ACT-based cultivated fat start-up Nourish Ingredients, founded by former CSIRO scientists Dr James Petrie and Dr Ben Leita,  has raised $14.4 million (US$11 million) in seed funding. The company uses a cellular agriculture fermentation process to create fat compounds that mimic those found in animal products.

The cultivated fat is intended to be used in plant-based meat applications, helping what Dr Petrie calls the “mouth feel” of the products, which he says makes alternative proteins taste and feel like the real thing.

Plant-based meat products traditionally rely on fats from palm and coconut oils, however Dr Petrie believes these ingredients don’t bring the same sensory qualities as animal fats. He also notes supplies of these oils are finite.  Both founders believe there is a huge global market opportunity to bring the taste and texture qualities of animal fats to plant-based meats, and encourage mass adoption of plant-based proteins.

While some experts have cited price parity with conventional meat as an important factor in enabling mass adoption of plant-based meat products, Dr Leita sees taste as the “number one” barrier to mass adoption currently.

Dr Leita says, regardless of the price point, consumers won’t buy a product they don’t enjoy eating, noting that, “Fat is a flavour enabler … what we bring to the table will help these products go to the next level.”

With the funds, the co-founders plan to expand their team of five to more than 20, with a strong focus on research and development.

The funding round was co-led by Main Sequence Ventures — the investment fund of CSIRO — and Horizons Ventures, the US fund that also invested in Impossible Foods, which Dr Petrie sees as “absolutely a validation” of what they are trying to achieve.

READ MORE: Aussie start-up Nourish Ingredients raises $14 million for plant-based fat that could take alternative meats mainstream (Smart Company)