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A week in review: June 20-25 2021

Stay up to date with the most recent news regarding the food tech industry and sustainability. This week has seen several new investments, IPOs as well as the rise of new trends and news in the industry.

IPOs, M&As & Investments:

Firstly, Sweetgreen, one of the earliest "better for you '' quick-serve restaurant chains, has filed confidentially for an IPO, as a post-pandemic growth play. Though it never seriously pursued the SPAC route, will seek to list in the fall. No word yet on how much it plans to raise, except that it will be more than the $100 million "list price."

Indoor-farming firm for leafy greens Local Bounti Corp has decided to go public as well, through a SPAC deal in the US with Leo Holdings II Corp in a transaction that values the combined business at US$1.1bn. Both are hopeful of strong investor interest as demand for plant-based food products surges globally and have already attracted interest.

Kerry to buy clean-label preservatives maker Niacet for $1B. This operation extends and accelerates Kerry’s sustainable nutrition impact and broadens Kerry’s portfolio of preservation technologies enabling greater reach and solution delivery across key food waste categories.

Next-generation kid nutrition company Once Upon A Farm adds Raised Real, a baby food meal delivery company, to its portfolio for an undisclosed amount.

Startups have raised investments all over the world, here are the most significant which took place in the past week:

Scottish alt-protein startup Enough banked $51m in a Series B round co-led by Dutch food and animal feed major Nutreco and Olympic Investments, an arm of the Onassis Foundation set up by 20th century Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

Social e-commerce platform Snackpass raises $70M in its series B round. The operation, led by Craft Ventures with investors ranging from Postmates founder Bastian Lehmann to celebrities like the Jonas Brothers, pushes the value of the company to over $400 million.

Furthermore, Equinom, an Israeli plant-based nutrition company raised $20M Series C funding led by Phoenix, with participation from Fortissimo, BASF Venture Capital, Trendlines and Maverick. This brings to $36 million, the amount raised by the company since it was founded in 2012.

Chicago’s S2G Ventures announced Monday its first investment on 5 startups from $100M fund for ocean, seafood sustainability. Four of the five investment rounds were led by S2G, and the firm has taken active board seats with three of the companies, the firm said. The startups are: ReelData, a software that uses AI to help fish farmers accurately feed and take care of their populations, ViAqua Therapeutics, a biotech startup making orally administered medication for shrimp populations that prevents disease, Moleaer, a startup makes industrial-scale nanobubble production technology that purifies water without chemicals and helps the recovery of natural resources, and the name of the last two startups were not revealed.

Additionally, Boomitra, who seeks to enable farmers fight for climate change by accelerating carbon removal from the atmosphere, through agricultural soils, raised $4 M in a round led by Yara Growth Ventures. Other participants in the round included Chevron Technology Ventures, the CVC arm, Chevron Corporation, Jerry Yang, co-founder, Yahoo!, and billionaire sustainability investors Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor.

Another important announcement was made by Canada-based restaurant repair and maintenance marketplace platform, ResQ, which managed to raise by $7.5M their capital, through seed funding from top-tier investors bringing the total capital raised to $9M. The company managed to grow by 750% during the pandemic while helping more than 3,000 restaurants with revenue recovery through its platform.

Israeli food tech startup Better Juice announced on Wednesday that the company raised $8 million in a seed funding round led by iAngels, for special sugar-reducing technology, which manages to reduce the calories and sugar content of all types of juices while increasing fiber.

Another Israeli company SupPlant raises $10 million for its smart irrigation system aimed at smallholders farmers). The round was co-led by Boresight Capital, the Menomadin Foundation, Smart-Agro Fund, and Mivtah Shamir.

Taiwan’s cloud kitchen startup 3 Square raises seed funding for $1.2 million funding. Department store Hanshin, VC Foodland Ventures, prominent family offices and angel investors participated in the round. 3 Square will use the capital to accelerate its expansion throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Finnish insect startup Volare raises $838,000 from MakiVC (Finland). The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland spin-out is using food production sidestreams and insects to produce proteins and oils for animal feed and other applications.

Lastly, Superplum raises pre-Series A round of $3.8M from marquee investors. Superplum was started by Shobhit Gupta to solve Indian agriculture’s supply chain problems by designing and building an all-new state-of-the-art supply chain and digitising the farm-to-store network. The funds will be used to build farm infrastructure, strengthen its management team, and expand its distribution network.


News & Trends:

Israeli agritech innovations have increasingly made their way into the farming communities in Southeast Asia through bilateral agricultural programmes. Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines are all implementing technologies such as drip irrigation and hydroponics to grow food as demand soars in the continent.

Furthermore, there was a discovery of a new method for making ultrathin sensors, developed by researchers at KAUST, which could aid precision farming through real-time crop health monitoring.

CellAg pioneer IntegriCulture launches the collaborative initiativeCulNet Consortium”, an open innovation platform to assist cellular agriculture enter the mainstream. 12 businesses are now on board including Chiyoda Corp, House Foods, Nissan Chemical and others.

Future Meat Technologies Ltd. is in talks with U.S. regulators to start offering its products in restaurants by the end of next year. The company has just opened what it calls the world’s first industrial cellular meat facility, which will be able to produce 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) a day.

In Europe, Danone secured the top ranking in Access to Nutrition Initiative’s (ATNI) Breast Milk Substitute and Complementary Food (BMS/CF) Marketing Index. Read the article to hear from the company about its approach to marketing infant products – and ask whether responsible marketing means a knock to sales.

The week has seen a rise in partnerships across the board. Kellogg’s Away From Home is expanding its partnership with Sodexo to include Incogmeato by MorningStar Farms Burger Patties. As part of the pact, the plant-based burger patties will be offered at more than 3,000 locations serviced by Sodexo, one of the world’s largest providers of catering, hospitality, and food retail services.

Also, a new global $1Billion platform set up by the IKEA Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation is set to empower 1 billion people with distributed renewable energy (DRE), with the aim of fighting energy poverty and climate change.

Additionally, Eighteen months after creating the world’s first cell cultured human milk, 108Labs is now focused on accelerating the field from lab to factory by building and programming the world’s first autonomous Cellufacturing facility and artificial intelligence platform for production of cell cultured human milk in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Plantcraft launch of its plant-based patè in the U.S. was seen this week as well. The plant-based pâté is made from a combination of ingredients including green banana flour, golden flax seeds, sunflower protein, and grapeseed oil. Strella Biotechnology, an ag-tech startup that uses sensors to measure product maturity, was recently announced the winner of the third-annual GS1 US Startup Lab Pitch Competition. The startup won the first prize of $10,000 and will be writing a white paper with GS1 about supply chain practices and how technology can be used to improve them. Lastly, a team of scientists from the University of Edinburgh has discovered a novel method of converting post-consumer PET plastic to vanillin, an organic compound often used as a flavoring agent in the food industry. They believe that such vanillin can be consumed by humans however more research needs to be done.

DayTwo is announcing its clinical outcomes in advance of World Microbiome Day on June 27. A leader in precision nutrition the company offers an effective program that achieves sustained weight loss and reduction in Body Mass Index (BMI) for adults who are obese and for those with metabolic disease. This high tech, high touch solution equips members with precise nutrition recommendations using gut profiling, artificial intelligence, and clinical support to stabilize their blood sugar response to any food or food combination, based on their individual microbiome analysis. Unlike other programs, the DayTwo solution does not require an individual to remove any food groups, such as carbohydrates, from their diet.


Innovation Labs & Accelerator Programs:

BrightFarms, which operates a network of greenhouses in the U.S., is launching an innovation and research hub. The company calls BrightLabs “one of the most advanced biotechnology ventures in the indoor farming industry” and one that will develop ways to improve the flavor, texture and yield of plants the company grows in its five greenhouses. Tech experts along with microbiologists and plant scientists will join the BrightLabs team, which will be led by Matt Lingard, formerly a Bayer greenhouse scientist. Lingard has recently joined BrightFarms as the VP of Agriculture.

Furthermore, Food and drink startup accelerator Mission Ventures took on two further brands in its Good Food Fund initiative: Better Nature and Spare Snacks who will join the 12-month program and will receive business support to assist their growth ambitions.

The value of Spanish Startups increased by more than sixfold following the first big foodtech accelerator. After celebrating the investor demo day for the first cohort of the Spain FoodTech accelerator program, the chosen startups’ valuations (as listed below) have risen by over sixfold, now boasting an average valuation of €7.5 million. The disruptive startups include Cocuus, a hyper-realistic 3D printed plant-based steak, MOA Foodtech converting waste into next gen proteins, Innomy with its mycelium-based burgers, Proppos AI a payment solution in food service, and H2Hydroponics a hydroponic vertical and indoor farming.

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