🍄 Mycelium sugar alternative

PLUS: HackSummit 2024 dates for your diary, 2D printed oat milk in the mail, $1.5 billion food security initiative

Whether you joined us at the HackSummit in Lausanne earlier this year or had major FOMO, we’ve got exciting news to share 🥁

The next edition of the HackSummit takes place on 13-14th June, 2024.

Yes, Europe's largest gathering of Climate Funders, Founders, LPs and Operators from across the globe is returning to Lausanne, Switzerland.

We hope to see you there!

Register your interest for a heads up when tickets go live. And if you want to get more involved, hit reply and let’s discuss.

This Week in Food:

  • FLORA Ventures secures $50M

  • 8M fewer cars vs eating less meat

  • 79% vote for cheese by microbes

The Digest

📈 What’s up? New research by European precision fermentation leader Formo and the University of Saskatchewan shows that 79% of UK consumers would purchase precision fermentation cheese, even with a 25% price premium.

📉 What’s down? Data from Kroll reveals that more UK food and drink businesses have gone bust in the first six months of the year than in the whole of 2022.

👎 Russia has pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which for nearly a year has allowed safe passage of Ukraine grain exports via the Black Sea, causing a sharp increase then decline in wheat futures prices as the news broke.

🚗 Research from Oxford University finds that having UK meat eaters eat less meat would be the equivalent of “taking eight million cars off the roads”, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s the TLDR.

🌮 A months-long trademark dispute between Taco Bell and Taco John’s over the phrase “Taco Tuesday” is over. The result: it can be used by restaurants in the US, except in New Jersey.

🌾 The US Department of Agriculture is partnering with attorneys general in over two dozen states to take action against anti-competitive practices in the food industry, as part of the Biden administration’s priority to address consumer inflation.

Funds and Funding

Image Credit: Gaia Tech

💰The Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program launched a $1.5 billion initiative to support food security in its member countries, centered around its four pillars: Trade, Investment, Insurance and Infrastructure.

🇮🇱 Israel-based FLORA Ventures secured $50 million at the first close of its new agrifood fund. It’s already completed its first investment, supporting Arrakis Bio, a stealth-mode Israeli startup developing technology for the production and utilisation of animal-free human collagen and gelatin. ICYMI here’s what Gil Horsky told us about the fund.

💦 Israeli agritech N-Drip raised $44 million in a Series C funding round led by the Liechtenstein Group for its smart irrigation systems, designed to help farmers save water and boost yields at lower costs. More on this topic next week.

🤖 Botinkit, a kitchen robotics startup based in Shenzhen, secured $13 million Series A funding to expand into the Middle East and Europe. Its wok-shaped robot specialises in stir-frying and stewing, and includes an add-on arm that can take over from humans in adding ingredients.

🇨🇭Gaia Tech, based in Switzerland, closed its pre-seed funding round. The ETH Zürich spinout turns food production waste into high-value ingredients for cosmetics, food, and feed manufacturers.

🔥 Get the full round up of all the latest funding rounds including an online marketplace for wild and foraged foods and upcycled, clean label cereal.

Truffle-Based Sweetener

Image Credit: MycoTechnology

🍯 US startup MycoTechnology claims to have identified a sweet protein originating from honey truffles that could disrupt the conventional sugar and manufactured sweeteners markets.

🍳 Chicago-based BioVeritas, LLC unveiled its clean-label mould inhibitor ingredient. The cultured vegetable oil extract is made via a proprietary upcycling process to replace calcium propionate in baked foods applications.

🔝 Alt protein-focused VC Big Idea Ventures announced the first investments made as part of its New Protein Fund II. The cohort of ten startups include Brazil’s Future Cow Technologies, which is using cellular agriculture to make animal-free dairy milk, and Italian startup Yeastime, which is developing retrofitted ultrasound devices to help food producers in cell culturing produce up to 30% more output in less time.

Plant Based

Image Credit: Brightseed

🧬 Brightseed, a Californian biotech startup using AI to discover bioactives, announced the formation of a coalition to bring mainstream awareness and education about bioactives to industry, consumers and policymakers.

🧈 Netherlands-based Willicroft used precision fermentation to replicate a critical flavour component in butter, butyric acid, in its new plant-based butter alternative, Original Better. If you were at the HackSummit in May, you probably tasted it and were just as blown away as we were!

🛫 Indonesian plant-based meat producer Green Rebel has partnered with Malaysian budget airline AirAsia to provide meatless options for its inflight menus.

📮 Germany’s Veganz Group has begun production of its 2D-printed oat milk sheets, Mililk, which can be sent by post. Each printed sheet makes one litre of plant-based milk. Here’s 9 reasons to try it.

🤔 A report from the UK’s Chartered Trading Standards Institute reveals that, since a legal definition of vegan does not exist, products labelled as vegan could contain animal ingredients.

🍗 Former head of culinary innovation at Burger King, chef Michael Salem, is launching Recreate Foods, a plant-based food company that specialises in chef-made chicken alternatives.

Big Food

Image Credit: Galaxy

🍫 UK chocolate brand Galaxy, owned by Mars Wrigley, launched a new plant-based salted caramel chocolate bar made with hazelnut paste.

🍬 Nestlé SA is launching a sugar-reduction technology that uses an enzymatic process to cut the sugar by up to 30% in products such as malt, milk and fruit juices, to support its sugar reduction targets.

🌾 ADM is significantly expanding its regenerative agriculture program, designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase soil carbon sequestration, improve water quality, and promote biodiversity in its supply chains, to cover four million acres globally by 2025. And Nestlé is planning to transition 100,000 acres of its wheat supply chain to regenerative agriculture practices “through a combination of financial support and technical resources and assistance”.

🥑 Chipotle unveiled the Autocado, a new avocado processing robot developed in partnership with robotics innovation studio Vebu, designed to slice, core and peel avocados before they’re mashed into Chipotle’s avocado dip.

💕 Here’s why Burger King’s Barbie Burger is so controversial.

Trends: Fungi for Carbon Capture

More than 13BN metric tons of CO2 is passed from plants to mycorrhizal fungi each year — equivalent to a third of all carbon released as a result of fossil fuel emissions. What if we could harness the power of these fungal networks at scale? Proving it’s possible could be an essential ally to hit net zero.

🔎 Discover in the full FoodHack+ Report:
- 2x case studies (Rhizocore, Funga)
- The why, the challenges and the figures behind the space
- List of 12 companies capturing carbon with mycelium

From the Community

🔥 Get hired in FoodTech:

☀️ Let’s meet in Vienna. The FoodHack Meetup will explore decarbonising the grocery supply chain - as always free to attend.

🔦 Here’s a list of the most active UK/EU-based VC funds. You’re welcome.

🏆 France-based Nutropy were the first alternative protein company to be crowned winners of the i-Lab Grand Prix.

👋 Join the FoodTech Pitch Lounge on 25th July for the latest investment opportunities in the B2B FoodTech Industry. Register now with code FOODHACK100.

⌛️ One week left to apply for the THRIVE Global Impact Challenge.

🧐 Just for fun: Find 16 FoodTech companies from this week’s news:

This week’s just for fun was a suggestion from the community.
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Curated by Nicola and Laura 

Until next time - Stay Hungry