The Encounter Weekly: 7-12 August

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




IPOs, M&As & Investments:


Cargill and Continental Grain reached an agreement to buy Sanderson Farms for $203 per share in cash, representing a total equity value of $4.53 billion for the chicken producer. The two buyers plan to combine Sanderson Farms with Continental Grain subsidiary Wayne Farms and create a new privately held chicken company. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval, and is expected to close at the end of 2021 or beginning of 2022. Wayne Farms CEO Clint Rivers will lead the combined company.

Swedish vertical farming company Kalera has agreed to acquire German counterpart &ever in a deal worth €130 million ($153 million). Under the terms of the agreement, &ever shareholders will receive €21.6 million in cash plus 13% of Kalera’s shares. The acquisition of &ever will allow Kalera to instantly expand its international footprint.

CropX, an Israel-based farm management software platform provider, has acquired Dacom Farm Intelligence to expand into Europe. This acquisition represents a major consolidation of agriculture digital twin capabilities, acres serviced, and geographic datasets. It also doubles CropX’s team and significantly increases its number of farms and total service area, with more than 20,000 new farms in over 50 countries.

Shiok Meats, a company best known for its developments in cultured seafood, has acquired a 90 percent steak in Gaia Foods, according to Tech in Asia, which broke the news. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

GreenLight Biosciences Inc. is combining with a special-purpose acquisition company to go public in a deal that values the RNA-technology firm at about $1.5 billion, the companies said. A developer of mRNA vaccines to fight Covid-19 and other diseases, GreenLight is simultaneously working on RNA-based sustainable alternatives to pesticides and herbicides. By reproducing cell growth without actually using live cells, the Boston-based company hopes to address the challenge of making vaccines and other RNA products at scale.


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Trendyol, an e-commerce platform based in Turkey, has raised $1.5 billion in a massive funding round that values the company at $16.5 billion. General Atlantic, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Princeville Capital and sovereign wealth funds, ADQ (UAE) and Qatar Investment Authority co-led the round.

80 Acres Farms just announced the close of a $160 million Series B round led by US growth equity firm General Atlantic. Other investors in the round included Siemens Financial Services as well as Barclays, Blue Earth, Taurus Investment Holdings, and General Atlantic’s impact-focused BeyondNetZero team.

London-based Butternut Box, a leading UK and European direct-to-consumer fresh dog food brand, today announced that it has raised around €34.1 million in its latest financing round led by the European fund L Catterton.

The Finnish startup Innomost raises €5 million to bring their birch bark innovation into new markets as a sustainable alternative for environmentally harmful ingredients in consumer products. The funding round was led by Metsä Spring with Innovestor and angel investors joining the round.

Super Coffee's parent company raised $106 million in a Series C funding round, bringing its total valuation to over $500 million, according to Bloomberg. Kitu Life, which makes the better-for-you coffee brand, will use the funds to expand product distribution as well as increase brand-building efforts, CEO Jim DeCicco told the publication.

WoodSpoon, the New York City-based online marketplace where home chefs can make their food available for ordering and on-demand delivery, announced Tueday that it has raised a $14 million Series A round of funding. Restaurant Brands International (RBI) led the round with participation from World Trade Ventures, Victor Lazarte and other individual investors.

Bite ninja, a remote hiring technology platform for restaurants, has announced Wednesday that the company received $675,000 in pre-seed funding led by Y Combinator, AgFunder and Manta Ray.

Proteon Pharmaceuticals has secured an investment of €21 million to accelerate the commercialisation of its bacteriophage products, which aim to reduce the reliance on antibiotics within aquaculture and livestock farming.

Cirkul, a beverage technology company, raised $30 million in a Series B round this week. The round was led by AF Ventures and also saw participation from SC.Holdings, Siddhi Capital, and several other private investors. This brings the Cirkul’s total funding to $41.6 million.


Sydney, Australia-based Fable Food is the latest plant-based food startup to announce funding. The company, which uses mushrooms in its meat alternatives, has raised $6.5 million AUD (about $4.8 million USD) in a seed round led by Blackbird Ventures

 

News & Trends:


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations’ climate science research group, concluded in a major report that it is “unequivocal” that humans have warmed the skies, waters, and lands, and that “widespread and rapid changes” have already occurred in every inhabited region across the globe. Many of these changes are irreversible within our lifetimes.


AeroFarms, leader in indoor vertical farming, announced its plan to expand to the Midwest region as part of a project with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the St. Louis Controlled Environment Agriculture Coalition (STLCEA) to demonstrate innovative strategies to minimize the environmental footprint of indoor agriculture. Furthermore, the company also announced an official partnership with Nokia Bell Labs to further develop the technology capabilities of its industrial-scale indoor ag operation. Nokia Bell Labs, will contribute its autonomous drone control and orchestration systems to the partnership as well as imaging and sensor tech and new AI capabilities.


Growing food in space is an important component of long-term space missions. But the benefits aren’t only practical, as two experiments currently running on the International Space Station (ISS) aim to show. Astronauts on the ISS have grown lettuce, radishes, chili peppers, and more. But the challenges of physically growing crops on the station — in terms of light, moisture, keeping plants healthy, and so on — is only part of the picture of food in space. The other part is understanding the psychology of eating, what makes food appealing to astronauts, and how fresh food could improve astronaut’s mental well-being as well as their physical health.


Pranav Tiwari and Dhruv Sawhney had one thought when they wanted to start up after working at Ola and Zomato Hyperpure - there are thriving ecosystems for entrepreneurs in many sectors around the world that provide access to the best of talent, working capital, and resources. But for the farmer, there is no such organised ecosystem available.This led them to start nurture.farm, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UPL, out of Bengaluru in 2020. The