🍅 Grow your own GMO

PLUS: 34 startup growth metrics, 31 capturing carbon for food, materials and more, blood-flow boosting apple juice

Global food companies often turn to reduction and replacement alternatives (think low-fat, low sugar) to make their food healthier - which can often result in unsatisfying food that just doesn’t taste as good.

So, what if we could make food products healthier, after we’ve eaten them?

Enter Zya, who just came out of stealth to turn the problem on its head.

We caught up with Josh Sauer, Co-Founder and CEO to find out how:

‘By harnessing the transformative powers of enzymes, we make food healthier - at the point of digestion. Our first-in-class enzyme ingredient, Convero, converts sugar into fiber after eating. At Zya, we're here to support brands in their efforts to make better-for-you varieties without compromise.’

One sugar lump molecule at a time.

This week in FoodTech:

🐟 Krosse Flosse: The new fish on the block
🍓 Berry nice: Vertical farming Series B raise
📊 Revealed: Making $$ from unhealthy food

The Digest

Credit: Bite Back via Green Queen Media

📈 What’s up? Seven of the ten largest food companies in the UK make the majority of their money from unhealthy products.

📉 What’s down? The last remaining sugar cane grower in Texas is shutting down, citing the lack of a reliable water supply related to a long-running dispute with Mexico.

📉 Also down? Beyond Meat suffered a loss of $338.1 million on sales of $343.4 million through 2023, and it is making changes to its operations (including shelving Beyond Jerky) as it works towards profitability. 

🍎 Scientists at Hochschule Geisenheim University in Germany have developed a new “super” apple juice that could enhance heart health by boosting blood flow, thanks to its increased polyphenol content.

💡 Two precision fermentation trade associations, the Precision Fermentation Alliance and Food Fermentation Europe, have defined the term ‘precision fermentation’ to help industry stakeholders, regulators and consumers understand how it differs from other forms of fermentation.

❌ Legislation in Indiana is seeking to ban high-fructose corn syrup, and has been referred to the legislature’s Committee on Public Health.

👀 Good Read: Magi Richani wrote for Forbes about how the most effective innovation within agriculture will be technology that works with farmers and the existing food system - not against it. Read it here.

📊 Useful: An infographic on 34 different startup growth metrics

New in Funding

Credit: Oishii

🍓 US vertical farming company Oishii, which primarily produces berries, secured $134 million Series B funding in a round led by Japanese telecommunications firm NTT to expand its distribution to new markets, open a new solar-powered facility and invest in advanced robotics and energy-saving innovations.

🏭 The government of Catalonia, Spain has awarded €12 million for the construction of a new alt protein scale-up plant in the region. Here’s the TL;DR.

🍫 Food Brewer AG, based in Zurich, secured over CHF 5 million seed funding to support its plant cell culturing approach to making alternatives to cocoa and coffee, plus sustainable fats.

🍭UK-based Zya came out of stealth, having raised £4.1 million across two funding rounds, with its enzyme-based dietary solution that can convert sugar into fibre for your gut. It is working towards regulatory approval and plans for commercialisation in 2026.

🥖 TWF Flours, based in India, secured $1.4 million pre-Series A funding from Rainmatter. Its milling technology creates better quality flour which is healthier and retains higher levels of nutrients.

👀 Check out all the funding rounds from this week including a food supply chain decarbonisation platform and CCU for alternative meat and seafood.

New in Startups

Credit: MicroTERRA

🍬 Mexican startup microTERRA unveiled Flora, a protein ingredient extracted from duckweed, which helps to enhance sweetness perception in food and beverages, reducing their sugar content without compromising taste or texture. Watch how its made.

💜 US-based Norfolk Plant Sciences released its purple tomato seeds for consumers to buy and grow at home, marking the first genetically modified food crop to be directly marketed to home gardeners.

🐟 BlueNalu has become the first cultivated seafood company to join the National Fisheries Institute, the US’s leading trade association representing the nation’s seafood industry.

Plant Based

Credit: The Vegetarian Butcher

🐟️ Unilever-owned The Vegetarian Butcher launched its first plant-based fish product, the “Krosse Flosse” (“Krusty Fin”), made from rice and wheat protein and enriched with omega-3.

🇫🇷 The French government has banned the use of ‘meaty’ terms like ‘steak,’ ‘entrecote,’ ‘ham,’ ‘butcher,’ and ‘cutlet’ on plant-based product labels, claiming that they confuse and mislead consumers.

🇬🇧 UK trade standards group is pushing for new guidance to ban the use of alternative descriptors like ‘mylk’, ‘cheeze’, or ‘yoghurt-style’ on plant-based dairy packaging. The industry is already banned from using dairy-related terms on labels thanks to a 1987 EU law retained by the UK post-Brexit.

🇮🇹 However, Italy is reconsidering its ban on using meat-like terms on plant-based product labels, to avoid conflict with local manufacturers.

👩‍⚖️ Los Angeles County passed a law this week requiring plant based food purchasing by county departments, such as Health Services, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works. The new law includes updates to nutritional standards, recommendations for plant-based procurement, and greenhouse gas emission tracking.

➕ Vegan Food Group is set to acquire German tofu manufacturer Tofutown for an undisclosed sum, as part of its plans to become profitable this year. Catch the backstory

Big Food

Credit: REWE x Planet A

🍫 Germany’s REWE Group launched a line of own-label products formulated with ChoViva, Planet A’s cocoa-free chocolate, made from locally-grown ingredients such as oats and sunflower seeds.

👣 Fonterra’s dairy ingredients and solutions brand, NZMP, unveiled its ‘first-of-its-kind’ digital Carbon Footprint tracker to provide emissions profiles on New Zealand-sourced dairy products, and to forecast potential emission reductions for products up to 2030.

🤑 The US Federal Trade Commission is suing to block the proposed $24.6 billion Kroger-Albertsons supermarket merger over allegations that it is anti-competitive.

👨‍🌾 Unilever launched its first regenerative farming programme in the UK, implementing new practices into its farms that cultivate mustard seeds and mint leaves for its Colman's Products.

☕️ The Kerry Group’s c-LEcta has partnered with Anka to create a new enzymatic solution aimed at reducing carcinogenic acrylamide levels in soluble coffee products.

HackTrends: Capturing Carbon for Reuse

Carbon Capture for Utilisation (CCU) is one of several ways to reduce the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Dante Luu of Carbon Upcycling told us ‘When you look at CCS or DACs it is limited to the largest conglomerates that have access to geological storage. CCU offers an opportunity for accessible, affordable carbon reduction especially when accounting for raw material abatement.’

🔎 Discover in the full HackTrends Report:
- 2x case studies (Dioxycle, CarbonCure)
- The why, the challenges and the figures behind the space
- List of 31 companies capturing carbon emissions for strategic use (and reuse)

From the Community

Recent jobs in FoodTech:

🚨 Be a part of something exceptional. Volunteer at the HackSummit. Applications now open to help us deliver a world-class event.

🇳🇱 Calling AgriFoodTech startups in the Netherlands! The FoodHack Amsterdam team is opening the stage for startups to pitch during their next Meetup. There is a limited number of spots available, register interest here!

📆 Come and meet your local community at a free FoodHack Meetup in Berlin, Basel, Ljubljana, Tel Aviv, Lausanne and Milan.

🚀 Applications are now open for Rockstart AgriFood 2024. Rockstart is seeking founders driving innovation in environmental restoration, circular practices, reduced resource waste, and beyond. Apply here.

💡 The investor-founder perception delta. What your pitch deck really says to investors.

💰5 top tips on how to sell your startup.

🙊 Just for fun: Successful bootstrapper chased by VCs

Until next time - Stay Hungry

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