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Investors Gave This Sustainable Food Startup $108M to Do the 'Impossible'

Sustainable food startup Impossible Foods recently raised $108 million in Series D funding, bringing their total funding to date to $183 million. The Redwood City, California-based company is creating meat and dairy alternatives from plant ingredients that are remarkably similar to the real thing.

The startup is most well-known for its burger that “bleeds.” The product is vegan, but contains heme, a molecule found in hemoglobin and other proteins that gives blood its red pigment. Impossible Foods founder and CEO Patrick O. Brown says that heme is the secret to meat flavor. Heme can be found in the roots of nitrogen-fixing plants, allowing Impossible Foods to create entirely plant-based products that look, taste, grill, and “bleed” like animal meat.

"This latest financing ensures that we have more than enough runway to bring our first products to market," Brown said in a statement. "We are grateful to our visionary investors, whose support will enable us to transform the global food system by providing consumers with delicious and sustainable meat and dairy foods made directly from plants."

Livestock farming is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than cars, trains and airplanes combined, making it one of the biggest — if not the biggest — contributor to most people’s carbon footprints. Several startups, including Beyond Meat and Modern Meadow, are working to create meat-like substitutes that will sway meat-lovers to cut back on cattle consumption. Others envision a future of bio-printing protein.

Impossible Foods expects its burgers to be available in the United States in 2016 and then expand into other countries. The company’s Series D financing was led by UBS, with participation from Viking Global Investors, and others including earlier round investors such as Bill Gates, Horizons Ventures, and Khosla Ventures.

Samir Kaul, partner at Khosla Ventures, said, "To achieve a sustainable future, we need to further invest in companies like Impossible Foods that minimize the environmental impact of our food system through innovation without compromising taste."