Top stories on the FFF Investment radar week 7

By David Stevenson on Tuesday 22 February 2022

Top stories on the FFF Investment radar week 7
Image source: Top stories on the FFF Investment radar week 7
CommentaryFood DeliveryAlternative proteinPlant-Based FoodTechDigitised Agriculture

Future Food Finance cherry-picks the stories we think should be on the radar of investors.

This matters: MeaTech3D develops muscle fibres from stem cells

Israeli startup is making headlines with its technology platform for alt proteins

MeaTech has achieved the formation of living muscle fibers to a point where they “mirror key characteristics of farm-raised meat.” To achieve the results, MeaTech isolated bovine stem cells, which were then proliferated in the lab. From there, they were able to differentiate these cells into matured muscle cells with improved muscle fiber density, thickness, and length.

This matters 2: Nestle’s plant-based food products grew at double digits rate

It's not all about startups in the alt protein space – Big Food is also growing fast

Sales of vegetarian and plant-based food grew at double digits (Nestle did not divulge the exact figure) for the Swiss multinational, according to its full-year sales results. The category reached about $860 million USD.

The next Big Theme for the 2020s : Carbon sequestration      

Sifted dig into Agreena’s platform

Farmers input data on their land into Agreena’s platform, creating a baseline understanding of the land’s quality. The farmer then plans for the next harvest, committing to certain actions that increase the land’s carbon sink potential. At the end of the harvest, satellite imagery and a third party verifier are used for Agreena to assign a certain amount of credits to the farmer for the changes they’ve made to their land.

Coming to a high street near you: mycoprotein alternative to calamari

Aqua Cultured Foods has announced the successful development of its initial commercial product: mycroprotein squid. Using microbial fermentation technology, the company has created plant-based calamari “fries.” Mycoprotein has been used to create a comparable texture, appearance, and taste to conventional calamari. Additionally, the whole-cut sushi-grade product contains a high nutritional value.

Public markets and IPO’s : Agronomics invests in Geltor

The UK-listed VC moves into biodesign for cosmetics.

Agronomics, the leading listed company focused on cellular agriculture, is pleased to announce today that it has acquired 1,069,593 Preferred Stock in a secondary transaction (the "Acquisition") in Geltor, Inc. ("Geltor"), company focused on producing designer proteins for use in the cosmetic industry, from an existing shareholder, for total consideration of US$ 9,499,525.  This represents an equity stake in Geltor, on a fully diluted basis, of 2.05% and equates to an estimated portfolio weighting based on the Company's last reported Net Asset Value of 5.01%.

Geltor is a biodesign company focused on producing designer proteins for use in the cosmetic industry, as well as food and nutrition. The company was co-founded in 2015 by Alexander Lorestani, CEO, and Nick Ouzounov to develop tailored bioactive ingredients to replace traditional animal-derived proteins. It currently has four products commercialised: Collume®, HumaColl21, PrimaColl™ and Elastapure. Collume® was Geltor's first product launched in 2018, the world's first animal free collagen. In June of last year, Geltor unveiled its first product aimed at the food and beverage industry - PrimaColl™.

Worth reading: Excellent study on Synbio    

Synbio is fast expanding into view for VCs, with huge implications for alt proteins businesses

Synthetic biology technologies are finally maturing, becoming the way almost anything can be manufactured competitively and sustainably. Businesses must learn to use syn-bio to develop new products and processes, improve existing ones, and reduce costs to remain competitive in the future.

Worth reading 2: Better bugs by design

Dozens of startups are trying to scale up insect farming

Insects have long been touted as a healthy, low-carbon source of protein that provides an antidote to animal agriculture’s many ills, like methane-burping cows and chicken farms that fuel the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. If more of us could join the 2 billion or so people who already eat insects, then we might start putting a dent in the 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions that currently come from farming livestock.

Worth reading 3: The strawberry robot quest

Robots that can properly pick strawberries would be a game-changer for robotic AgTech

Traptic’s creators say it can pick 100,000 strawberries a day. It will now work exclusively in Bowery indoor farms, marking the first use of robotic arms at the company, which relies heavily on computer vision, sensors, and technology to grow lettuce for customers like Safeway and Walmart. Bowery intends to move robotic arms between indoor strawberry rows—as it does in fields—using automated vehicles. In addition to harvesting, Bowery will explore use of robotic arms to pollinate strawberry flowers and do maintenance work like thinning or pruning leaves.

AgTech in the news: InFarm boosts US presence

World's biggest vertical farmer opens new plant in Texas, one of five for the US

The new farm is designed to serve central Texas, including over 18 million people in the Texas Triangle region with the cities of Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. It will have over 43,000 square feet of growing space, which InFarm says can produce 2.2 million pounds of salads per year. InFarm grows a combination of over 75 different herbs and vegetables, including leafy greens, salads, microgreens, and mushrooms, with plans to branch out into strawberries, peppers, cherry tomatoes, and peas.

Deals and Fundraising

  • Record Series A $100m fund raise by Singaporean business

Singaporean plant-based meat startup Next Gen Foods has secured a record-breaking $100 million, the largest single Series A investment in the sector to date, following its two-part $30M seed last July. The company’s vegan chicken TiNDLE, which debuted less than 18 months ago, is now present in over 200 restaurants across 6 cities from Amsterdam to Hong Kong.

  • Fastest Growing Plant Protein Brand in US, Secures $12M in Series A

OS was the fastest-growing plant-protein brand by total distribution points in the natural channel, which includes specialty retailers and stores like Whole Foods Market. Additionally, KOS secured national retail partners Walmart, CVS and Vitamin Shoppe, bringing total distribution up to 38,500 by year-end, an impressive 470% increase over 2020

  • Plant based subscription service Splendid Spoon snags $12m in Series B

Founded in 2013 to help busy professionals put health on their agenda, Splendid Spoon was the brainchild of Nicole Centeno. Starting in her New York home kitchen, she sold plant-based soups and smoothies at Brooklyn markets, before snagging a wholesale deal with Fresh Direct in 2015. 2018 saw the subscription model begin, but customers remain free from duress to sign up to regular deliveries.

  • Oz/US animal free dairy startup grabs $12m in seed round

Australian-Californian animal-free dairy startup Change Foods has secured $12 million in a seed extension fundraising round, bringing the company’s total company seed funding to more than $15.3 million. This represents a first for the precision fermentation sector and will support continued R&D ahead of commercial launch.

  • UK based biotech play raises £1.75m

CellulaREvolution is aiming to revolutionize the way cells are grown with its scalable bioprocessing technology, offering a B2B solution to the cost-efficient commercialization of cultivated meat in the coming years. The company claims its upstream technologies will be of critical importance in establishing cultivated meat as a future global food solution, as well as boasting applications in the biologics and cell therapeutics verticals.