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The Encounter Weekly : 9-15 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:

In the latest sign that the tech industry is pivoting toward climate and sustainability, Atlantic Food Labs — an offshoot of the Berlin fund Atlantic Labs headed by long-time tech investor Christophe F. Maire — is relaunching as FoodLabs, with a dedicated €100 million food tech fund to invest in food, health and sustainability startups.

American actor and entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher is the latest Hollywood celebrity to invest in Israeli cultivated meat technology, recently announcing that he is partnering with startup MeaTech to accelerate the commercialization of its cell-based beef, chicken and pork products.

At the tail-end of last month, US-based startup Burro, which makes farm robots that aid human workers, announced a $10.9 million series A round of funding co-led by VC firm S2G Ventures and Toyota Ventures.

Do Good Foods, a newly launched company formed to turn upcycled food waste into feed for animals intended for human consumption, has started operations backed by $169 million from asset manager Nuveen.

TrusTrace, a Stockholm, Sweden-based software company with a platform for supply chain transparency and product traceability within the fashion, food and retail industries, raised $6m in Series A funding.

Oslo, Norway-headquartered N2 Applied has raised €15 million ($17.3 million) in investment grants from the EU for its tech that converts animal manure into sustainable fertilizer and traps greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

Meituan shares surged over 8% on Monday despite the food delivery giant being slapped with a $500 million antitrust fine, as the penalty was not as large as expected.

Perkier, the UK’s fastest-growing healthy snack bar brand, has completed a highly successful crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs. The company raised £1 million — 250% more than its original target of £400,000 — from over 300 investors.

Saudi Arabia-based food tech startup Siwar has raised SR28 million ($7.45 million) in a Series A round, led by travel and tourism operator Seera Group, with participation from other undisclosed investors.

Cala, the French developer of an autonomous pasta-making robot, has received €5.5 million in a round led by Backed VC. The company will use the funds to grow its restaurant locations in France and expand farther into Europe, as well as add new members to its team. Cala has raised €6.5 million in total funding.

Better Brand CEO and founder Aimee Yang wants to make it safe for carb and calorie-obsessed foodies to eat bagels. The Los Angeles startup is focused on modified enzyme technology, which helps the brand increase shelf life stability, enhance flavor and texture of the bagel. The company announced Thursday it raised $2.5 million three months after launching.

Lahore-headquartered business-to-business fresh produce marketplace Tazah has raised USD 2 million in a pre-seed round co-led by Global Founders Capital and Zayn Capital.

Rockstart, global accelerator-VC, announces its co-investment in CarbonSpace, a Rockstart portfolio company. The €900k seed round was led by The Yield Lab Europe with Rockstart as co-investor.

Fargo software firm expands digital infrastructure reach with an acquisition, working to provide industry with a data-based approach to commodity marketing.

The London-based Vegan food delivery startup Planty has recently raised €770,000 from existing investor Veg Capital as well as Kale United, prominent angel investors and through crowdfunding. We already reported about their first €180K in seed funding in September of 2020.

ResQ, which does end-to-end equipment repairs for over 4,000 restaurant groups — from Taco Bell to Tim Hortons — has raised a $39 million Series A. The capital, which includes investments from Homebrew, Inovia Capital and Golden Ventures, comes just months after the startup announced its $7.5 million seed round.

Kingdom Supercultures, the New York startup specialising in microbial cultures, is gearing up to unlock new plant-based foods and drinks with its “Supercultures”. Securing $25 million in a Series A round, the company will use the proceeds to expand its portfolio of ingredients.

Newly launched plant-based seafood startup Monkeys by the Sea has closed its pre-seed funding round with $500,000 for the roll-out of its first products. The Dutch startup plans to release its microalgae-powered vegan tuna and breaded fish alternatives, as well as double down on R&D to become a global player in the burgeoning alt-seafood segment.

OptoScale, a Norwegian startup that’s building monitoring tech for fish farms, has raised $4.1 million funding in its first venture round – six years after launching.

ReshaMandi, a business-to-business marketplace focused on silk products, has raised $30 million, or about Rs 225 crore, in Series A funding round led by Creation Investments.

Orchard management startup Hectre has raised $3.5 million to help fund its growth and take on new staff. The company’s latest technology, Spectre, uses artificial technology to provide data for growers on fruit size and colour and helps estimate crop yields.

Agritech start-up Farmbot has banked $2.7 million, including $1 million from Telstra, as it races to install thousands of water monitors in rural Australia and ramp up its global expansion plans ahead of a planned Series B raise.

Relocalize, a North American food-tech company, today announced the closing of a $1.4M pre-seed round to fund the development of the first ever automated food micro-factory.

Dutch foodtech startup Orbisk secures €2.4 million in EU grant funding for its AI-based technology to fight food waste.

The Real Good Foods Company, a manufacturer of grain-free and better-for-you frozen entrees, plans to go public, according to documents filed Tuesday evening with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company plans to raise $86.25 million in its IPO, after having initially filed a confidential registry statement in July.

Data Snapshot: The world’s top-funded Agribusiness Marketplaces startup in the first half of this year was in Indonesia, reflecting the Southeast Asian country’s growing presence in the global tech and VC ecosystem.

Agritech start-up Farmbot has banked $2.7 million, including $1 million from Telstra, as it races to install thousands of water monitors in rural Australia and ramp up its global expansion plans ahead of a planned Series B raise.

Relocalize, a North American food-tech company, today announced the closing of a $1.4M pre-seed round to fund the development of the first ever automated food micro-factory. The round is led by grocery retail and industry leaders including senior executives from Slack, Emerson, ex-Sobeys and an undisclosed USA-based retail chain.

Swiss flavours and fragrance firm Givaudan has struck a deal to acquire US-based natural colour company DDW, as part of its broader growth strategy for its Taste & Wellbeing business, writes Neill Barston.

Bringing technology to the business of grain buying and tracking has attracted some major players. In 2019, ADM and Cargill formed a joint venture called GrainBridge aimed at providing the service. Bushel, a Fargo-based company, was working in the same business using a slightly different approach. Bushel announced today, Oct. 12, it has acquired GrainBridge.


News & Trends:

FYTO, a US agtech company producing aquatic plants in a controlled and automated environment is growing protein with robots to decarbonize agriculture. FYTO’s crops, which include a type of duckweed called lemna, can be used as a protein-rich alternative for traditional animal feed ingredients, plant-based foods, biofertilizers, and soil amendments, and can be produced nearly anywhere in the world with minimal human intervention.

It is estimated that one in three people in the UK are now buying milk substitutes - largely due to cow's milk's huge carbon footprint - producing almost three times the greenhouse gas emissions of any plant-based alternative. But Cornwall's Trewithen Dairy are aiming next year to launch Britain’s first carbon-neutral milk in a bid to encourage Brits to ditch plant milks and back the UK dairy industry.

World leaders must do more to prevent the destruction of nature, business leaders have warned before a summit in China that aims to draw up a draft UN agreement for biodiversity.

World cereal production is expected to lag behind global consumption despite hitting an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). World food commodity prices rose in September, led by tightening supply conditions and robust demand for staples such as wheat and palm oil.

N2 Applied, the Norway-headquartered agricultural technology company, has announced the results of sustainable fertilizer testing that show practically all ammonia emissions were successfully trapped in converted cow manure when applied to fields.

United Nations human rights experts have called on Italy to take ‘decisive action’ to end the exploitation of foreign migrant workers in agriculture and other sectors and address their ‘precarious legal status’ as Europol enforcement action highlights the problem of forced labour across European food production.

A recent study has come out in favour of mandatory front-of-pack labelling (FOPL) policies – for both directing consumer choice and encouraging the food industry to reformulate products.

Cereal Partners UK (CPUK), the maker of Nestlé breakfast cereals, says it is removing an estimated 59 million teaspoons of sugar and 3 million teaspoons of salt from its products, as it continues its staggered ‘salami slice’ reformulation approach to improve the nutritional profile of its cereals.

Austrian startup Revo Foods produces plant-based fish products, but not the formed and fried items that are becoming increasingly common in grocery store aisles. Revo is making structurally sophisticated products: sheets of smoked salmon, salmon fillets, and sushi cuts with a realistic look and feel.

DMK Group, the largest dairy cooperative in Germany, is to move into the plant-based segment. It made the announcement at ANUGA, the world’s largest food and beverage trade fair.

Danish plant-based brand GRÖNT is expanding rapidly across Northern Europe. The brand’s success can be chalked up to its unique approach to the category. FoodNavigator hears more.

Modern Kitchen has just launched as the newest alternative cream cheese label on the market, and it’s made from real dairy proteins developed by Perfect Day. Coming in three flavours, the new cream cheese line is lactose-free, hormone-free and cholesterol-free, but still boasts the creamy taste and texture consumers love about conventionally produced cream cheese.

Global snack giant Mondelez International has revealed that it is taking a new approach dubbed ‘humaning’ in its marketing and product innovation post-COVID, arguing ‘empathy and localisation’ are needed to win over consumers.

After making a public commitment to regenerative agriculture food supply chains last month, Switzerland-based food giant Nestlé has launched egg and shrimp alternatives, further expanding its portfolio of plant-based foods available to consumers.

Last month we at Aqua-Spark released our first Aqua-Insights report. Many investors are seeing that sustainable aquaculture could be a big part of our future food system, and that it is closely aligned with their ESG goals.

Foodetective, the resto tech start-up, has begun a significant partnership with Coca‑Cola HBC Switzerland, the franchised bottler of The Coca‑Cola Company.

One of Europe’s fastest-growing plant-based companies, Heura, has entered retail giant Walmart with an expansion into Mexico. The Spanish plant-based meat company will launch into more than 220 stores across the country.

Hormel Foods has partnered with Californian food tech start-up The Better Meat Co to bring products made using mycoprotein and other plant-based proteins to market.

Today the USDA and Tufts University announced a $10 million award to be distributed over a 5 year period to develop an Institute for Cellular Agriculture, a flagship American cultivated protein research center of excellence. The award is part of a $146 million investment announced by the USDA on October 6th by its National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Sustainable Agricultural Systems program.


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