Ryan Bethencourt's WildEarth Dog treats are part mad science and part genius. They're grown in the lab using a bioreactor. He feeds Koji, a fungus that grows on grain, with beet sugar and it synthesizes the sugar into pure protein. It's a vegan dog treat with all the protein a dog needs.
Bethencourt is vegan and he had some conscience issues feeding his dog “dead animals.” Since he has a background in biotech, he knew how to go about getting his product made. Other vegans loved the WildEarth treats, but criticized him for growing synthetic mice for his cat treats. The cat treats are currently unavailable.
Mr. Bethencourt's experiments caught the attention of Mars Petcare, a huge pet food conglomerate, who is incubating the business. One of the best things about WildEarth is it's better food than 99% of the dog food on the market and it's less expensive to produce. That has the potential of being a billion dollar business. He likely wants a Shark to help fund his journey.
My Take on Wild Earth
I ordered a pack of WildEarth treats for my dog on Amazon. She loves them! My wife and daughter say I spoil the dog, but isn't that part of the fun? Taste aside, I think this has the potential to be a HUGE business.
People spent nearly $30 BILLION on pet food last year. That's big business and Bethencourt is changing the game. Anytime you introduce a better product that's less expensive to consumers, the market will get disrupted. This type of lab-grown food is the future for our pets and humans. As population grows and resources dwindle, the food supply becomes more fragile. I'm in and so is my dog!
Will Sharks Go Wild?
I really don't think Bethencourt needs a Shark's help. He's getting funds from a large, international pet food company that will probably just buy WildEarth for big bucks. That aside, I think he'll get bids because of his technology.
What Bethencourt is doing can fundamentally alter the way dogs – and humans – get protein. This process doesn't waste water, use resources or pollute – three things big agriculture does. It's far more sustainable and it's cheaper. There's no way to put a value on it. I think this will be a pitch where Bethencourt receives multiple offers but ultimately gets no deal because he won't sell his company short.