informed TechCrunch in an e mail that after being a vegetarian for six years, he not too long ago turned a vegan “for a mixture of well being, environmental and moral causes.”
“Speaking to my family and friends, lots of people need to cut back their meat consumption for a similar causes however they discover it difficult as a result of they love the style and texture of meat and giving it up is tough,” Fox stated. He wished to discover a solution to make it simpler for folks to transition to plant-based meals, and spoke to a number of cooks who steered utilizing mushrooms as a base ingredient. Then Fox met Fuller and McLoghlin, who have been within the strategy of growing meat options utilizing mushrooms.
“After we met, we realized we shared the identical values and targets and had complementary ability units,” stated Fox. “We shared a standard need to assist finish industrial agriculture and wished to make our meals system extra moral, wholesome, sustainable and decrease its greenhouse fuel emissions.”
Fable’s first merchandise embody an alternative choice to pulled pork, braised beef and beef brisket (Fuller grew up in Texas consuming slow-cooked meats and wished to recreate the expertise), together with a line of ready-made meals. The corporate makes use of shiitake mushrooms, which Fox defined are “very flavorful with their pure umami flavors, they’re a slow-growing mushroom so that they naturally have the fleshy fibers that give the meaty chunk you usually get from animal proteins, and have the suitable chemical composition that when cooked enable us to style flavors which can be present in animal merchandise.”
Fuller serves as Fable’s chief science officer and the startup leverages his expertise as a chef/chemical engineer/mycologist to create the suitable combos of taste, aroma and texture whereas holding processing and substances to a minimal. For instance, its braised beef various is made with shiitake mushrooms, seven different substances and salt and pepper.
Fable additionally introduced right this moment it has appointed Dan Joyce, who was beforehand security and compliance software program firm SafetyCulture’s common supervisor of Europe, the Center East and Africa, as chief progress officer to move international gross sales and advertising and marketing. It would launch within the U.S. via a mix of partnerships with eating places and meal package firms.
Different startups that use mushrooms as foundation for meat options embody Meati and AtLast. Fox stated a principal distinction is that these two startups ferment mycelium, or the foundation construction of fungi, as a substitute of utilizing mushrooms, that are the fruiting physique of fungi.
Fable’s new funding can be used for analysis and improvement, increasing its manufacturing and manufacturing capability in Australia and different international locations. The corporate is holding its product pipeline below wraps for now, however Fox stated it plans to develop mushroom-based substitutes for pork, hen, lamb and different animal proteins.