- FoodTech Weekly
- FoodTech Weekly #165 by Daniel S. Ruben
FoodTech Weekly #165 by Daniel S. Ruben
News on FoodTech, food, and society
FoodTech Weekly #165
Greetings from Tylösand outside of Halmstad (south Sweden — their claim to fame is that Roxette is from here), where I’m on stage at the industry event Food Days, talking about e.g. AI impacts on food, recent AgriFoodTech trends and the current investment climate.
Tylösand is really pretty
Last week I posted what I felt was a smart visual on GMOs vs CRISPR (in the ‘Random’ section). One of our readers reached out — Remi Gratacap, Ph.D. and founder of e.g. Deep Science Ventures etc etc — well, you can see where this is going. He said (beyond that he’s missing his pipettes now that he’s stuck doing CEO stuff) that:
‘I just wanted to put my 2 cents on the GMO-CRISPR diagram in today's issue (for disclosure, I have 2 postdocs working with CRISPR). CRISPR is a technique to cut DNA at a very precise place (of your choice), but after that, you can insert foreign DNA (even a whole gene), and so you can use CRISPR but get a GMO product. On the other hand, you can use CRISPR to just cut DNA and make single base repair (if it is beneficial as a result), then not "falling" into the GMO classification.’
Thanks to all of you readers for holding me accountable.
This week's rundown:
Formo will launch an egg product produced by bio-designed microbes before New Years in Germany
UPSIDE Foods will build a large-scale production plant for cultivated meat in the Chicago region
Astanor Ventures and Blume Equity secure €360M and €40M respectively to invest in FoodTech and climatetech
HV Novatech of South Korea has banked $4M in Series A funding led by Logan Ventures; the company produces a seaweed-extracted heme, which helps plant-based meat taste more like animal-based meat.
Cultivated meat products are expensive to produce partly due to the cost of fetal bovine serum (FBS). EIT Food and GFI therefore launched the Cultivated Meat Innovation Challenge to find alternatives to FBS. Three companies, 3D Bio-Tissues (U.K), BioBetter (Israel) and LenioBio (Germany) have been announced winners of the challenge and will share a total of €1.8M from EIT Food to continue their R&D efforts around FBS.
Uganda-based startup Emata, which provides automated loans to farmers in East Africa, has raised $2.4M in funding from e.g. Norrsken Accelerator, African Renaissance Partners, Zephyr Acorn, and angel investors such as Marcus Boström. Emata partners with agricultural cooperatives to extend low-cost loans to smallholder coffee, maize, and dairy farmers, at rates 5x more affordable (and without the need for collateral) than the informal loans they have often relied on up until now. The company says it has provided $1M in micro-financing to 40,000 farmers through partnerships with 50 organizations.
German precision-fermentation company Formo has announced it plans to launch an egg product made without chickens (but rather produced by bio-designed microbes) at the end of this year in Germany. Chefs will be able to create e.g. baked and scrambled egg dishes, omelettes etc with the new product. The Formo proteins will not be molecularly identical to chicken-egg proteins, and will not require an EFSA Novel Foods approval.
French grocery chain Carrefour has added labels on products that have recently shrunk in size but increased in effective price, to shame certain suppliers.
U.S. vertical farming company AeroFarms has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with new leadership and a big cash injection. The company’s greens are sold in 2K U.S. stores incl. Whole Foods; Aerofarms says it hopes to reach profitability in 2024 (more vertical farming news in this recent Bloomberg article, ‘Vertical farming tries to grow up.’)
The median VC deal size for FoodTech declined for the first time in 7 years, to $3M in Q2 2023, a 12.4% decline from 2022. At the same time however, the number of unique investments (deals) increased by 13.1% quarter-over-quarter.
A U.K. farm became first in the country to sow commercial seeds using a drone; they claim this is quicker, more environmentally friendly, and is less disruptive to the soil than sowing using traditional farm machinery.
Cultivated meat company UPSIDE Foods has decided to build its first large-scale production plant (187K sq. ft / 17K sq. m) in Glenview, Illinois, in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. The factory will start by producing ground cultivated chicken products.
Image: UPSIDE Foods
Early-stage AgriFoodTech VC Astanor Ventures closed its second fund at €360M; growth-stage climate-tech fund Blume Equity secured €40M from the European Investment Fund (full disclosure: I’m an advisor to Blume).
Food can be addictive; a 2022 meta-analysis indicated 20% of adults are addicted to food (e.g. going out of their way to obtain their favorite foods and often eating to the point of feeling physically ill — and experiencing withdrawal symptoms). While some researchers are skeptic, others say that ‘ultraprocessed foods are hijacking the brain in a way you’d see with addiction to drugs.’
Researchers from the University of South Australia have designed a self-sustaining, solar-driven vertical sea farm that can turn seawater into freshwater and grow crops without any human involvement (h/t FoodHack).
News from the FoodTech Weekly community
OCEANIUM (U.K.) is seeking a Managing Director… BIOMILQ (U.S.) is hiring a Senior Laboratory Operations Specialist… Revo Foods (Austria) is recruiting a Food Processing Automation Specialist… Moving Floor (Sweden) is looking for a Production Engineer… Nium (U.K.) wants to find a Grants Project Manager… World Economic Forum (Switzerland) has an open position for a Manager, Industry Strategy and Partnerships, Food and Water.
Applications are now open to Carbon13’s Venture Launchpad: a 20-week accelerator for carbon reduction and removal. Work to your milestones via deepdives with Entrepreneurs in Residence, access 350 domain experts, pitch for £120k investment, and strategise for traction, investment, and carbon impact. Cohort starts Nov 13, 2023 with a broad theme of “Food, land and nature”. More info here.
Don’t forget to register for AgriVest (with 10% discount code AGRIVEST10) and for FoodTechIL (with code FoodTechWeekly10), to experience all the latest in AgTech and FoodTech in Israel, one of the leading innovation hotspots in the world.
FoodShot Global has announced its fourth FoodShot: ‘Water, The Essential Input.’ Up to $10M in equity is available for innovative businesses, and a $500K+ GroundBreaker Prize will be awarded to researchers, early-stage entrepreneurs and advocates who are creating FoodShot solutions. Nominate by Dec 1, 2023.
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I was today years old: Pigs roll around in the mud to cool down, because they lack sweat glands. The USDA has now developed HotHog, an app to help farmers detect when their pigs are overheating.
Good read on dynamic pricing in supermarkets to help cut food waste.
Solar deployment is now happening at a roughly $500B annualized rate (h/t Patrick Collison):
I love you.
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