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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Fraser

Meiji announces additional investment in California Cultured

Japanese food group Meiji has announced it is making its second investment in cell-based cocoa start-up California Cultured, following its original investment in 2021.

The additional investment will serve to strengthen the companies’ co-creation efforts, combining California Cultured’s advanced cell culture technology with Meiji’s knowledge and experience.

Through the collaboration, Meiji expects to establish a cocoa cell cultivation technology and “build a sustainable cocoa value chain that resolves social issues and eliminates uncertainty in the supply of raw materials”.

The partnership involves a ten-year arrangement for the supply and integration of California Cultured's cell-cultured flavanol cocoa powder into an array of products tailored for both the US and Japanese markets.

The co-branded packaged goods, including chocolate, truffles and wellness-enhancing chocolate, will mark the first time cell-cultured cocoa will enter any market worldwide.

California Cultured's CEO, Alan Perlstein, commented: "We need to build a resilient, superior future for chocolate. This partnership is the first step in achieving this. With our scalable technology, we're positioned to excel in the field of plant-based cellular agriculture, where we pioneer the creation and cultivation of cells to redefine how we grow and produce innovative, sustainable products."

The investment comes as Meiji’s cocoa business is shifting to a focus on high value-added cocoa and accelerating its global expansion. It’s R&D is focusing on developing new cocoa products, as it aims to become a global cocoa-tech company capable of "skilfully manipulating cocoa”.

In 2022, Meiji started its ‘Possibilities of Cocoa’ project, as part of its endeavour to apply its knowledge and experience towards increasing the added value of cocoa, without causing an additional burden on cocoa farmers.

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