Temasek takes a bite at Impossible Foods

Temasek Holdings has led a US$75 million (S$103 million) investment round in Impossible Foods, a California-based company that found a way to make plant-based burger patties that reportedly sizzle, bleed and taste like beef.

Impossible Foods' latest funding round, which closed on July 31, was also backed by earlier-round investors, including Mr Bill Gates, and Mr Li Ka-shing's Horizons Ventures.

The deal marks Temasek's second investment in a start-up that is reinventing animal products by removing animals from the picture entirely. Last year, the state fund invested in Modern Meadow, a New York-based developer of lab-grown biofabricated leather.

Founded in 2011 by a biochemistry professor, Impossible Foods started putting its plant-based meat burgers on restaurant menus a year ago.

One of the patties' special ingredients is heme - a molecule found in animal muscle that carries oxygen in blood. The abundance of heme makes meat delicious, the company has found. To make heme without wasting any resources to farm cows, it genetically modifies yeast and uses fermentation to produce a heme protein naturally found in plants, called soy leghemoglobin.

The rest of the burger is made from natural ingredients, such as wheat, coconut oil and potatoes.

Last month, Impossible Foods obtained a patent for its technology to use leghemoglobin in plant-based meat. It said it has more than 100 additional patents pending.

Earlier this year, it opened its first large-scale production site in Oakland. The site can churn out more than 453,590kg of meat per month, the company said.

Impossible Foods has raised more than US$250 million since 2011.

Chief operating officer David Lee told The Straits Times: "Impossible Foods' mission is global. Temasek is an ideal financial partner for our long-term business plan and mission. We intend to be global eventually, and Temasek and Singapore will be great partners."