News for February 17, 2021

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

On a mission to fight malnutrition, Frontier raises $6M

In a new series B round led by Adjuvant Capital, a fund backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other global health investors, Frontier Nutrition (New Haven, Connecticut) has brought in $6 million. The mission-based company makes affordable fortified snacks that are sold in Bangladesh, a country with one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. Proceeds from the round will help it bring its manufacturing in-house and raise awareness for its Hashi Khushi brand of fortified lentil butters, which are packed with 23 micronutrients, protein and fats. Other backers in the round include DSG Consumer Partners, Great Point Ventures, Royal DSM’s investment arm and individual investors.

Cannabis-based drug pioneer GW Pharmaceuticals sells for $7.2B

In a deal worth $7.2 billion, Jazz Pharmaceuticals (Dublin, Ireland) has agreed to acquire GW Pharmaceuticals (Cambridge, United Kingdom), maker of the first cannabis-derived drug to be approved by the FDA. Epidiolex was greenlighted in 2018 as a treatment for seizures associated with childhood-onset epilepsy. The company has another drug candidate in phase 3 clinical trials for patients with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, plus drugs for autism and schizophrenia in earlier-stage development. Jazz, which is a leader in sleep medicines and has a growing oncology business, says the multi-billion dollar deal brings “a scientific platform and deep innovative pipeline of cannabinoid product candidates, as well as highly specialized manufacturing expertise.”

Good Eggs eyes return to Southern California with $100M investment

Good Eggs (San Francisco, California) is the latest of many food delivery companies to get a boost from investors during the pandemic, securing a $100 million funding round that will help it expand to Southern California this summer or fall. Good Eggs offers groceries, meal kits, prepared meals and alcohol, many of which are locally sourced. In 2015, it shut down its operations in Los Angeles, New York City and New Orleans, Louisiana, to focus its growth in the Bay Area. That seems to have been successful: In the last year, the company says it’s nearly doubled its customer base, hired 400 new employees and opened a new, larger warehouse. The $100 million round was led by new investor Glade Brook Capital Partners with several other investment firms including Benchmark Partners, Index Ventures and S2G Ventures also participating. 

$5M funding round fuels Beam’s growth into functional hydration

Though it’s most known for its CBD products, Beam’s (Boston, Massachusetts) next steps are in the buzzing functional beverages category. The brand has closed a $5 million series A from C2 Ventures, The Yard Ventures, Litani Ventures, Obvious Ventures, Camwood Capital and more, bringing its total capital raised to $12 million. Its first non-CBD product is a line of individually packaged hydration powders with electrolytes from coconut water, Himalayan sea salt, potassium bicarbonate and sodium hyaluronate. Beam says the funding will fuel more depth in its product pipeline and allow it to invest in organizational structure. 

Unilever buys Eric Ryan’s bold first-aid brand Welly

Welly Health PBC (Minneapolis, Minnesota), a colorful and whimsical first-aid brand, is the latest addition to Unilever’s (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey) consumer brand portfolio. Welly was cofounded by serial entrepreneur Eric Ryan, whose previous ventures Method and Olly Nutrition sold to SC Johnson and Unilever, respectively. Welly started out selling its bandages, ointments and first aid tools exclusively at Target before branching out into a number of department, grocery and drug stores. The deal, it says, will put power behind its innovation and growth. Unilever has been on a kick acquiring purpose-driven, sustainable brands in recent years, including Seventh Generation, SmartyPants, Schmidt’s and Olly. 

American Licorice acquires organic sweets brand Torie & Howard

Organic candy maker Torie & Howard (New Milford, Connecticut) has been bought by American Licorice Co. (LaPorte, Indiana) for an undisclosed price. Torie & Howard makes hard and chewy candies that are organic, allergen friendly, vegan and free of artificial colors and flavors. American Licorice, which owns the Red Vines and Sour Punch brands, says the deal complements its other recent investments in the better-for-you treat space, including fair trade chocolate maker Theo Chocolate and Zing Bar creator Mindful Nourishment.

Red Clay Hot Sauce lands $1.5M to spice up the condiment category

On the heels of a strong 2020, Red Clay Hot Sauce (Charleston, South Carolina) has attracted $1.5 million in seed funding from investors. Last year, the company pivoted from a foodservice model to a direct-to-consumer presence, grew revenue 300% and got its cold-pressed, barrel-aged hot sauces and hot honey into 1,200 Publix stores in the southeastern United States. The new funding will support further retail growth and the launch of a new line of spicy seasonings.

Rosie, an e-commerce platform for local retailers, raises $10M

As retailers scrambled to take their businesses online during the pandemic, Rosie (Ithaca, New York) was one of the companies there to help. It equips local retailers with personalized e-commerce software, and recently raised a $10 million series A round led by B2B software investor Avenue Growth Partners. It will invest the funds in introducing new features to the platform, developing more digital offerings for retailers and recruiting talent. 

Hoxton Farms gets £2.7M to make animal fats without the animals. 

Ukko (Tel Aviv, Israel) closed a series B for its AI-based approach to eliminating food allergies and sensitivities. Bayer’s corporate venture unit, Leaps by Bayer, led the $40 million round. Other investors included Continental Grain Company, PeakBridge Ventures, Skyviews Life Science, Fall Line Capital, Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors and TIME Ventures. Using a combination of artificial intelligence and bioengineering, Ukko says it can map and alter problematic aspects of a food protein that trigger an allergy. It’s developing both functional food ingredients and medical therapeutics. 

Senior-focused fitness platform Bold picks up $7M

Bold (San Mateo, California), an online fitness platform that aims to prevent falls and chronic health problems in older adults, has nabbed $7 million in seed funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz. Bold works like this: Users fill out a questionnaire on the web-based platform and get a personalized exercise program that might include Tai Chi, cardio, strength or other classes. 

Flipdish, a food ordering platform for restaurants, secures €40M

Tiger Global Management has made a €40 million (about $48.5 million) investment in Flipdish (Dublin, Ireland), a software platform that enables restaurants to bring online ordering in-house instead of relying on third-party platforms. Its platform is a white-label online ordering system that powers restaurants’ websites or mobile apps. It also includes built-in analytics tools. With the new funding, Flipdish says it’s investing heavily in its product and expansion. Currently, it operates in the U.K., Germany, France, Ireland, Spain and the U.S.

Gene-edited produce gets $90M in Pairwise’s series B

Using CRISPR technology, Pairwise (Durham, North Carolina) hopes to cultivate fruit and vegetable varieties with enhanced taste, longer shelf life, better yield and a longer season of availability. The startup closed a series B round that brought in $90 million from Pontifax AgTech, Deerfield Management, Temasek and Leaps by Bayer. It’s hoping to launch its first product, a new variety of leafy greens, next year. Pairwise launched in 2018 with funding from Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer. It’s working with the company in a $100 million deal to advance gene editing tools in corn, soybeans, wheat and canola.

Tovala raises another $30M to reinvent home cooking

In its second large funding round within a year, Tovala (Chicago, Illinois) has brought in another $30 million to ramp up distribution of its smart oven and meal kit services. Launched in 2017, Tovalo sells a WiFi-enabled countertop oven and ready-to-cook meals. The meals come with a barcode that’s scannable by the oven, which then steams, bakes or broils the food without the user having to do anything more. The company plans to use the funding to open a new distribution facility in the western U.S., improve customer service and build its team. Also on the agenda is creating more options for premade meals and recipes that can work with the oven. Left Lane Capital led the funding round, with Finistere Ventures, Comcast Ventures, OurCrowd, Origin Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Joe Mansueto also participating. 


Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.

News for March 3, 2021

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Supplant raises $24M for a plant-based alternative sweetener

To help it commercialize a low-cost sugar substitute made from plant fiber, Supplant (Cambridge, England) has completed a $24 million financing round. Manta Ray, Khosla Ventures, Felicis, Soma Capital and Y Combinator participated in the round. Supplant says it will use the funding to begin targeted trial runs of its low-GI sweetener ingredient, which it says is produced with less water and at a lower cost than sugar.

Household cleaners without the plastic attract $21.8M for Everdrop

Everdrop (Munich, Germany) has raised an €18 million (about $21.8 million) series A round to market its range of sustainable cleaning products across Europe and, later, the U.S. Felix Capital led the round, which also saw participation from HV Capital and Vorwerk Ventures. Everdrop’s cleaning tablets that dissolve in water eliminate the need for single-use plastic bottles. The brand also sells dishwasher tablets that aren’t individually wrapped and sustainable laundry detergent.

Legacy vegan brand Follow Your Heart joins Danone

In pursuit of growing its plant-based business, Danone has acquired Earth Island (Canoga Park, California), maker of the Follow Your Heart brand. Most known for its dairy-free cheeses and iconic Vegenaise egg-free mayonnaise, Follow Your Heart will now sit alongside Silk, Alpro and So Delicious in Danone’s plant-based portfolio. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. 

UK startup banks $5.1M for debit cards with a sustainable twist

As it prepares to launch its wooden debit card across the United Kingdom, TreeCard (London, England) has collected $5.1 million in seed funding from EQT Ventures, Seedcamp, Episode 1 and angel investors. The six-month-old startup created a Mastercard-powered spending card that’s made from wood, not plastic. Instead of reward points, TreeCard offers its customers the promise that it will put 80% of the transaction fees it collects from merchants toward funding forest restoration projects. Next steps include hiring talent to support its launch across the U.K. and expand into the U.S.

VCs back Madison Reed with $52M as at-home hair care sees pandemic boom

While the pandemic has been tough on much of the beauty industry, Madison Reed’s (San Francisco, California) omnichannel approach helped it surpass $100 million in revenue last year. Now it’s raised $52 million from True Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Comcast Ventures, Goldman Sachs, Motley Fool Ventures and others to double down on that approach. The brand sells directly to consumers permanent hair color that’s free of eight common harsh ingredients. It also sells wholesale and operates a chain of hair color bars across the country, including 16 new locations opened in 2020. It’s raised nearly $200 million since launching in 2013.

Kerry to acquire Biosearch Life for probiotics, botanical extracts

Kerry Group (Dublin, Ireland) plans to pay €127 million ($154 million) to acquire Biosearch Life (Granada, Spain), a public company listed on the Madrid Stock Exchange. Operating in the nutraceutical, functional food and pharmaceutical sectors, Biosearch Life has a range of probiotic (including some obtained from human breast milk), omega-3 fatty acid and botanical extract ingredients that are distributed across Europe, Asia and the U.S. Kerry has bolstered its probiotic offerings in recent years by adding Ganeden and Bio-K Plus to its portfolio.

$42M investment will double Foxtrot Market’s upscale convenience stores

With a $42 million series B funding round complete, Foxtrot Market (Chicago, Illinois) plans to add to its lineup of eight upscale convenience stores in Chicago, Illinois, and Dallas, Texas, and expand to Washington, D.C. this year. Foxtrot’s stores carry snacks, grocery items, prepared foods, coffee and alcohol, which it can deliver in an hour or less. Almanac Insights, Monogram Capital Partners, the University of Chicago, Bluestein Ventures, Walter Robb and others provided the funding, which Foxtrot says will help it open new stores and grow its private label line. 

Redefine Meat secures $29M to bring 3D-printed meat alternatives to market

Redefine Meat (Rehovot, Israel) has raised a $29 million series A and partnered with Israeli meat distributor Best Meister to get its 3D-printed plant-based meat cuts into butchers and restaurants this year. The company, which has raised $35 million since its inception, is working on completing its large-scale production facility. It uses 3D-printing technology and ingredients including plant-based protein, fats and natural colors and flavors to create products that mimic the look, taste, texture, juiciness and mouthfeel of steak and other whole cuts of meat. The round was led by Happiness Capital and Hanaco Ventures with participation from CPT Capital, Losa Group, Sake Bosch and K3 Ventures.

Sweet juggernauts invest in affordable sugar alternatives. 

American Sugar Refining Inc. and The Hershey Co. have led a strategic series B investment in past NCN presenter Bonumose (Charlottesville, Virginia), a startup specializing in the affordable production of naturally occurring rare sugars such as tagatose and allulose. The companies say these ingredients have a similar texture and mouthfeel to traditional sugar (sucrose) but with fewer calories and a lower glycemic index impact. Because they’re less abundant in nature than other forms of sugar, food manufacturers have not been able to use them at scale. Bonomuse has figured out how to make them from plant starches and says it will use the investment to develop its first commercial-scale production plant. It will leverage its partnership with ASR to distribute the ingredients for food, supplements, pharmaceuticals and personal care products across the world.

Investors get behind chocolate milk for adults with $1.7M in seed funding

Slate Milk (Boston, Massachusetts) and the investors in its $1.7 million seed round are hoping millennials will embrace the nostalgia and function of its shelf-stable, canned chocolate milk beverages. To make chocolate milk suitable for health-conscious adults, Slate Milk has scaled back the sugar, amped up the protein and added lactase enzyme to break down the lactose. It sells direct-to-consumer online and is working its way into 3,000 stores this quarter, including Whole Foods Market, Harris Teeter and Hannaford.

HowGood adds $6M as hunger grows for sustainable products

Two brothers started the digital platform HowGood (New York, New York) back in 2007 to aggregate data on the sustainability of different food ingredients so companies and consumers could make more informed choices. To keep up with the recently increased demand, the company raised $6 million in fresh capital from Contour Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital and Danone Manifesto Ventures and others. In addition to growing its platform, HowGood plans to add databases for other sectors such as beauty and cleaning products over the next year.

Nestlé grows DTC presence with SimplyCook

Nestlé has acquired SimplyCook (London, England), which ships its customers recipe kits that include easy-to-follow recipe cards and seasonings, without the waste that full meal-kit companies are known for. The deal bolsters Nestlé’s direct-to-consumer reach (as does its November takeover of Mindful Chef) when eating at home has taken on a new importance. With help from Nestlé’s resources and expertise, SimplyCook plans to expand in the U.K. and beyond.

Neptune expands its CPG portfolio with Sprout Foods

Health and wellness company Neptune Wellness Solutions (Quebec, Canada) announced that it’s acquired a majority stake in Sprout Foods (Montvale, New Jersey) and will work with the brand’s investor, Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, to grow it under the Neptune umbrella. Sprout Foods makes organic plant-based foods for babies and toddlers, bringing in $28 million in annual net revenue. According to Neptune, the deal “accelerates its ongoing transformation into a disruptive consumer packaged goods company.”

Project Well’s ‘food-as-medicine’ marketplace collects $2M

Using food interventions to help people with chronic diseases achieve better health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs is the premise behind Project Well (Stamford, Connecticut), a digital startup that has taken in a $2 million seed investment. Project Well describes itself as a “food-as-medicine marketplace” that works with health plans and providers to match their at-risk patients with food vendors who supply nutritionally targeted, customized meals. It will use proceeds from the round to run pilot programs and expand its commercialization efforts with health plans and medical groups. S2G Ventures, Primetime Partners, Tom Scully of Welsh Carson (and former CMS administrator) and angel investors from Formation Capital participated in the round.

Better Origin’s automated fly farming containers gain $3M

Better Origin (Cambridge, England) has raised $3 million in seed funding from Fly Ventures, Metavallon VC and solar energy entrepreneur Nick Boyle. Farmers can buy Better Origin’s automated insect mini-farms which raise black soldier flies using the farmers’ food waste. The flies can then be fed to chickens in place of soy feed, providing a new lifecycle for food waste and cutting down on the need for soy. The startup, launched in May of last year, plans to use the funding to expand across the U.K.


Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.

News for February 3, 2021

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Cutback Coach’s mindful drinking program picks up $3.1M

Seeing a “massive, untapped opportunity” to help Americans build healthier habits around drinking, Cutback Coach (San Francisco, California) created a text-message-based program that leverages behavioral psychology tactics to help users cut back on alcohol. The startup, founded last year, closed a $3.1 million seed round from investors Uncork Capital, Adjacent Venture Capital, Fitbit cofounder James Park, Lyft cofounder and CEO Logan Green, MyFitness Pal cofounder Mike Lee and others. 

Phospholutions takes in $10.3M to help farmers use less fertilizer

The U.S. used more than 20 million tons of fertilizer in 2019. Phospholutions (State College, Pennsylvania) raised $10.3 million in a series A to commercialize a fertilizer additive that it predicts will reduce that amount and the corresponding environmental problems. The product improves plants’ uptake of nutrients so farmers don’t use as much of fertilizer. This year, Phospholutions plans to run large-scale field trials and build out its team, which the funding will support. Continental Grain Company’s CGC Ventures led the round, which included Maumee Ventures, Tekfen Ventures, the Ag Ventures Alliance Cooperative and 1855 Capital. 

Mealco scores $7M to help chefs launch delivery restaurants

A technology company focused on eliminating barriers to opening a new restaurant in the age of COVID-19 announced a $7 million funding round. Mealco (New York, New York) says chefs who use its solution start a delivery-only restaurant in six to eight weeks, without renting a kitchen, purchasing ingredients or hiring staff. Chefs create their menus, then Mealco sources ingredients locally, oversees cooks it hired and, through third-party apps, delivers meals to customers. Two New York-based restaurants have launched under its model, and Mealco says 50 chefs are on the waitlist. Rucker Park Capital led the round; FJLabs, Reshape, 2048 Ventures, Oceans Ventures, Wilshire Lane Partners and angel investors also got in on it. 

AI-powered agriculture gets a boost with Aerobotics’ $17M round

In an oversubscribed series B, agriculture technology firm Aerobotics (Cape Town, South Africa) raised $17 million. Its platform employs artificial intelligence, drones and other robotics to help tree and fruit farmers identify problems, estimate yield and better manage their crops. The investment arm of consumer internet company Naspers led the round. Cathay AfricInvest Innovation, FMO: Entrepreneurial Development Bank and Platform Investment Partners also participated. Aerobotics operates in 18 countries across Africa, the Americas, Europe and Australia. It plans to use the investment to further develop its technology. 

Dr. Prager’s sells majority stake to PE firm Vestar

Vestar Capital Partners (New York, New York), has made a majority investment in Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods (Elmwood Park, New Jersey). A pioneer in the plant-based and better-for-you foods business, Dr. Praeger’s was started in 1994 by a pair of cardiologists and grew into a family owned business with a large line of frozen veggie burgers, vegetable-based snacks and seafood. Vestar has a number of other investments in the better-for-you food industry, including early-stage investor BIGR Ventures, consumer data company IRI and baking brand Simple Mills. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. 

Wesana Health nabs $4M to use psychedelics to treat TBI

A new $4 million convertible note round for Wesana Health (Chicago, Illinois) will support the company as it enters the emerging psychedelics space. Founded by former professional hockey player Daniel Carcillo, Wesana Health states that its mission is to treat traumatic brain injury and other mental health ailments using psilocybin (the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms”) and other natural therapies. It plans to use the funding to begin preclinical and clinical work on such treatments and build out its senior leadership team. The Conscious Fund and Ambria Capital led the funding. 

Vegan pizza maker One Planet eyes Scandinavia with £360K round

Plant-based investors Veg Capital and Kale United, along with angel investors, are getting behind One Planet Pizza (Norfolk, England) with a £360,000 (about $490,000) funding round. Started in 2016 by a father-son team, One Planet Pizza sells frozen plant-based pizzas packaged in a sleeve made from recyclable materials. The funding will give it more resources and bandwidth to improve its production capacity, release new products and break into the Scandinavian marketplace this year. 

Brain health supps startup Heights takes off with £1.7M from crowdfunding

Equipped with £1.7 million (about $2 million) raised via the Seedrs crowdfunding platform, Heights (London, England) has formally launched a subscription service for what it calls high-quality, sustainably sourced, plant-based supplements for brain care. Several notable entrepreneurs participated, as well as early stage investor Forward Partners. Heights says it will use the funds to grow its customer base and develop new products, including a forthcoming probiotic aimed at cognitive and mental health. 

Bayer leads $40M series B for anti-allergy food tech firm

Ukko (Tel Aviv, Israel) closed a series B for its AI-based approach to eliminating food allergies and sensitivities. Bayer’s corporate venture unit, Leaps by Bayer, led the $40 million round. Other investors included Continental Grain Company, PeakBridge Ventures, Skyviews Life Science, Fall Line Capital, Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors and TIME Ventures. Using a combination of artificial intelligence and bioengineering, Ukko says it can map and alter problematic aspects of a food protein that trigger an allergy. It’s developing both functional food ingredients and medical therapeutics. 

Egg-white snack brand Quevos secures investment from Kind founder

During an appearance on the TV show Shark Tank, snack brand and NCN past presenter Quevos (Chicago, Illinois) won over guest judge and KIND founder Daniel Lubetzky. He made a deal with the startup reportedly involving a $200,000 investment and another $200,000 as a line of credit. Quevos makes a range of low-carb, egg-white based chips in flavors such as sweet barbecue and sour cream and onion. The chips are sold online and in 1,000 retail outlets. 

Pea milk startup secures £4.8M for growth in U.S., UK, Canada

Funding continues to flow into dairy alternative companies as plant-based milk maker Sproud (Malmo, Sweden) announces a £4.8 million (about $6.6 million) investment from VGC Partners. The startup will use the funding to grow its team, develop its product offerings and build its brand in core markets including the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Sproud’s line of shelf-stable milk substitutes are made with a blend of pea protein, oils and vitamins. The company launched in 2018 and made its debut in the U.S. and Canada last year. 

BlueNalu brings in $60M for lab-grown seafood

Cell-based seafood startup BlueNalu (San Diego, California) has $60 million in debt financing to support its work toward launching its cultured mahi — possibly this year. The startup’s seafood products are grown from fish cells. BlueNalu says plans are underway to open a pilot production facility, complete its regulatory review with the FDA and begin testing its products in some U.S. foodservice locations. The financing came from Rage Capital, Agronomics, Lewis & Clark AgriFood, McWin, KBW Ventures and Siddhi Capital. 

Grocery delivery without the plastic lands Modern Milkman £5M

The Modern Milkman (Lancashire, England), which delivers fresh groceries from local suppliers to customers’ doors in returnable and reusable packaging, has raised £5 million (about $6.9 million) from ETF Partners. Though it began as a local milk delivery service, the startup has expanded to include other farm-fresh groceries such as juice, eggs, butter, bread and produce. Users order through the website or app for next-day delivery. With the funding, Modern Milkman hopes to grow its sustainable grocery service across the U.K. 

Natural beauty manufacturer SV Labs sells to PE firm

Smith & Vandiver Corp. (Watsonville, California), a contract manufacturer for natural beauty and personal care products, has been acquired by San Francisco Equity Partners for an undisclosed price. Better known as SV Labs, the company works with its customers—including CPG companies, emerging natural brands, online sellers and national retailers—on R&D, formulation, manufacturing, packaging and more. SFEP says it will offer the “nimble” and “innovative” company operational and strategic support as it continues to scale. Other beauty brands in SFEP’s portfolio include Japonesque, Yes To and Jane Iredale. 

Cricket purveyor Entomo Farms raises CA$3.7M, plans new consumer brand

Unnamed investors in Canada and Asia led a CA$3.7 million (about US$2.9 million) financing round for past NCN presenter Entomo Farms (Norwood, Ontario, Canada). Founded by a trio of brothers in 2014, the company supplies sustainable protein alternatives in the form of cricket powders and whole roasted insects to dozens of brands and food companies. Entomo Farms says it’s expanding its facilities to meet growing demand and plans to launch a new consumer brand this year.

Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.

News for January 20, 2021

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Muniq takes in $8.2M for gut health nutrition

Muniq (Los Angeles, California), a startup founded by Uplifting Results Labs, has added $8.2 million in series A funding to support its mission to address chronic health conditions by harnessing the power of the gut microbiome. In May, Muniq debuted a line of nutritional shakes with prebiotic resistant starch to help people improve their blood sugar, lose weight and keep their gut bacteria healthy. Alpha Edison, Acre Venture Partners, former NBA player Baron Davis and SimplyProtein founder Cathy Richards backed the latest round, which will fund clinical research, new product development, new hires and efforts to strengthen brand awareness. 

VCs show continued interest in cultured meat with $6M Vow Food round

Most of the high-profile cultured meat companies that have been in the spotlight in recent years are focused on creating mainstream products like beef, pork, chicken and seafood in a lab. Vow Food (Sydney, Australia) takes a unique approach with a portfolio that includes exotic meats such as kangaroo, alpaca and water buffalo. The Australian startup has collected a $6 million seed round led by Square Peg Capital and joined by Blackbird Ventures, Grok Ventures and Tenacious Ventures. Like other cultured meat companies, Vow cultivates and nourishes animal cells to create its products, bypassing the process of raising and killing animals. The company recently completed a new lab and design studio and added more than a dozen people to its team. 

CookUnity gets $15.5M for chef-to-consumer meal subscriptions

Following an exceptional year of growth, meal delivery company CookUnity (Brooklyn, New York) closed a $15.5 million series A to expand across North America. At the center of the company’s approach are chefs whose handcrafted meals bring an elevated dining experience to consumers’ homes. Launched in 2018, CookUnity’s weekly subscription service allows customers to choose from more than 300 small-batch meals. With the new funding provided by Fuel Venture Capital and IDC Ventures, the startup says it will open new kitchens in California and Texas, and onboard more than 100 more chefs. 

Mondelez boosts snacking portfolio with Hu buy

Less than two years after making a minority investment in Hu (New York, New York), Mondelez International (Chicago, Illinois) has acquired the premium snacking brand for an undisclosed amount. Hu, which comes from the phrase “Get Back to Human,” was founded in 2012 on the premise of simple, real ingredients. It’s since become a leader in premium chocolate with its paleo-friendly chocolate bars and has expanded its offerings to include grain-free crackers. It will join brands including Perfect Snacks, Enjoy Life Foods and Tate’s Bake Shop as part of Mondelez’s North American Ventures business. 

New Wave Foods brings vegan seafood to market with $18M series A

The founders of New Wave Foods (San Francisco, California) set out to fill a white space in plant-based seafood. Now they’re ready to launch a vegan shrimp made from seaweed and plant proteins with restaurants and foodservice operators. New Enterprise Associates led an $18 million series A to power the company through its launch. Evolution VC Partners, Tyson Ventures and other investors also participated. New Wave plans to follow up with additional versions of its shrimp product and other forms of plant-based shellfish. 

Jabil buys Ecologic to scale sustainable packaging

NCN past presenter Ecologic Brands (Manteca, California) joins international manufacturing provider Jabil’s (St. Petersburg, Florida) packaging solutions division to get its eco-friendly packaging into more hands. Brands like L’Oreal and Seventh Generation use Ecologic’s paper bottles and containers made from recycled materials to cut their plastic use and meet their sustainability goals. “In Ecologic, Jabil Packaging Solutions gains a commercially mature paper bottle solution enabled by deep material expertise and innovative manufacturing processes,” the brand said in a statement. Meanwhile, Jabil brings global scale and engineering expertise to the deal. 

PowerPlant Ventures looks to reinvigorate Zico

In 2013, Coca-Cola (Atlanta, Georgia) bought a majority stake in one of the original coconut water brands, past NCN presenter Zico (El Segundo, California). Now, as it works to pare down its portfolio and focus on profitable brands, Coke has sold Zico back to its original founder’s growth equity firm. PowerPlant Ventures (Hermosa Beach, California) and its cofounder Mark Rampolla didn’t disclose how much they paid for Zico but announced that the brand will now be called Zico Rising. It will become part of PowerPlant’s portfolio, which also includes Beyond Meat, REBBL and Vive Organic. 

Personalized sports nutrition startup Gainful adds $7.5M

Gainful (San Francisco, California), which sits at the intersection of sports nutrition and personalized nutrition, has completed a $7.5 million series A funding to support growth of its supplement subscription service. A Gainful subscription starts with a personalized recommendation for one of its protein powder formulations, which are made without artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. It also includes access to a registered dietitian and additional products including electrolyte and pre-workout drink mixes. BrandProject and Courtside Ventures led the series A round, with participation from AF Ventures, Round 13 Capital, Barrel Ventures and the founder of global sports agency Polaris Sports. 

$20M series A powers Weezy to deliver groceries on demand

Grocery delivery—but without the wait—is the premise of UK startup Weezy (London, England), which has garnered $20 million from investors to open two fulfillment centers in London. Left Lane Capital, DN Capital, Heartcore Capital and angel investors including Groupon cofounder Chris Muhr provided the capital, which will help Weezy grow its grocery delivery services across London and the broader United Kingdom. Launched in July, Weezy sources groceries from wholesalers and independent sellers, then deploys delivery people on bicycles or electric mopeds to deliver them in 15 minutes on average. 

Investors back allergy-friendly brand Partake Foods with $4.8M

Partake Foods (Jersey City, New York) has raised $4.8 million from high-profile investors including Rihanna, Black Capital, John Foraker, CircleUp Growth Partners, Black Star Fund, Marcy Venture Partners and others. Partake sells its vegan, gluten-free cookies and baking mixes nationwide at Target, Whole Food Market and Sprouts stores. The new funding will help expand the team and product line, and amp up marketing efforts. Founder Denise Woodard is passionate about increasing opportunities for Black- and female-owned businesses in the food industry, and she is leading a fellowship program to foster inclusivity in the industry. 

Qualitas Health attracts $10M to commercialize algae-based protein

Qualitas Health (Houston, Texas), through its omega-3 supplement brand iwi, is working to commercialize an algae-based protein in 2022. To help it get there, the company has secured $10 million in capital from PeakBridge VC, Arancia Group, Minrav and other private investors. Qualitas grows microscopic algae in saltwater pond systems built in the deserts of New Mexico and Texas. The algae it grows contains all of the essential amino acids as well as vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, especially omega-3s. This investment will support the company as it moves into the industrial pilot stage, starts the regulatory process and conducts more clinical research. 

Premium pet food brand Open Farm scoops up $65M

To fuel its growth and innovation in the premium pet food market, Open Farm (Toronto, Canada) has received 80 million CAD ($65 million) from General Atlantic and other investors. Open Farm makes food for dogs and cats, ranging from dry food to fresh meals and supplements. With ethically sourced ingredients, traceability initiatives and packaging reuse and recycling programs, the company has experienced fast growth over the last five years and is now in more than 5,500 retailers in the U.S. and Canada. 

No Meat becomes latest addition to Livekindly’s plant-based portfolio

Plant-based food brand Livekindly Collective has bought No Meat, a vegan meat alternative range developed by British supermarket chain Iceland Foods. Launched in 2018, the line includes meat-free burgers, sausages, chicken strips and more. It’s carried by Iceland, Asda and Ocado in the UK. No Meat joins a portfolio that also includes Fry Family Food Co., LikeMeat and Oumph!. Under the deal with Iceland Foods, the grocer will also begin to sell Livekindly’s other brands in Iceland and The Food Warehouse stores. Livekindly, in its current form, came into being last year when Foods United bought Livekindly Media and subsequently raised a $135 million round to become a plant-based food powerhouse. 

AMP’s recycling robots pick up $55M

Today’s recycling systems require a lot of manual labor, but AMP Robotics (Denver, Colorado) is trying to change that. The company has raised a $55 million series B to scale its waste-sorting system that leverages AI algorithms and picker robots to recognize, pick and sort recyclable items from material streams. The round saw participation from Valor Equity Partners, GV, Sequoia Capital, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Congruent Ventures and Closed Loop Partners. It brought the company’s total funding to nearly $75 million.

Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.

News for January 3, 2021

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Startup enabling meat cultivation closes seed round with leading investors

A startup that believes its technology is integral in helping the cultured meat market mature has locked in seed funding. Matrix Meats (Columbus, Ohio) was born out of a partnership between Ikove Capital’s Startup Nursery and regenerative medicine company Nanofiber Solutions. It manufactures animal-free nanofiber scaffolds for cultured meat to be grown on. While the company didn’t disclose how much the oversubscribed round brought in, it did name Unovis Asset Management as the leader. CPT Capital, Siddhi Capital, Clear Current Capital and a special purpose vehicle led by the Ikove Startup Nursery Fund were additional supporters. With the funding, Matrix Meats says it will expand its staff and acquire new customers and partners. Currently, it has relationships with 14 cultivated meat producers. 

Zevia looks to go global with $200M investment

Having established itself as a leader in the North American better-for-you beverage market, past NCN presenter Zevia (Los Angeles, California) is setting its sights on global expansion with $200 million from Canadian investment management firm Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ). The maker of zero-calorie sodas, mixers, sparkling waters, teas and other stevia-sweetened drinks will use the funds to extend its reach beyond the U.S. and Canada, where it currently sells in more than 35,000 retail locations. 

E-commerce software for retailers pulls in $2.4M

Recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that B2B e-commerce company GrocerKey (Madison, Wisconsin) has raised $2.4 million from 18 investors. Using GrocerKey’s technology platform, retailers can implement click-and-collect, home delivery, mobile self-checkout and other digital services for their customers. Like many of its e-commerce peers, GrocerKey has thrived during the pandemic, reporting an 85% increase in second-quarter sales this year. The company has reportedly raised more than $6.5 million in funding since its creation in 2014. Earlier this year, it hired more than 300 fulfillment workers to keep up with the spike in consumer demand. 

Organic baby food maker Little Spoon scoops up $22M

Valor Siren Ventures, a food-focused fund backed by Starbucks, led a $22 million round for Little Spoon (San Francisco, California), which delivers fresh organic meals for babies and children to customers in 48 states. With a product line that includes purées, toddler meals and vitamins, the three-year-old company targets parents who value a mix of convenience and fresh, high-quality food for their kids. It also operates a companion website and a parenting community called Is This Normal. 

Hooked Foods raises $600K to launch plant-based tuna in Sweden

Ahead of the nationwide launch of its vegan-friendly tuna alternative, Hooked Foods (Stockholm, Sweden) has secured a SEK 5 million (about $600,000) investment. It plans to roll out Toona, made from soy protein, sunflower oil and algae, in restaurant chains in Sweden in the spring. The funds came from incubators Katapult Ocean and ProVeg plus VCs Veg Capital, Wave Ventures and PlusCap. Food Angels Germany and Kale United also participated. Next up will be a vegan-friendly shredded salmon alternative called Salmoon. 

FoodMarble collects $2.6M for personal digestive trackers

In its quest to bring digestive health science to everyday consumers, FoodMarble (Dublin, Ireland) has developed a breath analysis device that pairs with an app to help users optimize their diet. With €2.1 million (about $2.6 million) in new funding, the company looks to expand into new markets and R&D projects. Launched in 2018, the device is a handheld breath analyzer that measures the amount of hydrogen present in users’ breath after they eat. When paired with the app, it gives users data about how the food they eat affects their digestion. The funding round was led by Business Venture Partners with participation from SOSV, Breed Reply, Delta Partners and Enterprise Ireland. FoodMarble will seek continued funding through an equity crowdfunding campaign.

Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.

News for December 23, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Snack brand Peckish sells to Egg Innovations

Egg Innovations (Warsaw, Indiana), a Midwestern purveyor of free-range and pasture-raised eggs, has acquired snack brand Peckish (Sonoma, California). Born last year out of the Sonoma Brands incubator, Peckish packages hard-boiled eggs (supplied by Blue Sky Family Farms, Egg Innovations’ consumer-facing brand) with crispy dips for a high-protein snack with no added sugar. The companies say Sonoma will continue to be involved in supporting the brand’s expansion while helping grow Blue Sky Family Farms’ brand and retail presence. 

Curator of clean and sustainable household products picks up $125M

Grove Collaborative (San Francisco, California), an online one-stop shop for natural personal care products, pet supplies and household essentials, has completed a $125 million financing round at a $1.3 billion valuation. The direct-to-consumer e-commerce site carries nontoxic, cruelty free, sustainably sourced products from brands including Mrs. Meyer’s, Burt’s Bees, Method, Seventh Generation and Dr. Bronner’s, as well as its own private label. Over the past two years, it’s also acquired gummy skincare company Sundaily, sexual wellness company Sustain Natural and video community Darby Smart. A certified B Corp, Grove Collaborative is working toward being plastic-free by 2025. Investors in the round include Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global, Sculptor, NextView Ventures and Glynn Capital Management. 

Loop pulls in $25M to make reusable packaging viable for CPGs, retailers

Procter & Gamble, Nestle, SUEZ, Sky Ocean Ventures and others have poured $25 million into TerraCycle’s (Trenton, New Jersey) global reuse platform, Loop. Launched in 2019, Loop aims to cut use of single-use plastics by partnering with CPGs and retailers to offer products in durable packaging that can be returned, cleaned, reused and eventually recycled after 20 to 100 uses. Currently it offers about 400 products in the United States, United Kingdom and France, with plans to expand operations into Canada, Japan and Australia.

With $180M Wholesome Sweeteners buy, Whole Earth looks to scale in natural channel

Fresh off its acquisition of Swerve, Whole Earth Brands (Chicago, Illinois) is adding more brands to its global platform of natural and alternative sweeteners with the acquisition of Wholesome Sweeteners (Sugar Land, Texas). Wholesome Sweeteners is a leader in fair trade and organic ingredients, including granulated sugar, honey, agave and allulose. Under terms of the deal, it will receive $180 million in cash, plus up to $55 million in additional earnouts through the end of 2021. “This transaction brings us additional scale that we believe will enhance our competitive position and help us expand consumers’ access to the delicious foods they love,” said Whole Earth CEO Albert Manzone. 

Crave is the latest ghost kitchen to attract investors with $7.3M seed round

During the pandemic, investors have inundated ghost or virtual kitchens with both interest and funding. Recently, Crave Hospitality Group (Minneapolis, Minnesota), which operates a ghost kitchen called Crave Collective in Boise, Idaho, completed a $7.3 million seed round. It will use the funding to build out teams for four more locations set to open next year. The Boise facility opened in November, housing 16 restaurant concepts that accept orders digitally, prepare food in their designated kitchen space and then hand it off for delivery. VC firm StageDotO led the round, with participation from Capital Eleven and individual investors. 

Baby food brand Serenity Kids eyes retail expansion with $3M round

Past NCN presenter Serenity Kids (Austin, Texas) hopes to bring its baby food pouches to more conventional and national grocery shelves with a new $3 million funding round. Using ethically sourced meats, organic vegetables and healthy fats, Serenity Now crafts a range of shelf-stable purees for babies and toddlers and sells them in stores including Whole Foods, Sprouts and Meijer. The brand says it’s set to triple its revenue this year and will use the funding to support product launches, leadership appointments and retail growth. Participating in the round were Wild Ventures, Birch Benders cofounders Lizzi Ackerman and Matt LaCasse, and other individual investors. 

TurtleTree Lab takes in $6.2M to make milk in a lab

Creating real milk without the need for animals is the goal of biotech company TurtleTree Labs (Singapore), which has attracted $6.2 million in pre-series A funding from Green Monday Ventures, Eat Beyond Global, VBW Ventures and Verso Capital. TurtleTree uses a cell-based method to make milk and milk components to be used for infant nutrition and cow’s milk products. Unlike some companies in this space, its process originates with animal cells. With the fresh funding, it can further accelerate research and production of these components, which could provide companies that use dairy products with a less carbon-intensive supply solution. This funding round follows a $3.2 million seed round that closed in June. 

British beauty brand BYBI enters the U.S. with $7M infusion

With its $7 million series A, BYBI (London, England) is turning its focus to growing internationally. Its range of skincare and beauty products made with clean, vegan ingredients is set to launch in more than 1,800 Target stores in January. The brand has pledged to become carbon neutral by the end of 2020 and offers a reusable packaging program. Point King Capital led the funding round, with additional participation from Unilever Ventures and Spiritual Gangster. 

Lavit’s countertop drink dispenser lands strategic investment

Coca-Cola European Partners is exploring growth opportunities in the field of beverage delivery solutions with an investment in NCN past presenter Lavit (New York, New York). Lavit’s countertop cold beverage machine uses 100% recyclable aluminum pods that come in more than 25 flavors to dispense still or sparkling drinks. With the investment, it plans to build on additional product capabilities and scale. CCEP says the investment will allow it to test new dispensing solutions in an effort to reduce packaging waste and its carbon footprint. Earlier this year, it took a 25% stake in another drink dispensing solution, Innovative Tap Solutions. 

Compostable packaging maker TIPA seals up $4M investment deal

For the last three years, TIPA (Hod HaSharon, Israel) has been working with food makers and other companies to swap out their plastic packaging for a more eco-friendly alternative. Now, a new $4 million investment from Millennium Food-Tech will help it continue to expand its biomaterial-based packaging, which is flexible like conventional plastics but disintegrates and decomposes like organic waste when it’s composted. The 10-year-old company has raised $53 million so far. It currently operates in Israel, Europe, the U.S. and Australia. 

Arya raises $21M to support smallholder farms in India

Arya’s (Noida, India) has raised $21 million to help farmers in India—especially those outside of major agricultural centers—thrive. Arya operates more than 1,500 storage warehouses throughout the country, and offers financing programs and a digital marketplace where farmers can connect with buyers. Quona Capital led the series B round, with participation from LGT Lightstone Aspada and Omnivore, while other unnamed investors provided debt financing. Arya will deploy the capital to scale its financial technology platform and broaden its warehouse network. 

Smucker sells off pet food brand Natural Balance for $50M

The J.M. Smucker Co. (Orville, Ohio) has divested premium pet food brand Natural Balance for $50 million, citing poor performance and the company’s desire to focus on core brands in its pet portfolio. The buyer is Nexus Capital Management, which will add Natural Balance to its broad portfolio. “We believe in the brand’s strong legacy and the ability to reinvigorate the business as an independent company,” said partner Damian Giangiacomo. Brian Connolly, cofounder of Castor & Pollux, has signed on to be the new CEO. 

FODMAP-friendly food brand Fody looks to expand with $8.5M

Self-proclaimed gut-friendly food company Fody (Montreal, Quebec) plans to grow its distribution across North America and expand its marketing initiatives with $8.5 million in new funding. The capital comes from District Ventures Capital, Export Development Canada, New Acres Capital Ag & Food and Jonathan Ross Goodman. Fody sells sauces, snacks, condiments and other products that are free from common triggers of digestive discomfort, certified low-FODMAP, vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO. The four-year-old company founded by Glutino cofounder Steven J. Singer sells its products online and in more than 7,000 stores across North America. 

Better Dairy nabs $2.1M to remove animals from the dairy supply chain

Though it’s currently in the early stages of R&D, startup Better Dairy (London, England) aims to commercialize the first of its animal-free dairy products by early 2022. A £1.6 million (about $2.1 million) seed round from Happiness Capital, CPT Capital, Stray Dog Capital, Veg Capital and angel investors will help it take the next steps to get there. Better Dairy addresses the lack of sustainability in dairy production by using yeast fermentation and biology to make products that are “molecularly identical” to traditional dairy, with an initial focus on the proteins whey and casein.

Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.

News for November 25, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Kind sells to Mars Wrigley for a reported $5B

Three years after taking a minority stake in the brand, candy bar maker Mars acquired Kind North America. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but media outlets reported Kind’s valuation at around $5 billion. Since 2017, Kind has expanded its lines of bars, granolas and other snacks into eight categories and more than 35 countries. It also debuted a line of frozen treat bars and refrigerated nut butter bars earlier this year. According to the companies, Kind founder Daniel Lubetzky remains a financial stakeholder and “will play a key role in future development and expansion of Kind.”

$7.9M series A will bring Farmstead’s delivery services to new cities

Four-year-old grocery delivery and software startup Farmstead (Burlingame, California) has completed a $7.9 million series A, bringing its total funding to $14.7 million. Like many other delivery companies, Farmstead’s business has boomed during 2020. But unlike Instacart and other high-profile delivery companies, its model uses the company’s own warehouse and drivers, backed by sophisticated proprietary software to keep operations efficient. Farmstead serves thousands of orders each day within 50 miles of its hub in San Francisco and plans to add several markets in the next year, including Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. AidenLair Capital led the series A, with participation from Y Combinator, Gelt VC, Duro, Maple VC, Heron Rock, 19 York, Red Dog Capital and others.

Zero Egg cracks U.S. plant-based market with $5M series A

Powerplant Ventures led a $5 million funding round for Zero Egg (San Francisco, California), maker of a plant-based egg alternative for use by food manufacturers and foodservice providers. Founded in 2018, Zero Egg uses plant proteins including soy, potatoes, peas and chickpeas in its product, which has 15 calories per serving. With egg alternatives being one of the fastest-growing plant-based food categories, the company will use the funding to grow its brand and support new product launches in the coming year. Unovis Asset Management-New Crop Capital and Strauss Group also invested in the round. 

R-Zero attracts $15M for a sanitization device for restaurants

Investors including DBL Partners, Bedrock Capital and HAX/SOSV have funneled $15 million into R-Zero (San Francisco, California) as it ramps up production of its germ-killing device. R-Zero started up during the pandemic to commercialize a device it says can kill over 99.9% of pathogens in the air and on surfaces — the coronavirus included — within a 5,000-square-foot space using UV-C technology. The device is also equipped with BLE (Bluetooth Low-Energy), LTE and GPS connectivity so that customers such as restaurants, coffee shops, schools and hotels can monitor its activity via smartphone. 

Medical meal replacement brand Kate Farms closes $51M series B

Now in its fourth year of sustained growth, Kate Farms (Santa Barbara, California) has raised $51 million from Goldman Sachs, Kaiser Permanente Ventures and individual investors to step up its efforts to bring the plant-based revolution to healthcare. The brand’s organic, plant-based, tube-feeding formulas and shakes are made without allergens to help people with chronic illnesses get the nutrition they need. This year, it launched three new formulas, including a specialty formula for children. In a statement, Kate Farms said the series B funding will drive further innovation and expansion of the business. 

Ahold Delhaize brings FreshDirect under its omnichannel umbrella

Ahold Delhaize (Zaandam, Netherlands)—the global retail company that operates Food Lion, Hannaford, Peapod and many other grocers—has taken an 80% stake in online fresh food grocer FreshDirect (New York City, New York). Private equity firm Centerbridge Partners acquired the other 20%. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Miller said the deal is the next step in the grocery giant’s omnichannel evolution, calling New York City one of the most important ecommerce food markets in the U.S. For FreshDirect, access to Ahold Delhaize’s buying power and scale could help it stay competitive in the fast-growing online grocery market. The company will keep its brand name and continue operating out of its New York City facility. 

Keto brand HVMN lands $5.5M from famous investors

Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, musician Zac Brown and football legend Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures were among backers in the latest funding round for Health Via Modern Nutrition (San Francisco, California). With an ever-growing line of keto food bars, MCT oil powders, collagen products and nootropic supplements, HVMN is bullish on the high-fat lifestyle trend, saying these are only the “early days” of keto. The new capital brings its total funding to $8.1 million and will go toward accelerating R&D for keto-focused nutrition technologies and products. 

Canadian alt-meat maker Modern Meat adds snacks, takes first steps into U.S. market

Modern Meat (Vancouver, Canada), which markets plant-based alternatives to a variety of beef products, is adding snacks to its repertoire with the acquisition of vegan snack brands. Wholesale distributor JDW Distributors (Gardena, California) offloaded the brands, including Sunsations fruit jellies and Snacks from the Sun sunflower chips, for $450,000. With them, Modern Meat gets a foothold in the U.S. market, as both brands have a robust sales and distribution network in the U.S. and Canada. 

Kerry boosts probiotic business with Bio-K Plus acquisition

Global flavor and nutrition brand Kerry (Tralee, Ireland) has bought Bio-K Plus (Quebec, Canada), which sells fermented beverages and capsules made with three science-backed strains of probiotics across North America. According to Kerry, the deal will expand its range of probiotics and its leadership position within the market. It previously acquired immune health brand Wellmune in 2015 and Ganeden in 2017. The companies did not disclose financial details of the deal. 

MycoWorks brings in $45M to launch leather made from mushrooms

In its push to make fashion more sustainable, MycoWorks (San Francisco, California) is nearing the commercialization stage. It raised $45 million from WTT Investment Ltd., DCVC Bio, Valor Equity Partners, Humboldt Fund, Gruss & Co. and other investors, including several unnamed fashion brands. Singer John Legend and actress Natalie Portman also joined in the round. In conjunction with the round, MycoWorks opened a production plant where it will scale up manufacturing of its non-animal leather material made from mycelium. According to the brand, it has already made deals with some big fashion brands to use its material in shoes, wallets, belts and other leather goods. 

Private equity firm Clearlake buys WellPet

Well Pet (Tewksbury, Massachusetts), a pioneer in the natural pet food and treat movement with brands such as Holistic Select and Sojos, was bought by Clearlake Capital Group (Santa Monica, California) from Berwind Corp. The financial details weren’t disclosed. “We believe the current market tailwinds, enduring increase in pet ownership and pet humanization dynamics offer a unique opportunity to meaningfully invest behind the company,” said Clearlake Managing Partner José E. Feliciano. According to WellPet, it has more than 1.2 million distribution points across the globe and will benefit from Clearlake’s operation insights and experience in the consumer sector. Other consumer companies in Clearlake’s portfolio include Chef’s Cut, Purple and Sensible Portions. 

Terra Kaffe raises $4M for an espresso machine without the plastic waste

In the growing category of grind-and-brew or super automatic coffee, Terra Kaffe (Brooklyn, New York) wants to empower consumers to make cafe-style coffee at home without the waste that pod-based systems create. It’s just raised $4 million from The SeedLab to launch its TK-01 machine, which brews a full range of customized espresso drinks. Late last year, the company raised $750,000 in a seed round, bringing its total raised so far to just under $5 million. 

Strava loads up with $110M for app improvements

Fitness tracking app Strava (San Francisco, California) has $110 million more to its name after a series F funding round led by TCV and Sequoia Capital, with additional investments from Dragoneer Investment Group, Madrone Capital Partners, Jackson Square Ventures and Go4it Capital. According to Strava, the round will allow it to build out new features and gain more new users. Currently it’s used by 70 million people in 195 countries. 

Whole Earth Foods snaps up Swerve sweetener for $80M

Whole Earth Brands (Chicago, Illinois) has acquired Swerve (New Orleans, Louisiana) for $80 million, calling the brand’s ingredient a key growth platform for expanding Whole Earth’s foothold in the red-hot better-for-you sweetener space. Swerve markets a zero-calorie, keto-friendly, non-glycemic sugar alternative made from ingredients found in select fruits and starchy root vegetables. “The transaction fits perfectly with our M&A strategy to invest in and to accelerate the growth of our branded consumer packaged goods business in North America,” said Whole Earth Brands CEO Albert Manzone. The deal is expected to give Whole Earth, which also owns Pure Via, Equal and other brands, a 10% market share of sweeteners in North America.

Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.

News for October 28, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Australia’s Provectus raises $3.25M to scale algae production for food and ag

With the goal of optimizing algae to create a more sustainable world, Provectus (Noosa, Queensland, Australia) has secured $3.25 million in seed funding. The biotech company developed technology to grow algae at scale for various industries. Initially, it’s focusing on making natural, clean-label ingredients for the food and agriculture industries but hopes to eventually use synthetic biology to make compounds for other applications, including therapeutics. Hong Kong’s Vectr Ventures led the funding round, with participation from Canadian VC firm Maropost Ventures and other family offices and angel investors. 

Amazon’s Alexa Fund backs Rise Gardens’ home hydroponics

Bringing the allure of hydroponic gardens to consumers’ homes, Rise Gardens (Chicago, Illinois) created a connected, indoor gardening system that enables people to grow more than 60 varieties of herbs and vegetables year-round. It’s now got Amazon on board with an investment from the ecommerce giant’s Alexa Fund, which builds on Rise Gardens’ $2.6 million seed round earlier this year. The at-home hydroponic garden includes a mobile app that monitors plants and reminds users to water, fertilize and care for their plants. 

With $135M, Livekindly plans U.S. launch of 3 plant-based brands

Plant-based food company Livekindly Collective (Zurich, Switzerland), founded earlier this year when Foods United bought vegan-focused content brand Livekindly Media and raised $200 million, has taken in another $135 million from investors. Founding investor Blue Horizon Corp. led the round, which also saw participation from a syndicate of Asian investors led by Trustbridge Partners. With the new capital, Livekindly says it will develop new products and accelerate the launch of three of its portfolio brands—The Fry Family Food Co., LikeMeat and Oumph!—in the U.S. next year. 

Danone grows specialized nutrition platform with Real Foods Blends buy

Nutricia (Amsterdam, Netherlands) which is owned by Danone as part of its specialized nutrition business, has added to its portfolio a suite of blended, real food meals for children and adults with feeding tubes. Real Food Blends (Chicago, Illinois) was started by husband-and-wife pair Tony and Julie Bombacino, inspired by their young tube-fed son, A.J., in 2012. The startup hopes Nutricia’s broad reach in the U.S. will build awareness of its products.

Israeli cultured meat company to acquire cultured fats startup

Meat-Tech 3D (Ness Ziona, Israel), a company that joins cellular agriculture with 3D printing, has invested €1 million (about $1.2 million) in another cell-based food tech startup. The investment is reportedly part of an agreement to acquire that startup, Peace of Meat (Antwerp, Belgium), for about $17.5 million if it can hit certain milestones. Publicly traded Meat-Tech has developed stem-cell-based and 3D printing technology to produce meat without hurting animals. Peace of Meat also uses stem-cell-based technology but instead produces animal fats. Meat-Tech sees using cultured fats to enhance the aromas, flavors and textures of plant-based burgers as an exciting opportunity for the future. It says the acquisition will diversify its product range and allow it to introduce cultured meat technologies to the market as quickly as possible. 

IoT tech to monitor the grain supply chain gains $10.2M

A $10.2 million series B will power TeleSense (Sunnyvale, California) as it makes its supply chain monitoring technology available to more grain suppliers globally. Its Internet of Things and cloud-based AI technology gives suppliers such as Bunge, Cargill and ADM real-time insights into the temperature, moisture and location of their grain as it’s stored and transported. The California-based company recently opened offices in Australia and Europe. Finistere Ventures led the series B; Fulcrum Global Capital, Mindset Ventures and Rabobank’s Food & Agri Innovation Fund also joined in. 

Australian fake-meat maker V2food targets Asia with $55M in new funding

Like several other meat alternative companies, Australia’s V2food (Sydney, Australia) has its sights set on Asia and plans to get there with $55 million in new equity. Investors in the series B round include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and several heavyweight investors in Asia including Singapore’s state-owned Temasek Holdings, Chinese food producer Esenagro and Hauxing Growth Capital. V2food sells plant-based burger and minced meat alternatives made from soy protein in Australian supermarkets and restaurants. 

Plenty raises $140M, inks deal with Driscoll’s to grow berries inside

In a series D round of funding, vertical farming startup Plenty (San Francisco, California) raked in $140 million, bringing its total funding so far to more than $500 million. Plenty operates indoor vertical farms powered by wind and solar energy. They grow pesticide-free produce year-round using less land and water. The round was led by SoftBank, with participation from berry producer Driscoll’s. Part of the funding will help Plenty carry out its new deal with Driscoll’s under which it will grow strawberries in its indoor farms. According to Driscoll’s, Plenty will incorporate Driscoll’s proprietary genetics and berry expertise with its own plant science expertise to optimize the flavor, texture and size of berries. 

Kainos Capital buys Nutrisystem, South Beach Diet from Tivity Health

Tivity Health (Franklin, Tennessee) has sold off its full nutrition business— including legacy brands Nutrisystem and South Beach Diet—to private equity firm Kainos Capital for $575 million. Nutrisystem has been around since 1972 and today includes a range of low-calorie snacks, meals and shakes, and the nutrition app NuMi. The South Beach Diet Brand includes low-carb meal and snack delivery. Their new owner, Kainos Capital, is a middle-market PE firm exclusively focused on food and consumer products. It’s invested in brands including Ghirardelli, Earthbound Farm and JJ’s bakery. 

Deep Desert to launch THC drinks with $1.7M

Deep Desert Beverages (Nevada City, California) is set to launch its line of non-alcoholic, zero-calorie cannabis-infused beverages in California next year. To help build out its production facility and prepare for a successful launch, the startup raised a $1.65 million series B. Deep Desert says its THC-infused drinks don’t smell or taste like cannabis and are made with natural spring water and natural fruit and botanical extracts. A line of leisurewear appears to be in the works, too. 

Investors fuel Love Good Fats with $10.7M

Canadian firms InvestEco Capital Corp. and Export Development Canada are helping keto-friendly snack startup Love Good Fats (Toronto, Ontario) accelerate its growth in North America with $10.7 million in equity financing. Products from the brand’s line of low-sugar, low-carb bars and shakes are sold in more than 20,000 retail stores including Walmart, Kroger, Costco and CVS. 

PanTheryx builds gut health portfolio with Goodgut acquisition

Nutrition and biotech company PanTheryx (Boulder, Colorado) is expanding its gut and immune health product lines by acquiring the Goodgut digestive health brands from Greenteaspoon Inc., an NCN past presenter. Goodgut’s prebiotic supplements are made with the proprietary ingredient Preliva, a natural polyphenol that helps good gut bacteria flourish. “This acquisition will add a high-quality prebiotic to the PanTheryx product lines that already include bovine colostrum for digestive and immune health,” the company said in a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Hydroponic farming startup BrightFarms brings in $100M investment

NCN past presenter BrightFarms closed a $100 million series E funding round to help grow its network of indoor farms. With operations in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and new farms in the works in North Carolina, Massachusetts and Texas, BrightFarms provides locally grown greens year-round through retailers including Walmart and Kroger. Cox Enterprises led the round and now owns a majority stake in BrightFarms. Catalyst Investors also participated. 

GoPuff gets $380M for on-demand delivery

Delivery service GoPuff (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) has garnered $380 million from investors as it builds out its geographic footprint and product offerings. Seven-year-old GoPuff offers 30-minute delivery of food, alcohol, electronics, cleaning supplies and more to customers in more than 500 U.S. cities. Existing investor Accel and D1 Capital Partners led the round, which pushed the company’s valuation to $3.9 billion. Luxor Capital and SoftBank Vision Fund also joined in. 

Jaxjox lands $10M as it readies connected at-home fitness studio

A $10 million series A round helped fund R&D for Jaxjox’s (Redmond, Washington) AI-powered, all-in-one workout system. The funding, which came from investors including Dowgate Capital Ltd. and entrepreneur Nigel Wray, brings the startup’s total raised to $17 million. It plans to start shipping its InteractiveStudio smart gym to users later this year. For $2,199 and a $39 monthly subscription fee, users can get on-demand classes, a 43” touchscreen TV and digitally adjustable weights, which also include connected technology to monitor their performance metrics.

Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.

News for December 9, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

LemonBox raises $2.5M to sell personalized American supplements in China

Founded in 2018 to give Chinese millennials affordable access to vitamins and supplements from the United States, LemonBox (San Francisco, California) has secured $2.5 million in pre-A funding. Chinese firm Panda Capital and Y Combinator were investors in the round. LemonBox sees its focus on personalization and affordability as differentiators from other importers. The startup creates customized daily supplement packs for users based on information it collects about their health. With the new funds, the startup plans to open a fulfillment center in China (in addition to its Silicon Valley-based one). 

Unilever scoops up another gummy vitamin brand, SmartyPants

Supplement brand SmartyPants (Los Angeles, California) sold to Unilever (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey) for an undisclosed price, joining Olly, Liquid I.V. and Equilibria in the conglomerate’s functional nutrition and supplement segment. Since its founding in 2011, SmartyPants has struck a chord with health-seeking consumers with its line of whimsically marketed gummy supplements for adults, kids and dogs. The company focuses on quality ingredients, convenience and sustainable sourcing. Recently, it also launched a line of supplements for infants and added to its immunity-supporting lineup.  

Investors back Cure’s organic electrolyte drinks with $2.6M

Andy Roddick, Thrive Market CEO Nick Green and a number of other celebrities backed beverage brand Cure Hydration (New York, New York) in its $2.6 million seed funding round. VC firms Lerer Hippeau, M3 Ventures and Litani Ventures also participated. Cure’s powdered electrolyte drinks, which are made with a base of coconut water and pink Himalayan salt, dissolve in water and are flavored with organic ingredients such as stevia extract and lemon juice powder. The new funds will go toward helping the startup grow its team, brand awareness and product line. Cure also says it’s expanding to 4,200 retail stores in the U.S. 

HelloFresh buys Factor75 in latest move toward meal delivery dominance

As it looks to gain more ground in the U.S., HelloFresh is acquiring past NCN presenter Factor75, which dishes up ready-to-eat fresh meals. The deal is structured so that HelloFresh will pay $177 million to Factor 75 up front, with another $100 million possible in performance-based earn-outs. HelloFresh, which also owns EveryPlate and Green Chef, is reportedly the meal kit market leader in the U.S., winning out over rivals Blue Apron, Freshly and Sun Basket. With the acquisition, it gains its first office in Chicago, plus four production and fulfillment centers. Another facility is in the works to provide capacity to deliver more than $500 million in prepared meals annually.

Kind buys Nature’s Bakery to bulk up Mars’ healthy snack lineup

Now under the Mars umbrella, snack brand Kind (New York, New York) has added Nature’s Bakery (Reno, Nevada) to its lineup as it looks to build out a distinct health and wellness platform within the global consumer goods company. Like Kind, Nature’s Bakery is known as a leader in the snack bar space prioritizing simple, wholesome ingredients. The joining of the competitors will “satisfy a broader range of nutritional needs, dietary restrictions and taste preferences,” Kind said in a statement. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. 

Newly launched Sugarbreak gets $3M

Earlier this year, startup Sugarbreak (New York, New York) rolled out a trio of natural health products to help consumers reduce their sugar consumption and promote healthy blood sugar management. Now it’s raised nearly $3 million from Skagen Conscious Capital, Bronze VC, BBG Ventures and Sorven Capital. Sugarbreak leverages natural ingredients in its breath strips, pre-meal capsules and daily supplements, which it sells directly to consumers online. The B-Corp. says the new funding will support product innovation, as it plans to add more offerings to its lineup next year. 

Hemp drinks draw investors for Unity Wellness’s $1.25M series A

A group of investors has infused hemp beverage brand Unity Wellness (Beverly Hills, California) with $1.25 million in series A capital. The brand’s “wellness beverages,” which fit into the booming functional beverage category, are crafted with hemp complex and adaptogens like ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea and ginkgo biloba. Unity Wellness is gearing up to launch a new CBD protein bar and also sells a collagen drink mix. With the funding, it plans to work on raising brand awareness, scaling up and investing in products and the team. 

Cell-based fish maker Avant pulls in $3.1M for 2021 launch

As numerous cellular meat companies march toward commercialization, Avant Meats (Hong Kong, China) tosses its hat in the ring with a $3.1 million seed round to fund R&D and bring down production costs for its cell-based fish products, which it hopes to launch next year. Avant Meats uses fish cells to cultivate animal-free proteins that are used for skin care products and food, including fish maw, sea cucumber and fish fillets. Investors in the round include Markus Haefeli, the chairman of sustainable fish company Regal Springs, China Venture Capital, AngelHub, ParticleX, Lever VC, CPT Capital and Artesian. 

Tate & Lyle grows sweetener offerings with Sweet Green Fields acquisition

Ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle (London, U.K.) is the new owner of Sweet Green Fields (Bellingham, Washington), acquiring a portfolio of stevia products, an integrated stevia supply chain and a bigger presence in the Asia Pacific region. Tate & Lyle has been distributing Sweet Green Fields’ stevia-based products since 2017 and took a 15% stake in the company the following year. Its purchase of the rest of the company’s shares supports Tate & Lyle’s strategy to grow its sweetener solutions portfolio, CEO Nick Hampton said. Stevia is a growth driver in the alternative sweeteners category. 

Re-Nuble raises $1.1M to feed soilless crops with food waste

Among the myriad approaches to slashing the amount of food we waste, Re-Nuble’s (New York, New York) is rather novel. The startup has raised $1.1 million for a recovery system that turns food waste into water soluble, organic nutrients for hydroponic farms. Global Sustainable Future led the round, with participation from She1K, SOSV, SVG Ventures, WOCstar and others. Re-Nuble says it’s been working on case studies with soilless farms and will release the results early next year. “That will definitely lead to growth and allow us to accelerate more farms getting access to our product,” says CEO Tinia Pina. 

Chinese food delivery app HungryPanda adds $70M

Food delivery services have received major attention from investors this year, including HungryPanda (London, United Kingdom), a Mandarin-language app aimed at Chinese consumers living abroad. Following up on a $20 million investment earlier this year, HungryPanda raised a $70 million series C from e-commerce investor Kinnevik, 83North, Felix Capital, Piton Capital and Burda Principal Investment. HungryPanda delivers food from Asian restaurants and grocery stores in 47 cities in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and the U.K. The company says it’s grown 30-fold since launching and is profitable in some markets. 

Canadian plant-based condiment maker Mother Raw secures $6.1M

As it looks to grow distribution of its vegan dressings, dips and condiments across North America, Mother Raw (Toronto, Canada) has $6.1 million in fresh capital from investors. About 3,700 stores across the continent, including Meijer, Target and Whole Foods, currently stock Mother Raw’s recently rebranded and reformulated products. Forage Capital Partners led the round, with Export Development Canada and Whitecap Venture Partners joining in. 

Karakuri nets $8.4M for a robot that serves up personalized healthy meals

Robotics company Karakuri (Northwood, U.K.) has $8.4 million in fresh funding as it works to create a device that could serve up made-to-order health food with no person-to-person contact. Initially designed to make breakfast bowls, Karakuri’s DK-One robot can store up to 18 ingredients—each with their own temperature controls—and dispense them to create customized meals in under two minutes per meal. The company recently debuted a pre-production version of the device, which uses sophisticated robotics, sensing and control technologies. The round was led by Firstminute Capital and was followed on by Hoxton Ventures, Taylor Brothers, Ocado Group and the U.K.-backed Future Fund. 

$2M seed round will help Phood fight food waste

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That’s the philosophy behind Phood’s (New York, New York) solution for empowering grocers and foodservice providers to cut back on how much of their supply goes to waste. In its first round of institutional capital, Phood raised $2 million led by New Stack Ventures and Story Ventures. A scale and camera partnered with AI-powered software capture and analyze data about the food that businesses purchase, prepare and store, to help them become more efficient.

Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.

News for November 11, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Kaffe Bueno raises $1.3M to turn used coffee grounds into functional ingredients

Kaffe Bueno (Copenhagen, Denmark), a startup that upcycles coffee grounds into ingredients for personal care, supplement and functional food products, has secured €1.1 million (about $1.3 million) in seed funding. The capital comes from Paulig Group Venture Capital; Denmark’s investment fund, Vækstfonden; The Yield Lab; and an unnamed angel investor. With three founders who hail from Colombia, the world’s third-largest coffee producer, Kaffe Bueno was founded in 2016 to extract beneficial compounds from used coffee grounds. Currently it offers two coffee-derived cosmetic ingredients—an oil and an exfoliant—and a fiber- and protein-rich gluten-free flour. Kaffe Bueno’s plans for the new funding include launching several new ingredients in the coming years and securing intellectual property protection for its technology. 

Supplement deal brings Natrol, Jarrow Formulas together under New Mountain Capital

New Mountain Capital (New York, New York) has reached a deal to acquire vitamin, mineral and supplement brand Natrol (Los Angeles, California) from Aurobindo Pharma for an undisclosed price. Natrol, a legacy brand in the space, specializes in natural products for sleep, stress, immunity, brain health and beauty. New Mountain will combine it with another newly acquired supplement brand in its portfolio, Jarrow Formulas (Los Angeles, California), which markets hundreds of nutritional supplements, including probiotics, protein and bone health supplements. The deal is expected to close early next year. 

DoorDash, Burma Superstar join forces for to-go restaurant

Burma Superstar (Oakland, California), a California restaurant known for its tea-leaf salad, partnered with food delivery company DoorDash (San Francisco, California) to open a new restaurant built specifically for delivery and takeout. The menu features a mix of Burma Superstar favorites and new items packed in eco-friendly to-go containers. This investment is the first of its kind for DoorDash, which, along with many other food delivery companies, has reported an uptick in business during the pandemic as diners forego the traditional sit-down restaurant experience. 

TPG Growth acquires low-sugar candy brand SmartSweets

Private equity firm TPG Growth has taken a majority stake in SmartSweets (Vancouver, British Columbia), maker of low-sugar candies. The deal is reportedly worth $360 million, according to some reports. Douglas McFarlane, a former executive at The Clorox Co., Maple Leaf Foods and Voortman Bakery, will be the new CEO, while founder Tara Bosch remains the largest individual shareholder. Founded in 2016, SmartSweets replaces some of the sugar in consumers’ favorite chewy candies with low-calorie monk fruit and allulose so that each serving has only 3 to 4 grams of sugar. It sells its line of candies in Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe. 

Netherlands startup nabs $26 million to brew animal-free proteins

The Protein Brewery (Breda, The Netherlands) is putting a €22 million (about $26 million) series A to work scaling up production of its fermented protein ingredient, Fermotein, as it anticipates U.S. regulatory approval next year and European approval in 2022. Made from a process involving proprietary microorganisms and brewing, Fermotein’s pitch is that it has an amino acid profile that resembles meat. It has applications in meat alternatives, pasta, bakery products, protein bars and ice cream, according to the company. Life science investor Novo Holdings led the round and was joined by new investors Roquette Ventures and Unovis Asset Management. 

Nestlé USA nabs prepared food delivery brand Freshly

In a deal worth $950 million plus potential earnouts of up to $550 million, Nestlé USA (Arlington, Virginia) has acquired meal delivery service Freshly (New York, New York). Freshly ships more than a million chef-prepared meals each week to customers in 48 states, according to Nestlé, which first invested in the company in 2017. The food giant says the deal will fuel business opportunities by joining its expertise in people’s at-home eating habits with world-class R&D capabilities, with Freshly’s consumer analytics platform and distribution network. Nestlé also recently purchased a majority stake in United Kingdom meal kit company Mindful Chef. 

UK eco-friendly natural deodorant brand lands $2.6M

London, England-based Jam Jar Investments led a £2 million (about $2.6 million) seed round for Wild Cosmetics (London, UK), a personal care brand with a line of aluminum-free deodorants. They’re made from essential oils and other natural ingredients, and come in a reusable applicator made from aluminum and recycled plastic. With the new funding, Wild Cosmetics looks to drive international expansion, continue investing in its team and technology, and release new products, like a line of bicarbonate-free deodorants for sensitive skin. 

Millennial brand builder The Naked Market draws in $6M

A $6 million seed round will help The Naked Market (San Francisco, California) add to its growing lineup of food and beverage brands. Started by millennial friends in 2019, The Naked Market is a self-proclaimed “omni-channel food and beverage platform that creates and launches healthy-oriented brands and products across a variety of categories.” Already it’s started up three brands: Beach House Bowls (ready-to-eat acai smoothie bowls), Flock Foods (chicken chips) and Avo Crazy (avocado puffs). The round was backed by Holtzbrinck Ventures, BEB Capital, Integrated Capital, Sequoia Capital, Gardein Protein founder Yves Potvin and others. Over the next 12 months, the company plans to roll out half a dozen new brands, including just-launched Project Breakfast, a line of plant-based and keto-friendly breakfast drinks. 

Connecting dietitians and patients digitally nets Nutrium $4.9M

A digital platform that aims to bring together nutrition professionals, their patients and wellness data has raised a €4.25 million (about $4.9 million) seed round. The funding for Nutrium (Braga, Portugal) came from Portugese investors Indico Capital Partners and the Social Innovation Fund, along with previous investors. Nutrium offers dietitians digital tools to manage their business, as well as nutrition analysis, meal planning and an app for patients to use. The digital health startup has customers in 40 countries and plans to double down in key areas like Spain, France, Italy, the U.S. and the UK over the next two years. 

GF puffs maker GeeFree Foods joins its copacker, The Fillo Factory

Since it started selling frozen gluten-free puff pastries back in 2013, GeeFree Foods (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey) has worked with The Fillo Factory (Northvale, New Jersey) as its copacker. Now it’s been acquired by the company, which also manufactures its own brand of appetizers, snacks, entrees and desserts. Financial terms of the deal weren’t made public, but The Fillo Factory says it plans to grow GeeFree’s gluten-free product line in addition to its sales team, distribution channels and social media reach. GeeFree sells its products in nearly 5,000 U.S. retail outlets. 

Online supermarket Ocado bolsters grocery robotics with 2 acquisitions

As it looks to build out its automation capabilities, Ocado (Hatfield, United Kingdom) announced plans to buy Kindred Systems (San Francisco, California) and Haddington Dynamics (Las Vegas, Nevada) for a combined $287 million. Ocado Group CEO Tim Steiner said the acquisitions will “massively accelerate” the company’s investment and progress in robotic picking technologies for its grocery warehouses. Ocado, which claims to have captured a 15% share of the UK online grocery market, has also made deals with other supermarkets around the world to use its e-commerce and automated warehouse technology. 

Hershey backs Quinn in series D round

Past NCN presenter Quinn Snacks (Louisville, Colorado) says it’s added on to the $3 million series D it announced in August with additional capital, including a minority investment from The Hershey Co. (Hershey, Pennsylvania). Quinn, a salty snack leader in the natural channel, has distribution in more than 7,500 retail stores. It offers pretzels and popcorn with traceable ingredients. The funding will support product innovation and new distribution. 

Under Armour sells MyFitnessPal

Five years after Under Armour (Baltimore, Maryland) acquired MyFitnessPal (San Francisco, California) for $475 million, the global fitness firm announced it’s selling the app for $345 million. Under Armour says the divestment is in line with its strategy to focus more deeply on its target consumer, whom it calls the “focused performer.” There’s also been increasing competition in beginner health and fitness apps. The buyer is investment firm Francisco Partners, which counts GoodRx and Eventbrite among its other portfolio companies. Under Armour said it will also discontinue its Endomondo fitness platform at the end of the year. 

Apeel picks up $30M to help smallholder farms fight food waste

Apeel (Santa Barbara, California) has added $30 million in new funding for a program aimed at helping smallholder farms in emerging markets fight food insecurity and waste. Apeel has developed coating technology that extends the shelf life of produce. With its new funding from the International Finance Corporation, Temasek and Astanor Ventures, it plans to put its technology to use in supply chains in Sub-Saharan Africa, Mexico, Central and South America and Southeast Asia. “With decreased food loss and improved quality throughout the supply chain, smallholder farms will be able to access new market opportunities previously out of reach without a cold infrastructure or means for rapid transport,” the company said in a statement. Apeel has raised more than $390 million since it was founded in 2012.

Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.