Press release
March 19, 2024

Cauldron’s $9.5m Series A profiled in The Australian

‘Meals and wheels’ may be the best way to summarise the tech deals and capital raisings which caught our eye this week.

Cauldron — a global hyper-fermentation company based in Orange, NSW — has raised $9.5m, taking its total seed and series A funding to $20m. The company uses fermentation to produce protein at scale to be used in alternative meat products.

Meanwhile, Melbourne start-up AutoGrab has partnered with vehicle catalogue provider JATO to accelerate the global expansion of its car valuation business.

Cauldron chief executive and co-founder Michele Stansfield says she’s not out to convince people to go completely vegan and ditch meat — she operates a cattle farm in her “spare time”.

But, Ms Stansfield says the reality is the world is facing a protein shortage from traditional livestock and aquaculture sources and needs an alternative to ensure there is enough food to go around.

The UN estimates the global population will reach 10 billion people by 2050, requiring a 70 per cent lift in food production.

“We have no intention of competing with agriculture. We firmly believe that there will be a scarcity of protein in the next 20 years and we hope to provide, the industry hopes to provide, credible alternatives,” Ms Stansfield said.

Boston Consulting Group expects “peak meat” production to hit Europe by next year, after which consumption on animal protein is expected to decline. This is based on a potential tightening of regulations which will drive up carbon prices, pushing farmers from methane belching livestock into alternative protein sources.

“Alternative proteins also open up an opportunity for individuals to contribute to the fight against climate change. For instance, every portion of spaghetti Bolognese made with plant-based meat avoids as much greenhouse gas as a new car emits when driven 10 kilometres,” BCG said.

It’s a trend which has caught the attention of Microsoft’s billionaire co-founder Bill Gates, who has backed Impossible Foods, while Australian fast food baron Jack Cowin has rolled out v2food’s fake meat burgers across Hungry Jacks.

Horizon Ventures led Cauldron’s series A round, with SOSV and In-Q-Tel joining existing investor Main Sequence.

Chris Liu of Horizons Ventures said Cauldron’s precision fermentation technology — which is 30-50 per cent cheaper than traditional batch fermentation — attracted him to the company.

“To date, the technology has been hamstrung by its costs compared to conventional production methods, but Cauldron’s unique solution significantly improves the competitiveness of precision fermentation both in capital and operating expenditure,” Mr Liu said.