The 100,000+ sqft Mega Ranch, made possible thanks to an oversubscribed $150m series C round that closed last July, will serve as an all-in-one manufacturing facility, allowing Meati to grow mycelium in fermentation tanks, process it, and then package it for consumption.
Through the facility, Huggins said he hopes Meati can produce by late 2023 “tens of millions of pounds” of its alternative meat protein using a naturally occurring strain of mycelium.
Not only will this mean the brand can continue its growth in the retail space, but it will allow the brand to expand its omnichannel footprint. This includes the brand's periodic direct-to-consumer (DTC) drops, which “have been selling out in about two minutes on average," according to Huggins.
Huggins added “there’s a lot of interest on the foodservice side.” On this front, Meati did a limited partnership with fast-food salad restaurant Sweetgreen, and in the last round of funding, Chipotle was among the investors, he added.
Focusing on growth, brand amid alt protein growth concerns
When asked about recent sales and unit declines across the alternative protein market, Huggins is undeterred from Meati’s mission, noting strong consumer demand for its product and continued support from investors.
“When we talk to our customers — both retail and food service — they see the growth. They know consumers are looking for healthy, sustainable, and delicious options.”
However, Huggins admitted that the climate around start-up investing has drastically changed, saying it's “the most challenging fundraising environment we've had for …maybe 15 years or so.” Though some investors might be starting to pull back from funding in general, he noted that Meati’s backers understand “the trend of having good healthy food that’s good for the planet,” and that trend is “not going anywhere; it never will, if anything it’s only going to increase.”
He added: “With all of that Meati provides, we're able to bring in some amazing investors, and I think [it] continues to signal why that category is still alive and will play a big part in our food system moving forward.”