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The Encounter Weekly 18-24 July

Stay up to date with the most recent news regarding the food tech industry and sustainability, and this week's summary of the most relevant investments and IPOs

IPOs, M&As & Investments:


While working as the chief operating officer of a pizza chain in Vietnam, Taku Tanaka saw how difficult it is for restaurants to connect with farmers. Tanaka founded Kamereo, B2B platform with its own warehouse and last-mile delivery network, to focus on those problems. Based in Ho Chi Minh City, the company announced Monday that it has raised $4.6 million co-led by food conglomerate CPF Group, Quest Ventures and Genesia Ventures. The capital will be used for hiring, building a new warehouse management system, user interface upgrades and expanding into Hanoi next year.

Pivot Bio announced on Monday that it had raised $430 million led by venture firm DCVC and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings. The new investment brings the agricultural technology startup’s funding to more than $600 million at a valuation of nearly $2 billion.

The Chicago-based indoor, smart hydroponic company Rise Gradens raised $9 million in an oversubscribed Series A round, led by TELUS Ventures, with existing investors True Ventures and Amazon Alexa Fund and new investor Listen Ventures joining in. The company has a total of $13 million in venture-backed investments since Rise was founded in 2017, founder and CEO Hank Adams told TechCrunch

ClimateAi, a pioneer in applying artificial intelligence to climate risk modeling, today announced the launch of its Enterprise Climate Planning (ECP) platform. The ClimateAi ECP platform offers enterprises actionable insights around climate risk tailored to their supply chains. The launch coincides with the closing of a $12 million Series A round led by AI-focused Radical Ventures, with participation from Finistere Ventures and Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition Ventures to meet mounting market demand for ClimateAi solutions.

FoodTech & Biotech

Nature’s Fynd, a food company growing sustainable protein from a microbe with origins in the geothermal springs of Yellowstone National Park, announced today it has raised $350 million in a Series C financing - bringing the company’s total financing to over $500 million. The round was led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2* and joined by new investors including Blackstone Strategic Partners, Balyasny Asset Management, Hillhouse Investment, EDBI, SK Inc. and Hongkou with continued support from existing investors.

Magi Richani’s Nobell Foods, announced a $75 million Series B round of funding as it launched out of stealth today, backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and other investors. In total, it has raised $100 million so far. For more than four years, the company has pioneered a new way to make dairy products from plants. The key lies in casein, a protein unique to milk, which the startup now grows in soybeans.

Sensory data company Aromyx announced tuesday that it has raised a $10 million Series A round of funding led by Rabo Food&Ag Innovation Fund and SOZO Ventures, with participation from existing investors Ulu Ventures, Radicle Growth, Capital Energy and Merus Capital.

Reduced, a Copenhagen-based foodtech startup just closed a €385k pre-seed round, which was led by Impact Capital Partners with Rockstart as co-investor. The startup plans to use the funding to build a production facility for a new product line of natural flavor enhancers, which they have been testing at the Technological Institute of Denmark.

Shiok Meats has closed a bridge financing involving several major food companies. While the cell-cultured seafood startup didn’t disclose how much it has raised, it said the round takes its total funding to date to $30 million.

Vevolution, the London-based fintech platform connecting alt-protein startups to investors, has just released new fundraising data. Looking at more than 126 investment rounds, startups were on average seeking $1 million to scale up. Together, these plant-based and cell-based startups are looking to raise $130 million in capital on Vevolution’s democratised fundraising platform.


Restaurant Tech & Retail Tech

Halla, the AI-powered production recommendation service for grocery retail, announced today that it has raised $4.5 million in Series A1 funding, led by Food Retail Ventures. This brings the total amount raised by Halla to $8.5 million.

It took SoftBank several years, but the Japanese investment giant is now ready to bet on India’s food delivery market. Swiggy said on Tuesday it has closed a $1.25 billion financing round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Prosus.

Choco, the technology company building a connected global food system, announced today that it has raised $100 million in Series B funding. The round is led by New York-based growth equity firm Left Lane Capital, who is joined by venture capital and private equity firm.

Collectiv Food, the next generation food supply business transforming how fresh products are accessed and distributed within cities, has secured €13.9 million in its Series A funding round. Sweden’s VNV Global, Singapore’s VisVires New Protein (VVNP) co-led the round. Octopus Ventures, Norrsken VC, and existing investors Partech and Mustard also participated.

Rappi, a Colombian on-demand delivery startup, has raised “over” $500 million at a $5.25 billion valuation in a Series F round led by T. Rowe Price, the company announced late Friday.

The San Francisco-based Zenput raised $27 million in Series C financing, led by Golub Capital, to continue developing its application to automate operation procedures like tracking food safety, public health protocols and changing market conditions. The company aims to ensure and facilitate food safety compliance across thousands of restaurants.

Seattle-based food automation startup Picnic added an additional $4.2 million in funding to a Series A round that previously raised $16.3 million, the company’s CEO announced this week. Clayton Wood said in a LinkedIn post that the cash will be used to grow and expand Picnic’s team of experts and commercial operations.

Hospitality technology startup Bbot has raised $15 million in a Series A round. The investment was led by CRV and will enable the company to continue building its order and payments platform as well as help external developers use the technology via a Bbot app store. The Series A funding comes on top of $4 million in seed funding announced by Bbot in late January.


Private equity firm Paine Schwartz Partners has acquired cold-pressured, organic beverages manufacturer Suja Life from Goldman Sachs Asset Management and co-investors. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Three high-profile acquisitions put the spotlight on how PepsiCo is shaping its beverage portfolio for the future: tapping into a new consumption model with SodaStream; eying up the opportunity for protein and sport with CytoSport, and building its presence in the fast-growing energy category with Rockstar

Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC has acquired an undisclosed minority stake in Brazilian biological agricultural inputs company Biotrop Solucoes Biologicas, both companies said in a statement on Monday.


News & Trends:

The Yield Lab Asia Pacific has announced the eight startups selected to participate in its Global Aquaculture Challenge (GAC) 2021 – a non-profit accelerator programme and competition. The cohort includes: Feedvax (Argentina), Genufeed (Israel), Jala (Indonesia), Salmokine (Chile) Seawater Solutions (UK), TeOra (Singapore), Wittaya Aqua (Canada) and Xylome (USA):

Instacart has signed a multi-year deal with tech company Fabric to pair its software and robotics with Instacart technology and shoppers to power a new fulfillment process within dedicated warehouses and existing retailer locations.

Taking another step toward its Promise of zero fruit loss by 2025, Dole announced its partnership with Ananas Anam, the London-based company behind Piñatex®, an innovative, vegan and natural alternative to leather made from sustainably sourced pineapple leaf fibres.

Sustainable urban agriculture pioneer Gotham Greens is expanding its fresh foods line to include two new plant-based, dairy-free salad dressings. Celebrating the launch of its Vegan Ranch and Vegan Caesar, the mission-driven business will also be donating profits to hunger relief efforts throughout its birthplace of New York City.

Canada’s The Very Good Food Company has announced a new distribution partnership to support its global expansion plans. Starting with the UK, an e-commerce platform will be launched in August 2021 for its core brands; The Very Good Butchers and The Very Good Cheese Co.

Researchers are exploring how the route an aroma takes to the olfactory system – through the nose or the back of the throat – influences the person’s response to the scent. They are also examining how information about a scent – such as knowing its name – impacts perception. Scientists at The Ohio State University, US, hope to eventually use this information to enhance flavor development to make healthier and nutritious food more appealing to the senses.

New developments in 3D printing, automation and additive manufacturing are changing how food gets prepared. In one case the improvements are to help patients with swallowing problems; in another case, we see a new twist on fast food.

McDonald’s is piloting a reusable coffee cup scheme in partnership with TerraCycle’s reusable packaging service, Loop, to reduce single-use waste to landfills. In a global first for the fast-food giant, six McDonald’s locations in England will introduce returnable cups that are cleaned and reused.

Butter Buds, a business specializing in dairy and non-dairy concentrates, has developed an oil-based solution that allows manufacturers to replace block butter in many formulations, such as bakery products.

The chicken sandwich wars were last year's news. In 2021, the poultry battle royale is over plant-based chicken. The two leading plant-based meat companies, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, both said this month that they are launching new chicken products. Beyond Chicken Tenders were launched at about 400 restaurants nationwide on July 8. And the next week, Impossible Foods told Bloomberg it would be debuting chicken nuggets this fall.

The world’s largest economies are still not showing enough leadership on food sustainability, a new index shows. In the latest Food Sustainability Index (FSI), compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN), experts concluded there was “room for improvement” for G20 nations to address food waste, sustainable agriculture and nutrition.

Blue California joins with biotech company Conagen and announces the commercialization of high-purity, fermentation-derived nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). This is another example of how innovation in dietary supplemental nutrition is advancing. As, so does the growth of global vitamin, mineral and supplement (VMS) launches. Mintel reported a growth of 67% of global VMS launches in Apr 2020 - Mar 2021.

With the current state of things it will be impossible to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement - Helena Wright, policy director at FAIRR reports that nature-based solutions are actions to restore natural ecosystems. These solutions have the potential to reduce emissions by more than a third of what is needed to stabilise warming to below 2 °C by 2030. Looking at the land footprint of plant protein compared to meat, shifting to more sustainable diets could be considered the ultimate “nature-based solution”.

Farmers, academics and environmental groups in Scotland have taken part in an independent inquiry to help reach a consensus on achieving net-zero agriculture by 2045. Over the past two years the separate bodies have swapped their usual polarised positions to contribute views to an independent panel called the Farming for 1.5° Inquiry.

Pooling together some of the latest new product development launches reveals a hot trend for snacking bars, with both General Mills and Fulfil launching new SKUs. Elsewhere, a gin has been developed in London flavoured with marine and coastal botanicals, and a new tie-up sees sustainable ready meals reach UK audiences.

NDrip has signed an exclusive agreement with Amir Marketing and Investments in Agriculture Ltd. (TASE: AMRK) for distribution of its smart irrigation system. The NDrip Connect system enables farmers and growers to obtain forecasts and precise irrigation recommendations, and to monitor nitrogen levels in the field, without the need for calibration.

In recent years the meaning of ice cream has taken a turn, mirroring the changing eating preferences of Americans. According to Gallup, while just 5% of US citizens are vegetarian or vegan, nearly 25% have cut back on eating meat. What’s more, 41% of Americans have tried plant-based meats. And an estimated half of Americans buy dairy-free milk.

Uber has more than doubled the number of cities where it delivers groceries, marking the first major expansion of the new service since its launch last year. The company’s on-demand and scheduled grocery delivery is now available in 400 cities, including key markets like New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

According to a new study, the Amazon rainforest is releasing more carbon dioxide than it is absorbing. Each year, a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions are being released. What was previously a carbon sink is now speeding up the climate crisis.


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