Zut alors, France has hopped on the lab-grown meat train!
Paris-based lab-grown foie gras startup Gourmey announced a €48 million funding round on Wednesday. It’s perfect timing: the French haute cuisine delicacy, typically a fatty duck or goose liver pâté, is in high demand as foodie destinations around the globe move to ban the PETA-vilified product.
Fake meat companies attracted $1.38 billion in investment last year out of a total $1.93 billion raised since 2016, according to a report by the Good Food Institute. Gourmey, which launched in 2019, was among last year’s winners, scoring a $10 million seed round to grow its foie gras using stem cells harvested from fertilized duck eggs.
As its name suggests, Gourmey is targeting the fine-dining end of lab-grown cuisine, and says it has tapped Michelin-starred chefs to beef up its brand. The selection of foie gras as its flagship product is particularly strategic:
- Lame Duck: Foie gras has a bad reputation on the animal rights front due to a process called gavage a.k.a. force-feeding, which is used to fatten up the animals’ livers and give the pâté its distinctive creamy quality. Several countries and some US states have already banned the production of foie gras, and a New York City ban is being fought in court.
- Bird flu outbreaks have disrupted foie gras production in France, with output falling for the third year running and down 30% overall from 2019. Eric Dumas, chairman of the foie gras producers group, told reporters in March the foie gras industry was facing “a very severe crisis, maybe the worst ever,” per Reuters.
Que Sera Sera: Co-founder Nicolas Morin-Forest told Bloomberg the biggest hurdle Gourmey faces now is regulatory, as it’s not authorized to sell its products in stores. In the meantime, Morin-Forest said Gourmey is partnering up with chefs to place its products in fancy restaurants. So don’t be surprised if you spot fausse viande on your next charcuterie platter.