- FoodHack Weekly
- 🍄 Fungi funding frenzy
🍄 Fungi funding frenzy
Exclusive: 8 FoodTech Founders reveal how Plant Based can survive and thrive in 2024
Veganuary has been packed with plantbased headlines. Both good and bad.
From retail rollouts, hot partnerships and product launches, to closing runways, and naming controversy as well as market consolidations. We’ve covered it all here at FoodHack.
So what will it take for plant-based brands to survive and thrive in 2024?
8 FoodTech founders give us their two cents on the category‘s growth potential and challenges for the year ahead.
This week in Food:
💸 13 funding rounds in just 7 days
🍕 Chat-GPT powers pizza toppings
🍭 0 calories, 300x sweeter than sugar
📈 What’s up? The US state of Illinois is considering following in California’s footsteps and banning the manufacture, sale or distribution of products formulated with brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate or red dye 3.
📉 What’s down? German food waste startup SIRPLUS, which sells excess food from retail through subscription boxes, has filed for bankruptcy.
🧫 Twelve EU agriculture ministers are pushing for a revision of the regulatory approval framework for the authorisation of cultivated meat, as they see the technology as a potential threat to the economy, public health, and farmers.
👀 Good Read: Green Queen has published a free, comprehensive resource guide on plant-based meat and ultra-processed foods in an easy-to-use FAQ format.
New in Funding
Credit: Infinite Roots
🍄 Germany’s Infinite Roots, formerly known as Mushlabs, secured $58 million Series B funding, marking “the largest investment” in mycelium technologies in Europe to date. It will use the funds to “enter a new era of commercial growth”. Hear what’s to come in their ‘new era of growth’.
🍭 Ingredient company Elo Life Systems raised a $20.5 million Series A extension from existing investors to commercialise its natural, monk fruit-derived sweetener, which it claims is 300 times sweeter than sugar without the calories.
🍖 Plant-based meat startup Chunk Foods secured $7.5 million in its seed extension, bringing the round’s total raise to $22 million, and announced a strategic partnership to develop co-branded products with Better Balance, one of Latin America’s largest meat and dairy producers.
☕️ Kaffe Bueno, based in Denmark, raised €6.2 million in a Series A funding round led by Borregaard. It upcycles coffee by-products for the personal care and food industries, and will use the funds to expand into new areas such as advanced materials and agriculture. Listen in on the verdict to making coffee sustainable.
🇰🇪 Kenyan agtech Shamba Pride raised $3.7 million pre-Series A funding from EDFI AgriFI and Seedstars Africa Ventures. Its tech platform digitises various tasks for agricultural dealers, including business management and inventory ordering, ensuring the availability of supplies like fertilisers and seeds for small-scale farmers in rural areas.
🥘 Verdify, based in the Netherlands, secured €2.4 million to scale its tech platform, which offers personalised online meal inspiration to empower consumers to make healthier food choices. Check out the journey so far.
👀 Catch up on all 13 funding rounds from the week including a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for palm oil free oil and a €37M loan agreement to upcycle food waste for insect feed.
Next in Startups
Credit: Forsea Foods
🍣 Forsea Foods, based in Israel, unveiled the first prototype of its cultivated eel, and has partnered with Tokyo vegan restaurant SAIDO to create two traditional Japanese dishes with the cell-cultured fish.
🧫 Dutch cultivated pork startup Meatable has submitted a dossier to hold the Netherlands’ first legally sanctioned cultivated meat tasting.
🐠 Irish aquaculture startup Sea&Believe, which develops ingredients for the food and skincare industry using nutrient-rich Palmaria palmata (red seaweed), launched its inaugural seaweed farm in Connemara, Ireland.
Credit: Steakholder Foods
🍤 Israel’s Steakholder Foods unveiled what it says are the world’s first plant-based 3D-printed shrimp, using its DropJet printer to “precision-print” in-house-created shrimp-flavoured inks to create the plant-based analogues layer-by-layer. See it being printed.
💸 British entrepreneur Heather Mills has saved her plant-based brand VBites, acquiring its assets for £1 million and waiving nearly £5 million of debt owed to her, a month after the company went bankrupt.
🇯🇵 Japanese ham manufacturer NH Foods is developing a plant-based tuna sashimi exclusively for food service, made from ingredients including konjac flour, dietary fibre, and yeast.
Credit: Dodo Brands
🍕 International pizza chain Dodo Brands is trialling a new “In-App Flavor Generator” powered by ChatGPT, which allows consumers to create personalised pizza flavours from 35 different ingredients.
👅 Holland & Barrett launched a first-of-its-kind “taste-boosting” range, designed to enhance each of the five basic tastes – sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami – for consumers experiencing changes to taste or smell due to illness like cancer treatment or long-Covid.
🔬Mars, Inc. opened a $42 million, 44,000-square-foot global research and development hub on its Goose Island campus to test recipes focused on using sustainable ingredients.
🤝 IFF is joining forces with environmental NGO Bellona on a long-term project to restore seaweed forests in northern Norway, through managing invasive sea urchin predation.
🌾 UK retailer Co-op debuted a carbon reduction scheme to financially reward its beef farmers for sustainable farming practices and help to decarbonise its supply chains.
🎤 Conagra Brands is launching a Dolly Parton food line in partnership with the singer, with products inspired by down-home comfort cuisine.
From the Community
New jobs this week:
See all job openings here
🔦 Tälist is launching the ‘World’s First Masterclass for Careers in the Alternative Protein Industry’. Starting February 12th. Learn more and enroll here
📍… or become a FoodHack Ambassador and host Meetups in your city. Apply today.
🎬 Good watch: Revo Foods’ 3D Food Fabricator in action.
🏭 Planet A Ventures’ cheatsheet to financing for infrastructure founders.
👀 8 lists to speed up your funding journey.
Just for Fun: To the founders ignoring the tough market conditions.
You’re all caught up. Enjoy your weekend wherever/however you’re spending it.
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Until next time - Stay Hungry