- FoodTech Weekly
- FoodTech Weekly #174 by Daniel S. Ruben
FoodTech Weekly #174 by Daniel S. Ruben
News on FoodTech, food, and society
FoodTech Weekly #174
You know those moving walkways at airports that take you from your gate to the main terminal? That’s how November feels like to me. A distance that you just have to cover.
Marie Dollé just wrote a really interesting piece on how a shift toward nutrition transparency is transforming our plates, exploring how processed foods affect health and nutrition, highlighting the rise of ultra-processed foods and their impact on nutrients. She also covers things like Nutri-Score, conversational AI to personalize food options, global policy shifts to drive healthier habits, and how food prices should acknowledge hidden food system costs. And much more.
She also included a fun picture from France which I brazenly stole and put toward the end of today’s newsletter.
This week's rundown:
Solar Foods banks €8M Series B for microbe-based protein
Entobel opens Asia’s largest insect-as-feed facility
Motatos secures €40M to rescue even more food from going to waste
Karen started out her career working in New York at the NFL, US Open, and ABC News in various partnership development and producer roles, followed by work in London with Comic Relief and (Bono’s) RED. ‘I then bootstrapped a successful women’s clothing business but was unhappy with how unsustainable the industry was so I did a post-grad certificate in Sustainable Business at Cambridge’, Karen says.
Upon completing the course, Karen conducted significant research as to what type of business she could start that would have the biggest impact. A World Bank report described how seaweed farming provides jobs, nourishing foods, and environmental benefits. ‘I dug into this, and got into the weeds’, Karen laughs and continues: ‘I decided to dedicate my life to seaweed.’
In 2018, she was introduced to Dr. Charlie Bavington, who had worked in marine biotechnology R&D for two decades. Karen and Charlie cofounded OCEANIUM with the mission to enable the seaweed farming industry in the Western Hemisphere. They knew that seaweed increases biodiversity and has other clear environmental benefits — it e.g. absorbs nitrogen and carbon — but seaweed farming is a nascent industry in Europe and North America, mainly used to provide animal feed and fertilizer (unlike in Asia where 98% of world seaweed farming happens, as its widely consumed as food). ‘We wanted to maximize the value of the seaweed by creating high-value products like plant-based food ingredients including fiber and protein, nutraceuticals, and circular materials — these segments are high growth, high value markets’, Karen notes. So that’s what they did.
OCEANIUM has now scaled its proprietary refinery technology and has successfully processed EU farmed seaweed into high quality, U.S. and EU market-ready ingredients for health and cosmetics, helping customers meet their SDG and clean label targets. ‘We are an impact focused business and will measure and report against 6 SDGs; we also have an LCA in progress’, Karen explains.
The company has 16 employees (R&D in Scotland, commercial/finance in London, and remotely-based engineers); it plans to open 7 facilities with partners across the world by 2030, capable of processing 140,000 pa by 2030. OCEANIUM just closed a $3M round, bringing total funding to ~$14M (40% of which has been grants/non-dilutive funding).
The company is looking for strategic partners to collaborate with on clinical trials, to accelerate products to market and to establish refinery facilities. OCEANIUM is also hiring a U.S.-based Sales & Marketing Director with experience in food and nutraceuticals, and is interested in engaging with mission-aligned investors for the company’s 2024 Series A round. Karen can be reached via email and LinkedIn.
Images: Oceanium (Dr. Charlie Bavington and Karen Scofield Seal top right)
Solar Foods of Finland, which uses air and electricity (plus a cool new €40M factory) to turn microbes into a high-protein ingredient called Solein, has bagged a €8M (appr. $8.8M) Series B round from investors incl. e.g. Happiness Capital, Lifeline Ventures, VTT Ventures and Fazer Group.
Stockholm-based Matsmart/Motatos, which sells e.g. packaged foods with short expiry dates at a discount to consumers via e-commerce, has closed a €40M ($44M) funding round led by Circularity Capital. Matsmart, which is active in the Nordics and Germany after pulling out of the U.K. this year, believes the new round will take the company to profitability on a group level.
Entobel has opened the largest Black Soldier Fly (BSF) production plant in Vietnam - the largest of its kind in Asia. It will produce 10K metric tons of BSF-derived protein, to be sold as animal feed.
Ida of Paris, France has scored €2.7M ($3M) in Seed funding from by Frst, Daphni, Motier Ventures, and Kima Ventures. The company’s AI-powered technology helps supermarkets better manage their forecasts, supplies, and orders of fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish. This in turn helps supermarkets cut food waste and save money.
RED Horticulture of Lyon, France has harvested a €17M (appr. $18.5M) Series A round led by the European Circular Bioeconomy Fund, Demeter IM, and Unigrains, to help greenhouses become more energy efficient using RED’s LED solutions.
Source: RED Horticulture
Scientists from the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) of Argentina and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) have developed a genetically edited potato using CRISPR Cas-9, turning off the gene that causes the potato to darken (i.e. enzymatic browning) after being cut, peeled, or bruised during e.g. harvesting and transportation. The edited potato has passed regulatory approval in Argentina. Potato browning and bruising causes millions of dollars in losses for farmers, in addition to food waste as potatoes are discarded due to poor appearance (h/t AGFO).
Agriculture is set to become the European Union’s biggest polluting industry by 2040. Denmark is now calling on the EU to implement a cap-and-trade carbon tax on farmers, similar to similar schemes in place for the energy and industrial sectors.
Two Swedish funding rounds; plant-based protein startup Edgy Veggie raised appr. $200K at an appr. $250K pre-money valuation, and Gothenburg-based GardenR, which runs a home garden app, has raked in a bit less than $100K in new funding at a $1M valuation.
The Italian government passed a law to become the first country to ban the production and marketing of cultivated meat, in order to (according to the Italian ag minister) safeguard the country’s food heritage and protect the livelihood of Italian workers. Meanwhile in Europe, the German government launched a €38M initiative to promote alternative proteins, the Catalonian government announced a €7M Center for Innovation in Alternative Proteins, the U.K. government invested £12M (appr. €14M) to launch new research center Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub (CARMA), the Danish government launched a $195M fund and roadmap to promote the transition to plant-based, and the Dutch government committed €60M to catalyze the formation of a cellular agriculture ecosystem in the Netherlands. Here’s how I tend to think about this:
News from the FoodTech Weekly community
TONIC Summit, organized in Helsinki every year since 2016, will bring together the food industry, startups, and investors on Nov 29, 2023 (and I will be there keynoting) at the Apollo Live Club. Info and tickets here.
Want to share some FoodTech news/project with other FoodTech Weekly subscribers? Hit reply.
Enjoying FoodTech Weekly? Here’s how to show your support.
1) Forward it to a friend, ask them to subscribe.
2) Become a Premium subscriber.
3) [For accredited investors only: Join my Syndicate that backs high-impact FoodTech and sustainability-focused startups. Email me for more info.]
A laser zapping weed robot on a farm (cool 20 sec video).
These pictures (and others) created with AI art tool Midjourney are floating around online - Hogwarts 1996 rave party:
An inventor of bulletproof glass, 100 years ago, demonstrates the effectiveness of said glass by having his wife hold up a glass pane…as he shoots at it.
A research study in Sweden had children design trash cans with anti-littering messages to encourage more people to use the cans. The effect was the opposite.
A new bill would allow for kangaroo farming in New Hampshire, U.S.
OK, so here’s that glorious picture that I shamelessly stole from Marie Dollés blog post — it must be peak France (and irony): A train commuter was seen carefully slicing (arguably unhealthy) foie gras with their Carte Vitale, France’s national health insurance card.
I love you.
- - -