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Impact investors back plant-based meat brand Heura Foods

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Published: 9 February 2024

Spanish food-tech company Heura Foods has raised €40m which it will invest in innovation and the expansion of its portfolio of technological patents in the production of plant-based foods.

From left to right: Marc Coloma and Bernat Añaños, co-founders of Heura Foods | Heura Foods

Barcelona-based Heura Foods (Heura) has announced it has raised €40m from impact investors European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF), Newtree Impact and Unovis Asset Management as well as from Dutch food company Upfield.

Heura, which was founded by Marc Coloma and Bernat Añaños in April 2017, develops and sells plant-based meat products and is on a self-proclaimed mission to create solutions that will render the current food system obsolete and accelerate the transition to a sustainable food system in which animals are no longer used for protein.

The company’s focus is on creating clean label products using Mediterranean ingredients such as high protein, GMO-free legumes, extra virgin olive oil and local spices, which Heura says ensures the food is both nutritious as well as tastes good.  

Heura said it would use the capital to invest in innovation with the planned launch of ‘successor products’, but could not be reached at the time of publication to explain what these would be.

However, the announcement suggested all four investors would take a seat on Heura’s board to help the company accelerate its international expansion and explore new collaboration models beyond its own branded meat alternatives. David Haines, group CEO of Upfield, was also quoted saying that through its investment and partnership with the company, they would “jointly advance research and development to fast-track innovation in the plant-based cheese category.”

Marie Asano, partner at ECBF, said that Heura was “poised to lead the plant-based meat sector with a strong brand, quality focus, and health commitment”, adding that the ECBF was “excited to support its internationalisation and tech advancement for pan-European leadership.”

Heura’s products are currently available in more than 22,000 points of sale across 20 countries around the world, including Spain, the United Kingdom, France and Italy.  

Patented technology

Heura said it planned to also use the investment to expand its portfolio of technological patents in the production of plant-based foods.

Last April, the company filed its first patent for an additive-free technology that it said brought unprecedented nutritional values that could be applied to the production of a range of plant-based food, such as deli meats, whole cuts of both meat and fish, as well as dairy products.

The technology was used in the production of what the company claims is the first additive-free sliced ham.

Opportunity for innovation

A recent study published in the academic journal Food Research International, which examined the health benefits of plant-based alternative products (PBAPs) compared to their animal-based homologs in Spain, found that although food companies had improved the nutritional profile of most of their plant-based products “when compared to unprocessed food counterparts, PBAPs were less healthy due to their high content total fat (dairy, fish and meat categories), and salt (fish and meat categories).”

The study did, nevertheless, stress that the nutritional value of different PBAPs varied widely and highlighted the “scope for innovation by the food industry to improve the formulation of these products in terms of processing and nutritional composition.”

Coloma said: “To change the food system we need to move the pressure from consumers to the food industry, placing health and sustainability as a must. This new chapter will drive us to profitability while allowing us to develop breakthrough tech to tackle the key challenges within the industry in an scalable way.” 

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