News for October 14, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Cooler Screens gets $80M to replace cooler doors with electronic displays

Verizon Ventures, Microsoft’s M12 Ventures and other investors are betting big on technology that aims to bring a digital experience to brick-and-mortar shopping—and give brands another avenue to advertise. They led an $80 million series C for Cooler Screens (Chicago, Illinois), which creates interactive digital displays for doors in the cooler aisles of retail stores. Already in use in some Walgreens, Kroger and GetGo stores, they can tell shoppers which items in the cooler are vegan, for example, or how many calories are in a product. Cooler Screens plans to roll out in more retailers and continue to build out its technology platform. 

Cell-based seafood maker Shiok Meats nets $12.6M

Seafood is the next frontier in cell-based technology, and Shiok Meats (Singapore) is leading the way with $12.6 million in funding to build a commercial plant for its first product, a cell-based shrimp that’s expected to be market-ready in 2022. By isolating stem cells from shrimp, lobster and crab, the startup is able to grow crustacean meats in a lab—and four times faster than conventional production methods, according to Aqua-Spark, the investment firm that led the round. Other investors in the round were Seeds Capital, Real Tech Fund, Irongrey, Yellowdog Empowers Fund and Veg Invest Trust. 

Living Ecology sells to private equity firm

Rosewood Private Investments (Dallas, Texas) acquired Living Ecology (Henderson, Nevada) for its functional foods R&D and manufacturing capabilities. Living Ecology makes functional foods and nutritional supplements, specializing in fruit and nutrition bars. Under the deal, it will become an affiliate of Innovations in Nutrition + Wellness, a Rosewood-owned R&D and manufacturing company serving the global health and wellness industry. Its capabilities—including an allergen-free facility—will allow INW to expand its offerings to include a full range of bars and bites. 

Picnic raises $3M to automate pizza-making

Investors have delivered another $3 million to pizza-making robot startup Picnic (Seattle, Washington), which is on a mission to automate food preparation for restaurants. Vulcan Capital, Flying Fish Partners, Creative Ventures, Arnold Venture Group and others took part in the round, which comes less than a year after Picnic’s $5 million seed round closed in November. Picnic’s first offering, an internet-connected device that can make up to 300 customized pizzas per hour, is reportedly in high demand during the pandemic as restaurants look for ways to minimize contact in their operations. It will put the funding toward product development, new hires and marketing. 

Celebs back ‘functional water’ brand Oxigen’s $15M series B

NBA star Kevin Love and country singer Brett Eldridge join Steph Curry—another NBA star—and a slew of business executives as investors in Oxigen (Playa Vista, California), which calls itself “the pH balanced water boosted with oxygen.” The new $15 million will go toward building brand awareness and scaling national distribution for Oxigen’s water, which fits in the fast-growing functional waters category. It’s purified with reverse osmosis, then has electrolytes from sea salt and oxygen added to it, which the brand says boosts recovery. 

VCs back body care brand cofounded by Kobe Bryant with $6M

The men’s grooming brand started by retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who died in January, along with Honest Company cofounder Brian Lee and entrepreneur Matthias Metternich has closed $6 million in venture capital funding. Led by CircleUp Growth Partners, the round will help Art of Sport (Los Angeles, California) grow its retail footprint. The brand initially launched direct-to-consumer before landing in Target stores in February. Its products sell for less than $13 and address the needs of active people, such as excess sweating, aching joints and sun exposure. They’re formulated with botanicals and without parabens or sulfates. Lightspeed Venture Partners, Mark Cuban and others also invested. 

Dewey’s Bakery plans to grow in branded treats, private label with $25M investment

Dewey’s Bakery (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), a baked goods brand and bakery chain with deep roots in its North Carolina community, has secured a $25 million investment to expand. Since 1930, Dewey’s has been making cookies, crackers, cakes and other treats under its own brand and for some of the biggest U.S. food retailers. It also operates several bakeries in the Winston-Salem area. Former Krispy Kreme CEO Scott A. Livengood acquired the business in 2006 and has been growing it across several channels. He invested in the brand alongside global investment firm Eurazeo and incoming CEO Michael P. Senackerib. Eurazeo said the investment will help Dewey’s grow its branded product and private label businesses with enhanced marketing and manufacturing capabilities. 

Investors pour $11.5M into Lyre’s non-alcoholic spirits business

Non-alcoholic beverages are finding favor with health-conscious consumers and also with investors, as demonstrated by Lyre’s (Leichardt, New South Wales) $11.5 million seed round. The Australian startup crafts spirits with natural essences, extracts and distillates instead of alcohol, offering a range of 13 products. The growth capital, which was provided by VRD Investment, Doehler Ventures, DLF Venture, Maropost Ventures and several family offices, will fund product innovation and global expansion. Lyre’s products are sold in more than a dozen markets, including the United States, United Kingdom and China. 

With $68M, Revol Greens ready to launch third high-tech greenhouse

A new $68 million funding round will power Revol Greens (Owatonna, Minnesota) through construction of its third climate-controlled, solar-powered greenhouse. This 20-acre facility in Texas joins two greenhouses in Minnesota and California.Revol’s closed-loop system, which uses hydroponics, natural sunlight and LED lights, allows it to grow leafy greens locally, sustainably and year-round in any climate. Equilibrium Capital led the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $215 million. 

‘Tree-free’ paper brand looks beyond TP with $3M

Cloud Paper (Seattle, Washington), a brand on a mission to end deforestation from paper products, has raised $3 million in seed funding. Greycroft led the round, which will support Cloud Paper as it expands its lineup of paper-free products. The company sells bamboo-based toilet paper wrapped in plastic-free packaging via subscription. The company was founded by former executives from Uber and Convoy. Funding also came from Ashton Kutcher, Mark Cuban, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition, Muse Capital and others. 

Luxury skin care brand Perricone MD bought for $60M

E-commerce company The Hut Group (Manchester, United Kingdom) has acquired holistic skincare and wellness brand Perricone MD for $60 million. Founded in 1997, Perricone MD has dozens of product patents for its clean-label skincare products and supplements. As it joins The Hut Group’s beauty portfolio, the brand says it will benefit from its new owner’s powerful digital-first infrastructure that will help it scale revenues and enhance margins. The Hut Group went public on the London Stock Exchange in September. 

Another round of investment for Instacart raises valuation to $17.7B

After raising $225 million in June and another $100 million in July, Instacart (San Francisco, California) has tacked on another $200 million from previous investors D1 Capital and Valiant Peregrine Fund. It’s now valued at $17.7 billion, according to a company blog post. With the funds, the grocery delivery behemoth says it plans to introduce new features and tools on its app, continue supporting retailers’ ecommerce needs and invest in its ads program for CPG brands. This year, Instacart has expanded beyond grocery to offer delivery from Sephora, Big Lots, Vitamin Shoppe, Petco and more. It operates in all 50 states and Canada. 

Irish food-to-go firm Around Noon diversifies with Simply Fit Food buy

Around Noon (Newry, UK), which manufactures a range of refrigerated, frozen, hot and bakery products in Ireland and the UK, bought Simply Fit Food (Drogheda, Ireland), maker of healthy convenience meals. As part of the deal, Around Noon plans to invest in refreshing its brand, including new environmentally friendly packaging. Around Noon has been making efforts to diversify its product offerings, including the purchase of snack-and-sandwich-maker Chef-in-a-Box in 2017. 

Air quality monitoring startup Airly takes in $2M

Airly (Krakow, Poland and Palo Alto, California) has secured a $2 million pre-seed investment for its hardware-software system that it says delivers “acurate, hyper-local data about air pollution” in communities across the world. Its product is an iPhone-sized device that combines sensor technologies and software to measure particulate matter and emissions in the air, and deliver air quality information. The founders also developed an algorithm to predict air quality up to 24 hours in advance. Giant Ventures led the round, while the families of Sir Richard Branson and Sir Ronald Cohen, along with other investors, also participated. 

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 September 16, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Investors deliver $20M to ex-Uber execs’ Virtual Kitchen

Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund led a $20 million funding round for Virtual Kitchen (San Francisco, California), a startup that empowers restaurants to focus on delivery and minimize real estate costs. Founded in 2018 by two former Uber executives, Virtual Kitchen provides technology for restaurants to set up virtual or cloud kitchens that are optimized for delivery and don’t have dining rooms or storefronts. The new round follows up a $15.3 million round raised last year from Andreessen Horowitz and Base10 Partners. Another former Uber exec started a similar venture, Cloud Kitchens, and reportedly raised $400 million last year. 

Partake Brewing secures $4M in first funding round

In its first round of institutional funding since its 2017 launch, craft non-alcoholic beer brand and past NCN presenter Partake Brewing (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) has closed a $4 million series A. The funding was led by CircleUp Growth Partners with support from Export Development Canada, Natural Products Canada, McLean & Associates and Barrel Ventures. Partake brews a variety of craft non-alcoholic beers, including IPAs, stouts and pale ales, with as few as 10 calories per can. It hopes the new funding will accelerate its U.S. growth by allowing it to make new hires, expand distribution and build brand awareness. 

Bayer buys vitamin subscription service Care/of

In a bid to grow its nutrition business, Bayer (Leverkusen, Germany) has reportedly made a deal to acquire vitamin subscription service Care/of (New York, New York). Care/of emerged as a buzzy startup delivering personalized vitamins to customers in 2016, just in time for online supplement sales to skyrocket. According to a source cited by Bloomberg, the transaction—which has Bayer owning 70% of the company with the option to buy the rest by 2022—values Care/of at $225 million. A representative for Bayer said the company plans to grow Care/of’s business into traditional retail channels, additional categories and new markets. 

Brazilian vegan burger brand looks to U.S., Europe with $21.5M round

Fazenda Futuro (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)—the Brazilian match for Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods—has raised $21.5 million to bring its plant-based burger to the U.S. and European markets. BTG Pactual and ENFINI Investments led the round, which also saw participation from Monashees and Go4it Capital. Fazenda Futuro, which translates to “future farms,” launched in 2019 in Brazil, a country with some of the highest per-capita meat consumption in the world. It pitches its plant-based products—including its Futuro Burger and “sausage of the future”—as tasty, healthy and sustainable alternatives to meat. They’re made using plant proteins such as soy, pea and chickpea. The company, which partners with several Brazilian food chains and retailers, moved into a few European markets this year. With the new cash, it plans to expedite its plans to hit the U.S. and continue developing other meat-free products. 

Universal Corp. builds plant-based ingredient platform with Silva acquisition

Universal Corp. (Richmond, Virginia), an agriculture company most known for its leaf tobacco supply business, has agreed to acquire Silva International (Momence, Illinois), a U.S. supplier of dehydrated fruits, vegetables and herbs, for $170 million. “Recently, Universal has been working to identify growth opportunities in adjacent markets, specifically looking at agribusiness,” Silva President Kent DeVries announced on the company’s website. Silva will become part of Universal’s plant-based ingredient platform, which also includes specialty fruit and vegetable ingredient processor FruitSmart (acquired in January) and Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients (launched in 2014). 

Nestlé pours $30M into recycled plastics initiative

Marking the first investment from its sustainable packaging venture fund established earlier this year, Nestlé (Vevey, Switzerland) has put $30 million into the Closed Loop Leadership Fund, the private equity fund of Closed Loop Partners (New York, New York). The fund will acquire companies with a focus on building a circular supply chain for recycled plastics. For Nestlé, this means gaining access to food-grade recycled packaging materials in support of its commitment to cutting its use of virgin plastics by one-third by 2025. Carbon-neutral protein ingredient nets Finnish food tech startup nearly $22MA startup that claims it can make food out of electricity, CO2 and water has raised an €18.5 million (about $21.9 million) series A round. Solar Foods (Helsinki, Finland) has developed a protein ingredient that doesn’t rely on agriculture for production. According to Solar Foods, its proprietary bioprocess results in a protein ingredient, Solein, that is disconnected from the use of environmental resources. Finnish food company Fazer Group, which announced a strategic partnership with the startup last year, led the round. Bridford Investments Limited, Agronomics Limited, Lifeline Ventures and CPT Capital also joined in. Solar Foods is planning to use the capital to open a new manufacturing facility by 2022.

Honey Mama’s sets sights on growth with $4.5M series A

Amberstone Ventures led a $4.5 million funding round to fast-track national growth for craft chocolate brand Honey Mama’s (Portland, Oregon). Founded in 2012, Honey Mama’s makes a line of refrigerated truffle bars from natural ingredients including sprouted almonds, raw honey and unrefined coconut oil. Its series A comes just a few months after a $5.8 million funding round also led by Amberstone. 

PeaTos gets $7M to reinvent salty snacks with healthier ingredients

Investors including Jackson Springs Management Partners, Kinetic Ventures and basketball player Tracy McGrady have backed snack brand PeaTos with a $7 million series A. Since 2018, PeaTos has been selling better-for-you versions of popular corn-based snacks that are instead made instead from peas and other natural ingredients. The startup says it’s seen strong growth in both online and retail sales (in stores including Kroger, 7-Eleven and Costco) during the pandemic. PeaTos has not said how it will use the new funding. 

NutriLeads secures $7.7M to commercialize immune ingredient

Health ingredients company NutriLeads BV (Wageningen, Netherlands) has attracted €6.5 million (about $7.7 million) in series B funding. Since 2012, NutriLeads has been developing natural ingredients for supplements and functional foods. Its next step is to bring to market its lead ingredient, XtramuneTM, which is a carrot-derived fiber used to “support immune function and improve resistance to respiratory infections,” the company says. Two other ingredients in its portfolio that target gut and metabolic health will also move toward proof of concept in humans. The series B funding was led by Icos Capital with Goeie-Grutten, DSM Venturing, Oost NL, Shift Invest and Thuja.

Fast-growing Tropical Smoothie Café bought by PE firm

Private equity firm Levine Leichtman (Los Angeles, California) has acquired fast-growing smoothie chain Tropical Smoothie Café (Atlanta, Georgia) from BIP Opportunities Fund for an undisclosed sum of money. The fast-casual concept was founded in Florida in 1997 and now serves smoothies, wraps, salads and bowls in 870 locations in 44 states. It’s reported record sales during the pandemic. Existing management will stay on as the chain works to increase systemwide sales and expand under its new owner. Levine Leichtman’s portfolio also includes Beef O’Brady’s, Bertucci’s and Cici’s Pizza. 

Latin American vegan brand raises $85M, eyes U.S. expansion

The Not Company, also known as NotCo (Santiago, Chilé), is equipped with $85 million in new funding to bring its plant-based milk and meat replacements to the U.S. The company has built a library of thousands of plant ingredients and uses artificial intelligence to determine how to combine them to recreate realistic plant-based versions of animal foods such as burgers, mayonnaise, ice cream and milk. NotCo sells its products in Chilé, Argentina and Brazil, and supplies plant-based burgers to Burger King restaurants in Chilé. The new funding round came from L Catterton Partners, Future Positive, General Catalyst, Kaszek Ventures, The Craftory, Bezos Expeditions, Endeavor Catalyst, IndieBio, Humbolt Capital and Maya Capital. To help the company with its international expansion plans, including its launch into the U.S., a few seasoned food executives have also joined the team. 

VCs back plant-based foodtech startup with $7.5M

Following a similar path as NotCo, startup ClimaxFoods (Berkeley, California) is also harnessing data science to find new plant-based formulations to replace animal protein, starting with cheese. It recently closed an oversubscribed $7.5 million round of financing from At One Ventures, Manta Ray Ventures, S2G Ventures, Valor Siren Ventures, Prelude Ventures, ARTIS Ventures, Index Ventures, Luminous Ventures, Canaccord Genuity Group, Carrot Capital, Global Founders Capital and angel investors. The new company’s leadership team includes two former Impossible Foods leaders and the former sales and operations lead from JUST (formerly Hampton Creek). 

Smart-store technology company Stockwell acquired by 365 Retail Markets

365 Retail Markets (Troy, Michigan), which operates automated kiosks, vending and dining technologies for the foodservice industry, has acquired competitor Stockwell (Oakland, California). Stockwell offers fully managed vending for apartments, hotels, offices, campuses and more that customers use with an app. 365 Retail Markets CEO Joe Hessling said that, with the deal, the company is “moving closer to our goal of a low-cost, frictionless retail experience.” Last year, it acquired Company Kitchen, a workplace foodservice company.

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 September 2, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Barn2Door raises $6M to equip farmers with tools to sell online

With the COVID-19 pandemic driving more U.S. food shoppers online, Barn2Door (Seattle, Washington) sees a big opportunity for farmers. The startup has raised $6 million for its e-commerce software that helps farmers sell food directly to consumers, with functions for managing sales, inventory and logistics. Bullpen Capital led the series A round, which brings Barn2Door’s total funding to $11.6 million. Quiet Capital, RAINE Ventures, Lead Edge Capital, Global Founders Capital and Sugar Mountain Capital also participated.

Bunge invests $30M in Merit’s pea and canola protein ingredients

Agricultural commodities supplier Bunge Ltd. (St. Louis, Missouri) has taken a minority stake in plant protein supplier Merit Functional Foods (Winnipeg, Manitoba). With the $30 million investment from Bunge, Merit will expedite the construction of its Canadian production facility, where it will produce its novel pea and canola protein ingredients. The facility is on track to be in use by the end of the year. “Bunge also holds a deep knowledge of international commodity markets which will help reinforce our canola business with customers globally,” said Merit’s co-CEO Ryan Bracken. 

Big-name investors back faux-fur fashion brand Apparis

Apparis (New York, New York) already sells its vegan fur coats in stores like Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Intermix. With $3 million in fresh funding, it has plans to grow its presence online and internationally, starting with 12 countries in Europe. Backers include Third Kind Venture Capital, Exor Seeds, supermodel Karlie Kloss and New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. The cruelty-free fashion brand launched in a Brooklyn, New York, pop-up in 2017. This fall, it plans to release its first vegan knitwear, home and gender-neutral fashion lines. 

Subscription coffee startup secures $960K in seed money

To support its growth plans throughout Canada, Dispatch Coffee (Montreal, Quebec) has raised CA$1.26 million (about $960,000). Dispatch started in 2012 as a bike delivery service for cold brew, then opened a coffee truck, followed by a trio of brick-and-mortar locations in Montreal. Last year, it launched its e-commerce subscription service, which ships members freshly roasted and responsibly sourced coffee each month. Investors in the latest funding round include Anges Quebec, 0MC Capital and private investors. 

Breakfast brand Birch Benders acquired by Sovos Brands

Deepening its presence in the breakfast and snacking categories, brand builder Sovos Brands (Berkeley, California) has acquired Birch Benders (Denver, Colorado). This is the fourth acquisition for Sovos, which also owns Rao’s, Noosa Yoghurt and Michael Angelo’s. Birch Benders was founded in 2011 with its flagship product, a line of just-add-water pancake and waffle mixes. Today, its lineup also includes toaster waffles and single-serve pancake and snack cups. Post-acquisition, the focus will be on deepening the company’s product assortment in its existing retailers such as Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, Sprouts and Walmart

Clio wraps up series C funding for its take on the refrigerated bar

Landing somewhere between a protein-packed snack and an indulgent dessert, Clio’s chocolate-covered Greek yogurt bar has hit a sweet spot with investors. The company just closed an $8 million series C from Alliance Consumer Growth and AF Ventures (formerly AccelFoods). Currently, Clio’s product lineup includes seven bars with around 8 grams of protein and less than 170 calories each. Year-over-year growth tops 100%, according to the company, as retail partnerships with Whole Foods, Target and Wegmans drive distribution growth. Clio has not said what it will do with the funding. 

Kadenwood buys hemp ingredient supplier EcoGen Labs

In a deal that reportedly creates a $250 million CBD supplier, Kadenwood LLC (Newport Beach, California) has acquired EcoGen Laboratories (Grand Junction, Colorado). Kadenwood is a brand-building firm with a focus on growing consumer confidence in CBD as a trusted mainstream wellness product. It grows hemp and sells finished products derived from it, including its Level Select brand of sports creams and roll-ons. EcoGen, which generated more than $63 million in revenue last year and closed a $40 million round in January, is also a vertically integrated company but focuses on supplying specialty hemp-derived ingredients to the market. Though the CBD industry is currently facing an oversupply of raw materials and uncertainty around federal regulation, the company expects to grow in 2021. 

Plant-based protein brand Kos collects $2.1M

With $2.1 million in new funding, plant-based protein and superfood brand Kos has set its sights on more product innovation and distribution growth in the U.S. Springdale Ventures led the round and was joined by former Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb and Horizon Bank Chairman Jim Schneider. Two-year-old Kos sells organic and plant-based protein, greens and functional ingredient powders through its website, Amazon, Whole Foods and other SoCal retailers. It recently added new functional blends to its lineup. 

Shef nabs $8.8 million to help home cooks monetize

Inspired to help immigrants, refugees and laid off restaurant workers earn income on their own terms, Shef (San Francisco, California) launched a homemade food marketplace in 2018 and just raised $8.8 million to grow it. On Shef’s platform, home cooks can go through food safety training and sell homemade meals to their local communities. This business model is enabled by new home cooking laws, including California’s Homemade Food Operations Act. Shef says its business has skyrocketed during the pandemic, and that it’s already served more than 200,000 meals across the U.S. It plans to expand to more communities in the near future. The new funding came from Y Combinator, Craft Ventures and M13, as well as individual investors. 

Equity consortium acquires Waterloo

Sparkling water brand Waterloo (Austin, Texas) has been bought by a consortium of investors led by Flexis Capital. Eurazeo Brands, Moore Strategic Ventures, JW Levin Management Partners and Waterloo Capital’s investors are also part of the deal. Founded in 2017, Waterloo has been a fast-growing player in the sparkling water category, which is growing by double digits annually. The company currently has more than 13,000 points of retail distribution, including Whole Foods Market, Costco and Target. Its next phase of growth includes innovation in products and marketing. 

Keurig Dr. Pepper invests in adult nutrition brand Don’t Quit

Don’t Quit (Los Angeles, California), a new adult nutrition brand, is the result of a collaboration between fitness personality Jake “Body by Jake” Steinfeld and Danny Stepper, the CEO of beverage incubator L.A. Libations, which is also a minority investor. Keurig Dr. Pepper has made a minority investment in the brand with a defined path to ownership. Don’t Quit makes clean-label, ready-to-drink nutrition shakes targeted toward the baby boomer population. Each shake contains 10 grams of protein and is free from artificial ingredients. A secondary line called Don’t Quit Max is positioned more as a sports nutrition product. Though it initially started by selling direct-to-consumer online, Don’t Quit recently launched in 2,500 stores including Safeway, Kroger and Walmart. 

Perishable Shipping Solutions raises $8.7 to meet growing demand for food delivery

Four-year-old Perishable Shipping Solutions (Youngstown, Ohio), announced the closing of its $8.7 million series A led by SJF Ventures with participation from Grotech Ventures, Supply Chain Ventures and others. PSS handles perishable cold and frozen food fulfillment services for food and beverage brands including Treeline, Teton Waters Ranch, Fresh Bellies and Ripple, according to its website. With the funding, the company plans to add new fulfillment facilities and build its multi-channel direct shipping and analytics platform. 

Weee! secures $35 million to deliver Asian specialty groceries

In the crowded grocery e-commerce market, Weee! (Fremont, California) differentiates by delivering authentic Asian products and fresh produce to customers. It just received a $35 million series C infusion from DST Global to build its staff and expand its services to reach more than a dozen U.S. cities by the end of the year. The five-year-old startup currently offers its next-day delivery services in eight cities and has raised more than $100 million from investors. 

Genius Juice gets $1.1M to grow in retail

Genius Juice raised nearly half of its new $1.1 million round through WeFunder, with the rest coming from Tech Coast Angels and other small angel groups and individuals. It will use the money to gain distribution and new customers for its coconut-based beverages. Genius Juice’s coconut smoothies come in three flavors and incorporate not just coconut milk but the meat of the coconut, delivering a healthy dose of MCTs and electrolytes. In the near future, the company plans to release a new flavor and then raise a bridge round to continue expanding its product line and building its retail footprint, which currently includes 2,000 stores.

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 August 19, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Allergy Amulet scores $3.3M to develop a food allergy sensor

What if people with food allergies carried a sensor that could detect the presence of allergens in their food? That’s the premise of Allergy Amulet (Lowell, Massachusetts), which announced a $3.3 million seed round led by Titletown Tech, a partnership between the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft. Great North Labs, Colle Capital, Great Oaks VC, DeepWork Capital, Dipalo Ventures and Bulldog Innovation Group also got in on the round. The startup plans to use the money to manufacture beta units of its product—a portable sensor and test strips—and launch pre-orders this fall. According to Allergy Amulet, its sensor recognizes chemical traces of the top eight most common food allergens plus gluten and sesame. 


Dog food startup Sundays launches with VC backing

Though it debuted its air-dried dog kibble alternative in February, Sundays is formally launching with $2.27 million in funding from Red Sea Ventures, Box Group, Great Oaks Ventures, Shrug Capital, Blue Apron founder Matt Salzberg and others. In the saturated pet food market, Sundays pitches its product as an option that falls between kibble and fresh refrigerated food. It’s made with fresh meat, organs, bones and vegetables, then air dried to make it shelf stable. Sundays sells direct-to-consumer. 


Coffee plus adaptogens lands Taika $2.7M in seed funding

Founded by an award-winning barista and a former member of Facebook’s mobile product division, Taika (San Francisco, California) makes plant-based canned coffee drinks with functional ingredients. The startup reduces the amount of caffeine in its coffee and adds a blend of adaptogens including L-theanine and ashwagandha, and mushrooms, which it claims cuts down on the jitters and delivers the ideal blend of energy and calm. Kindred Ventures recently led a $2.7 million seed funding round for Taika. Obvious Ventures and English businessman, author and barista James Hoffman joined in. 


Glanbia buys Foodarom to scale up its flavors business

Ingredients firm Glanbia Nutritionals (Kilkenny, Ireland) has added Foodarom (Montreal, Quebec) to its portfolio, boosting its capabilities in the areas of flavors and nutritional solutions. Foodarom is a flavor agency servicing the food, beverage and nutritional product markets with more than 15,000 recipes. 


Low-FODMAP meal delivery service bags $2M

ModifyHealth (Atlanta, Georgia) delivers fully prepared, medically tailored meals developed by chefs and dietitians to homes nationwide. Its meals, which are certified low-FODMAP and gluten-free, can help people manage GI conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease, the company says. It also offers dietitian support and digital health solutions to help people manage their conditions. A $2 million series A financing led by Nashville Capital Network will support ModifyHealth’s continued growth. 


Seattle startup secures $9M to brew beanless coffee

Coffee that’s not made from beans? That’s what Atomo Coffee (Seattle, Washington) has been working on for the last year, and it’s just raised $9 million to bring its first product to market. The startup makes a more sustainable version of coffee using upcycled plant waste such as seeds, kernels, pits, stems and leaves from U.S. farmers. It plans to build a 12,000-square-foot roastery in Seattle and release a ready-to-drink cold-brew coffee to the local market next year. The new funding came from S2G Ventures, AgFunder, Bessemer Venture Partners and Horizon Ventures. 


BigHaat raises $2M to bring e-commerce to farming in India

Japan’s Beyond Next Ventures has led a $2 million pre-series A funding round for BigHaat (Bengaluru, Karnataka), an online marketplace for farmers in India. Ankur Capital, Rockstud Capital and a number of angel investors also participated. With the funding, 5-year-old BigHaat plans to build out its team and expand its services, which it says have already reached 3 million farmers. Agriculture is the backbone of India’s economy, and the startup provides small farmers with access to a wide variety of seeds, plant protection and nutrition products, and farming equipment through its mobile app or the internet. 


TemperPack raises series C, brings total funding to $78M

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated growth for sustainable packaging company TemperPack (Richmond, Virginia), prompting it to raise a $31.3 million series C. Leading the round was Wheatsheaf Group, with participation from Revolution Growth, Harbert Growth Partners, SJF Ventures, Arborview Capital, Tao Capital, Thor Prime Capital and Greenhouse Capital. TemperPack’s flagship product is an alternative to Styrofoam made from recyclable plant-based materials. It can be used to ship perishable food and refrigerated drug products such as vaccines, biologic medicines and insulin. In the coming months, the company plans to add employees and buy more equipment to expand production. 


Angel investors seed Asian-inspired fizzy water brand Sanzo with $1.3M

Sparkling water brand Sanzo (New York, New York), which has been self-funded since its inception last year, has secured its first investments from entrepreneurs and angel investors. Participants in the $1.3 million seed round include Jen Rubio, cofounder of Away; Scott Belsky, CPO and EVP and Adobe Creative Cloud; and Andrew Chau and Bin Chen, cofounder of Boba Guys. Sparkling water is one of the fastest-growing segments in the beverage industry. Sanzo differentiates by using three fruits that are popular in Asia: lychee, mango and calamansi. It sells direct-to-consumer online and in some markets on the East and West coasts. 


Food-X raises $2.6M to help grocers manage e-commerce

Food-X Technologies (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.), which provides e-commerce fulfillment software for grocers, received $2.6 million in follow-on funding from the Digital Technology Supercluster,  a collaboration between the Canadian government and private businesses that funds ambitious technology projects. The funding will be deployed to enhance the functionality of Food-X’s e-grocery management solution, which helps retailers scale the entire process of food delivery, from consumer-facing ordering to inventory management. 


WM Partners acquires collagen company Great Lakes Gelatin

Private equity firm WM Partners acquired Great Lakes Gelatin Co. (Grayslake, Illinois), maker of branded and bulk/wholesale collagen and gelatin products. Great Lakes has been selling gelatin products since 1922 for use as functional ingredients in food products such as desserts and vitamins. It sells through the natural, food, drug and mass channels and online. WM Partners says it will help the brand expand its reach in the e-commerce and mass channels. The firm has experience in the fast-growing collagen space, having previously acquired and sold the collagen company NeoCell. 


Indiana artisan chocolate startup takes in $2.2M to scale

After moving into a 12,000 square-foot facility that will boost its production tenfold, chocolate startup SoChatti (Indianapolis, Indiana) is hoping to grow its direct-to-consumer and retail distribution with $2.2 million in series A funding and $950,000 in bank financing. SoChatti uses a proprietary processing method that it says preserves flavors that usually get lost during chocolate manufacturing. Its flagship product is a liquid dairy-free chocolate packaged in pouches. But its flavor preservation technology paves the way for the company to enter other food and beverage categories. Ryan Rans, managing partner of Great Lakes Capital, and Bob Kirch, managing partner of Kirch Equity Investments, invested in the round. 


Grubbly grabs $2.9M to feed backyard chickens

According to recent headlines, the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired many DIY-ers to add backyard chickens to their family. Grubbly Farms (Atlanta, Georgia) is delivering sustainable feed for those chickens and has collected $2.9 million in new funding to grow. Grubbly’s snacks and feed are made from dried black soldier flies, which grow quickly, feast on food scraps and provide chickens with calcium, protein and other nutrients they need. The round was led by Overline VC, with participation from Oval Park Capital, Techstars and Create-X. 


New funding round values Impossible Foods at $4B

Just a few months after closing a $500 million series F, Impossible Foods has locked up another $200 million in series G money. Technology-focused hedge fund Coatue led the round, with hedge fund XN also participating. Since its founding in 2011, the meat substitute company has raised a whopping $1.5 billion from high-profile venture capital firms like Khosla Ventures and celebrities including Jay-Z, Trevor Noah, Katy Perry and Serena Williams. Its burgers are sold at national food chains and retailers including Starbucks and Walmart. Impossible Foods says the funding will help ramp up production and advance R&D efforts on new products.


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 August 3, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

FoodChain ID buys Nutraveris

Food safety and quality services company FoodChain ID (Fairfield, Iowa) expanded its portfolio with the purchase of Nutraveris (Ploufragan, France). Nutraveris is an AI-based software and services provider that helps supplement, pharmaceutical, personal care and ingredient manufacturers get their products approved and launched. FoodChain ID’s CEO Brad Riemenapp says the deal will build his company’s global profile in the good-for-you sector. FoodChain ID has been owned by private equity firm Paine Schwartz Partners since 2016. In recent years, it’s beefed up its portfolio by buying Diversified Laboratories, Quality Partner and Decernis.

As online grocery booms in China, 2 e-grocers raise millions

Investors have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into Chinese e-grocers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, Nice Tuan (Beijing, China) closed an $80 million round from CDH Investments, GGV Capital, CMBC International and INCE Capital. The fresh funding comes on the heels of more than $169 million in capital closed in the first half of the year and will go toward enhancing Nice Tuan’s warehousing and distribution capacity. On Nice Tuan’s platform, consumers can join up to buy fresh food in bulk quantities at lower prices, as well as non-perishable foods, snacks and beauty and household products. According to the company, it delivers to more than 20 million households in 100 cities in China.

Competitor MissFresh (Beijing, China) also closed a round in July.  A unit of the investment bank CICC led the $495 million round, which also saw participation from Goldman Sachs, Tencent, Tiger Global, ICBC and Abu Dhabi Capital Group. MissFresh runs a network of 1,500 small-scale distribution centers across China and will deploy the money to build on its technology, including its intelligent warehouse replenishment system. Leaders of the company revealed that it turned a profit during the height of China’s COVID-19 pandemic, when millions of consumers were under lockdown.

Vive Organic soaks up $13M for wellness shots

Functional beverage brand Vive Organics (Venice, California) closed a $13 million series B funding led by Monogram Capital with participation from Cambridge SPG and Powerplant Ventures. Vive Organic makes cold-pressed wellness shots focused on supporting the immune system with organic ingredients like ginger, turmeric, echinacea and elderberry. With the capital, it will work on building its product pipeline, growing its digital footprint and expanding its distribution. Since launching in the natural channel in 2015, Vive Organic has expanded to conventional, mass and drug stores as well as Amazon.

Better Meat Co.’s ‘blended’ meat ingredients net $8.1 million

As many consumers look to cut down their meat intake, The Better Meat Co. (Sacramento, California) created a solution to help meat companies keep up. It supplies a line of plant-based proteins that blend into ground meat products including beef, chicken, pork, fish and crab. The desired result is products that taste comparable to pure animal products and contain similar amounts of protein, but with a smaller environmental footprint, fewer calories and less saturated fat and cholesterol. The Better Meat Co. just closed an $8.1 million seed round from Greenlight Capital, Green Circle Foodtech Ventures, Johnsonville Holdings and Lever VC. Already its ingredients have been used in Perdue Foods’ Chicken Plus line of blended nuggets, tenders and patties that launched in 7,100 U.S. supermarkets last year.

Vegan collagen maker scores $91M

Geltor (San Leandro, California), a startup that creates animal-free cultivated protein ingredients for consumer goods, is ready to grow with help from a $91.3 million series B. The round was led by CPT Capital, an alternative protein investor, with additional participation from WTT Investment, Blue Horizon Ventures, RIT Capital Partners, Humboldt Fund and more. Geltor uses fermentation technology to create proteins that can replace animal products in consumer goods, including animal-free collagen and elastin replacements for skin care products. It also struck a deal with collagen maker Gelita to commercialize a vegan collagen for supplements. With the funds, the startup is looking to grow its “Ingredients-as-a-Service” platform to help other brands and manufacturers develop ethically produced ingredients.

Misfits Market collects $85M for ugly produce

Misfits Market, a subscription service for imperfect organic produce, is looking to expand its reach with $85 million in new funding from Valor Equity Partners, Greenoaks Capital, Third Kind Venture Capital and Sound Ventures. The company also takes surplus product off the hands of manufacturers such as Bob’s Red Mill, Teatulia and Taza Chocolate and sells them to subscribers for 25% to 50% off retail prices. It’s working on building out its team and opening a new state-of-the-art warehouse in New Jersey that will bolster its order capacity on the East Coast and allow it to deliver to more Southern and Midwestern states.

Smol raises $10.5M to deliver eco-friendly detergent to users’ doors

Created in 2018 by two former Unilever employees, laundry subscription service Smol (Sussex, England) has its eyes on new product categories, new markets and new team members. To support that growth, it’s just raised £8 million (about $10.5 million) in series A funding led by Balderton Capital with participation from JamJar Investments. Smol offers eco-friendly, cruelty-free laundry detergent capsules, dishwasher tablets and fabric softener bottles that it ships monthly to subscribers in plastic-free, child-lock packaging.

Flavor firms National Flavors and GSB join up through Riverside deal

Private equity firm The Riverside Co. invested in GSB & Associates (Kennesaw, Georgia), a flavor house that specializes in custom flavor development. GSB will be the first add-on to National Flavors (Kalamazoo, Michigan), which Riverside acquired in March, and will operate under the direction of its CEO Brian Briggs. Together, the companies can offer customers access to a broad portfolio of products and development capabilities, Riverside says. The private equity firm is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy in flavor development and production, saying it will continue looking to invest in businesses with unique product portfolios, R&D capabilities and market expertise.

Nerd’s nootropic drink sells to Beverage USA Holdings

Beverage USA Holdings has acquired the assets of Nerd Beverage Corp. (San Antonio, Texas), which makes a self-proclaimed “think drink” marketed to enhance focus, concentration, memory and energy. Instead of caffeine and chemicals, Nerd’s Focus beverage is powered by nootropics and adaptogens. It’s currently sold in 800 Texas retailers and online. As BevUSA looks to grow the brand, it says it will specifically target cities with booming colleges and universities with a long-term goal of expanding globally. It also sees future partnerships and sponsorships with influencers in eSports and gaming, extreme sports, music and entertainment, fashion and streetwear.

Blue Apron cofounder’s pasture-raised chicken venture nabs $10M

A vertically integrated regenerative ag startup that’s working to breed and raise healthier, tastier chickens has closed a $10 million series A. SJF Ventures led the funding for Cooks Venture (Decatur, Arkansas), with participation from Larry Schwartz and Nutiva founder John Roulac. Cooks Venture developed a breed of slow-growing heirloom chickens that are raised on a biodiverse farm using regenerative agriculture practices. Along with the fundraising, the company announced a partnership with testing company Food In-Depth to validate to consumers that it never uses antibiotics and feeds its birds verified non-GMO feed. The new funding will aid in expanding Cook Ventures’ distribution nationwide and also fund its regenerative crop management program. The company was founded in 2018 by Blue Apron cofounder Matthew Wadiak.

Noops puts a plant-based twist on pudding, scoops up $2 million

Oat milk pudding brand Noops (Roslyn, New York) is launching its first product online and in some Northeast grocery stores with the help of a $2 million pre-seed investment. The funds came from lead investor 25madison, plus Unovis/New Crop Capital and Siddhi Capital. They’ll reportedly fuel further innovation, commercialization and distribution into retail and foodservice. Noops is made with organic oats, dates and sunflower seed protein, which come together to create a vegan pudding with 5 to 7 grams of protein and fiber per 4.75-ounce cup.

Barvecue cooks up $2M for vegan BBQ

Plant-based investor Stray Dog Capital spearheaded a $2 million funding round for a startup taking barbecued comfort foods vegan. Three-year-old Barvecue (Cornelius, North Carolina) will use the funds, which also came from Siddhi Capital, Clear Current Capital and members of the GlassWall Syndicate, to build up its manufacturing capability and make new hires. Its first product is a pulled pork alternative made from its proprietary blend of soybean, textured wheat protein and sweet potato. It’s packaged and sold in a frozen pouch at health food stores, mostly in the Eastern and Midwest parts of the country.

Kraft-backed Evolv leads $7M round for Joywell’s sweet protein platform

Nearly $7 million in fresh capital will accelerate the development of Joywell Foods’ (Davis, California) sweet protein platform and help it establish partnerships with better-for-you CPG brands. The round was led by Kraft Heinz-backed Evolv Ventures. Khosla Ventures, SOSV, Alumni Ventures Group and others also joined. Joywell Foods has identified several naturally sweet proteins and produces them at scale using both plants and fermentation technology. Its first protein, miraculin, is reportedly thousands of times sweeter than sugar without the long-term negative health effects. Sugar reduction is top of mind for many CPG companies right now, and the market for sugar alternatives is expected to grow 4%-5% annually through 2025, according to several reports. 


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.

NCN Events

2020 Canada Investor Meeting

Oct. 14-15 | Virtual Event

More information will be available soon.

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Oct. 20-21 | Virtual Event

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NCN’s 2020 Europe Investor Meeting connects companies in science, technology and ingredients with investment, licensing and corporate partnerships.

News for July 21, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Meditopia’s meditation app for global audiences draws in $15M

European investors Creandum and Highland Europe led a $15 million series A for Meditopia (Istanbul, Turkey, and Berlin, Germany), a meditation app built primarily for non-English-speaking markets. The startup works with mental health professionals in different regions of the world to develop mindfulness, meditation and music content that’s specific to different cultures, languages and countries. Its founders launched in 2017 with a focus on Turkey. They’ve since expanded the app’s reach to 75 global markets and a reported 14 million users. This round brings Meditopia’s total funding to $18.2 million.


Sampler closes $4M for at-home product sampling

As the COVID-19 pandemic forces the cancellation of CPG industry trade shows and in-store product sampling, past NCN presenter Sampler (Toronto, Canada) has seen a spike in demand for its direct-to-consumer sampling services. StandUp Ventures and BDC Capital—both existing investors—have led a $4 million financing round that Sampler will use to build its sales and service teams. EDC, Factory LLC and The51 also participated in the round. With clients like Unilever and Kimberly Clark, Sampler’s home sampling platform lets companies get their products in front of target customers and gather consumer insights. A newly launched retailer program also enables brands to send product samples to the homes of participating retail buyers. (Editor’s note: Sampler is a technology partner with New Hope Network, a sister company of Nutrition Capital Network.)


Native-owned Tanka sees new investment for meat snacks

Native American Natural Foods (Pine Ridge, South Dakota), maker of the Tanka bar and other meat snacks, says a multimillion dollar equity capital investment will support its growth and its mission to bring bison back to the lands, lives and economies of native communities. The Candide Group led the round on behalf of the Libra Social Investment Fund. Tanka products are made with prairie-fed bison and without nitrites or nitrates, antibiotics or added hormones. Recently, NANF established an operational partnership with sustainable meat producer Niman Ranch to help grow its customer base and geography, as well as to help build a sustainable supply of bison and other animals raised humanely.


Crisp’s food supply forecasting software attracts $12M

A software platform designed to help food companies reduce waste and optimize profits has garnered $12 million in new funding from FirstMark Capital, Spring Capital and Swell Partners. The series A will support Crisp (New York, New York) in expanding its supply chain offerings, which helps food suppliers and distributors better predict retail demand. Crisp is also building an open-data platform to connect suppliers’ data and help all stakeholders better match supply with demand. Crisp came out of beta in January and has raised a total of $24 million. 


FreshFry takes in $3.3M for frying oil filter technology

FreshFry (Louisville, Kentucky) has secured a $3.25 million funding round from The Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund—a licensed fund of the U.S. Department of Agriculture—and Lightship Capital. Its flagship product is a disposable, plant-based pod that cleans and extends the life of frying oil used in foodservice. According to the company, when the pod is dropped into a commercial deep fryer, it catches water, acids, metals and other impurities. Currently, FreshFry has a national distribution deal agreement with foodservice company Sysco. The new funds will bolster FreshFry’s sales, marketing and operations teams; accelerate R&D; and help cultivate strategic partnerships. 


Investors funnel $12M into a silk-based solution to food waste

Acre Venture Partners led a $12 million series A for a startup spun out of MIT and Tufts University to extend the shelf life of food. Mori (Cambridge, Massachusetts), formerly Cambridge Crops, developed an edible micro-coating for food that’s made from silk-based proteins. It prevents oxidation, improves water retention and slows bacterial growth, Mori says. It recently obtained GRAS status from the FDA and expects more certifications soon. Meanwhile, the $12 million will help the startup build out its manufacturing capabilities and develop commercial partnerships. New investors Prelude Ventures, The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust. ACCELR8 joined the round, along with existing investors The Engine, Refactor Capital, Closed Loop Partners, Blindspot Ventures and The Fink Family Foundation. 


HumanCo takes majority stake in vegan ice cream brand Coconut Bliss

Plant-based frozen dessert maker Coconut Bliss (Eugene, Oregon) has a new majority owner that wants to grow it into a globally recognized brand. HumanCo (New York, New York) is a brand-building company just launched by Jason Karp, a co-founder of Hu, and a team of entrepreneurs, scientists and investment professionals. It invests in and grows brands focused on sustainability and healthy living. Since Coconut Bliss’s inception in 2005, it has been a pioneer in the vegan ice cream category, rolling out bars, pints and sandwiches made with organic, ethically sourced ingredients. HumanCo says its plans for Coconut Bliss include product innovation, expanded distribution and more marketing investment. 


Seed funding lifts Grounded Foods’ allergen-free vegan cheeses

By turning fermented cauliflower and hemp seeds into creamy, high-end vegan cheeses, Grounded Foods (New York, New York) has attracted $1.74 million in seed funding. The financing was led by Stray Dog Capital, which also has backed Beyond Meat, Miyoko’s Creamery and other plant-based brands. Other investors include Rocana Ventures, Veg Invest Trust and members of the GlassWall Syndicate. The Grounded Foods team comprises a husband and wife who moved to New York from Australia earlier this year to join the Big Idea Ventures food accelerator program. They plan to build a manufacturing plant on the West Coast and launch their cheeses in high-end restaurants later this year before moving into direct-to-consumer and retail sales.   


Oat milk pioneer Oatly scores $200M

The brand that put oat milk on Americans’ radar screens says it will keep expanding in Europe, the U.S. and Asia with $200 million in new investment capital. Oatly’s (Malmö, Sweden) round was led by Blackstone Growth. Celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, Jay-Z and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz also got in on the round. Oatly was founded in the 1990s but launched its oat milks in the U.S. in late 2016, following up with oat-based frozen desserts and yogurts. Competing brands such as Califia Farms, Chobani, Pacific and Silk followed. Oat milk is the fastest-growing nondairy milk product, with sales spiking more than 300% year-over-year, according to Nielsen. 


Business spikes for NY meal delivery service as it pulls in $2.8M

RealEats (Geneva, New York) has raised $2.8 million to grow its home-delivered prepared-meal business. The round was led by Finger Lakes Forward Venture Capital Fund LP with participation from Armory Square Ventures and other investors. RealEats delivers precooked, vacuum-sealed meals to 28 states. The meals stay fresh in the fridge for up to seven days and are cooked in boiling water. In addition to sourcing many ingredients from its home state, RealEats has also benefited from a combination of private investment and public funds from New York, Ontario County and the city of Geneva. Like other food and meal delivery services, it’s reported strong sales growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


As meat alternatives gain favor in Asia, Karana raises $1.7M to take on pork

A new pork substitute made by a startup called Karana (Singapore) has caught the attention of investors including Big Idea Ventures, Germi8 and a number of angel investors. Karana has raised $1.7 million and plans to launch its first product in restaurants later this year and retail next year. That product is a shredded pork substitute made from jackfruit, a sustainable, abundant plant native to Asia. 


Omnichannel beauty seller Social Bella raises $58M

Following a $40 million series D funding last year, online beauty marketplace Social Bella (Jakarta Barat, Indonesia) has secured $58 million to upgrade its technology infrastructure and support its newly launched marketplace for mothers and mothers-to-be. The investment comes from Singaporean state investment fund Temasek, its private equity subsidiary Pavilion, and Jungle Ventures. Social Bella was founded in 2015 as an e-commerce business but now also operates six brick-and-mortar beauty stores in Indonesia, where the beauty industry is seeing fast growth. The company says it reaches about 30 million users per year. 


Upward Farms gets $15M to scale aquaponic vertical farming

Upward Farms (Brooklyn, New York), formerly Seed & Roe, has closed more than $15 million in new funding led by Prime Movers Labs, bringing its total funding to more than $20 million. Combining aquaponics with indoor vertical farming, Upward Farms says its ecosystem uses fish to fertilize crops, which results in better yields and elimination of harmful pathogens without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Currently, it produces microgreens, baby greens and fish. The funding will go toward building a new headquarter farm that will increase its production 20-fold and enable the brand to offer its ready-to-eat salad greens in New York City grocery stores. 


Swiss meat manufacturer doubles down on Mosa Meat’s cultured beef

A leading European meat manufacturer has expanded its stake in a company that plans to have a cultured beef product on the market by 2022. Bell Food Group (Basel, Switzerland) has invested €5 million (about $5.7 million) to help Mosa Meats (Maastricht, Netherlands) get its pilot plant in working order by next year and its first cultured beef product in restaurants by 2022. Bell previously participated in Mosa’s 2018 series A funding.


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 July 7, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Super Coffee scores $25M at $200M valuation

Past NCN presenter Kitu Life (New York, New York), which operates the Super Coffee brand, has closed a $25 million financing round led by Skyview Capital. Founded by three brothers in a college dorm room, Super Coffee makes a lineup of ready-to-drink coffee beverages that contain up to 10 grams of protein and are sweetened with monk fruit. It also sells coffee creamer, coffee pods and espresso drinks. The $25 million round included investments from Acronym Venture Capital, Rx3 Ventures, Anthos Capital, Echo Capital Group, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA’s ZX Ventures, and individual investors. It will help fund distribution growth (as will a collaboration with AB InBev) and additions to the team. Super Coffee says it anticipates bringing in $70 million in revenue this year. 


Microbiome-based medicines advance to clinical trials with Enterome’s $52.6M series E

Investors have backed biopharmaceutical company and past NCN presenter Enterome SA (Paris, France) with €46.3 million (about $52.6 million). Enterome leverages the relationship between the gut microbiome and the immune system to develop new treatments for cancer and autoimmune, inflammatory and metabolic diseases. Its lead drug candidate is set to start trials for glioblastoma and adrenal tumors this year. A second drug candidate for cancer is expected to follow in 2021. Microbiome-focused investment firm SymBiosis LLC and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. were new investors in the series E round, which also included Seventure, Health for Life Capital, Principia, Omnes Capital and Nestlé Health Science. 


Vegan pork rinds attract $5M and a Lakers player

After launching its PigOut Pigless Pork Rinds earlier this year, Outstanding Foods (Los Angeles, California) has scooped up $5 million in new funding from SternAegis Ventures, Los Angeles Lakers basketball player JaVale McGee and other investors. Founded by entrepreneur Bill Glaser and David Anderson, former chef for Beyond Meat and cofounder of JUST, Outstanding Foods launched with a line of bacon-flavored vegan chips in 2018. Its newest offering delivers the crunch and protein of real pork rinds but is crafted with rice, sunflower oil, pea protein and pea grits. More new products are also on the way, according to the brand, which plans to use its new funds for R&D, marketing, retail expansion and team development. 


Copenhagen startup gets $1.2M to turn food waste into fake leather

The fashion world has long been hunting for an eco-friendly leather alternative. Beyond Leather Materials (Copenhagen, Denmark) hopes to deliver that—with the added bonus of making it from food waste. The brand has just raised €1.1 million (about $1.2 million) from angel investor Steen Ulf Jensen via Jensengroup Investment Fund, Rockstart and Vaekstfonden. Over the last 3 years, Beyond Leather Materials has been working on a biodegradable synthetic leather made from the byproduct of apple juice and cider production. With some fresh capital, the company will be able to set up a production line and hopes to enter the market this year. Globally, the market for leather alternatives is projected to be $85 billion within a decade. 


Alt dairy brand Ripple gets Chinese investor

As the plant-based food trend takes off in Asia, one of China’s largest confectionary and snack manufacturers, Multizen (Hong Kong, China), announced it’s invested an undisclosed amount in Ripple Foods (Emeryville, California). Ripple develops plant-based dairy alternatives using its proprietary pea-based protein, an environmental advantage over competitors that use nuts to make dairy alternatives. Currently, it sells those products in the U.S. and Canada. Ripple last closed a $65 million round in 2018. Multizen, which makes products for Godiva, Hershey’s and Mars Inc., says it has its eye on more sustainable food tech investments in the near future. 


New funding nudges lab-grown seafood closer to commercialization

The self-proclaimed “first cell-based meat company in Southeast Asia” (most are in the U.S. or Israel) has raised $3 million in bridge funding as it gears for a series A. Shiok Meats’ (Singapore) first product, a cultured shrimp, is expected to be in some restaurants within the next few years. Other products on the table include cultured prawn, crab and lobster meat. The new funding, which came from Agronomics, Impact Venture, VegInvest and Mindshift Capital, will support continued R&D and a move into manufacturing. Shiok Meats previously raised a $4.6 million seed round in 2019. 


Brandless revived 6 months after shuttering

The e-commerce company that made its name by selling household goods, personal care products and more for $3 (though it later moved away from that pricing model) is back. Brandless (San Francisco, California) shut down abruptly in February, two years after launching. It had raised nearly $300 million from SoftBank’s $100 Billion Vision Fund, NEA, Redpoint Ventures, GV and Sherpa Capital. But, according to new owners Clarke Capital Partners and digital marketing agency Ikonifi (Salt Lake City, Utah), it ran into challenges with profitability. “Under an improved capital structure, matched with responsible pricing models and the ongoing recruitment of a world-class team, Brandless 2.0 is now well-suited to carry on the brand that millions of Americans love.” Brandless’s e-commerce site has relaunched at a limited scale as it works to relist more than 300 products. 


Grass-fed milk producer Hart Dairy finds strategic investor

Hart Dairy (Augusta, Georgia), a producer of milk from free-range, grass-fed cows, has secured a new strategic investor, the Next Gen Nutrition Investment Fund. The firm’s partners, food and beverage executives James Cali and Andrew Towle, will join as special advisers to Hart Dairy’s board as the brand develops its messaging and expands its retail footprint. This undisclosed investment comes on the heels of Hart Dairy’s $10 million series A raised last year and a partnership with specialty egg supplier Island Ventures to support logistics, supply chain management and innovation. 


Sun Genomics takes in $8.7M for personalized probiotics

Pangaea Ventures led the first closing of an $8.65 million series A funding round for direct-to-consumer probiotics company Sun Genomics (San Diego, California). Its flagship product, Floré, is a personalized probiotic tailored to a customer’s unique gut profile using a microbiome test. It claims to improve digestion and energy and cut down on bloating. Danone Manifesto Ventures, SOSV, Human Longevity and Nascita Ventures also participated in the round. Sun Genomics says the capital will allow it to grow and scale in the U.S., enter international markets, hire staff and publish studies with top academic institutions. Including its seed round raised in 2019, the four-year-old company has raised $11.75 million to date. 


Main Post Partners backs Dr. Dennis Gross’ science-based skincare

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare (New York, New York) is the latest recipient of a strategic growth investment from Main Post Partners, a Silicon Valley private equity firm that’s partnered with other consumer and beauty companies including Too Faced and Not Your Mother’s.Launched in 2000 by dermatologist Dennis Gross and his wife, Carrie Gross, the company develops cruelty-free skincare products using antioxidants, vitamins and botanicals. It sells skin peels, serums, moisturizers, cleansers and more online, in beauty stores and through the professional channel. With the new funding, it plans to invest in product development, international expansion and strategic marketing. 


$3.2M seed funding brings Turtle Tree’s lab-made milk closer to commercialization

TurtleTree Labs (Singapore) has developed a technology to produce milk using only mammalian cells. First it’s focused on producing human breast milk; next, it will focus on cow’s milk. The cell-based milk operation attracted $3.2 million in seed funding from Green Monday Ventures, CPT Capital, Artesian, New Luna Ventures and KBW Ventures. With the funding, it will scale up development to bring its cell-based milk closer to commercialization. 


Delivery startup Ziticity picks up $2.5M to fund expansion in Europe

With €2.2 million (about $2.5 million) in seed funding, delivery company Ziticity (Vilnius, Lithuania) is revving up to expand into several European countries. Currently, it fuels same-day delivery for restaurants, flower shops and e-commerce businesses in the Baltics and France. Ziticity says its on-demand delivery solution allows local companies to compete with Amazon without maintaining distribution centers and paying high commissions. The round was led by NordicNinja VC with participation from Superhero Capital, Practica Capital, StartupWiseGuys and Superangel. 


Mexico’s delivery-only grocery chain bags $12M

With $12 million in new bridge funding, Jüsto (Mexico City, Mexico) brings its total capital raised to more than $20 million in less than a year. Foundation Capital led the round, and Mountain Nazca, FEMSA Ventures, Quiet Capital and 500 Startups also pitched in. Jüsto was founded earlier this year by Ricardo Weder, former president of the ride-sharing company Cabify. It sources local goods directly from produce, meat and fish suppliers; sells them to customers through its website and app; and delivers the order. In addition to groceries, it also offers personal care, home and pet products. 


Infuzed Brands lands $8.6 million for CBD beverages

During an ongoing crowdfunding round, Infuzed Brands (Seattle, Washington) received $8.6 million from an undisclosed strategic partner to support its CBD sparkling water products. According to Infuzed Brands, the deal opens doors for joint ventures, quick distribution growth and more vertical integration. Just one year after launching its Infuzed Thirst products, which come in five flavors and contain broad spectrum hemp extract, it currently sells in 200 retail locations and online. It sits alongside brands such as Dirty Lemon, Sprig and Cannabinoid Creations in a fast-growing segment of the CBD market. 


Swapping plastic for paper lands Transcend Packaging $12.5M

On a mission to champion sustainable packaging, Transcend Packaging (Ystrad Mynach, Wales), has secured a £10 million (about $12.5 million) investment from IW Capital. Using digital printing and specialty coating, Transcend Packaging creates paper straws, cups and food containers. It also recently developed a plastic-free PPE face visor. With the new funding, the three-year-old company plans to expand into new product categories and build its team.


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 June 23, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Paleo chocolate brand Honey Mama’s looks beyond natural with $5.8M raise

Chocolate bar maker Honey Mama’s (Portland, Oregon), known for its innovative flavors, has completed a $5.8 million fundraise to boost sales, distribution and marketing beyond the natural channel. Founded in 2011, Honey Mama’s crafts truffle-like chocolate bars from raw honey, coconut oil, cocoa powder and other whole-food ingredients. Its bars, which include varieties like Ginger Cardamom and Tahini Tangerine, are housed in the refrigerated section of natural grocery stores. This round marks the first institutional capital for Honey Mama’s; it previously raised a friends and family round in 2014. Amberstone Ventures led the round, which also saw participation from angel investors and Zachary D’Angelo of Rodeo CPG.


As demand for delivery surges, DoorDash brings in $400M

On the brink of an IPO, food delivery company DoorDash (San Francisco, California) has raised $400 million in new equity funding led by Durable Capital Partners and Fidelity, joined by T. Rowe Price. In February, DoorDash confidentially filed paperwork to go public. With the new round, it is valued at $16 billion. The coronavirus lockdown has led to peak delivery volumes for DoorDash, which has grabbed more market share than competitors UberEats, GrubHub and Postmates. It also recently expanded its platform to help restaurants develop digital storefronts and to deliver household essentials to customers through a partnership with CVS Health.


Collagen company Vital Proteins sells to Nestlé Health Science

Nestlé Health Science (Lausanne, Switzerland) has taken a majority stake in leading collagen brand Vital Proteins (Chicago, Illinois). Financial details of the deal were not made public. Since launching in 2013, Vital Proteins has become the top-selling collagen brand in the U.S., fueling overall growth in the category. With the deal, Vital Proteins gains access to Nestlé’s rich resources to further scale its innovation and reach while Nestlé makes entry into a growing area of nutrition. Vital Proteins will continue to operate as a standalone business led by founder and CEO Kurt Seidensticker.


Heartbest takes on Mexico’s dairy alternatives market with $2M series A

Heartbest Foods (San Luis Potosi, Mexico) recently raised a series A led by a $2 million investment from Blue Horizon Ventures. Heartbest’s vegan cheese and milk products mimic the taste and texture of animal-based products but are made using peas, amaranth and other plant ingredients. The company, which was selected to participate in a Google incubation program, sells its products in grocery stores in Mexico, including Chedraui, Costco and Comercial Mexicana Fresco.


Mia & Ben raises capital to bring fresh, HPP baby food to the UK

Blue Horizon Ventures has invested €2.5 million (about $2.8 million) in a United Kingdom baby food brand that believes parents shouldn’t compromise nutrition for convenience. Founded by a pair of entrepreneurs who previously ran a healthy soup restaurant in London, Mia & Ben (London, England) utilizes high pressure processing to create chilled baby food pouches made with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. They’re available in the online supermarket Ocado and in retail stores including Abel & Cole and Sainsbury’s in Britain and Dunnes in Ireland. The investment will help the company expand into new markets.


Instacart rival Dumpling empowers personal shoppers to build their own businesses

A different type of grocery delivery company, Dumpling (Seattle, Washington, and Berkeley, California), has raised $6.5 million in series A funding from Forerunner Ventures, Floodgate and FUEL Capital. Bucking the Instacart “gig” model, Dumpling provides individuals with the digital tools, technology and business support they need to launch and run their own independent grocery shopping and delivery businesses. They can set their own pricing and schedules and keep all tips. According to Dumpling, it powers more than 2,000 businesses in the U.S. and has seen a 20-fold surge in order volume since March. So far, it’s raised $10 million in capital.


Jupiter raises $2.8M to automate grocery delivery

Meal planning and food delivery startup Jupiter (San Francisco, California) is the recipient of a $2.8 million seed round led by Khosla Ventures and NFX. Jupiter partners directly with suppliers and maintains a central warehouse where orders are picked. It’s geared toward upscale Bay Area clientele who can afford a $45 fee each month plus a premium on groceries. In the long term, the company wants to fully automate the ordering process to learn users’ preferences and behaviors.


L’Oréal acquires Thayers

Natural skincare brand Thayers Natural Remedies (Easton, Connecticut), best known for its Witch Hazel Aloe Vera Formula Facial Toner, will be acquired by L’Oréal in a deal reported to be worth $400 million. Thayers recorded $44 million in sales last year from a multichannel strategy that includes natural, mass and beauty retailers, drugstores and online. Alexis Perakis-Valat, president of L’Oréal’s Consumer Products Division, called Thayers a “love brand” that sits at the intersection of two big skin care trends: nature and health. Thayers will join Garnier, Maybelline New York, NYX, Essie and other brands under that division.


PepsiCo invests in free-from brand Rude Health

The founders of food and beverage brand Rude Health (London, England) say PepsiCo Venture Group took a 9% stake in the company last year. Founded in 2005, Rude Health started selling muesli, then added oats, granola and cereals before launching almond, oat and brown rice drinks in 2013. It has since added a number of other new products including cashew, tiger nut and chocolate hazelnut milk, and opened up a brick-and-mortar café. The founders say sales of its dairy-free drinks have grown 120% over the last three years. PepsiCo Venture Group Managing Director Grubbs has highlighted functional beverages as an area of interest for the company in past presentations.


Smart kitchen software company snaps up $13.3M

On a mission to create the ultimate connected kitchen, Drop (Dublin, Ireland) is taking its next step with the help of a $13.3 million series A from new investors Alpha Edison, Morpheus Ventures and ACT Venture Capital, plus existing investors. With the capital, Drop says it will continue to grow its team. Drop created a digital platform on which “appliance manufacturers, recipe publishers and grocers can come together to inspire and guide everyday cooks at home,” the company says. More than 100 different appliances made by Bosch, GE Appliances, LG Electronics and more can be controlled from its platform and its recipes app. Steve Horowitz, who led the engineering team that created Android, is now a partner at Alpha Edison and has joined Drop’s board of directors.


Meal replacement startup CTRL gets influential gaming investor

Nutrition for gamers has not been a big part of the esports conversation. CTRL, which stands for Catered to Real Life, hopes to change that. It makes a line of powdered meal replacement shakes it says taste like the “bottom of the cereal bowl” but with protein, fiber, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, MCTs and prebiotic fiber. The influential gaming lifestyle brand FaZe Clan has taken an ownership stake in CTRL and will use its marketing prowess, which includes 230 million followers across social media platforms, to help CTRL grow. The two will also collaborate on new flavors.


Investors bet on mushroom ingredients in MycoTechnology’s $39M series D

A fresh round of investment totaling $39 million will fuel the development and launch of new products for food technology company MycoTechnology (Denver, Colorado). It’s built a functional ingredients platform based on mushroom fermentation, with a product lineup that includes a popular bitter blocking ingredient called ClearTaste and a pea and rice protein blend called PureTaste. Company leadership says it’s looking toward a potential IPO in the second half of 2020. The latest investment round was co-led by Greenleaf Foods, SPC, S2G Ventures and Evolution Partners. Rich Products Ventures, Tyson Ventures, Continental Grain, Middleland Capital, Bunge Ventures, Seventure Partners, Cibus Investments Limited and Kellogg’s Eighteen94 Capital also participated.


Chr. Hansen bolsters probiotics portfolio with UAS Labs acquisition

In its second probiotics acquisition this year, Chr. Hansen (Horsholm, Denmark) is set to purchase UAS Labs (Wausau, Wisconsin) from Lakeview Equity Partners in a deal worth $530 million. UAS produces a suite of trademarked probiotic strains that can be used for digestive health, immune health, weight management and other applications. Chr. Hansen says this will boost its health and nutrition business and allow it to reach new customers globally. Earlier this year, the company bought women’s health probiotics maker HSO Healthcare.


After raising $225M, Instacart valued at $13.7B

DST Global and General Catalyst led a $225 million funding round to help Instacart (San Francisco, California) keep pace with surging demand for grocery delivery during the pandemic. Existing investor D1 Capital Partners also participated in the round. In a statement, founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta said the company would use the cash to grow its shopper network and support infrastructure to help customers get their groceries on time. Orders are reportedly up 500% year over 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 June 10, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Shaka raises $2.3M for Hawaiian-inspired RTD tea

The husband and wife behind Shaka Tea (Hilo, Hawaii) have $2.3 million of fresh capital to help their company grow. Shaka Tea, a past NCN presenter, taps into Hawaii’s native mamaki plant to power its line of ready-to-drink iced teas, which are sweetened with monk fruit and free of calories, carbs, sugar and caffeine. The company also has a line of bagged tea blends made with mamaki. More than 3,700 stores in the U.S. carry its products. With the new funding, the brand will support its recent launch into The Fresh Market, GNC and the Southern Pacific region of Whole Foods Market, as well as build out its direct-to-consumer selling capabilities. The recent round was led by Mahi Pono, with additional funding from King’s Hawaiian, Gingerbread Capital, LDR Ventures, Allison Rose Culinary Ventures, Park Bench Capital and several angel investors. In the four years since its founding, Shaka Tea has raised a total of $4.1 million.


Apeel picks up $250M to cut food waste from the supply chain

With a new $250 million round of capital, Apeel Sciences (Santa Barbara, California) will build on its operations and join up with big growers in Africa, Central America and South America to help them fight food waste. Apeel’s big pitch is that its proprietary plant-based coating for produce can slow water loss and oxidation, improving the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. It has shown to work with avocados, asparagus, lemons and limes. The round was led by Singapore’s state-owned investment company GIC with participation from Viking Global Investors, Upfront Ventures, Tao Capital Partners and Rock Creek Group. Since starting up eight years ago with a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation, Apeel has reeled in some $360 million in financing from investors including Upfront Ventures, S2G Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and PowerPlant Ventures.


Celebrities back vegan seafood brand Good Catch

Five months after closing a $32 million Series B round, Gathered Foods-owned Good Catch (New York, New York) announced a new cohort of celebrity investors. Combined with the Series B, investments from Woody Harrelson, Shailene Woodley, Paris Hilton and Lass Bass will help fuel international expansion as consumer demand for protein alternatives continues to soar, Good Catch says. The brand sells its plant-based tuna, burgers and crab cakes in more than 4,500 retail stores in the United States and the United Kingdom.


Swedish startup making vegan protein from fungi attracts $1.4M

Fungi protein startup Mycorena (Gothenburg, Sweden) has closed a €1.2 million ($1.3 million on May 20) funding round from FBG Invest, Bertebos Foundation, Falkenbergs Sparbanks Foundation, Bånt AB, Expand Research B.V., Kale United AB and investors from GlassWall Syndicate. Mycorena says its Promyc ingredient, which contains 60% protein and 12% fiber, has a neutral taste with a meat-like texture and is intended to be used in vegan food products. Its production has a lower environmental impact than animal or plant-based alternatives such as soy, the company says. With the new funding, Mycorena will open a small-scale industrial facility in Falkenberg, Sweden.

Investors pump $80M into Chinese fitness training app

At-home workouts are having a moment. The Chinese fitness app Keep (Beijing, China), which just closed an $80 million Series E, is also having one. Since 2014, Keep has grown from its roots as an online fitness training program to become a seller of fitness equipment and apparel, including its own treadmills and stationary bikes. In 2018, it opened a gym called Keepland. The Keep app’s user base reportedly grew more than 23% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2020, after the company was said to have laid off 15% of its workforce last fall. The series E follows a $126 million series D closed in July 2018 and was led by Jeneration Capital with participation from GGV Capital, Tencent, Morningside Venture Capital and Bertelsmann Asia Investments.


Raising mealworms for animal feed nets Beta Hatch $3M

Cavallo Ventures (the venture capital arm of Wilbur-Ellis), Innova Memphis, Klein Private Equity Investment and Brighton Jones Investment Partners have invested $3 million in Beta Hatch (Cashmere, Washington). With the goal to industrialize insect farming for sustainable animal feed, Beta Hatch has developed a technology that converts mealworms and their waste into proteins, oils and nutrients for animal feed and crop fertilizer. The company plans to use the funds to build a commercial mealworm production facility and continue developing its technology. So far, it’s raised $5 million in total equity and has received $4.6 million in state and federal funding.


Cellular ag startup IntegriCulture raises $7.4M

A new ¥800 million ($7.4 million on May 20) series A round will boost IntegriCulture (Tokyo, Japan) as it continues working on its cell-based development platform that can be applied to cosmetics, supplements and cell-based meat. It’s also prepping for the launch of its first products, lab-grown foie gras and an anti-aging skin care product. The round included participation from AgFunder, Beyond Next Ventures, Hiroshima Venture Capital, NH Foods, Real Tech Fund and VU Venture Partners.


$12M series A supports Good Planet Foods’ plant-based growth

Good Planet Foods (Bellevue, Washington)— maker of plant-based sliced and shredded cheese alternatives that are free of GMOs, dairy and gluten—has closed a $12 million series A. Cleveland Avenue led the round, joined by GreatPoint Ventures, Tasseo Consumer, Stray Dog Capital and Lever VC. Vegan cheese is one of the fastest-growing categories in the broader plant-based foods market. Good Planet’s products are sold in retail stores nationwide including Walmart, Costco, Wegmans, ShopRIte, Safeway and Whole Foods. White Castle also puts its meltable slices on top of the Impossible Foods patty.


Rowdy Mermaid rounds up $7M to fuel ‘triple-digit sales growth’

Rowdy Mermaid (Boulder, Colorado) has closed the second and final tranche of its series A investment round, bringing in a total of $7 million. The round, led by KarpReilly, will support creation of an e-commerce platform and continued retail expansion for Rowdy Mermaid’s line of function-focused kombuchas packaged in 100% recyclable cans. Rowdy Mermaid says it’s experienced at least double-digit growth every year since its founding in 2013 and is expecting triple-digit sales growth this year as it expands into new markets. Its newest flavor, Watermelon Bloom, will launch in retail stores this month.


Grow-your-own-food company Rise Garden secures seed funding

True Ventures led a $2.6 million seed funding round for Rise Gardens (Chicago, Illinois), a startup making indoor hydroponic gardening systems. Its home garden kit comprises a shelving unit, hardware, plant pods, growing supplies and an app to remind users when they should water their plants. The startup launched last year, and leadership says sales have increased dramatically since shelter-in-place orders began.


Ready Nutrition adds NBA star to investor lineup

Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo put six figures of his own money behind Ready Nutrition (Wexford, Pennsylvania), maker of whey protein bars, powders and water, as well as energy drinks. He’ll also get an ownership stake in the nutrition company. Another athlete, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, became the company’s first investor in November. According to its founder, the 8-year-old company is poised to bring in $100 million this year. Ready Nutrition sells its products in 8,000 stores across the country.


Dishcraft Robotics raises $20 million to outsource doing the dishes

Tech-powered cleaning service Dishcraft Robotics (San Carlos, California) has closed a new investment round led by new investor Grit Ventures, with participation from First Round Capital, Baseline Ventures, Fuel Capital and Lemnos. With $20 million in new funding, the company will take its dish-cleaning services beyond corporate kitchens and into restaurants, as well as expand its cleaning facility. Discraft Robotics picks up, cleans and returns reusable dishware and cutlery to these businesses. Behind the scenes, it uses an intricate network of sensors, computer vision, machine learning and UV light to sort, clean and inspect dishware. So far, the company has raised $46 million in venture funding.


Iceland’s Good Good gets $3M to bring keto spreads to the U.S.

The keto trend is still going strong, and Good Good (Reykjavik, Iceland) is hoping to strengthen its foothold in the U.S. market with help from a $3 million series A. Both American and European investors participated in the round, including Icepharma, Aton.JL and Svanhildur Nanna Vigfusdottir. Good Good began in 2015 making natural sweeteners, then expanded into sugar-free fruit jam and chocolate hazelnut spread. With the funding, it will launch keto-friendly jam, syrup, chocolate spreads and bars in the U.S.


NextProtein’s $11.2M series A will scale up insect protein production

A group of investors has pulled together a €10.2 million (about $11.2 million) series A for Insect protein startup NextProtein (Paris, France). Blue Oceans Partners, Telos Impact and RAISE Impact led the round. Other investors included Mirova, Althelia Sustainable Ocean Fund, Kepple Africa Ventures and Aucfan Incubate Inc. NextProtein uses organic produce that would be wasted to raise black soldier fly larvae for animal feed and fertilizer. This uses significantly less land, energy and water than production of traditional protein sources like beef and soy, the company claims. Its current product lineup includes protein powder for farmed fish, poultry, pigs and pets. With the new investment, NextProtein will be able to add a second production facility, hire more staff and accelerate R&D.


Syngenta backs precision spray ag tech startup Greeneye

As farmers face pressure from regulators to cut down on the chemicals they use on their crops, startup Greeneye has developed a solution. Greeneye’s platform leverages camera sensors and artificial intelligence to help farmers detect and spray weeds (and only weeds) in real time. This precision method can dramatically reduce a farmer’s herbicide usage. The promising technology has been noticed by Syngenta Ventures, which participated in a $7M seed round led by Jerusalem Venture Partners. 2B Angels, One Way Ventures, Panache Ventures, Techstarts and Hyperplane Venture Capital also participated.



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 May 27, 2020

Samantha Ownby

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Spiceology secures $2M amid pandemic slowdown

Chef-owned and -operated spice company Spiceology (Spokane, Washington) has raised $2 million from investors including media company Cowles Co. and Kickstart Funds III & IV. The capital will help Spiceology ramp up marketing efforts and weather the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, company leaders told a local news outlet. Last year, Spiceology brought in about $6 million in sales from its lineup of more than 250 spices, blends, herbs, chiles, salts and other ingredients.


IAG joins Griffith Foods

Family-owned ingredient supplier Griffith Foods (Alsip, Illinois) now includes International Agriculture Group (Mooresville, North Carolina) in  its family of brands. IAG’s flagship product is Nubana Green Banana Powder, a high-fiber ingredient that’s well-suited for use in powders, beverage mixes, bars and raw vegan products. Griffith Foods’ resources and expertise will help sustain the company’s rapid growth, IAG CEO Maurice Moragne said. The companies first partnered in 2016, when Griffith Foods brought IAG’s green banana powder to market.


Investors pump $8M into intermittent fasting app Zero

The entrepreneur who sold coaching app Fitstar to Fitbit for $25 million in 2015 has closed an $8 million Series A for his newest app venture, Zero. Mike Maser now helms Big Sky Health (Big Sky, Montana), which also has a meditation app, Oak, and an alcohol-consumption tracking app called Less. Greycroft led the Series A, which also included True Ventures and Trinity Ventures. Zero recently launched a premium service to supply users with custom fasting recommendations and has plans to build more social features into the app.


With Series C, Imperfect Foods racks up $119M in total funding

Imperfect Foods (San Francisco, California), a pioneer in delivering would-be wasted produce to consumers in curated subscription boxes, has raised a $72 million Series C. Led by Insight Partners with support from Norwest Venture Partners, the round will bring delivery service to new regions, increase fulfillment capacity and enhance technology, the company says. Imperfect Foods launched in 2015 as Imperfect Produce and last year began offering other items such as meat, dairy and shelf-stable products.


Canadian meal kit delivery company gets $7M as demand surges

The COVID-19 pandemic is driving increased consumer interest in meal kit delivery. Fresh Prep (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) is benefiting from that increase, as well as from a $7 million Series A led by sustainability focused venture firm Renewal Funds. Founded in 2015, Fresh Prep delivers local, pre-chopped ingredients to its subscribers in reusable cooler bags. Company leadership says the funding will allow them to hire more employees and invest in automation technology.


DSM backs Phynova in $10.9M funding round

DSM’s (Heerlen, Netherlands) venture fund, DSM Venturing, has invested in previous NCN presenter Phynova (Oxford, England), which develops natural health products and functional ingredients from plants. DSM led the €10 million round ($10.8 million on May 13), which will support fulfillment of orders for Reducose, a product Phynova developed from mulberry leaves to reduce the body’s absorption of sugars and other carbohydrates. DSM and Phynova have had a strategic partnership to bring the product to market since 2018.


Social enterprise raises $3.1M to build food distribution infrastructure in Tanzania

East Africa Fruits (Tanzania, East Africa) announced a $3.1 million Series A that included $2 million in equity and additional debt capital to address food distribution challenges. East Africa Fruits was formed in 2013 to reduce waste by aggregating and distributing produce from smallholder farms. The investment will allow the company to acquire new machinery for its distribution center and build technology and infrastructure to better store and distribute produce. Goodwell Investments led the round. FINCA Ventures and Elea also participated.


Hain continues to downsize, divests Rudi’s

In Hain Celestial’s (New Hyde Park, New York) quest to simplify its portfolio, it has sold the Rudi’s Organic Bakery (Boulder, Colorado) brand to an undisclosed buyer. Earlier this year, it shed two other brands, Casbah and Europe’s Best. The company bought Rudi’s in 2014 for $61.3 million. It’s now working to scale down its portfolio and focus on core brands to become more profitable.


Seraphina Therapeutics attracts $5.5M to bring a new fatty acid to market

Domain Associates led a $5.5 million Series A round for Seraphina Therapeutics (San Diego, California). At the core of Seraphina is C15:0 or pentadecanoic acid, a fatty acid present in butter and some fish and plants. The startup plans to commercialize C15:0 as a supplement and food fortifier to help strengthen cells and counter age-related cell breakdown. 


Spanish startup secures $5.5M for sustainable fats

Cubiq Foods (Barcelona, Spain) is working on a cultured animal fat product to complement newly developed cultured meat products. The company recently secured a €5 million ($5.9 million on May 15) investment led by foodtech investor Blue Horizon Ventures and Moira Capital Partners SGEIC. Smart Fat, which is in development, enhances the flavor and replaces animal fats in processed meat products, dairy alternatives and other vegan foods. It also produces an omega-3 ingredient for functional foods. The investment will help Cubiq Foods ramp up production and launch industrially at the end of the year.


Kopi Kenangan lands $109M investment, finds sweet spot in Indonesian coffee market

With 324 coffee shops across Indonesia, budget-friendly Kopi Kenangan (Jakarta, Indonesia) embraces creative coffee concoctions, online ordering and delivery. Behind Kopi Kenagan is a lineup of powerful investors, including Sequoia Capital, which led its new $109 million round. B Capital, Horizon Ventures, Verlinvest, Kunlun, Sofina and Alpha JWC Ventures also contributed to the round. Part of the funding will go toward protecting its 3,000 employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kopi Kenangan said. It will also continue building its operations in Indonesia, launching new products and investing in technology.


Biomarine ingredients maker Algaia brings in $2.4M

Algaia (Lannilis, France) has closed a €2.2 million ($2.4 million on May 13) funding round. which it says will fuel continued double-digit growth. Algaia produces natural seaweed extracts and solutions for nutrition, personal care and plant industries. Its new VegAlg line comprises seaweed-based texturizing ingredients that add juiciness to plant-based burgers. Over the last three years, Algaia has invested in building its manufacturing and R&D facilities. It reported 25% sales growth in the first four months of 2020 and has noted high demand for vegan applications.


Foodie Card lifts off with $1.5M seed round

Do-good dining subscription startup Foodie Card (New York, New York) has raised $1.5 million from Ruttenberg Gordon Investments and several individual investors. Founded in 2018, Foodie Cart offers customers 10% off at select local restaurants in exchange for a $29.99 membership fee. It also partners with food banks to donate a day’s worth of meals for one person for every card purchased. Foodie Cart plants to hire staff, enhance its technology and grow its restaurant and food bank networks.


Tock takes in $10M to help high-end restaurants transition to takeout

Six-year-old Tock (Chicago, Illinois) built a digital platform that typically manages prepaid reservations for high-end eateries. But as the COVID-19 pandemic put restaurants in a bind, it shifted its focus to helping upscale eateries manage pickup and delivery. Valor Siren Ventures (a fund backed by Starbucks) led a $10 million financing round for Tock, which also saw participation from Origin Ventures. The company says it will continue to develop new tools that restaurants need to reopen.


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.