News for December 23, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Snack brand Peckish sells to Egg Innovations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lavit’s countertop drink dispenser lands strategic investment

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

Compostable packaging maker TIPA seals up $4M investment deal

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

Arya raises $21M to support smallholder farms in India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News for November 25, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Kind sells to Mars Wrigley for a reported $5B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahold Delhaize brings FreshDirect under its omnichannel umbrella

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

Keto brand HVMN lands $5.5M from famous investors

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

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

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

Kerry boosts probiotic business with Bio-K Plus acquisition

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

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

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

Private equity firm Clearlake buys WellPet

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

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

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

Strava loads up with $110M for app improvements

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

Whole Earth Foods snaps up Swerve sweetener for $80M

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

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

News for October 28, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

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

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

Amazon’s Alexa Fund backs Rise Gardens’ home hydroponics

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

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

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

Danone grows specialized nutrition platform with Real Foods Blends buy

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

Israeli cultured meat company to acquire cultured fats startup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kainos Capital buys Nutrisystem, South Beach Diet from Tivity Health

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

Deep Desert to launch THC drinks with $1.7M

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

Investors fuel Love Good Fats with $10.7M

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

PanTheryx builds gut health portfolio with Goodgut acquisition

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

Hydroponic farming startup BrightFarms brings in $100M investment

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

GoPuff gets $380M for on-demand delivery

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

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

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

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

News for December 9, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

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

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

Unilever scoops up another gummy vitamin brand, SmartyPants

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

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

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

HelloFresh buys Factor75 in latest move toward meal delivery dominance

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

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

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

Newly launched Sugarbreak gets $3M

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

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

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

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

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

Tate & Lyle grows sweetener offerings with Sweet Green Fields acquisition

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

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

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

Chinese food delivery app HungryPanda adds $70M

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

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

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

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

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

$2M seed round will help Phood fight food waste

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

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

News for November 11, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

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

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

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

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

DoorDash, Burma Superstar join forces for to-go restaurant

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

TPG Growth acquires low-sugar candy brand SmartSweets

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

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

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

Nestlé USA nabs prepared food delivery brand Freshly

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

UK eco-friendly natural deodorant brand lands $2.6M

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

Millennial brand builder The Naked Market draws in $6M

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

Connecting dietitians and patients digitally nets Nutrium $4.9M

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

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

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

Online supermarket Ocado bolsters grocery robotics with 2 acquisitions

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

Hershey backs Quinn in series D round

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

Under Armour sells MyFitnessPal

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

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

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

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

News for October 14, 2020


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


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


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


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


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.

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