FoodTech Weekly #147 by Daniel S. Ruben
News on FoodTech, food, and society
FoodTech Weekly #147
Sending you this dispatch from the HackSummit in Lausanne, Switzerland. Nothing beats meeting hundreds (950 or so) of the world’s leading early-stage startups, investors, and ecosystem players in FoodTech and ClimateTech — the vibe here is 🔥❤️ (and I’ve tasted more new innovative foods in two days than I can remember). If you’re here at the Summit, swing by the Greenhouse Stage which I’m hosting.
This week's rundown:
Mosa Meat opens facility capable of producing 10,000 of cultivated burgers; sees clear path to price parity with animal meat
Improvin’ lands €3.5M to help food actors understand and improve their supply chain’s sustainability footprint
A new study shows that ugly criminals are sentenced harder than attractive criminals
Met with Karl Andersson, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Motatos. Karl loves doing business, and always worked as a sales person and entrepreneur in various roles. His friend Erik Södergren ran an ICA grocery store (note: ICA is the largest Swedish supermarket chain), and told Karl how good food kept getting thrown away. He wanted to solve this -- and that's how Motatos was born, launching in early 2014. The company sells surplus or short-dated stock that would otherwise go to waste, due to e.g. overproduction, faulty packaging, and past best-before dates. In our home market, we’ve helped raise awareness around what food waste looks like. I think we all have had to realize that all we see when we go into a store is that there's always fully stocked shelves, all equally fresh - and that this has a cost in the shape of waste. Karl explains and continues: 'Most of wasted food is perishables -- fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy but food waste occurs across the whole value chain and in all categories of food. The volumes are enormous, and account for 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions.In the early days, Motatos sold excess food from Erik's store. Then they started working with wholesalers, and then decided to start an e-grocer across all of Sweden, selling dry goods / pantry only ('fruit and veg at the risk of being wasted is interesting but is challenging to sell via e-commerce', Karl notes). Today the company has 250+ employees, a €100M+ annual revenue, is profitable in the Nordics, and is seeing strong growth numbers in Germany, Austria, and the U.K. I asked Karl if they're mostly selling candy, cookies, soda etc, but he said their analysis show that that those categories are only about 10-20% sales; the bulk of sales comes from selling soups, flour, rice, pasta, spices, pet food, and similar: 'We have a much healthier food range then you may see on our landing page', Karl claims. So what's next for the company now? 'We want to prove that this is a globally viable business model. We're not claiming we're the silver bullet to solve food waste, but we have managed to handle one type of challenge in terms of wasted food', Karl says. Motatos is looking for suppliers open to selling to the company, and collaboration partners that want to grow together with Motatos for the long-term. Karl can be reached via LinkedIn.
Karl Andersson / Motatos
Austrian precision fermentation startup Fermify has secured a $5M Seed round; the company aims to produce casein proteins to make animal-free cheese. The round was led by Climentum Capital and joined by e.g. Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund, Fund F, and Satgana, as well as existing investors such as Übermorgen Ventures and Backbone Ventures.
German/Portuguese startup MicroHarvest has scored €1.5M from Simon Capital, following a €8.5M Series A round led by Astanor Ventures last September. The company uses biomass fermentation to produce proteins in just 24 hours from input to output. MicroHarvest can currently produce up to 300 kgs (660 lbs) per day.
Mosa Meat, led by Dr. Mark Post who 10 years ago publicly presented the first cultivated meat burger, has opened a 3K sq. m (appr. 32K sq. ft) facility in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The startup, which has raised around $100M to date, says the facility will be able to initially produce 10,000s of non-GMO cultivated burgers every year. Mosa Meat also claims it sees a clear path to price parity with animal meat for its products.
Pet food startup Good Dog Food has fetched a £3.6M (appr. $4.5M) Seed round, joined by e.g. Agronomics and Siddhi Capital. Good Dog Food cultivates animal meat, which will then be used as an ingredient in e.g. dog food.
Swedish climatetech startup Improvin’ has raked in a €3.5M Seed round (full disclosure: I’m an advisor to them), led by Pale Blue Dot and Dynamo Ventures, and joined by e.g. FoodBridge and PINC. Improvin’ has built a platform that allows food companies and their suppliers to measure and reduce their emissions in the entire supply chain, down to the field level.
Joel Nedar & Niklas Wallsargård. Images: Improvin’
Israeli compostable packaging startup TIPA has acquired European peer Bio4Pack for $8M. TIPA, which has raised $130M to date, develops and produces flexible compostable packaging that turns into compost within a few months, as an alternative to plastics (for those interest, I interviewed TIPA’s co-founder Daphna Nissenbaum for The Appetizer podcast back in 2021).
Acumen has invested an undisclosed sum in CropSafe of Nigeria; the company has developed an innovative and fast method for drying and preserving grains, that prevents infestation during storage for up to three years.
Folium Capital aims to raise a $500M fund focused on agriculture and forestry. Phenix Capital has identified 689 impact funds with €122B (appr. $134B) in assets focused on access to food, FoodTech, smallholder farming and fisheries, and sustainable agriculture and aquaculture.
Big Akwa of Sweden has reeled in SEK 4.75M (appr. $0.5M), to secure environmental permits for RAS (land-based aquaculture) farms capable of producing 6K tons of rainbow trout each year. The company plans to co-locate its farms next to pulp factories in circular systems.
RethinkX has developed the (interactive) Periodic Table of Precision Fermentation, which is pretty cool.
Swiss AgTech startup Ecorobotix has harvested $52M in Series B funding. The company develops and sells weed and crop protection on-farm robots, and will now expand across the Americas.
Dutch.startup Farmless has raised €1.2M to produce protein using a ‘liquid feedstock made with CO2, hydrogen and renewable energy.’
Sobo Foods of the U.S. emerged from stealth with $1M in funding; the company hopes to ‘reimagine Asian comfort foods’ (and making them plant-based).
Nanomik Biotech has raised a €800K round; the company develops microencapsulated biological plant protection products for growers.
Malmo, Sweden-based climatetech VC Pale Blue Dot has closed a €93M ($100M) second fund. The company invests in European and US-based food and agtech, industry, mobility, and fintech startups, with a climate lens.
News from the FoodTech Weekly community
The India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge (ISPIC) 2023 by GFI is open for applications until May 24, 2023. ISPIC 2023 is a comprehensive 5-month program with curated programming spanning exclusive resources, webinars, and expert mentorship from industry and academia to support ventures end-to-end from product development and manufacturing to consumer insights and marketing. More information on smartproteinchallenge.in.
Nicolaus Norden and Christian Guba of FoodLabs have written a very helpful article on enabling infrastructure for alternative protein.
Sweden FoodTech Big Meet takes place on May 31 - June 2, 2023. Tickets are still available, here.
Want to share some FoodTech news/project with other FoodTech Weekly subscribers? Hit reply.
Scientists taught pet parrots to video call each other; the birds forged strong friendships and seemed to enjoy socializing (watching the embedded video makes one feel sorry for how these social birds are often kept on their own).
Unattractive criminals are sentenced harder than attractive criminals, a new metastudy shows (although there’s no difference in terms of verdict of guilt). This reminds me of a Finnish study showing that more beautiful politicians received more votes.
I love you.
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This issue was produced while listening to Ghostkeeper by Klangkarussell and GIVVEN. 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.