🍨 Gelato from thin air
PLUS: 2x USDA approval for cultivated chicken labelling, sustainable leather from beer, are supermarkets ripping consumers off?
The USDA’s green light on Upside Foods and Eat Just’s cell-cultivated chicken labelling means (yet) another hurdle was cleared this week on their pathway to regulatory approval in America.
But the news of Meatless Farm and AeroFarms facing bankruptcy are reminders that transforming our food system isn’t going to happen quickly, or be without failure and loss.
It’s make or break for many FoodTech startups in these challenging times. And the winners are far from being decided.
This week in Food:
$18B AgriFood merger deal
£318M plant and microbial R&D hub
40 organisations join forces on beans
📈 What’s up? Google, the Bezos Earth Fund and ProVeg International are some of 40 organisations behind a new campaign called Beans is How, designed to help double the global consumption of beans, peas, pulses, lentils and legumes by 2028.
📉 What’s down? New Jersey-based vertical farming company AeroFarms is heading for bankruptcy, citing “significant industry and capital market headwinds”. The UK’s Meatless Farm has made its employees redundant and is also facing bankruptcy, having been unable to secure additional funding. What else is down? Meat packing stocks.
🛒 New research from Which? shows that two thirds of UK consumers believe supermarkets are “ripping people off” with high convenience store prices, and trust in the grocery industry dropped in May to the lowest it has been since November 2014.
🍿 Netflix is opening a pop-up restaurant called Netflix Bites in LA, featuring chefs from its various cooking series, including “Chef’s Table,” “Nailed It!” and “Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend.”
👀 Good Read: Steve Molino at Clear Current Capital tells what it’s like attending a cultivated meat tasting and explains why, without trust, it’s game over for sustainable foods.
📊 Sifted’s FoodTech 101 is packed with startups to watch, rising stars, the most active VCs of 2023 and notable angel investors.
New in Funding
💸 The UK’s national research and innovation funding agency is investing nearly £318 million into a plant and microbial research hub, which will focus on the impact of climate change, sustainable food and human health.
🍖 Monogram Foods secured $8 million to expand its production capacity by 80% and meet rising demand for its ready-to-eat jerky and meat stick snacks.
🏭 Mediterranean food company Afia Foods, based in Texas, secured $3 million Series A funding to scale its core product line and open a new 23,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and headquarters later this year.
🍺 London-based Arda Biomaterials raised £1.1 million, in a round led by the Clean Growth Fund, to transform beer waste into a sustainable leather alternative.
💰 Check out the latest funding including upcycling broccoli for sustainable proteins and a synbio startup scaling its methane-reduction platform.
Cheaper cell lines
🔬 UK-based industrial biotechnology CDMO Extracellular announced the availability of low-cost and license-free cell banks for early-stage cultivated meat researchers and startups. Its animal primary cells suitable for cultivated meat research and development are up to 90% cheaper than other cell line providers and free from licensing restrictions.
🧫 The USDA has approved the label “cell-cultivated chicken” for the chicken produced by Eat Just and Upside Foods, when the products are eventually approved for sale. The approval signifies that the department feels these companies “have demonstrated full compliance with pre-market labelling requirements”, and brings them a step closer to commercialisation.
🍦Singapore restaurant Fico unveiled the world’s first gelato made from air, developed using Finnish startup Solar Foods’ incredibly versatile Solein protein.
🍕 Californian precision fermentation startup New Culture’s animal-free mozzarella made its world debut this week at the acclaimed Pizzeria Mozza in LA, run by award-winning chef Nancy Silverton.
💊 San Diego-based Sun Genomics debuted the world’s first fully customisable multivitamin, designed to “empower individuals with precision nutrition and gut health solutions”.
🧀 Californian food tech Climax Foods debuted what it says is the world’s first plant-based casein, which it claims mimics the functionality, flavour, texture, melt, and stretch of animal dairy casein.
🐟 Whole-cut plant-based seafood startup Plantish is rebranding to Oshi, as it prepares to launch its vegan salmon into US restaurants later this year.
🎶 Impossible Foods has partnered with Terry Crews’ Super Serious creative agency to develop a new, musical ad campaign, dubbed “Making Meat History”, which it debuted during the 76th annual Tony Awards this week.
🍗 Chile’s NotCo is launching its NotChicken™ tenders, burgers and nuggets into major retailers across Canada.
🤝 Bunge Ltd. and Viterra are set to merge in a deal worth $18 billion, in a move that will create one of the world’s largest agribusiness firms, close in size and scope to leading giants Cargill and ADM.
🥗 The Vollrath Company debuted the SerVue, a touchless, refrigerated, self-serve salad bar which uses sensors to automatically dispense the desired amount of food from canisters, replacing the open-air design of a traditional salad bar.
🌊 Lidl GB has become the first UK supermarket to incorporate Prevented Ocean Plastic, which would otherwise have ended up in the ocean, into its new water bottles.
🍫 Cargill has joined forces with Dutch towage and maritime company Kotug to deploy the “world’s first” fully electric pusher boat and barges, which will transport cocoa beans from the Port of Amsterdam to its cocoa factory in Zaandam, the Netherlands.
🧈 Arla announced its plans to launch a plant-based version of its market-leading Lurpak butter, which will reportedly arrive on supermarket shelves next year.
Trends: ESG and VCs
The venture capital industry has until recently been rather slow to adopt ESG measures according to the World Economic Forum. Things are changing, though - ESG reporting requests from VCs are becoming much more commonplace.
🔎 Discover in the full FoodHack+ Report:
- 2x case studies (Rumbo Ventures, Kara)
- The why, the challenges and the figures behind the space
- List of companies making the link between VCs and ESG
From the Community
🔦 Looking for a job in FoodTech:
LemonAid and ChariTea (Switzerland) are recruiting a Sales and Brand Ambassador
Prose Foods (USA) are hiring a Scientist / Research Associate
Nosh.bio (Germany) are looking for a Quality and Food Safety Manager
☀️ Whether you’re taking a summer staycation or vacation, join the local FoodTech community in Mexico City (21st June), Istanbul (22nd June), Ljublana (26th June), San Francisco (29th June), Lisbon (4th July), Berlin (13th July).
🎧 Good listen: Red to Green’s latest book-review-turned-podcast uncovers the world's #1 pesticide.
🇨🇭 Apply today for the ‘Clima Now Spotlight’ competition to reduce Switzerland’s FOODprint. They’re looking for solutions in alt protein, food waste reduction and tech for consumer climate-positive behaviour.
🍦 FoodTech startup profits: expectation vs reality
Until next time - Stay Hungry