The Encounter Weekly: Sept 18-24, 2021

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




IPOs, M&As & Investments:


Total funding for leading ag-tech startup Iron Ox is $98 million, including the most recent Series C round of $53 million led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Blue White Robotics, a platform that provides Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) that enables farms to run themselves autonomously, announced $37M in Series B funding, led by New York-based global private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners.

Aerial imagery and agronomic intelligence platform Intelinair has closed a $20 million Series B round of funding in its second-ever external round of funding. Data-focused growth-stage investor Regulator Group invested alongside biosciences firm Scientia Ventures, farmland-owning family office Takiff, and Canada’s SDMC Ag

Advanced Farm Technologies, a farm robotics company based in California, has closed a $25 million Series B round of funding led by Catapult Ventures. The round also included participation from all of Advanced Farm Technologies’ Series A investors: tractor maker Kubota, automotive giant Yamaha Motor, and Impact Ventures.

EarthOptics has closed its Series A investment round, raising an additional $10.3 million in funding. This funding will enable further growth and expansion across more farmland of its patent-pending soil mapping and machine learning technologies.

Steward, a crowdfunding platform aimed at financing small and medium-scale diversified farms, has raised $8.8 million in Series A funding. The round was co-led by Neglected Climate Opportunities — the VC arm of the Grantham Foundation — alongside impact investors Ponderosa Ventures and Tripple.

Eat Just Inc., the San Francisco-based maker of plant-based egg products, raised $97 million in new funding to advance the company’s work on cultured meat.

Alt dairy startup Ripple Foods has raised $60m in an oversubscribed Series E round that takes its cumulative funding to almost $250m, and will help the plant-based firm enter new categories, channels, and overseas markets, and extend its proprietary protein extraction technology beyond peas, says CEO Laura Flanagan.

New York vegan cheese brand NUMU has announced its Series A funding, co-led by Unovis Asset Management and Clear Current Capital. The funding will be used for marketing, product development, and increased distribution.

HumanCo, a holding company for sustainable, better-for-you consumer packaged goods brands, announced the completion of a celebrity-studded $35 million bridge round that brings total funding to $50 million.

Berlin-based Formo announced it had raised $50 million in Series A funding. The investment in the maker of animal-free cheese was led by EQT Ventures, with Elevat3 Capital and Lowercarbon Capital.

Sophie’s Kitchen has secured a $5.6m investment led by venture capital firm Billy Goat Brands to help it expand its plant-based seafood empire, which now extends into multiple categories including ‘toona,’ crab cakes, fish filets, smoked salmon, and shrimp.

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.

Hooked Foods announces a raise of €3.8 million euros from investors including Swedish popstar Danny Saucedo. The young brand launched its vegan tuna product, Toonish, into Swedish retail earlier this month, claiming it to be the first 100% plant-based tuna to hit the shelves in Sweden.


Munich-based air up, a refillable drinking bottle that gives flavour to tap water by using a fragrance, announced that it has raised over €40M in a fresh round of funding. The round was led by Five Seasons Ventures and co-led by existing investors PepsiCo, Ippen.Media, and Oyster Bay.


Bruvi, a maker of a single-serve pod-based brewing system, has raised a $7 million pre-Series A round as it prepares to launch its brewer and direct-to-consumer pod marketplace in 2022.

AB Ventures announced a $5 million investment in Gardyn, bringing the company’s capital raise this year to $15 million.

Keenon Robotics Co., Ltd, a leader in service robotics, announced $200M in Series D funding, led by Softbank Vision Fund 2. So far, this round is also the largest round of funding in the service robot field. China Renaissance is the exclusive financial advisor for this financing.

Recently, Pudu Robotics has completed Series C2 financing over hundreds of millions, a joint investment led by Meituan, Shenzhen Investment Holdings, Sequoia Capital China and other strategic investors. The combination of series C1 and series C2 financing has achieved $155 million.

Daxbot, Inc. announced the launch of their Regulation Crowdfunding raise. Daxbot's vision is to bring robots into the service of humanity. To that end, their first urban robot is focused on the growing food delivery market. Daxbot has several robot deployments scheduled this year in different cities across the United States.

SpotOn said it has closed on $300 million in Series E financing that values the company at $3.15 billion — more than 5x of its valuation at the time of its Series C round.

Misfits Market, the leading online grocery platform focused on sustainability, affordability, and accessibility, announced it has closed a $225M Series C-1 round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2* and with participation from Accel.

The Portuguese startup Bairro, whose mission is to revolutionize the experience of buying supermarket products, ensuring their quality and speed of delivery, just raised €1.2 million in an investment round led by a group of international private investors with extensive experience in the retail and delivery sectors.

On Wednesday Lunch.Co, a food marketplace platform, has announced landing €500k pre-seed funding. The startup plans to use the funding to provide new and exciting ‘Food at Work’ experiences in leading companies in the Nordic region, as they return to offices for hybrid working following the relaxation of pandemic regulations in late September 2021.

Global seafood company Thai Union Group has announced a 10% strategic investment valued at around THB 3 billion (approx. $90 million) in food ingredients firm R&B Food Supply (RBF).

Toast begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, offering over 21.7 million shares of Class A common stocks at a price per share of $40, according to a press release. The initial public offering, which is expected to close on Friday, could garner over $869 million at that share price.


News & Trends:

US actor Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in Israel’s Aleph Farms and the Netherlands’ Mosa Meat, the cell-cultured meat startups announced in a joint statement.

Beyond Meat is hoping to release new plant-based snacks and drinks made through its joint venture with Pepsico by early 2022. In addition they’ll be introducing a plant based pizza offering at Banza.

Chobani announced on Monday that it has entered the peanut butter aisle with Chobani ™ Ends Child Hunger Peanut Butter Flavored Nutrient Spreads in a historic partnership with Edesia Nutrition.

New partnership between Evian and Loop aims to roll out 100 per cent recycled PET water bottles from early next year.

Arla Foods is examining how dairy farming can help improve soil biology, carbon capture, water quality and biodiversity via regenerative farming methods.

A significant amount of global public funding for agriculture harms peoples’ health, degrades the environment, distorts food prices and it is highly inefficient, a United Nations report claims.

Israeli startup MeaTech is now able to produce over half a kilogram of cell-based chicken fat in a single production run. According to the firm, the prototype is the first example of 100% pure cultivated fat biomass grown in this quantity outside of an animal and brings the food tech one step closer to commercialising realistic hybrid alternative proteins.

Nestlé has launched 1 billion Sustainability Promise to advance regenerative food systems at scale. It also entered a partnership with AAK and palm oil corporation Musim Mas to address deforestation outside of palm oil concession areas in Aceh, Indonesia. Also, Nestlé Professional USA is partnering with the World Resources Institute (WRI) to bring more climate-friendly meals to consumers in foodservice settings. Cool Food Meals menu certification provides consumers a quick and easy way to spot low-carbon dishes when shopping or dining out.

Brazilian alt-meat brand Fazenda Futuro has announced the launch of its latest product, a tuna alternative. It is the first time the company has offered plant-based seafood.

Move over meat and plant-based blends, a new hybrid is in town. Or it will be soon, according to industry experts, who believe ‘the perfect match’ of cell-cultured and plant-based ingredients is headed for regulatory approval and market entry.

SoftBank Robotics (SBRG) and China's Keenon Robotics are teaming up to make robot waiters the norm in Japan and Singapore, both companies announced on Monday.

Fueled by its ultra-scalable, modular farm system, indoor farming startup Square Roots has recently accelerated its retail presence where the company aims to disrupt the packaged salad mix category with its unique blend of baby and micro greens.

Shelf Engine is tapping the promotional power of celebrities to spread the word about the environmental and social impacts of food waste — and to endorse the startup’s solutions for addressing the problem.

Blue Bottle Coffee, a global network of cafes in the US and Asia, has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. This extends to the entire brand from coffee and ingredient sourcing to guest-use and end-of-life greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for product and packaging.

The alternative protein market explodes with a wave of innovation in taste, texture and formats to meet uncompromising demands for protein-mimicking market offerings.


Accelerators

Eight start-ups, from Japan to Estonia to Israel, have joined the ProVeg Incubator in a cohort with a narrowed focus on emerging food technologies and unique ingredients for the alternative-protein sector. The start-ups are:

  • Altein Ingredients (India) – Developing a functional mung-bean protein that aims to be the nucleus of plant-powered food. The resulting ingredient can be used to create soya-free, animal-free and gluten-free plant-based products.

  • Meet Future (Estonia) – A food-tech company developing the next generation of mycoprotein-based chicken and fish alternatives.

  • Plant-based Japan (Japan) – Uses unique Japanese ingredients to develop plant-based egg and meat alternatives.

  • Cultivated Biosciences (Netherlands) – Uses fermentation to develop a fat ingredient from oleaginous yeast, which offers the creaminess needed for plant-based dairy products.

  • ProProtein (Estonia) – is developing a scalable precision-fermentation technology for producing dairy proteins from yeast, without the need for cattle farming.

  • Genesea (Israel) – is a B2B food-ingredients company with a mission to produce protein isolates and other ingredients developed from offshore-grown marine macroalgae.

  • Alt Foods (India) – is developing the world’s first plant-based milk made from a unique mix of grains and sprouted millets.

  • Brain Foods (Bulgaria) – produces and sells healthy, sweet-and-savory plant-based snacks that “nourish both mind and body.”

Tags: