CHICAGO and OSLO, NORWAY — Because, Animals announced May 20 it has closed a seed stage financing round, led by European consumer goods company Orkla ASA, bringing its total funding to $6.7 million to date.

Because, Animals will use investments to scale production and accelerate product development. It is currently working on its first commercial cat treat product incorporating lab-cultured meat proteins. The company aims to release its first complete-and-balanced diet in 2022, which will also incorporate lab-cultured and plant-based proteins.

“Partnering with a major international food player like Orkla is exactly what we sought to do from the beginning,” said Shannon Falconer, Ph.D., chief executive officer and co-founder of Because, Animals. “We were not interested in just any corporate food heavyweight, we needed them to be firm believers in sustainability and the future of food, and we’ve found exactly that combination in Orkla.”

This marks Orkla’s first investment in the pet food sector, following the recent establishment of its Alternative Proteins business, which will focus on emerging food technology brands. Orkla currently operates in the grocery, specialized retail, pharmacy and bakery sectors for food, snack and confectionery, personal care and food ingredient brands in Nordic Europe, the Baltics, select central European markets, and India.

“As a company deeply committed to health and sustainability, we see cultured meat as having interesting potential in terms of sustainability, animal welfare and food safety,” said Elin Tveito Lidman, chief executive officer of Orkla Alternative Proteins. “Because, Animals’ products and technology are truly differentiated, and stand out as a sustainable, healthy, humane way to feed pets. Their progress in developing cell lines, growth media, and driving down cost is impressive – all vital steps in bringing cultured meat technology to market.”

Other investors in Because, Animals include SOSV, Draper Associates and Keen Growth Capital, to name a few.

According to Because, Animals, cultured meat proteins are a clean and nutritionally viable alternative to traditional animal proteins. Without the need to slaughter farmed animals to produce protein ingredients, the company also speaks to animal welfare and sustainability.

“This investment is in line with Orkla’s strategy to partner with innovative technology companies around the world which can bring interesting capabilities to the Orkla family of brands and companies,” added Sverre Prytz, executive vice president of mergers and acquisitions and strategy at Orkla. “We believe Orkla’s expertise in manufacturing, food safety, as well as brand building will help accelerate the development of an already promising young company with an impressive track record and management team.”

Because, Animals recently announced a new flavor of its Noochies plant-based dog cookies. It also rebranded its supplement line for dogs and cats, now known as Omega & Probiotic Sprinkles.

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