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A week in review - June 27 - July 2, 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, Hersheys, completed its acquisition of Lily's, a maker of low-sugar chocolate products, for $425 million, increasing their growing portfolio of better-for-you snacking brands.

Botrista, the company behind the commercial DrinkBot automated beverage dispenser, announced today that it has raised $10 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Purestone Capital and La Kaffa International with participation from Sony Innovation Fund, Middleby Corporation and PIDC. This brings the total amount of funding raised by Botrista to $16 million.

Scandinavian mycoprotein company Mycorena secured SEK 77 Million (approx. US$9M) in its Pre-Series A funding round to accelerate the growth of its mycoprotein Promyc and scale up its production. This is one of the largest investments made in a Nordic vegan startup. The round was led by Belgium-based VEOS Group, a global supplier of proteins and functional ingredients. Other participating investors included existing ones like FBG Invest and Bånt AB, two of the largest shareholders of Mycorena.

Hashed, a blockchain-specialized investment company, recently announced its investment in the seed fund round of ‘Future Kitchen’, an unmanned automated robot kitchen platform service. Hashed led the round with Nongshim, Nongshim Engineering, and Stonebridge Ventures. Korean startup Future Kitchen has raised a total of $3 billion.

The Agri-Business Capital Fund has invested $1 million in the form of a credit facility to Kenya agtech startup Apollo Agriculture. The funds will go into scaling its high impact agtech solution to reach more smallholder farmers unable to access commercial bank lending and microfinance solutions.

Indian agritech venture capital firm Omnivore is preparing to launch a new US$150 million fund, the third since its inception in 2010, focused on tech-driven solutions to help boost yield productivity and profitability for rural Indian farmers. Fundraising is set to begin later this year and will support entrepreneurs and startups working on everything from predictive crop insights to AI-powered precision farming.

Dingdong Maicai has downsized its upcoming IPO, cutting its fundraising goal by three quarters to $94.4 million. The Shanghai-based online grocery platform said it now aims to sell 3.7 million American depositary shares (ADSs) in the range of $23.50 to $25.50 per share. The change of heart follows the disappointing Nasdaq debut of rival Chinese e-grocer Missfresh late last week.

Fonterra has agreed to the sale of its two joint venture farms in China's Shandong province to Singapore-based AustAsia Investment Holdings for US$115.5 million ($163.4m). Fonterra, which owns the farms with a joint venture partner, has a 51 per cent stake in the business and will receive NZ$88m in total asset sale proceeds, which includes cash on completion.

Indian food delivery giant Zomato, which is working to explore the public markets later this year, has reached an agreement to invest $100 million in online grocer Grofers for about 10% stake in the seven-year-old startup, according to a source and multiple other people familiar with the matter.

Digital food hall Local Kitchens raised $25 million in Series A funding led by General Catalyst with support from existing investors Human Capital and Pear VC, according to a Monday press release. New investors include Fifth Wall and Penny Jar Capital, an early stage venture firm backed by Stephen Curry.

Soft Robotics raises another $10M, citing pandemic-related demand. The New England-based firm announced that this serves as an extension of the $23 million Series B closed in January of last year.The extension was led by Material Impact, Scale Venture Partners and Calibrate Ventures and featured existing investors Tekfen Ventures and industrial robotics giant ABB. The latest round brings the company’s total funding to around $58 million.

UK plant meat producer THIS™ today announced the closing of an £11 million Series A round led by BGF and Lever VC, which the brand says is the largest ever Series A fundraise for a UK based alt meat brand. The fresh funds will be used to support the rapid growth of the business, expand R&D capabilities and help to bring to market new products across the UK.

Czech online grocery ordering and delivery business Rohlik, has picked up €100 million ($119 million at today’s rates). This Series C investment values Rohlik at €1 billion ($1.2 billion).

Rockstart concludes the exit of climate intelligence platform Agranimo only 20 months after its initial investment. With the exit, Nector Holdings is investing €2 million in Agranimo to accelerate growth and strengthen Agranimo's technology platform. Rockstart’s investment in Agranimo was one of the fund's first batch of investments in agtech and foodtech startups in 2019, further emphasizing its experience in scouting and investing in the best purpose-driven founders.


News & Trends

The traveling retail concept, Pop Up Grocer, this week gave small brands the chance to grab consumers' attention and ride the buzz to greater growth in a post-pandemic world.

Food Dive’s report, The Growth of Plant-Based Foods, came out this week highlighting the massive rise in this sector. Based on data and a deep analysis, discover the impact of this rising trend.

Europe-wide eco-label scheme set for launch in 2022 as industry joins forces to launch pilot. Global food giants Nestle and Tyson Foods have joined supermarkets and food and environmental scientists to form a new non-profit organisation that will issue front-of-pack environmental scores on food products throughout Europe.

To come up with their next best-selling product companies like PepsiCo, Nestlè, General Mills and Dole use Tastewise’s AI driven tool to analyze massive quantities of food data online. Specifically, Tastewise says its tool has monitored more than 95 million menu items, 226 billion recipe interactions, and 22.5 billion social posts, among other consumer touchpoints.

Future Farm, the Brazilian plant-based food tech, also known as Fazenda Futuro, will soon deliver its plant-based meat to American diners. It will partner with distributor Superior Foods International to enter the market at a “cost competitive price” to “seize untapped growth opportunities” in the U.S.

Italian-American mobility company Helbiz announced Monday it is launching its own ghost kitchen/food delivery/virtual restaurant business called Helbiz Kitchens. The concept will initially be available to customers in Milan, Italy, with plans to open additional locations in the U.S. and Italy in the future.

Israel’s government-led initiative to pilot drone deliveries across the country entered its second phase this month with flights conducted and tested in residential areas and over city residents in the northern town of Hadera. The two-week demonstration began last Sunday, and will end this week, with flights being carried out over residential neighborhoods to simulate end-to-end drone deliveries – from the moment the order is placed via an app, up to and including the delivery of the goods to the customer.

General Mills, Inc. is introducing Good Measure, a new brand of snacks aimed at consumers who are concerned about how food interacts with their blood sugar, including those with diabetes and prediabetes.

Mondelēz International has launched a food transparency programme in North America, which gives consumers insight into the journey of the white-winter wheat used in its Triscuit crackers from a coop of farmers’ fields in Michigan to where the crackers are produced. The data-driven, consumer-centric, supply chain transparency pilot follows the successful trial of a similar project in France which traced the journey - from field to shelf - of the Harmony wheat used in LU biscuits.

UNESDA has announced new and enhanced commitments to reduce the average added sugars in beverages by another 10% across Europe. With the new commitment, the industry association says an overall reduction in average added sugars across Europe will reach 33% compared to 2020.

Google announced a new website designed to be a “one-stop shop” for people with food insecurity. The “Find Food Support” site includes a food locator tool powered by Google Maps which people can use to search for their nearest food bank, food pantry, or school lunch program pickup site in their community.

Thai Union Group PCL and V Foods (Thailand) Co., Ltd. have recently signed a memorandum of understanding to develop and expand their plant-based food businesses. Under the MoU, the two companies will collaborate in exploring the utilization of Thai Union’s manufacturing facilities to produce both V Foods’ existing products and new products it will develop. They also intend to co-develop new product initiatives and to expand further into domestic and international markets where each of them have expertise.

Stryve set to complete latest agrifood SPAC deal with Andina merger (US). Stryve sells ‘better-for-you’ biltong – a jerky-like snack from South Africa made of dried meat. The SPAC deal — which was first announced in February, valuing Stryve at $170 million — has now obtained preliminary approval from the US Securities & Exchange Commission.

Farm.One, a pioneer in New York City’s urban farming scene, opened the doors on its first neighborhood farm in Prospect Heights last Thursday.

In an industry first, food-grade PET plastic bottles produced entirely from enzymatically recycled plastic have been developed for brands Perrier, Orangina, and Pepsi Max.


Innovation Labs & Accelerator Programs:

Vertical farming company AeroFarms has started construction in Abu Dhabi on a 8,200-square-metre research and development centre, the largest in the world, which aims to advance sustainable agriculture in arid climates.

2020 has irrevocably changed the way business is done across the world. While it presented emerging threats and impending challenges, it also brought forward opportunities and gave organizations of all sizes the chance to fundamentally rethink what they stand for. This has been done through the rise of Q-commerce (short for quick commerce), the next-generation of e-commerce, which focuses on optimizing delivery time to serve customers better, in addition to a shift in priorities such as supporting SMEs, adopting new sustainable practices, and investing in innovative solutions.

Distill Ventures has announced a slate of new global initiatives aimed at normalizing diversity within the drinks industry. The flagship initiative is a robust pre-accelerator program for spirits industry founders from underrepresented groups. Distill Ventures (DV) will invest $5 million in these initiatives over the next 12 months.

Green light unlocks £40m for Edinburgh Innovation Park. City Region Deal funding worth £40m has been unlocked through the approval of the business case for a food & drink innovation hub in East Lothian.

Yili, a chinese head-quartered dairy company, is officially partnering with the agri-food tech accelerator StartLife in the Netherlands.Through building this wider innovation ecosystem, Yili said it will enhance collaborations across Europe to work on challenges faced in the food and agricultural sectors to deliver healthy solutions to consumers.


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