🍫 Coca-Free Easter Wegg

PLUS: how your diet impacts the planet, fungi-based seafood startup reels in $5.5M, proposing a 196% tax on alt milk

If you didn’t check LinkedIn this week, here’s a quick recap of how we called on the community to highlight the urgency of our climate issues and encourage more discussion around the builders and technologies in this space.

Why not come and be a part of the solution by joining 800+ founders, funders and operators at the HackSummit in Lausanne next month?

This week in FoodTech

  • ADM targets gut health with Brightseed

  • Danone backs cell-based milk startup

  • $200M agtech and clean energy fund

The Digest

📈 What’s up? Many types of plant-based milk, including oat, almond, and coconut, could be subject to a 196% tax increase in the Netherlands next year because they are classed as soft drinks.

📉 What’s down? The US Department of Agriculture says that other spring wheat plantings in the country may be at their lowest level since 1972.

💡 Good Read: Legal and regulatory expert Mathilde Do Chi shares her top ten tips for plant-based brands on how best to label their products as they enter new geographies.

🤖 Fun fact: US-based Starship Technologies has logged 10 million km with its sidewalk robots - that’s more than 12 trips around the moon.

🔦 Stephanie Rich at Bread and Butter Ventures shares how to find investors for your startup using free resources.

🧮 How does what you eat affect the planet? Find out with this tool from WWF.

New Funding and Funds

💰 VC firm Bidra Innovation Ventures, based in California, raised $200 million to support startups working in sustainable agriculture and clean energy. Its portfolio of investments so far includes Niqo Robotics, a startup that uses robots to reduce chemical usage, and carbon sequestration startup Travertine, among others.

🐈 New York-based D2C cat food brand Smalls raised $19 million to launch into in-store retail. It makes high-protein, human-grade fresh food to support cats’ health and nutritional needs.

🐠 Chicago-based Aqua Cultured Foods secured $5.5 million seed funding to scale production of its ultra-realistic, whole-cut seafood alternatives, made via microbial fermentation.

🇨🇦 Canadian startup Sepura secured $3.7 million seed funding, in a round led by Germany’s Blanco, for its under-sink food waste device, designed to separate water from foods for better composting.

🇮🇱 Israeli cultivated breast milk startup Wilk secured $3.5 million, including a $2 million investment from French dairy giant Danone, to develop cell-based breast milk components for infant formula.

🔝 Read all 12 investment rounds from this week including funding for a full-size filet mignon and an Indian startup producing animal-free casein at scale via precision fermentation.

Sugar reduction tech

🍓 Better Juice, in partnership with global food processing supplier GEA Group, has completed a series of pilot trials using ​​its proprietary sugar-reduction beads within berry-based juices, with results showing a reduction in simple sugar content of 30% and 50% across forest fruit juices.

🍫 (Portfolio Co) London-based WNWN debuted what it says is the world’s first cocoa-free Easter egg, made via a proprietary fermentation process that uses plant-based ingredients such as cereals and legumes.

☕️ Tea Drops, based in California, launched a collection of at-home tea latte and bubble tea kits into Target stores across the US. They feature the brand’s signature bagless, dissolvable tea blends.

🇸🇪 Sweden’s Mycorena is preparing for commercial launch of its clean-label, fungi-based fat, having successfully developed its full-scale production process.

🍸 Jennifer Lopez has launched a premium spirit-based cocktail company, The House of Delola, which will offer “better ingredients, better taste, fewer calories than traditional cocktails, and one simple pour”.

Alt Protein

📊 The Good Food Institute Europe completed an analysis of NielsenIQ data across 13 European countries, and it shows that sales of plant-based foods grew by 22% between 2020 and 2022 to reach a record €5.7 billion. 👉 Here’s the TL;DR

🧫The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization collaborated with WHO to publish its first global report on cell-based food safety, with the aim of providing a solid scientific basis to begin establishing regulatory frameworks and to ensure the safety of alternative proteins.

🚀 Beyond Meat launched its Beyond Pepperoni and Beyond Chicken Fillets into North American food service via DOT Foods, the region’s largest food industry redistributor.

🇧🇷 Brazilian plant-based meat brand Future Farm launched a new and improved version of its Future Burger into Tesco stores across the UK. It’s carbon-neutral, and has the same amount of protein as its predecessor, but is gluten-free and lower in salt and saturated fat.

🦣 Following Vow’s cultivated mammoth meatball, which grabbed headlines across the world, Belgian precision fermentation startup Paleo is considering legal action, claiming to have previously “developed the exact same mammoth protein (myoglobin)”. In turn, Vow says that its mammoth meatball “owes nothing to any technology or alleged invention by Paleo”. Stay tuned 👀

🥩 Steakholder Foods Ltd announced the closure of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Peace of Meat BV, to focus on the advancement of its core 3D printing technology for cultivated meat products, a move that will reduce its expenses by $4.5 million annually.

Big Food

🍟 Nandos has completed a trial of London-based robotics startup Karakuri’s automated chip fryer, marking the first time it has been used in a live commercial kitchen. According to Karakuri, the ‘/FRYR’ robot can output up to 550 portions of chips per hour, and helped cook over 4 tonnes of chips during the 30-day trial.

🤝 ADM and bioscience pioneer Brightseed are joining forces, leveraging AI to decode how dietary plants and bioactives affect the gut microbiome and impact health and wellness.

📈 Nestlé acquired a 49.95% stake in D2C food tech startup Yfood, which makes ready-made drinks and powders for consumers to make their own drinks and nutrition bars, for approximately €215 million.

Trends: The Promise of Biochar

Biochar has been a tool for regenerative farmers for centuries, and is experiencing a surge of renewed popularity in the climate crisis era.

🔎 Discover in the full FoodHack+ Report:
- 2x case studies (Airex Energy, Carbo Culture)
- The why, the challenges and the figures behind the space
- List of 20 companies going black to the future

Find out more about how this ancient regenerative practice might one day provide a solution to the climate crisis. Unlike many proposed solutions, biochar’s downsides are all relatively surmountable. So watch this space…

From the Community

Get a (new) job in FoodTech:
- MeliBio’s Mellody (USA) are hiring a Foodservice Sales Manager
- De Novo Food Labs (South Africa) are hiring a Senior Strain Engineer
See all 50+ job openings

🌼 MassChallenge shares 8 events to attend this spring.

💡 Here are 21 lessons on building product startups.

👋 Always free: The next FoodHack Meetups take place in Istanbul (11th April), Valais (April 17th) and Stockholm (19th April).

🗽 The Grow-NY Food and Agriculture competition is now open, pitch your business idea to win up to $1 Million. Find out more.

🍍 Just for fun:

Happy Spring Break!

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Curated by Nicola and Laura 

Until next time - Stay Hungry