FoodTech Weekly #140 by Daniel S. Ruben
News on FoodTech, food, and society
FoodTech Weekly #140
The World Obesity Atlas, published by World Obesity Federation, forecasts that unless preventive interventions succeed, by 2035:
The global economic impact of overweight and obesity will reach $4.3 trillion annually, equal to almost 3% of global GDP (the impact will be over $370B in low- and mid-income countries alone)
The majority of the world's population -- 51% or more than 4B people -- will be living with overweight or obesity (2B people will have obesity)
Childhood obesity could more than double
Important reminder why it's more urgent than ever to fix our food systems.
I'm very excited to be co-hosting the HackSummit in Lausanne, Switzerland on May 11-12, where I look forward to engaging with and learning from 900 of the best early-stage startups, investors, and ecosystem players in FoodTech and ClimateTech. Ticket prices will increase in a few days, so if you're planning to join, now is the time to get your ticket. Hope to see you there!
This week's rundown:
German Foodji snags $23M for vending machines selling fresh and healthy meals
Good Meat receives no-questions letter from FDA, bringing cultivated meat one step closer to the U.S. market
Why gym bros are eating dog food
About a year ago, I started seeing these, well, weird online ads for The Raging Pig Co. And then at some event I got to try their products and they were pretty delicious. So when I found out that Raging Pig's Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Arne Ewerbeck would be in town, I wanted to sit down with him to learn more. Arne, who's from Germany, previously founded a large vegan cooking school in Hamburg. 'I used to be a big meat lover. If you'd told me I'd run a vegan cooking school, I would've laughed. But that's what I did, and I got good insights into what people are looking for, what they're missing, and how they react when you cook together.' One thing he kept noting was that there was, and still is, a lack of good vegan pork products like ham, bacon, and pastrami. 'Bacon is a huge $67B market. The product is incredibly popular, not least in Europe -- you'll find it at every hotel for their continental breakfasts as well as in almost every burger place in the world. And from a branding point of view, bacon is a great product. It's THE guilty pleasure product and one of the most engaging food items there is. It's connected to manliness. And you can put bacon on top of everything, and you can wrap pretty much anything in bacon.' But he also realized there were some major drawbacks: 'Hog farming is incredibly bad for pigs (obviously) but also for the environment; the greenhouse gas emissions of hog farming is bigger than the total GHG emissions of Germany per year', Arne notes, and continues: 'It's also a heavily processed food -- it's smoked, heated, colored, and so on.' A few years ago, he thus decided to establish The Raging Pig Co. Since Arne had a Ph.D. in physics, he took an analytical approach to pork bacon, and tried to recreate it using plants, and 'we came up with a product of 9 natural ingredients, so a clean label bacon alternative'. Our novel fat encapsulation process makes sure the product gets crispy and crunchy while heating it, delivering the typical bacon experience', Arne says. Today, the product is sold in burger chains, bagel shops, and pizzerias in Germany, and The Raging Pig Co is busy scaling up and automating production. Next up is adding new products like bacon cubes, sausages, salami and pepperoni. The company is currently raising a $500K seed round, to boost the manufacturing, team, further R&D, product development, and sales. Arne can be reached via LinkedIn and email ([email protected]).
Pig Human, Raging bacon, and Dr. Arne Ewerbeck hogging all the food
Munich, Germany-based Foodji has secured $23M in investment from Movendo Capital, DLF Venture, Triple Point, Kraut Capital, and FoodLabs. The company, which sells fresh and healthy meals like falafel bowls and Thai curry in vending machines, targets SMEs that have insufficient employees to warrant setting up an office canteen. Foodji has deployed hundreds of machines, and has 70 employees.
Good Meat, the cultivated meat division of U.S. alt protein scaleup Just Eat, has received a 'no questions' letter from the FDA for its cultivated chicken. The company is the only one in the world already selling cultivated meat (a chicken product in Singapore) and now Good Meat hopes to get the necessary USDA clearance to be able to sell its meat to U.S. consumers.
Aspire Food Group of Canada, which runs the world's largest cricket production facility (12K tons of cricket produced annually), is now planning for a second commercial production plant. The output can be used in animal feed, pet food, as fertilizer, and also as human food.
Windfall Bio has emerged from stealth, with a $9M funding round from VC Mayfield and joined by e.g. Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The company sells methane-eating microbes (called methanotrophs) to animal farmers; these microbes also capture nitrogen from the air, enabling the farmers to produce fertilizer locally. Windfall Bio hopes to move into other sectors beyond farming as well, such as landfills and wastewater treatment facilities.
Rehovot, Israel molecular farming startup PoLoPo has landed a $1.75M pre-seed round, led by FoodLabs and backed by CPT Capital, Siddhi Capital, Plug and Play Ventures, Milk & Honey Ventures, and HackCapital. PoLoPo has developed a proprietary technology to express proteins in potatoes in a cost-efficient and scalable way. The company is starting out with Ovalbumin (the egg white protein), aiming for it to be identical to real egg Ovalbumin in terms e.g. nutrition and functionality.
Dr. Maya Sapir-Mir and Dr. Raya Liberman-Aloni of PoLoPo. Image: Amit Alfonta
A new decree from the Public Health Office in Slovakia has banned fried food and soft drinks in the country's school cafeterias, and regulated that candy, potato chips, and cookies can't make up more than 50% of the product range on sale in cafeterias. The goal is to reduce salt and sugar consumption in Slovakia. 'A balanced diet is essential for good health and academic success, and the offerings in school cafeterias should reflect that,” the Public Health Office said in a statement.
California company Andes has scooped up $30M in Series A funding; the company helps farmers to deploy microorganisms in farmland to capture carbon dioxide and convert it into minerals, which reduces greenhouse gases.
Israeli startup TripleW has bagged a $16.5M Series B round, led by Firstime VC and joined by e.g. LG Technology Ventures, Millennium Food-Tech VC and Consensus Business Group. TripleW has developed a technology that converts ordinary food waste into lactic acid and polylactic acid (PLA), which it then uses to produce bioplastics.
Commercial development of gene-edited food is now legal in England, the BBC reports.
New York-based vertical farm company Upward Farms is laying off 78 employees and closing its Williamsburg facility, in another sign that the vertical farming industry is struggling.
News from the FoodTech Weekly community
Tebrito (Sweden) is hiring a Strategic Head of Marketing... NitroCapt (Sweden) is recruiting a Head of People and Culture... Varrlyn (Netherlands) is looking for an Investment Manager Fund Agri/Food... The Good Food Institute (U.S.) has a number of open roles, including e.g. Research Grant Program Manager, Principal Scientist, and Research Fellow.
Brett Brohl of Bread & Butter Ventures on the FoodTech areas they will not invest in, because they're not venture backable right now (e.g. protein alternatives, indoor ag, and diet discovery / recommendation engines).
What does it take to raise capital for SynBio companies in 2023? Nucleus Capital put together this helpful guide (and the below visual):
OlsAro Crop Biotech, a Swedish agtech startup working with AI-enabled trait development in crops, has signed a commercial agreement with large Asian seed company Lal Teer Seeds, initially targeting the 1M hectares of salt contaminated land in Bangladesh with its salt tolerant wheat (2 min video here). OlsAro is currently fundraising, and their CEO Elén Faxö can be reached via [email protected].
Wageningen University & Research has launched an open access book, Our Future Proteins, which seems really comprehensive (covering e.g. protein from plants, animals, fungi, as well as related areas like food waste and circularity). It's about 600 pages so no, I haven't read it yet, but the many chapter authors are solid which should make for a good read.
Want to share some FoodTech news/project with other FoodTech Weekly subscribers? Hit reply.
How and why humanity gave up whaling; sad, fascinating, and inspiring article from the Guardian.
Gym bros are eating dog food for the protein.
Fanta wasn't invented by the Nazis, but it was invented in Germany when WWII made it difficult to get Coca-Cola syrup from the U.S. to Germany.
The East Jutland Fire Department to the rescue (15 sec video):
Parts of the Dutch railways are out of service for a week after badgers dug into a dike carrying rails. 'Living together with badgers can be a real puzzle,' the railway company said on its website.
I love you.
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This issue was produced while listening to Lord It's A Feeling (Orchestral Version) by London Grammar. Follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter. And here's the Appetizer which I co-host. Did your brilliant friend forward this to you? Subscribe here.