Shares in MeaTech bounce on cultivated meat "breakthrough"

By John Reynolds on Friday 17 September 2021

Shares in MeaTech bounce on cultivated meat
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Shares in MeaTech, Agronomics and Blue Apron lifted this week, as the markets took a positive view of their announcements but shares in Ocado dropped on the news that delivery driver wage rises would cost it up to £5m.

Shares in MeaTech were up 9.2 per cent to $5.84 in the week when it announced another “breakthrough” in its bid to produce cultivated meat alternatives through cutting-edge technology.

It said its Belgian subsidiary, Peace of Meat, had cultivated just over 700 grams of pure chicken fat biomass in a single production run.

According to Israel-based MeaTech, it is the first “public demonstration” of growth in a single run of this quality of 100 per cent cultivated cell biomass, growing entirely outside of an animal.

David Brandes, managing director, Peace of Meat, commented: “Producing this quantity of pure cultured material in one run is a breakthrough towards potentially manufacturing cultivated chicken fat at an industrial scale and cost parity.

"The product, pending novel foods approval, is designed to be just like conventional chicken fat. Our shorter-term goal is that this type of cultured chicken cells can be commercialized by MeaTech in strategic hybrid product development collaborations.

"Today’s preliminary production success brings us one step closer to our longer-term goal of changing human diets towards more sustainable, yet equally savory, food choices.”

Another big riser this week was Blue Apron, whose shares jumped 31 per cent to $5.04 following its announcement that it plans to raise $78m in capital and dispose of shares with outsize voting rights.

The meal kit delivery company’s funding plans include a $45 million rights offering and private placements. It follows a 30 per cent plus slump in its share price this year.

The funds, it said, would be used to “accelerate its growth strategy”, set up an ESG strategy, and increase wages and benefits to staff.

Blue Apron also announced, in connection with the funding, that Matthew Salzberg, the company’s co-founder and board chair, and director Barry Salzberg, have resigned from the company’s board of directors.

Meanwhile, Agronomics continued its strong September run, with its share this week up 5.44  per cent to 25.20p. Shares in the investment fund for alternative proteins have now climbed 38 per cent since September 1.

The shares climbed in the week that animal-free dairy firm Formo, which Agronomics is an investor in, announced it has raised $50m in a Series A fundraise.

However, shares in Ocado fell 7.1 per cent to 1,772.95p after said luring in new delivery drivers through higher wages and sign-on bonuses will cost it up to £5m.

In a trading statement, Ocado said the "rising costs of labour" particularly for LGV and delivery drivers, represented "an increasingly important issue for the industry that may result in up to £5m of impact to full-year numbers", due to higher hourly rates and new sign-on bonuses.