The Encounter Weekly, 11-17 September, 2021

Stay up to date with the most recent news, investments and partnerships regarding the agrifood tech industry and sustainability.




IPOs, M&As & Investments:


Alt protein venture capital fund Lever VC has announced the completion of the $80 million Lever VC Fund I. The fund has been raised to back early-stage plant-based and cell-cultured startups around the world, with a portfolio of 19 fast-growing alt protein companies on board.


AgBiome, developing products from microbial communities, brought in a $116 million Series D round as the company prepares to pad its pipeline with new products.


Wild Earth, which produces plant-based pet food, raised a $23 million funding round from investors including Mark Cuban as it looks to move into cell-based meats.


Honey Mama´s, a Portland-based food tech startup, has secured a $10.3 million Series A financing round to continue offering its nutrient-rich products.


Singapore’s Growthwell Foods, a manufacturer of plant-based alternatives for meat and seafood, has announced it has raised $22 million in a Series A funding round led by Creadev. The funding round also included participation from GGV Capital, Iris Fund (Iris Capital and Hanwha, supported by Penjana Kapital) and existing investors Temasek and DSG Consumer Partners.

A start-up that makes cultured mozzarella and ricotta cheeses without cows has just got record funding from investors looking to tap the growing market for environmentally friendly dairy alternatives. Berlin-based Formo will use the $US50 million (€42 million) – a record for a European food tech – to expand its product range into mature and ripened cheeses like cheddar and gruyere. The company will also scale up its precision fermentation technology, it said on Monday.


Andes, a Chilean-founded, US-based ag biotech startup, has raised $15 million in Series A funding. The round was co-led by the VC arms of Bayer and Wilbur-EllisLeaps by Bayer and Cavallo Ventures.


Japanese biotech company Spiber has raised a huge $312 million in a funding round led by private equity firm Carlyle. Fund managers Fidelity and Baillie Gifford also contributed to the round.


Tomorrow Foods, an Argentinian plant-based startup, has raised $3 million in a new funding round. On the heels of its vegan burger launch, the food tech says it will use the capital to double down on R&D to expand its product portfolio, as well as enter new markets as it looks to become a leading player in Latin America’s plant-based industry.


NoMy has announced the closing of a seed funding round to accelerate its fungi-powered sustainable solutions. Based in Oslo, the Norwegian startup uses fungal mycelium to develop alternatives for everything from food to materials, such as alternative meat and bioplastics.


MarginEdge announced Monday it raised $18 million in Series B funding to give restaurant operators a real-time view into their costs.


The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of restaurant and in-store retail tech, as quarantined and locked-down consumers searched for ways to get groceries and prepared meals delivered to their homes. Coco agrees with this statement as the los Angeles-based startup recently raised $36 million in a Series A round led by Sam Altman, Silicon Valley Bank, and Founders Fund.


VROMO, the restaurant delivery SaaS business, active in Europe and the US, today announced a funding round of €6.8 million, welcoming No Such Ventures as a new shareholder.


Legit Group, a Jakarta-based cloud kitchen company, has raised US$3 million in a seed round led by East Ventures. AC Ventures also participated in the fundraiser.


Glovo, one of the world’s leading multi-category delivery players, today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire the grocery delivery companies Lola Market and Mercadão. The financial details of those acquisitions have not been disclosed, but since Glovo raised €450 million in their Series F funding round earlier this year, the Spanish scale-up certainly has enough funds to make a lot more of such acquisitions in the near future.


Kerry announced on Tuesday that it has completed the acquisition of preservation specialist Niacet, in a deal worth €853m


Toast’s updated IPO prospectus Monday gave a pricing range that could value the company at more than $16 billion in its debut. Toast raised funding at a $5 billion valuation just before the pandemic and then cut about 50% of its staff as shutdowns forced restaurants to close their doors.


Data:


Alternative seafood is growing rapidly and has vast opportunity for expansion, according to a new report from the Good Food Institute. In 2020, sales of alternative seafood — made from plant proteins or through fermentation — increased 23% above 2019. There are currently 83 companies in the space, which includes those working on cell-based varieties and without products on the market.


2020 was one of the busiest years on record as far as agtech M&A and IPO activity was concerned – even as the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the global economy. And AgFunder data indicates that 2021 could see even more in the way of big exits for agritech startups.


The Global Mushroom Market was valued at USD 45.8 billion in 2020 which expected to reach 63.24 billion by 2027 at a CAGR 8.7% from 2020-2027.


News & Trends:


Givaudan, the world’s biggest flavour and fragrance corporation, has placed alternative proteins at the centre of its growth strategy in the years ahead. Opening a new Protein Hub at its flagship Zurich Innovation Centre this week, the company says that it’ll be exploring everything from new plant-based ingredients to fermentation techniques. In addition, together with Bühler and Migros, a new facility for cellular agriculture products called The Cultured Food Innovation Hub will be established to fast track both product development and commercialization.


Mondelēz International's Dirt Kitchen brand is testing a better-for-you snack bar created using a technology that can combine different ingredients without the use of binders and added sugar. The technology, developed by Torr FoodTech+ in Israel, uses mechanical pressure and processes like ultrasound energy to create a product with a unique multi-texture and sensorial taste profile as compared to a typical bar. Learn more about Mondelez’s strategy with Gil Horskey on this week's podcast.


Roquette is on track to open a center of expertise of 2,000 square meters on its site in Vic-Sur-Aisne, France. Entirely dedicated to plant protein, the center will enlarge the field of possibilities in terms of food innovation, protein development and new production technologies.


Nestlé is laying out its latest plans to support and accelerate the transition to a regenerative food system – one that aims to protect and restore the environment, improve the livelihoods of farmers and enhance the well-being of farming communities. The Swiss food giant will work with its food system partners, including its network of more than 500,000 farmers and 150,000 suppliers, to advance regenerative farming practices at the heart of the food system.

Benson Hill, Inc. a food tech company unlocking the natural genetic diversity of plants with its cutting-edge food innovation engine, announced Monday the expansion of its ingredients infrastructure by entering into a definitive agreement to purchase a soybean crushing facility from Seymour, Indiana-based Rose Acre Farms.


Meatable, the cultivated meat startup, has entered into a joint development agreement with Dutch multinational Royal DSM, a global purpose-led, science-based company active in nutrition, health and sustainable living, to co-develop growth media for cultivated meat.


DouxMatok has partnered with Italian ingredients company Hi-Food to commercialise its sugar-reduction offering Incredo Sugar. Furthermore, combining Incredo Sugar, which enables up to 50 percent sugar reduction, with Hi-Food’s Meltec semi-solid fiber will offer an end-to-end nutritional solution for reformulating manufacturers.


Europe’s leading frozen foods supplier, Nomad Foods, whose portfolio includes Birds Eye, Findus and iglo, announces a collaboration with cultured seafood pioneer BlueNalu, marking the first agreement in Europe between a CPG company and a cell-cultured seafood company.


Impossible Foods this week launched its plant-based chicken replacement for restaurants and grocery stores while rival Beyond Meat brought out a new alternative-protein chicken tender for restaurants in July.

Scientists at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have successfully produced coffee cells using cellular agriculture. The innovation, coming from the land that drinks the most coffee per capita in the world, could help make the future production of coffee considerably more sustainable.

Food-tech company Enough (formerly 3F BIO) has broken new ground on the construction of its “first of its kind” protein factory, targeted as the world’s largest non-animal protein farm to be built in 2022. The factory will have an initial capacity to produce 10,000 metric tons of mycoprotein per annum, the equivalent of more than five cow’s worth of protein every hour.

After pulling the plug on its grocery business, Zomato has rolled back its nutraceutical business in less than six months of its launch.


US-Australian alt dairy startup, Change Foods, has set up R&D operations inside BioCube, one of the most decorated life science incubators in Silicon Valley. The move marks the next step towards commercialization for precision fermentation specialist Change Foods, as it looks to develop its animal-free dairy cheese.


The US President of KFC Kevin Hochman announced that he plans to propel the fast-food chicken chain into the plant-based sector. During a recent interview with Bloomberg, the Kentucky Fried Chicken executive revealed that he aims to incorporate plant-based foods into the company’s nationwide menu, providing vegan alternatives for a rapidly growing meat-free consumer base.


Olam Food Ingredients (OFI) plans to develop a new dairy processing facility in New Zealand. The facility will produce high-quality dairy ingredients and support innovation capability.


Increasing the number of plants in cities provides a big and rapid boost to biodiversity, according to a four-year study in Melbourne, Australia. The findings add to the evidence that the greening measures many cities are starting to take can make a huge difference to wildlife, in addition to their other benefits.


While a number of companies are trying to build cooking robots for the home, the closest thing to a do-everything cooking appliance on the market today is the Thermomix. And nowadays, it seems a lot of homes have a Thermomix, at least according to a recent post by the company.


Producing proteins from single-cell microorganisms is an exciting and fast-growing area in the food industry. But as Fred van de Velde, NIZO’s Expertise Group Leader Protein Functionality explains to René Floris, NIZO Food Research Division Manager and member of the FoodNavigator expert advisory panel, companies that have developed a microbial protein have a long and complicated journey to turn it into a useable, marketable and profitable food ingredient.


Empire State Development (ESD) on Wednesday announced the 20 finalists selected to participate in the third year of the Grow-NY competition: