WAYZATA, MINN. and OAKLAND, CALIF. — AnimalBiome announced Aug. 4 it has closed its Series A funding round with $8.6 million investments, led by Cargill. Other investors include SOSV (IndieBio), Moai Capital, Digitalis Ventures, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and R/GA Ventures.

Cargill first announced an investment in AnimalBiome, an Oakland-based startup studying microbiome science and how it relates to digestive and skin issues in companion animals, in July. The specific amount of Cargill’s investment was not disclosed.

"As leaders in companion animal microbiome research, we're seeking to get to the root of the digestive and skin problems affecting our pets," said Carlton Osborne, co-founder and chief executive officer at AnimalBiome. "Working together with Cargill, we have the unique advantage of science and industry leadership to tackle some of the pet health industry's most challenging and heart-breaking issues."

Solutions-based pet nutrition is a hot topic in today’s market. More than half (58%) of pet owners surveyed in a July 2021 report by Mintel and Tree Top, Inc. said they are interested in pet foods that support digestive health, 52% are interested in foods with mobility health claims, and 49% are interested in formulations that can improve skin and coat health.

“Pet parents are looking for alternatives to the medical merry-go-round of antibiotics, steroids, and prescription diets,” said Holly Ganz, , Ph.D., co-founder and chief science officer at AnimalBiome. “I realized that we could help them. Today we provide better solutions to restore balance to the gut microbiomes of companion animals through our in-home microbiome tests, personalized recommendations for diet and supplements, and next generation probiotics to restore key groups of bacteria lost as a result of antibiotic exposure.”

Cargill reported its investment is intended to help AnimalBiome accelerate new products and insights into pet microbiome modulation research. According to the company, research shows a balanced gut plays a key role in pets’ overall health and longevity, and an unbalanced microbiome can result in diarrhea, weight problems, and skin and immune system issues.

“At Cargill, we share AnimalBiome’s goal to help pets live healthier lives,“ said Jamie Dolynchuk, vice president of Cargill’s health technologies (CHT) business. “AnimalBiome’s world-class microbiome sequencing and database make it an ideal partner in the development of our microbiome insights platform for Cargill’s health technologies business and we are thrilled to improve our ability to do new product development and product research together.”

Founded in 2016, AnimalBiome offers personalized pet health products and services centered around microbiome science. The company has compiled more than 12,500 DNA samples from 10,000 individual companion animals, leveraging through genomic sequencing and data analytics to create a database. AnimalBiome uses this data to develop its personalized microbiome restoration solutions and identify new opportunities for product development.

“This expansive partnership with Cargill advances our clear leadership position in an exciting, growing market and will enable us to create novel products that will have meaningful impacts on cat and dog health,” Osborne said.  “Restoring and maintaining gut health is the key to resolving many acute and chronic animal health conditions that are costly, heart-breaking, and often avoidable.”

Cargill first entered the animal digestive and immune health space in 2017 when it acquired Diamond V, along with an investment in Delacon, a phytogenics health solutions company, in the same year. This latest investment reiterates Cargill’s mission to support the growth of animal and human health products, as it views health ingredients “as one of the fastest growing segments in nutrition.”

“As we look to grow in this category, AnimalBiome’s immense data foundation in combination with our own R&D capabilities will act as the innovation engine that drives new product growth and differentiation across regions where we operate,” Dolynchuk concluded.

AnimalBiome participated in Leap Venture Studio’s 2018 cohort, where company leaders were exposed to industry leaders, investors and others in the pet care startup community throughout the course of the startup accelerator program. In 2020, the company fetched $1.5 million in a seed funding round, which it applied toward further gut health research and restoration supplements for dogs and cats.

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