The Encounter Weekly 16-22 October, 2021

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




IPOs, M&As & Investments:


Rebel Foods, the world’s largest internet restaurant company, announced that it has raised $175 million in a Series F round led by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), with participation from existing investors Coatue and Evolvence. This round catapults the company to a unicorn status with a valuation of $1.4 billion.


US carbon trading platform CIBO Technologies has raised $30 million in Series C funding. The company indicated that the funds will be used to boost the commercialization of its monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) tool for soil carbon.


Berlin-based on-demand grocery delivery and dark store operator Gorillas has grabbed “close to” $1 billion in Series C funds, in the latest sign of the searing investor interest driving activity in urban food shopping apps across the continent and beyond.

Coffee tech start-up Cometeer has secured $35 million in a Series B round, bringing the total raised to date by the company to $100 million.


There’s no shortage of innovation in the synbio space, but there’s a gap when it comes to startups’ manufacturing capacity to bring novel sustainable products to life. Culture Biosciences, which is on a mission to fill this gap with its cloud bioreactor platform, just secured $80 million a Series B round.

Joes Future Food, the first food tech in China to produce cell-based meat, has secured 70 million RMB (US$10.9 million) in its Series A round. Proceeds will go towards ongoing R&D, scaling its technology, and to build its first pilot production line for cultivated pork.

Kenneth Obiajulu and Wale Omotimirin launched Agricorp, a tech-enabled agronomic services startup, three years ago to help Nigeria’s spice farmers overcome issues common across Africa’s agriculture sector. They have recently raised 17.5m funding.

Onato, a data driven B2B platform for fresh produce, emerged out of stealth and announced a seed financing of USD 2.2 million. Onato is building a technology platform for India’s USD 100+ billion fruits and vegetables (F&V) industry.

FarMart, a B2B SaaS-led food supply platform, has raised $10 million funding led by Matrix Partners India, with participation from Innoven Capital and existing investors.

Vegan meal delivery startup Allplants has nabbed £38 million (~$52 million) in Series B funding led by Draper Esprit to serve up more tasty plant-based, heat-at-home meals direct to U.K. consumers.

C3, a Miami FL-based food-tech platform, raised $10M in funding. The round was led by Lurra Capital AG.

Plant-based meat producer Abbot’s Butcher has announced the undisclosed closing of a successful Series A funding round. Joining the round were Hollywood actors Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson.

BIOMILQ announced that they’ve closed their Series A financing round with $21 million. This round of funding will help BIOMILQ to bring its production processes to scale.

Agronomics has led a Seed Funding Round for California Cultured, a food-tech company which utilises cell culture technology to produce cocoa products like cocoa powder, chocolate, cocoa butter and flavanols in order to circumvent the serious issues arising from cocoa production such as deforestation and child slave labor.

Rubio Impact Ventures has closed its second fund with €110m, almost 40% more than its initial target. It now manages €150m of impact capital, four times more than this time last year.

UK vegan restaurant chain Neat Burger, backed by F1 star Lewis Hamilton, has raised $7 million in a funding round led by Rajeev Misra, CEO of Softbank Investment Advisors.


US biomaterials company Bucha Bio has raised $550,000 in funding to scale up production of its bio-textile product called Mirai.

Washington, Iowa based startup Continuum Ag has raised a $475,000 investment round led by Clean Energy Trust. Additional investors in the round include Ag Startup Engine and Ag Ventures Alliance.

Egyptian startup ILLA, that provides full-stack delivery solutions to corporates and small businesses in the FMCG sector, announced the close of a $2 million funding round to scale across Egypt.

Vertical Oceans, a startup that grows sustainable shrimp in huge “aqua towers” closed a $3.5 million seed round. The operation was led by Khosla Ventures and with the participation of SOSV.

Algama Foods, the French startup expert in the replacement of animal proteins by microalgae, is the winner of a €2 million grant from the FEAMP 2020 Blue Economy Window.

Traceless materials, a female-founded startup that developed a holistically sustainable alternative material for plastic, just received a €2.42 million grant and equity investment from the European Innovation Council (EIC).

Swift Prepared Foods, a subsidiary of JBS USA, is acquiring Sunnyvalley Smoked Meats for $90 million. Sunnyvalley, which produces smoked bacon, turkey and ham for retail and wholesale customers, has gross annual revenues of $150 million and employs over 300 people.

Today Instacart announced they had acquired Caper AI, a smart cart and grocery checkout technology company. Instacart confirmed to Techcrunch they paid $350 million for the company.

Mexican grocery e-commerce company Jüsto announced it has acquired Freshmart, the main online supermarket in Peru. The announcement of Freshmart’s acquisition comes a few days after Jüsto joined forces with Colombian delivery unicorn Rappi to offer a better grocery delivery service in Mexico.

 

News & Trends:


California-based Eat Just’s plant-based egg products has received approval from the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) expert panel on nutrition. The milestone sets the groundwork for an initial launch of JUST Egg in 2022.


Impossible Foods has confirmed plans to launch in Britain after applying for regulatory approval.


Vertical farming firm AeroFarms and Spring Valley Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), have agreed to call off their planned merger, effective immediately, the companies said in a statement. The deal, announced in March, would have valued the new company at $1.2 billion.


The Coca-Cola Company, Changchun Meihe Science & Technology and UPM have announced the first planned commercialization of new tech to create plant-based monoethylene glycol (bMEG): which can replace traditional oil-based MEG in PET bottles.


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) just invested in the cell-based meat industry for the first time: The government organization announced that it will award $10 million to Tufts University over the next five years to launch the National Insitute for Cellular Agriculture – the United States’ first cultivated protein research facility.


Hazel Technologies Inc., a USDA-supported technology company delivering new solutions for fresh produce to extend shelf-life, increase sales, and combat food waste, announces a partnership with Calavo Growers Inc., one of the leading grower-shippers of fresh Hawaiian papaya, tomato, and Hass avocado in the world.


Two North Carolina companies, analytics leader SAS and venture investment firm Pappas Capital, are joining forces to help advance the state as a global leader in agricultural technology.


Cultivated fat maker Mission Barns partnered with California-based Silva Sausage to create a plant protein sausage using cultivated fat. Through the partnership, the companies completed a scaled-up manufacturing run of the new Mission Chorizo Sausage.

Rare sugar maker Bonumose is partnering with Hershey to expand into a new $27.7 million facility for R&D and manufacturing near Charlottesville, Virginia. The facility is expected to create 64 new jobs.


ADM, a global leader in nutrition that powers many of the world’s top food, beverage, and health and wellness brands, today released its second annual list of global consumer trends.

Climate change is the "single biggest health threat facing humanity," and governments must "act with urgency" to tackle the crisis, a World Health Organization (WHO) special report warns.

​​Sustainable agriculture will not be achieved by one universal solution. A meta-analysis shows that the current focus on no-till farming does not achieve the desired results. A sustainable system of agriculture must be designed for local needs and in dialog with local farmers.

Jack in the Box Inc. , one of the nation's leading QSR chains, has partnered with Impossible Foods to test its plant-based beef patty from October 18, 2021 through December 12, 2021 at participating Phoenix locations.

The future of agriculture is set to be showcased at Cop26 as Glasgow welcomes its very first vertical farm to showcase how the new technology can save space, reduce pesticides and cut down food miles.

Innova Market Insights has published its Top Ten Trends for 2022, which reveal that global sustainability has overtaken personal health as consumers’ biggest concern.

HelloFresh has announced a move into Italy -- famous for its fierce tradition of gastronomic heritage. But the meal-kit giant says the country ‘offers great conditions to expand’.

Olam Food Ingredients' spices business has partnered with food safety tech provider Agri-Neo to develop pasteurized dried onions that meet USDA national organic standards. Agri-Neo's Neo-Pure nonthermal pasteurization technology uses a blend of organic actives to eliminate pathogens while maintaining the ingredient's natural flavor, color and aroma, according to the company.

Grocery shoppers are likely to place a premium on food and beverages that promote their personal well-being or offer environmental benefits in 2022, according to predictions released Monday by Whole Foods Market.

Plant-based food has been trending upward with more sales overall, more product options online and on shelves, and more categories. As a growing number of products become available to retailers, it's clear that this segment is getting more popular with consumers of all kinds of eating habits.

A collaboration between the UK government and the F&B industry dubbed the Made Smarter adoption program is expanding to help small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) food and drink manufacturers adopt digital technology.

Pork producer Danish Crown has been forced to back-track on its company-developed eco-label the ‘climate-controlled pig’ as Denmark pays increasing attention to climate labels amid allegations of greenwashing.

Sacco System, an international biotech company for the food, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical industries, and Döhler, global producer, marketer and provider of technology-driven natural ingredients, ingredient systems and integrated solutions for the food and beverage industry, have announced a strategic partnership to develop new innovative, clean label and 100% natural solutions for the plant-based dairy alternatives food market.

This week, alternative protein startup Black Sheep Foods’ plant-based lamb made its debut in San Francisco restaurants. The launch is a big step for the Black Sheep team, which wants to offer more variety to plant-based meat-eaters.

Grocery shoppers are likely to place a premium on food and beverages that promote their personal well-being or offer environmental benefits in 2022 such as alcohol-free cocktails, according to predictions released Monday by Whole Foods Market.

A collaboration between the UK government and the F&B industry dubbed the Made Smarter adoption program is expanding to help small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) food and drink manufacturers adopt digital technology.

Sacco System, an international biotech company for the food, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical industries, and Döhler, global producer, marketer and provider of technology-driven natural ingredients, ingredient systems and integrated solutions for the food and beverage industry, have announced a strategic partnership to develop new innovative, clean label and 100% natural solutions for the plant-based dairy alternatives food market.