“The industry as a whole, there are new frontiers that are being addressed such as deli for us, and there's a lot of product categories that just don't have plant-based alternatives,” Le said. ”
Bringing vegetarians, vegans back to the deli counter
With contributions from Alumni Ventures, Diamond Edge Ventures, Gaingels, The House Fund, Meach Cove Capital, Monde Nissan, Pangaea Ventures, Prosus Ventures, True Ventures, Top Tier Capital, SOSV/IndieBio, and Solasta Ventures, Prime Roots more than doubled its total funding amount to reach $50m.
With the funding, Prime Roots plans to expand beyond its current geographic reach of the Bay Area of California -- bringing its Classic Smoked Koji-Turkey, Cracked Pepper, and Golden Roast Koji-Turkey, Classic Smoked Koji-Ham, Black Forest Ham, and Sugar Shack Maple Koji-Ham, nationwide into deli counters and restaurants, Le said.
It also is "building out the infrastructure, so the team as well as the operational facilities," Le said.
Focusing on taste, clean ingredients, sustainability
While the alt meat market is facing some headwinds in 2023, Prime Roots is positioned to tackle these challenges with its focus on taste, a cleaner product label, and its sustainability focus, Le claimed.
“I founded Prime Roots six years ago, and a lot of the discussions in the industry today are the things that we sought out to solve... long ingredient list, unclean ingredients, [and] taste,” Le said. Prime Roots also focuses on creating “products that taste good to eaters of all types, inclusive of meat eaters, which are the majority of the population, and having a product that functions,” she added.
“We don't use nitrates or preservatives, and our product is extremely clean. So, all pronounceable ingredients, short-ingredient lists, so it fixes a lot of challenges in the conventional set, but also it's like plant based in general.”
When it came to creating a plant-based product that tastes like meat, Prime Roots studied "the artisanal meat-making techniques" and actually used the same types of equipment to make its offerings," staying true to those traditions," Le said. Additionally, the plant-based meats “cook identically; they brown identically, [and] they behave just the way meats does,” she added.
Prime Roots' products are part of “the mycelium fermentation category” and are created with koji, a fibrous protein that can be found in miso soup, Le said. Additionally, with its fermentation process, Prime Roots doesn’t “need to purify proteins or process proteins in the same way precision fermentation or even plant-based proteins, we're actually growing the natural textures of meat,” she added.
On the sustainability front, Prime Roots conducted a lifecycle assessment of its production process to see how sustainable it is, Le said. “For water use and energy use, which are the main metrics, we are between 89% and 92% more sustainable than conventional products, but also the majority of the key metrics also better than most plant-based products too,” she added.