🍚 Lab-Grown Rice Meat

PLUS: 50 top European FoodTech startups mapped, $53M food security fund, 3D-printed steaks head to retail

Scientists at the Beijing Academy of Food Sciences’ China Meat Research Centre claim to have developed rice grains with embedded cultivated meat cells that are visually indistinguishable from regular varieties (see for yourself).

And once cooked, release a combined aroma of both meat and rice.

Why: Using rice as a scaffold for meat growth provides a natural, edible alternative to expensive synthetic carriers to produce balanced, nutritious meals.

How: By pre-treating rice and using it as a scaffold to grow layers of chicken or pork cells, they incorporate both muscle and fat to retain the nutritional benefits of rice while adding essential amino acids and animal proteins.

Is this the dawn of meaty rice. Or a flash in the (rice) pan?

This week in FoodTech:

🍇 Soft robotics for groceries
🌾 $12M boost for ag biologicals
📉 12.5% YoY global funding drop

The Digest

Credit: DigitalFoodLab

📈 What’s up? Eleven Dutch retailers, including SPAR and Picnic, have committed to selling 60% plant-based proteins by 2030.

 📈 Also up? Cellular Agriculture Europe has grown its membership by 150%, with twelve new companies across eight new member states, including Mewery (Czech Republic), Re:meat (Sweden) and Upstream Foods (Netherlands).

📉 What’s down? Data from AgFunder shows that global agrifoodtech funding is down 12.5% year-on-year in H1 2024.

👎 Californian cultivated meat maker UPSIDE Foods is undertaking another round of layoffs, in a bid to extend its runway in a difficult market.

🤖 MIT’s CSAIL department unveiled RoboGrocery, a new system that combines computer vision with a soft robotic gripper to bag a wide range of grocery items, including delicate products such as grapes and bread. Watch it in action.

🍌 The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture has approved new, gene-edited banana varieties with reduced-browning characteristics, developed by Tropic Biosciences, thanks to their potential to help reduce food waste.

5️⃣0️⃣ DigitalFoodLab reveals their Top 50 European FoodTech startups.

📊 A new study by the EU-funded HealthFerm project reveals that making fermented meat and dairy alternatives cheaper than animal products could actually make consumers less likely to buy them.

New in Funding

Credit: Seaya

🇪🇸 Spanish VC Seaya closed its latest ClimateTech fund, ‘Andromeda’, with €300 million, bringing its assets under management to €650 million and making it the largest venture firm in the country. It will use the funds to support startups working across energy transition, decarbonisation, the sustainable food value chain, and the circular economy.

🇲🇼 The International Fund for Agricultural Development and Government of Malawi launched a $53 million agricultural development programme to help combat food insecurity in the country.

🇧🇷 Genica, based in Brazil, raised $12 million in a funding round led by Mitsubishi’s Agrex Group, and claims it’s the largest amount raised so far for ag biologicals in the country this year.

🌾 Estonian agritech startup eAgronom secured €10 million Series A2 funding to encourage farmers into more sustainable farming practices by incentivising them with its carbon credit program.

👀 Check out 11 AgriFoodTech Funds and Funding rounds from the week including $170M for grocery deliveries and a digital reusable packaging system.

New in Startups

Credit: Afterlife Ag

🍄 New York-based Afterlife Ag is building a circular solution for restaurant waste. It uses restaurant food scraps to grow gourmet mushrooms, which it then sells back to chefs.

❄️ US startup Prism is also tackling restaurant food waste, with a controlled atmosphere container that can be stored in restaurants’ walk-in fridges, extending the shelf-life of produce and potentially reducing the number of fresh food deliveries needed each week.

🌾 Israeli startup Platypus has developed a gel supplement which makes the process of using pesticides safer, more effective, and more environmentally friendly.

⌛️ Google’s parent company Alphabet is winding down operations at AI-powered agricultural intelligence startup Mineral, which was incubated at its moonshot technology lab X, and is switching to a licensing model for partners such as berry producer Driscoll’s.

🍓 Good read: Olipop rebranded, and is now on track for $500 million in yearly sales, here’s why it worked.

Plant Based

Credit: Redefine Meat

🥩 Israel’s Redefine Meat launched its 3D-printed plant-based flank steak in Ocado in the UK and Coop in Switzerland, in what it says is a “world first”.

❌ Australian Plant Proteins - the country’s first and largest plant protein isolate manufacturer - has gone into administration, citing lack of government support and a drop in R&D investment.

🇨🇦 Canadian plant-based ingredient manufacturer Above Food Corp. has gone public via a SPAC merger with Bite Acquisition Corp.

🫛 Mumbai-based Plantaway launched what it claims is India’s first plant-based whole-cut chicken fillet, made from pea protein.

🇿🇦 South Africa’s Food Innovation Laboratory unveiled a new line of affordable, protein-rich, soy-based dairy alternatives, designed to combat undernutrition in the country.

😡 Crowdfunding backers of UK plant-based meat maker THIS are angry at the 67% drop in the business’ valuation, following its £20 million Series C round last month.

💡 Good read: Andre Menezes, former TiNDLE Foods CEO explores the decline and future of plant-based foods.

Big Food

🍍 Aldi UK is trialling crownless pineapples to help cut food waste, and will remove the green leaves in advance during the production process to ensure they are recycled.

🥛 Oatly set up a soft-serve truck marked with statistics about its climate credentials next to a legacy ice cream event hosted on Capitol Hill to offer “delicious liberation from dairy propaganda”.

🤝 UK supermarket Morrisons is joining forces with Tasmanian environmental technology company Sea Forest to feed its cattle methane-reducing seaweed-based livestock feed, to help cut its emissions from beef products.

🧀 Kellanova is launching its $1 billion USA snack brand Cheez-It in the UK this summer, as part of its plans to expand into the European market and become a “snacking powerhouse”.

🫛 Califia Farms introduced Complete Kids, a plant-based milk made from peas, chickpeas and fava beans that is specifically designed for children.

Trends: Mycelium for Construction

There’s no getting around it – traditional construction is a polluting business. The typical lifecycle looks like this: non-renewable resources are extracted, used in structures, demolished, and sent to landfill. That’s why startups are looking at ways to avoid unnecessary extraction, shift to regenerative materials, and improve the decarbonisation of conventional materials. Mycelium is one promising solution.

🔎 Discover in the full HackTrends Report:
- 2x case studies (MycoHAB, Mykor)
- The why, the challenges and the figures behind the space
- List of 21 companies growing sustainable building materials
- Expert insights from Mridul Pareek, Susanne Gløersen and Marc Violo 

Find out more about how mycelium-based biocomposites are a low-carbon, circular solution to the chemicals, foams, and plastics used for insulation and panelling in our homes. And with recent tech developments, it seems they could have the potential to provide a commercially viable alternative to materials like concrete, too.

From the Community

Get hired today:

👀 Every VC thesis explained in one image

💡 How to make fundraising your superpower by Helena Wasserman

👋 Today’s the last day to participate in the Agri-FoodTech Incubation Programme 2024.

🎟️ Lock in the lowest rate to next year’s HackSummit before prices go up.

🏄‍♂️ Just for fun: VCs demonstrating their skills on the (surf) board

We love to hear from you, so tell us, what did you think of today’s newsletter?

I love it 😁 Meh 😐 I hate it 🙁

Until next time - Stay Hungry