🔌 Plugging the bioreactor gap

PLUS: Ginkgo Bioworks teams up on AI cell programming, plant-based seafood producers accused of fraud, 10 hottest funding rounds

Due to overfishing, the caviar trade and habitat loss, sturgeons are the most endangered species group on earth.

That’s why slaughter-free roe is key to turning the tide on their extinction.

And since this luxury food already comes with a premium price tag, it’s an ideal niche to test consumer appetite for cultivated alternatives.

Enter Marinas Bio, who this week introduced their lab-grown caviar, led by former fish worker turned biotech founder, Allan Leung.

The startup joins froentrunners already making waves in the space, including Caviar Biotec, Cell MEAT and Optimized Foods.

This Week in Food:

☕️ World’s first coffee biorefinery
🛒 Skimpflation - UK retailers’ new trend
🇫🇷 French startup raises €100M in 3 years

The Digest

VC Investor Ranking Credit: Dealroom

📈 What’s up? The global poultry market is set to see improved demand and lower costs in the coming months, according to data from Rabobank.

📉 What’s down? Data from market research company Assosia shows that UK retailers have “slashed” the amount of meat in ready meals over the last year - aka “skimpflation” - due to soaring beef and chicken prices.

🦓 Mirabaud Asset Management is partnering with Zebra Impact Ventures to launch a new project, which will support nature-positive innovation to help tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.

🧫 The UK Food Standards Agency is reportedly setting in motion systems to fast-track its approval of cultivated meat as part of a bilateral agreement with Israel, in order to boost the nation’s food security, ease the cost of living, and provide planet-friendly meat sources for a growing population.

🤏 Good read: Forbes highlights 4 FoodTech niches ripe for innovation.

🤩 Sifted asks what celebrities can bring to your cap table, beyond PR buzz.

📊 Check out Dealroom’s ranking of all global VC investors.

New in Funding

Credit: Umiami

🍗 French plant-based whole-cut chicken producer Umiami secured a further €32.5 million Series A funding, bringing its total raised to date to over €100 million, and will use the funds to scale production, accelerate European distribution and set up its US operations. Here’s what they achieved in 3 years.

🇦🇺 Australian precision fermentation company Eden Brew raised $24.4 million Series A funding to scale what it calls a “world-first” animal-free casein micelle, which helps it replicate the sensorial and nutritional properties of animal dairy.

🚜 Bay Area-based Bonsai Robotics secured $10.5 million seed funding to outfit heavy farming equipment with its vision-based technology, creating automatic harvesters to replace the ongoing shortage of farm labourers.

🔬 Pow.bio, based in California, secured $9.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Re:Food and Thia Ventures. The startup promises to “change the future of precision fermentation” with “smarter, not bigger” bioreactors to “unlock economic viability”. Here’s why we need 100x more capacity.

🎡 See all 10 funding rounds from the week including allergy-friendly snacks, precision spray drones and waste-free coffee pods.

Berry Bioactives

Credit: Novella

🫐 Israeli startup Novella Ltd. unveiled prototypes of its new berry-derived bioactives, designed to “ease bottlenecks in the supply chain of highly in-demand berry ingredients, as well as reduce carbon emissions and plant waste”.

✂️ Kaffe Bueno inaugurated the world’s first coffee biorefinery in Denmark, where it will convert coffee by-products into valuable compounds, including active and functional ingredients for personal care, human nutrition, animal health, and soil and crop health.

🤝 German mycoprotein startup Nosh.bio and Boston-based synbio company Ginkgo Bioworks are partnering to use the latter’s AI-powered cell programming platform to find protein-producing fungi strains with superior sensory profiles and develop a single-ingredient meat alternative.

🥩 South Korean cellular agriculture startup SeaWith is partnering with Icelandic molecular farming company ORF Genetics to accelerate the production of Han-Woo cultivated beef with plant-based growth factors.

🥤 Sydney-based startup Refilled is aiming to transform the vending machine sector by replacing single-use plastic bottles with a BYO-bottle system, which also helps to cut restocking delivery emissions.

Plant Based

Credit: Meati

🍄 US-based mycelium meat producer Meati secured a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its MushroomRoot™ ingredient, giving it exclusivity over the use of the Neurospora crassa strain until 2039.

🇫🇮 Finnish plant-based food manufacturer Oddlygood has acquired Nordic brand Planti, a move which makes it the market leader in two prominent dairy alternative categories: spoonable snacks in Sweden and cooking products in Finland.

🇪🇸 Spain’s seafood industry is accusing plant-based seafood producers of “fraud in the labelling and presentation of plant-based seafood products,” arguing that the use of fish-related terms confuses consumers.

🍔 Dr Praeger’s Sensible Foods has developed crunchy vegetable burgers, in response to consumer complaints about texture within the plant-based category.

🔬 Two Spanish scientists have developed a clean-label meat alternative using carob, which grows in arid climates and has a low water footprint, and Spanish industrial equipment supplier Hiperbaric’s high-pressure processing tech. So, what is carob?

Big Food

Credit: The Plant Based Seafood Co

🐟 The Plant Based Seafood Co. is partnering with wholesale premium seafood supplier Sam Rust Seafood to strengthen its distribution network.

🤝 Food industry giants such as Nestlé and Danone have formed the SAI Platform to align on a definition of regenerative agriculture and have released a framework for how businesses should transition to more sustainable practices.

🥗 Nestlé has pledged to sell roughly 50% more healthier foods by 2030, increasing sales of more nutritious items by 20 billion Swiss francs to 25 billion Swiss francs (about $21.8 billion to $27.3 billion). Here’s how big CPGs haven’t been making food healthier.

🚀 The Kroger Co. launched a new Hispanic-inspired private label brand, Kroger Mercado, which includes more than 50 items across several product categories, including a range of core Hispanic ingredients.

🎬 October 3rd was Mean Girls Day, and Nestlé-owned brand Coffee Mate debuted what it claims is the first-ever pink-coloured coffee creamer, to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary.

🍅 Heinz is set to release a limited-edition sauce, "Ketchup and Seemingly Ranch," inspired by this viral tweet about Taylor Swift's choice of condiments at a recent Kansas City Chiefs football game.

💰 New York-based meal kit delivery company Blue Apron is due to be acquired by UK-based direct-to-consumer business Wonder Group for around $103 million.

HackTrends: Direct Air Capture

Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology uses chemicals or minerals to selectively react with and trap CO2, pulling it out of ambient air. Unlike carbon capture, which generally happens at the source of emissions, DAC can theoretically happen anywhere. It’s a viable, but energy-intensive and expensive method for atmospheric carbon removal.

🔎 Discover in the full HackTrend Report:
- 2x case studies (1PointFive, Noya)
- The why, the challenges and the figures behind the space
- List of 30 companies extracting CO2 from thin air
- Expert insights from Florian Schabus, Tank Chen and Daniel Rennie

From the Community

Apply now:
- Essential (Kenya) are looking for a Fermentation R&D Lead
- StartLife (Netherlands) are hiring a Managing Director and CTO
- Plenty (USA) are hiring a Senior Product Manager
- GFI Europe are looking for an Infrastructure Investment Manager

🗺 Join us at a free FoodHack Meetup this October in one of these 8 cities.

🇪🇸 Head over to Barcelona on 23-24th November for a deep dive into how to obtain regulatory approval globally at the Regulating the Future of Food Conference.

🌳 Brainforest has launched its Food Lab program to support entrepreneurs building solutions to innovate the regenerative food forest space. 

🔍 Check out this Fall fundraising cheatsheet to help negotiate with investors.

🎢 Just for fun: When you’re used to the ups and downs of startup life

That’s a wrap. Have a great day ahead.

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Curated by Nicola and Laura 

Until next time - Stay Hungry