FoodTech Weekly #142 by Daniel S. Ruben

News on FoodTech, food, and society

FoodTech Weekly #142

Hi there,

It's been almost three years since I started this newsletter (here's issue #1 in May 2020; I feel almost embarrassed looking back at that edition and seeing how basic it was). Writing FoodTech Weekly it's still just as fun, and I learn a lot every week. Food is simply intriguing. I assume food is on your minds too (especially those of you currently celebrating Easter, Passover, or Ramadan...)

There's now over 3,000 of you subscribing, so this thing is almost as big as Kim Kardashian's 350M followers on Instagram. Jokes aside, I'm grateful for each and every one of you.

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Good Food Institute Europe just dropped a big, fascinating analysis (based on NielsenIQ data) on plant-based food retail sales in Europe. In the 13 countries analyzed, sales of plant-based alternatives to animal-sourced foods have grown by 22% since 2020 to $5.7B.

Plant-based meat and milk made up about 73% of total plant-based sales; other categories like plant-based cheese and seafood are however growing rapidly.

Plant-based milk now makes up 11% of the total European retail milk market (in the U.S., plant-based milk already makes up 16% of the total retail milk market).

Check out the full analysis and the country reports for tons of interesting data.

This week's rundown:

  • Local Bounti and Babylon Micro-Farms secure significant new financing, demonstrating that the vertical farming sector isn't completely dead

  • Wilk (Israel) and Zero Cow Factory (India) raise big rounds for alternative dairy production

  • Scientists show how stressed plants emit airborne sounds that can be recorded from a distance, which is not at all the stuff nightmares are made of

Let's go!


New conversations coming up soon!


  • Babylon Micro-Farms of Richmond, Virginia has closed a $8M Series A round led by Venture South. The startup develops self-contained vertical farming systems that are used in foodservice, hospitals, and in educational institutions. I spoke with Babylon CEO Alexander Olesen back in October for FoodTech Weekly #119. As AgFunder notes, the funding round comes in the midst of an ongoing depression for vertical farming.

  • Not all is doom and misery however; U.S. combined greenhouse / vertical farming company Local Bounti just secured $145M (!) of additional financing.

  • U.K. farm robotics company Defra will share in the £9M grant from the U.K. Farming Innovation Programme, together with a project that will provide automatic bedding of cattle, and another project which aims to make potato cultivation more environmentally friendly.

  • Israeli cell-cultured milk startup Wilk has landed a $3.5M investment led by Danone Manifesto Ventures. The company hopes to develop cultured breast milk components for infant formula. In related news, Zero Cow Factory of India has gulped down $4M to produce casein using precision fermentation. That round was co-led by Green Frontier Capital, GVFL, and pi Ventures, with participation from Pascual Innoventures. Finally, De Novo FoodLabs of South Africa received a non-dilutive grant of $700K from the South African government to continue the development of animal-free proteins via precision fermentation.

  • Aqua Cultured Foods of Chicago, Illinois, has reeled in $5.5M in Seed funding, bringing its total funding up to $7.6M. The company used mycoprotein fermentation processes to develop products like calamari, shrimp, scallops, and filets of tuna and whitefish. The new funding round was led by alt protein fund Stray Dog Capital, and joined by H Venture Partners, Aztec Capital Management and Amplifica Capital, as well as follow-in investments from previous investors. South Korean food and bio company CJ CheilJedang also participated in the round. Aqua Cultured Foods hope to bring products to market this year, starting with restaurant and foodservice outlets.

Image: Aqua Cultured Foods

  • Contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Extracellular, which is U.K.-based, has scooped up $1.2M in new funding from e.g. Future Food Fund, Big Idea Ventures, Tiny VC, and Good Startup. Extracellular focuses on providing research and development capabilities for companies in the cultivated meat space. In related news, cultivated seafood startup CellQua of South Korea secured an undisclosed sum of money from social impact VC Sopoong Ventures -- and London's publicly listed cultivated meat company BSF Enterprise raised £2.9M.

  • SWEN Capital Partners 'Blue Ocean Fund' has closed at €170M, making it 'the largest VC fund in the world for the regeneration of ocean health.' Meanwhile, Ocean 14 Capital is in the final stretch of fundraising for its €150M fund to invest in sustainable marine ecosystems and ocean-based food production.

  • East African aquaculture company Victory Farms has bagged a $35M Series B round, led by Creadev. Victory Farms focuses on growing tilapia.

  • Israeli sugar reduction tech startup Better Juice has conducted pilot trials with food processing technology company GEA Group on various international berry fruit juice brands, showing that the simple sugar content in these products could be cut by 30% to 50%, according to a press release shared with FoodTech Weekly.

Better Juice

  • Swiss FMCG giant Nestlé has disclosed the health data of its entire portfolio for the first time, showing that less than half of its food and drink products have a nutritional value that can be considered healthy. The company says it has already made a lot of progress in reducing sodium, sugars, and saturated fats in its products.

  • South African startup Maltento, which grows black soldier fly larvae as animal feed, has received $788K from German development finance institution KfW DEG.

News from the FoodTech Weekly community

  • eniferBio (Finland) is recruiting for a number of positions, incl. that of CFO... Michroma (Argentina/US) is hiring for roles in both Argentina and the U.S., e.g. Regulatory Affairs Manager and Food Technologist...MeliBio (US) is looking for a Manager of Sales, Foodservice.

Want to share some FoodTech news/project with other FoodTech Weekly subscribers? Hit reply.

Random Stuff

  • Shoutout to Erika Hombert of HackCapital who wiped the floor with my laser portrait pic on LinkedIn by adding space lasers and cats to hers. Still hope to beat her first to the "70 over 70" list.

  • Lee Kum Kee announced a Sriracha Milk on April 1.

Source: Lee Kum Kee

  • After Italy banned ChatGPT and proposed to ban cultivated meat as well, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni now plans to ban the use of English (and other foreign words) in official documents, schools, and universities (unless e.g. a class is aimed at teaching a foreign language). Politicans who keep using e.g. English could be fined. Euronews notes that instead of using the word 'soap dispenser', officials would have to use the Italian expression 'dispensatore di liquido igienizzante per le mani.' 🤌 Mamma mia!

  • New research published in Cell shows that 'stressed plants emit airborne sounds that can be recorded from a distance and classified.' The scientists hope that their work can help us better understand plant interaction with its surrounding environment, which could have 'significant' impact on agriculture. Personally, I can't stop thinking of the Mandrakes from Harry Potter:

  • The world's oldest still active surfer (according to Guinness World Records), Seiichi Sano of Japan, is turning 90 this year. 'I have never thought of myself as an old person', Sano told AP. 'I always feel that I can still move forward. I can still do it. I can still enjoy it.'

​I love you.


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This issue was produced while listening to What Are You Hungry For? by Paula Jivén. 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.

Disclosures: I'm Head of Strategy and Special Projects at Stockeld Dreamery. I'm an operating advisor to VC/investment firms Nordic FoodTech VC, Trellis Road, and Blume Equity. I'm a mentor at accelerators Katapult Ocean, Big Idea Ventures, and Norrsken Impact Accelerator. I'm an advisor to BIOMILQ, FoodHack, Hooked, Ignitia, Improvin, IRRIOT, Juicy Marbles, Lupinta, NitroCapt, Oceanium, petgood, Rootically, Transship, VEAT, and Volta Greentech; in some of these startups, I have equity.
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