SAO PAULO, July 7 (Reuters) - Brazilian chicken and pork processor BRF SA has invested $2.5 million in Aleph Farms, an Israeli startup and one of the world’s top developers of cultivated meats.
The investment underscores a drive by BRF, which is Brazil’s largest chicken processor and the world’s biggest exporter of chicken, to expand its product portfolio and venture into new markets.
In March, Aleph Farms and BRF signed an agreement to bring cultured meats to Brazil, which has one of the world’s largest commercial cattle herds and is a top exporter of beef. Under that agreement, Aleph Farms and BRF said they would co-develop and produce cell-cultivated meat using the Israeli firm’s technology.
Cultured meats are produced in vitro using animal cells. The method is considered sustainable, partly because it involves less water.
BRF Chief Executive Officer Lorival Luz said in May that cultured meats would be commercially available by 2023 or 2024.
BRF said it was the only Brazilian food company to participate in Aleph Farms’ second international investment round, adding that the Israeli company raised a total of $105 million through it.
Aleph Farms’ second investment round was led by L Catterton’s Growth Fund, the largest consumer-focused global private equity firm, and DisruptAD, one of the largest venture capital platforms in the Middle East, BRF said.
Aleph Farms will use proceeds from the deal to sell cultivated meats on a global scale and expand its portfolio. To date, the company has raised more than $118 million to finance that plan, BRF said.
As part of a plan to expand its product offerings, BRF last month acquired two domestic pet food companies.
(Reporting by Ana Mano and Nayara Figueiredo Editing by Paul Simao)