FoodTech Weekly #141 by Daniel S. Ruben
News on FoodTech, food, and society
FoodTech Weekly #141
I just booked my flight tickets for the HackSummit. Tell me you're flying with a German airline without telling me you're flying with a German airline:
DigitalFoodLab just released its yearly report on the State of the European FoodTech Ecosystem. While FoodTech investments in the region decreased by 36% between 2021 and 2022, some €5.9B was still invested into European FoodTech startups last year (which is about 2x the amount invested in 2019 and 2020).
What's more, if you remove investments in delivery startups, investments actually grew by 21%. Certain categories like AgTech actually grew by almost 50% (to $1.4B invested) in 2022 compared to 2021.
Make sure to check out the full report.
This week's rundown:
New groundbreaking study shows food loss and waste is half of food system emissions
Agreena harvests €46M round to provide tools for farmers to go regenerative
Cultivated meat startup New Age Eats throws in towel after failing to secure more funding
Caught up with Xavier Marcenac, co-founder of insect-as-feed company Nasekomo - they have operations in Bulgaria and their tech team in France. The company was founded in 2017, by a team of experts in the field of entomology, agriculture, and biotechnology, with the aim of providing a high-quality alternative protein source for animal feed (for e.g. fish, poultry, and livestock) that is environmentally friendly and sustainable. Nasekomo use e.g. under-used food agricultural byproducts to feed black soldier fly larvae (BSF), that are then processed into protein meal, insect oil and insect frass (by-product), a 'very efficient' organic fertilizer. The company also produces and sells BSF eggs and neonates (BSF 'infants') to industry peers. 'We think the market demand could reach 10-15M tons, but the total market production capacity for insect meal is just 20K tons, so there's a big gap', Xavier notes. One key goal to increase output is to improve the genetics of the BSF, to help them grow bigger, faster, which Nasekomo does through their JV with French company Groupe Grimaud, an animal genetics selection leader. Still, scaling up is 'very challenging, and we've experienced those pains ourselves', Xavier acknowledges. Nasekomo's production is almost fully automated, with a controlled environment and robots distributing feed to the insects, so that everything can be handled remotely; they are currently working to optimize energy consumption and manufacturing costs. The company wants to be a tech insect tech provider, supplying the larvae, the hardware and software, the processes, everything. 'We're like Coca-Cola, we provide the syrup but not the water. So anybody who has a lot of biomass, like breweries, let's discuss', Xavier says, and continues: 'There's a huge demand for what we're offering. We're working on 10+ projects in Europe for bioconversion, without even really marketing ourselves. Nasekomo has raised about €12M so far (€4m in equity, and €8m in venture debt), and will soon start to raise a €20M-30M Series A round, to build a production plant for larvae as well as a flagship bioconversion facility. Xavier can be reached at [email protected]
Black Soldier Fly and the Nasekomo team (Xavier Marcenac seated left, next to co-founder Olga Marcenac)
Danish regenerative agriculture startup Agreena has banked a €46M ($50M) Series B round led by HV Capital and joined by e.g. AENU, Kinnevik, Gullspång Re:food, and Anthemis. The funding round comes just a year after Agreena's €20M ($22M) Series A round. Founded in 2019, Agreena has developed a platform where farmers can earn carbon credits for turning their land into carbon sinks (AgFunder has a good description of how this works in practice).
Single-cell protein company Unibio -- also of Denmark -- has received a $70M investment from Saudi Industrial Investment Group. Unibio grows microbes that can be used as animal feed and replace unsustainable feeds such as fishmeal.
Dutch (not to be confused with Danish!) startup EV Biotech has scooped up €4.5M in Seed funding from e.g. Future Food Fund, Carduso Capital, Blue Horizon, and Voyagers.io. EV Biotech develops microbial cell factory strains that can make the production of e.g. vanillin, spider silk, and PHA bioplastics more efficient.
Halter, a 'smart cow' startup from New Zealand, has landed a $85M Series C round led by Bessemer Venture Partners. The company designs and builds tech that can remotely guide animals, through wireless, solar-powered, and GPS-enabled collars. This allows farms to go fenceless, and farmers to remotely monitor a herd's movement, and identify individual animals that e.g. may have health issues.
A new groundbreaking life cycle analysis published in Nature (paywalled article, so read this article instead) shows that post-harvest food loss, and food waste, contributes half of the annual emissions from the entire global food system (9.3 Gigatons of about 18 Gigatons). The study also found that e.g. just four countries (the U.S., China, Brazil, and India) account for 44% of all supply-embodied emissions, due to large populations and high consumption of animal-sourced foods.
Dutch environmental impact investor Future Food Fund II has raised $20M in its first closing (expecting a second and final close at $50M later this summer); the fund aims to invest in FoodTech and AgTech startups. Future Food Fund II is backed by e.g. Wageningen University & Research and regional Dutch development agencies Oost NL and NOM.
Beef producing countries Brazil and Argentina worked hard to eliminate language in the most recent IPCC report around the need to shift toward more plant-centric diets, a leaked draft shows.
U.S. cultivated meat startup New Age Eats has decided to shut down, after failing to secure additional funding. The company had previously taken in a total of $32M in investments.
Swedish online grocer Mathem has acquired local quick commerce startup Kavall for an undisclosed sum. As Dragos Novac of Nordic9 notes, Kavall had raised about $25M from investors, had about $6M in revenue last year, and has been looking for an out for some time.
China has grown rice in space. The country sent rice seeds to the Chinese Tiangong space station; the seeds spent 120 days germinating and growing there, and samples were returned to Beijing where they were analyzed to determine their viability. The cultivation of food in space is part of a larger Chinese space program effort to eventually build a base on the Moon.
Image source: Xinhua
Cocoon Bioscience of Spain has harvested €15M in new funding. The company uses caterpillar pupae as bioreactors for growth medium used when producing cultivated meat (note to self: I never thought I'd write a sentence like that).
Australian precision fermentation startup Cauldron has raised AUD$10.5M (US$7M). Cauldron claims its 'continuous hyper-fermentation tech' is an industry breakthrough, as it 'radically lowers commercial risk', producing ingredients 5x more efficiently than conventional methods.
Netherlands-based OneThird has clinched €2.8M ($3M) in Seed funding in a round led by Dutch impact investor Pymwymic. OneThird has developed an AI solution that can predict the shelf-life of food, thus curbing food waste.
Israeli AgTech company SupPlant, which develops wireless sending equipment that can collect real-time data from farms, has grabbed $10M in Series C funding.
South Korean startup TissenBioFarm says it has grown a 10kg (22lbs) cultivated meat prototype. Tiessen’s Chief Strategy Officer La Yeonjoo told Green Queen that 'this prototype is a hybrid cultivated meat, consisting of cells and bioink. We have developed original technologies that can make cultured meat of this size while keeping nearly all the cells alive.' The prototype’s ingredients are animal cells, bioink, food coloring, palm oil and food adhesive (note to self: yum?).
News from the FoodTech Weekly community
This interview by Soheb Panja with Henry Dimbleby, former U.K. Food Tsar (and much more) is worth your time. Select quote: 'We created a food system to avoid mass starvation… we changed our diets to match the system. That diet is making us and our planet ill.'
AgriVenture Finland 2023 is hosting an Agritech and sustainable food systems event on June 7-8, 2023, in Central Finland. The event aims to bring together startups, scaleups, corporations, investors, business angels, developers, and R&D institutes to promote sustainable food innovations and financing. It includes a pitching competition for startups, inspiring international keynote speakers, practical demonstrations, and matchmaking with the hottest startups, growth ventures, investors, and industry colleagues. Early bird tickets are available until March 31, and late bird tickets until April 30, 2023.
Are you a tech startup with a mission to make a positive impact on the world? Katapult VC is now accepting applications for its 2023 Accelerator Program. Katapult’s tailored growth program accelerates your access to global impact and offers impact readiness, investor readiness, and growth readiness. Some food system domains Katapult is interested in include alternative proteins, agriculture, aquaculture, biotechnology, mariculture, digital marketplaces, and regenerative practices.
Want to share some FoodTech news/project with other FoodTech Weekly subscribers? Hit reply.
Using chopsticks. I can relate (10 sec video):
Top 20 Food-Inspired Candle Collection (from pasta water and croissant to latkes and canned tuna)
'Ten charts I can't stop thinking about' -- from the hidden cost of motherhood to why Americans pay $17K for an ER visit for choking on a radish. Great blog post.
Debunking myths about Italian food -- carbonara, pizza, tiramisu and more; this fascinating article on gastronationalism will crush some illusions.
I love you.
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This issue was produced while listening to Habits (Stay High)[Stripped in France] by Tove Lo. 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.