News for July 21, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

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

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


Sampler closes $4M for at-home product sampling

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


Native-owned Tanka sees new investment for meat snacks

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


Crisp’s food supply forecasting software attracts $12M

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


FreshFry takes in $3.3M for frying oil filter technology

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


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

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


HumanCo takes majority stake in vegan ice cream brand Coconut Bliss

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


Seed funding lifts Grounded Foods’ allergen-free vegan cheeses

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


Oat milk pioneer Oatly scores $200M

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


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

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


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

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


Omnichannel beauty seller Social Bella raises $58M

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


Upward Farms gets $15M to scale aquaponic vertical farming

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


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

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


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

News for July 7, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Super Coffee scores $25M at $200M valuation

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


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

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


Vegan pork rinds attract $5M and a Lakers player

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


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

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


Alt dairy brand Ripple gets Chinese investor

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


New funding nudges lab-grown seafood closer to commercialization

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


Brandless revived 6 months after shuttering

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


Grass-fed milk producer Hart Dairy finds strategic investor

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


Sun Genomics takes in $8.7M for personalized probiotics

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Infuzed Brands lands $8.6 million for CBD beverages

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


Swapping plastic for paper lands Transcend Packaging $12.5M

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


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

News for June 23, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

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

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


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

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


Collagen company Vital Proteins sells to Nestlé Health Science

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


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

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


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

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


Instacart rival Dumpling empowers personal shoppers to build their own businesses

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


Jupiter raises $2.8M to automate grocery delivery

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


L’Oréal acquires Thayers

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


PepsiCo invests in free-from brand Rude Health

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


Smart kitchen software company snaps up $13.3M

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


Meal replacement startup CTRL gets influential gaming investor

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


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

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


Chr. Hansen bolsters probiotics portfolio with UAS Labs acquisition

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


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

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


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

News for June 10, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Shaka raises $2.3M for Hawaiian-inspired RTD tea

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


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

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


Celebrities back vegan seafood brand Good Catch

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


Swedish startup making vegan protein from fungi attracts $1.4M

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

Investors pump $80M into Chinese fitness training app

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


Raising mealworms for animal feed nets Beta Hatch $3M

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


Cellular ag startup IntegriCulture raises $7.4M

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Ready Nutrition adds NBA star to investor lineup

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


Dishcraft Robotics raises $20 million to outsource doing the dishes

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


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

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


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

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


Syngenta backs precision spray ag tech startup Greeneye

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



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

News for May 27, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Spiceology secures $2M amid pandemic slowdown

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


IAG joins Griffith Foods

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


Investors pump $8M into intermittent fasting app Zero

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


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

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


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

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


DSM backs Phynova in $10.9M funding round

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


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

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


Hain continues to downsize, divests Rudi’s

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


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

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


Spanish startup secures $5.5M for sustainable fats

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


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

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


Biomarine ingredients maker Algaia brings in $2.4M

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


Foodie Card lifts off with $1.5M seed round

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


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

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


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

News for May 13, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

UK noodles-in-a-cup brand crowdfunds a £1.75M more

Mr. Lee’s, a United Kingdom-based instant noodle brand that launched in the United States last month (Santa Monica, California), has raised £1.75 million ($2.2 million on May 4) on the equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs. That brings its total to £6.5 million ($8.1 million on May 4) raised so far in four rounds of fundraising on the platform. Its 220 investors include Henry Soesanto, CEO of the international food company Monde Nissin Corp. (which acquired Quorn in 2015), and Bart Sayle, former head of innovation at Unilever. Mr. Lee’s gourmet instant Vietnamese rice noodles come in a handful of varieties featuring freeze-dried vegetables and spices. They’re all gluten free, void of artificial preservatives and lower in calories, salt and saturated fat than competitors, according to the brand. The new cash will fuel international growth and further development of hot noodle vending machines. 


Restaurant supplier Cheetah raises $36M, pivots to serve Bay Area consumers

In the time of COVID-19, no-contact delivery is more important than ever. Cheetah (San Francisco, California) is equipped with a new $36 million investment to expand its wholesale food and supply pickup and delivery service. Though it was initially launched in 2015 as a wholesale delivery service for independent restaurants and small businesses, Cheetah leveraged its existing technology to launch a direct-to-consumer contactless pickup service just before California’s shelter-in-place order went into effect. Consumers order food and other essentials using an app, then pick up their order at a designated drive-through location. Cheetah’s series B was led by Eclipse Ventures and also included backing from ICONIQ Capital, Hanaco Ventures and Floodgate Fund. 


The next big alt protein? Investors bet $4.6M on duckweed

As momentum in the sustainable protein space mounts, Plantible Foods (Bay Harbor Islands, Florida) is getting ready to toss its hat into the ring. The company has developed a complete, plant-based protein from duckweed, which it calls one of the most protein-efficient crops in the world. Its protein ingredient is neutral tasting and mimics the functionality of animal proteins, making it usable in a number of products, from dairy alternatives to beverages. Now, with a $4.6 million financing round led by Vectr Ventures of Hong Kong and Lerer Hippeau of New York, the company has its eyes on commercialization, with the hopes of making its protein available to customers by the end of the year. FTW Ventures and eighteen94—the venture capital arm of Kellogg—also got in on the round. 


Wildtree’s affordable meal solutions sold to Altair Acquisitions

Altair Acquisitions (Frisco, Texas), an alternative asset investment firm founded last year, has acquired the material assets of Wildtree Inc. (Lincoln, Rhode Island). Wildtree manufactures allergen-sensitive spices, oils, mixes, sauces and meal-replacement products that are mostly non-GMO, organic and Kosher. Altair says the deal will enable Wildtree to grow its product offerings and enter new markets. In a statement, Altair said, “The company is benefiting substantially from the trend toward subscription-based product delivery and online retailing of innovative food products. We plan to leverage that in significant ways.” 


Plant-centric Growthwell grabs $8M to launch chickpea-based alt seafood line

With $8 million from investors, plant-based food and ingredient firm Growthwell Group (Singapore) is readying a new R&D and manufacturing facility and launching a chickpea-based alternative seafood line. Growthwell has been collaborating with food tech startup ChickP (Rehovot, Israel) to leverage its chickpea protein isolate in the product line, which will be free of allergens, gluten, lactose and hormones. Since its founding in 1989, Growthwell has been manufacturing vegetarian food products for businesses in Singapore, Australia, India and the U.S. Temasek led the $8 million round, while DSG Consumer Partners, Insignia Venture Partners and Genesis Ventures joined in. 


Sustainable packaging made from sugarcane waste attracts $2.2M

Packaging startup Varden (Melbourne, Australia) has plans to replace single-use plastics in products such as coffee pods with fully compostable materials made from plant waste. That’s attracted the attention of Horizon Ventures, the Hong Kong-based investment firm that was started by famed businessman Li Ka-shing. Horizon has just put $2.2 million behind Varden to help it ramp up manufacturing of its first product, coffee pods. Next, the company will turn to medical blister packs. Varden is keeping its process under wraps but says the material it creates from sugarcane waste is paper-like and functions like plastic. 


Square Organics, Rebbl founders team up on DTC coffee concentrate startup

Andrew Gordon, cofounder of Square Organics, and Palo Hawken, cofounder of Rebbl, have dreamed up what they hope will be the next big thing in coffee. Backed by an investment from PowerPlant Ventures, the pair have launched a direct-to-consumer venture called Jot (Boulder, Colorado). Jot, an acronym for just one tablespoon, refers to the company’s concentrated coffee product, which can be mixed with water or milk to make a cup of coffee instantly. Ultra Coffee—made from organic, fair-trade beans—comes in 200 ml glass bottles that can make up to 14 cups. 


Premama’s pregnancy supplements find investor support

Canadian firm District Ventures Capital announced an investment of an undisclosed amount in women’s supplement brand Premama Wellness (Providence, Rhode Island). Premama is a past NCN presenter known for its product line crafted for women at each stage of pregnancy, from fertility boosters to lactation supplements. While it’s estimated that 97% of pregnant women take prenatal vitamins during their pregnancy, Premama sees opportunity to support women’s nutrition during the entire pregnancy journey. Its products use non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan ingredients, and are free of artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. The investment will allow the company to continue to grow with additional marketing and business development support.


Yamaha, Mark Cuban back sensor technology to fight food waste

Strella Biotechnology (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) has completed a $3.3 million seed round that it will use to refine its technology and expand into the retail distribution market. The startup uses biosensors and internet of things technology to monitor and predict the ripeness of fruits along the supply chain, with the goal of helping fruit packers and retailers maximize freshness and minimize food waste. Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley, the investment arm of Yamaha Motor Co., co-led the round with Catapult Ventures. Union Labs, Mark Cuban, Red & Blue Ventures and Art Masher also participated. Prior to the seed round, Strella won the $100,000 Penn President’s Innovation Prize at University of Pennsylvania and won several other local and national innovation contests. 


Plant-based investors target European vegan meat startup Heura

New Crop Capital, an early stage venture fund focused on alternatives to conventional animal agriculture, has added the self-proclaimed “fastest-growing vegan meat startup in Europe” to its portfolio. The fund led a convertible note round for Foods for Tomorrow (Barcelona, Spain), which makes vegan chicken and beef alternatives under the brand name Heura. Vegan investment firm Capital V also participated in the round. In addition to the convertible note, Heura also received an undisclosed amount of funding from Spain’s government in January. 


Krave jerky bought back by founder John Sebastiani’s Sonoma Brands

Sonoma Brands, a company started by entrepreneur John Sebastiani to invest in and develop new snack brands, has acquired the Krave artisanal jerky brand from Hershey. Sebastiani started Krave in 2009 and sold it to Hershey for $220 million in 2015. Specifics of the deal were not disclosed. The Krave product lineup now includes nine varieties of meat jerkies, two plant-based jerkies and two varieties of pork rinds. Sebastiani told Forbes that the brand has retained a strong foothold in the meat snacking market and says there’s still room for new innovation. Sonoma Brands’ portfolio also includes Smashmallow, Peckish, Dang and Hu chocolate. 


Knowde gets $14M to bring the chemical industry online

Sequoia Capital has led a $14 million series A round for Knowde (San Jose, California), a startup that’s building an online marketplace for the chemicals and ingredients industry. Refactor Capital, Bee Partners, Cantos Ventures and Knollwood Investment Advisory also participated. More than 700 chemical producers list their products on the Knowde marketplace, which the company calls an “online raw materials catalog.” Buyers can search for ingredients, request samples, get quotes and purchase products through the marketplace. It’s currently serving three verticals but plans to expand within the year to 10 verticals, including food, pharmaceuticals and personal care. 


Grain-free bakery grows with $1.9M investment

Since it was founded in 2018, Unbun Foods (Toronto, Canada) has become a leader in grain-free, gluten-free and keto-friendly baked goods, with distribution in more than 2,500 restaurants and grocers in the U.S. and Canada. Currently, its lineup includes grain-free baguettes, hamburger buns, pizza crusts and tortillas. A new $1.9 million investment led by Canaccord Genuity will fund development of new products and a ramp-up in production.


TSG adds on to digital fitness services portfolio

TrueCoach (Boulder, Colorado) has built a digital platform that provides more than 15,000 club owners and personal trainers with workout planning, delivery, tracking and communications tools to use with their clients. The health-and-fitness software provider has been acquired by TSG, a portfolio company of Advent International. TSG offers revenue management solutions across a number of industries. This acquisition builds on its previous buys of boutique fitness software providers Mariana Tek, Triib and Zingfit.


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 April 14, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Eco-friendly cooler company Vericool closes $19.1M round

On a mission to replace packaging materials that harm the environment, Vericool (Livermore, California) has raised $19.1 million from Radicle Impact Partners, The Ecosystem Integrity Fund, ID8 Investments and AiiM Partners. Vericool created an alternative to plastic foam coolers that’s made from recycled paper fibers and other plant-based materials. It’s used to ship food and medical supplies that require temperature control, and is recyclable and compostable, the company says. 


M Kombucha focuses on function with new strategic investor

As it doubles down on the bustling functional beverages sector, M Kombucha (San Diego, California) has a new strategic investor in gut health supplement company Microbiome Labs. The funding amount was not disclosed, but according to a company statement, the relationship will bring M Kombucha’s products into the natural health practitioners channel and enable a new product launch. M Kombucha differentiates in the market by focusing on science and function: Three of its kombuchas contain 20 milligrans of CBD, and its functional line includes ingredients such as guarana, reishi mushroom and probiotics. The funding has allowed the company to move into a larger production facility and will support the purchase of new brewing equipment and hiring of additional staff.


SonderMind secures $27 million for mental health support services

SonderMind (Denver, Colorado), a company trying to make mental health care easier to find, coordinate and reimburse, is expanding with $27 million in new backing from investors. San Francisco, California-based General Catalyst led the round; F-Prime Capital, the Kickstart Seed Fund, Dioko Ventures and Jonathan Bush (the former CEO of Athenahealth) also invested. Three-year-old Sonder Mind’s software and services help therapists match with new clients, bill insurance companies and run their businesses. As demand for mental health services climbs, the company expects to expand beyond its current operationes in Colorado, Arizona and Texas.


Cambridge Commodities bulks up organic superfood ingredients portfolio

Nutritional ingredient supplier Cambridge Commodities (San Francisco, California) has acquired the raw and organic superfood ingredient business of Ultimate Superfoods (Moorpark, California). Cambridge Commodities offers some 250 nutritional ingredients to the sports nutrition, animal nutrition, food, beverage and beauty industries. On the heels of its 2018 purchase of Earth Circle Ingredients, Cambridge Commodities continues to grow its organic and superfood ingredient offerings with this acquisition. The deal also gives Ultimate Superfoods access to Cambridge Commodities’ warehousing capabilities, supplier network and product development expertise.


CircleUp invests in Koia

CircleUp Growth Partners says it has made an investment in Koia, a brand that sits at the intersection of a number of consumer trends including plant-based products, protein products and ready-to-drink beverages. Founded by Chris Hunter, one of the co-founders of Four Loko, Koia makes refrigerated, nondairy protein drinks with 18 grams of protein and 4 to 6 grams of sugar per bottle. It also offers keto-friendly and coffee-based beverages. CircleUp Growth partners launched a $125 million fund in 2017 to catalyze early-stage consumer and retail brands. Other companies in its portfolio include Barnana, Nutpods and Cali’flour Foods.


Tech-enabled greenhouses get $100M commitment

Pure Harvest Smart Farms (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates), a leader in sustainable agriculture in the Middle East, is the recipient of a multi-stage financing commitment from Wafra International Investment Co. in Kuwait that’s estimated at more than $100 million. The deal starts with a $10 million contribution to Pure Harvest’s $20.6 million Series A. Pure Harvest says the funding will drive further development of its climate-controlled greenhouses that grow pesticide-free fruits and vegetables year-round in the Middle East. Smart agricultural technology like Pure Harvest’s has become an increasingly important area for innovation and investment as climate change puts more stress on the international food supply chain.


Environmental investor adds $1.4M to vertical farming in the UK

Indoor farming firm Vertical Futures (London, United Kingdom) received a £1.1m ($1.35 million on April 6) follow-on investment from impact investor Earthworm, which also led its £4m ($5.11 million on Oct. 17) seed round last fall. Vertical Futures is part of the vertical farming movement, using automation technology to grow leafy vegetables and herbs indoors without the use of pesticides. Its consumer brand, MiniCrops, is used by more than 100 restaurants and thousands of households.


Kate Farms takes in $23M for medical nutrition formulas

Kate Farms (Santa Barbara, California), maker of plant-based nutritional shakes and tube-feeding formulas, has raised $23 million from individual investors in a round that closed late last year. Its products are used by hospitals and healthcare providers for children and adults who cannot process food. They’re made with pea protein, corn-free carbohydrates and other functional ingredients that support gut health. Meanwhile, they exclude common allergens and artificial ingredients found in conventional formulas. The round, led by Silver Lake cofounder David Roux, also included investments from John Hammergren, former McKesson chairman and CEO, and Gregg Engles, former WhiteWave Foods chairman and CEO. Kate Farms says it will use the financing to ramp up production to meet increasing demand. The company also recently donated 100,000 meal replacement drinks to California’s Meals of Wheels program in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.


Bridge round helps BigBasket deliver online groceries in India

As demand surges for online groceries, Indian online grocery startup BigBasket (Bengaluru, India) closed on $60 million to help it aggressively hire delivery workers. The bridge round saw participation from Alibaba and other existing investors, including Mirae Asset and CDC Group. One of the leading online grocers in India, BigBasket operates in more than two dozen cities. It has raised about $720 million so far, and company leaders say they expect to close a larger round later this year.


Nestle makes a pet food acquisition

Another pet company has been acquired as Nestle (Vevey, Switzerland) bought premium dog and cat food maker Lily’s Kitchen (London, U.K.) for an undisclosed amount. Pet food is the Swiss company’s fastest-growing segment, with 7% growth in 2019. Lily’s Kitchen, which has annual sales around $105 million in 30 countries, will operate as a stand-alone business in London.


Korean grocery e-commerce startup announces $150M Series E round

Market Kurly (Seoul, Korea), a five-year-old Korean overnight grocery delivery startup, has closed a $150 million round of funding. Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse Capital and DST Global participated in the round, which reportedly valued the company at $780 million. Recent media reports speculated that Kurly, which was launched in 2015 by former Goldman Sachs analyst Sophie Kim, would be acquired by one of its competitors. Like elsewhere in the world, e-commerce is surging in Korea as the coronavirus outbreak keeps people home.


Samsung and other investors back Indian restaurant delivery app with $43M

Investors delivered $43 million in new financing to Swiggy (Bengaluru, India), an on-demand food delivery app. The company’s ongoing series I round has so far brought in $156 million. Participants in the round included Chinese gaming company Tencent, Samsung Ventures, Ark Impact, Korea Investment Partners and Mirae Asset Capital Markets. Following in the footsteps of its competitor Zomato, Swiggy recently started delivery groceries and essential items in certain Indian cities as well.


Spot & Tango draws in $4.3M for dog food delivery

Direct-to-consumer pet food startup Spot & Tango (New York, New York) announced a new line of dry food and a $4.2 million seed funding round led by Guild Capital. It says the funding will be used to expand R&D capacity and grow the team. Launched in 2018, Spot & Tango creates fresh, customized meals for dogs based on their size, breed, age and activity level, and ships them directly to customers’ doorsteps. Its new line, UnKibble, brings that same focus on quality and freshness to dry food. A unique drying process allows for whole food ingredients to be preserved without any additives. An UnKibble subscription starts at $9 a week.


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 April 2, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

High-profile investors put $80M behind alternative-protein startup

The food tech company once known as Sustainable Bioproducts is now Nature’s Fynd (Chicago, Illinois), and it’s equipped with $80 million in fresh funding from investors. Grown out of NASA-supported research, Nature’s Fynd used a protein-rich microorganism discovered at Yellowstone National Park to develop a fermentation process that results in a sustainable, animal-free protein containing all nine essential amino acids. Production of the protein recently began and the company plans to use it in a line of food and beverage products. Generation Investment Management LLP and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, established by Bill Gates, led the company’s $80 million Series B. Mousse Partners, 1955 Capital, ADM Ventures and Danone Manifesto Ventures also participated. So far, Nature’s Fynd has raised $113 million.


Impossible Foods’ series F brings total raised to $1.3B

As Impossible Foods (Redwood City, California) continues to expand internationally—and braces for potential impact from the global coronavirus crisis—it’s closed a new $500 million series F funding round. The 8-year-old, plant-based food company has raised more than $1.3 billion to date, and sources have reported that it’s valued at close to $4 billion. The round was led by South Korean firm Mirae Asset Global Investments, with participation from other investors including Khosla, Horizons Ventures and Temasek. Impossible Foods’ flagship product, the plant-based Impossible Burger, is served in more than 17,000 restaurants and launched in retail stores last year. A new pork alternative joined the Impossible product lineup in January.


Nonalcoholic beer maker Athletic Brewing adds funding production

Hoping to make alcohol-free the next big thing in craft beer, Athletic Brewing (Stratford, Connecticut) has purchased a brewery in San Diego, California, and raised a $17.5 million series B to grow its production capabilities. Investors include Timothy Barakett’s family office, Tastemaker Capital Partners, Wheelhouse Partners and TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie. Launched in 2018, Athletic uses organic grains to craft nonalcoholic brews that contain between 50 and 70 calories each. According to IRI, nonalcoholic beer is a trending segment of the beer market, with retail dollar sales growing 23% in 2019.


CBD deal sends infused candies to Pura

Puration (Pura), a cannabis beverage maker, has bought a line of CBD-infused gummies and gum called Hemp4mula from Kali-Extracts. Pura’s business is centered around its cannabis-extraction process, which it puts to use in its own lines of CBD-infused foods and beverages. It also recently announced a $5 million investment to fund further acquisitions. Kaly, which also has a patented cannabis extraction process, sold the confectionery line to focus on its cannabis-based biopharmaceutical products, which were developed to treat respiratory conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Novi gets $1.5M to ease ingredient transparency in personal care

Aiming to make it easier for better-for-you beauty brands to develop clean products, startup Novi (Larkspur, California) has developed an AI-driven platform that connects brands with suppliers that can meet their ingredient standards. Novi has raised $1.5 million and names Defy Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Maveron, Polaris Partners and Slow Ventures among its investors.


Amazon, ShopRite operator buy Fairway Markets assets in bankruptcy auction

Two months after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, East Coast grocery chain Fairway Markets has sold six of its stores, a production and distribution center, and two real estate leases at auction. Village Supermarket Inc., which operates several ShopRite stores in New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania, snagged four of Fairway’s Manhattan stores plus one other, as well as a production and distribution facility, for $76 million. Seven Seas—a member of the Key Food Stores Co-operative Inc.—bought Fairway’s Georgetown store for $5 million. Amazon snapped up two real estate leases in New Jersey for $1.5 million. Fairway says it will continue to operate all of its stores for the foreseeable future to meet public need during this time.


Your Super secures $10 million for superfood powders

Superfood company Your Super (Venice, California) has raised a $10 million series B led by PowerPlant Ventures, which is also an investor in Beyond Meat and Thrive Market. White Road Investments, a firm started by the founders of Clif Bar, and Marstar Investments also joined in the round. Your Super is a Certified B Corporation that developed a line of organic superfood and protein powder mixes with trendy functional ingredients such as pea protein, hemp, maca, moringa and chaga mushrooms. The direct-to-consumer company, which was launched in Germany before moving its headquarters to California, says the investment will fuel new product development and the addition of new team members.


Hain Celestial offloads two more brands

As it continues to streamline its elaborate portfolio of brands, Hain Celestial (Lake Success, New York) has sold two more brands. Casbah, a line of Mediterranean-inspired side dishes, went to U.S. Durum, and Europe’s Best, a line of frozen fruits and vegetables, was sold to Nature’s Touch Frozen Food. Since CEO Mark Schiller took the reins in late 2018, Hain has focused on eliminating unprofitable SKUs. Last year, it sold the remainder of its Pure Protein business, as well as the Tilda, Arrowhead Mills and SunSpire brands, and West Soy’s tofu, seitan and tempeh business.


Bel Group acquires French cheese alternative startup

In an effort to diversify its product portfolio, Bel Group (Paris, France) has taken a majority stake in startup All in Foods (Saint-Nazaire, France), which makes plant-based cheese alternatives and sauces sold in retail stores and foodservice internationally. Bel’s portfolio includes The Laughing Cow and Mini Babybel, but the company’s strategy is focused on growing beyond cheese. It also recently acquired dairy company Safilait and MOM, the maker of the Materne, GoGo squeeZ and Montblanc brands. The terms of the self-financed acquisition were not disclosed, but Bel says it has taken an 80% stake in All in Foods, with a liquidity agreement allowing it to acquire 100% by 2024.


Ironman triathlons bought by media powerhouse Advance

Advance Publications Inc. (Staten Island, New York), the privately owned parent company of Conde Nast, has reached a deal with Wanda Sports Group Co. (Beijing, China) to acquire its Ironman business at a reported value of $730 million. The Ironman portfolio includes Ironman and 70.3 triathlons, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series and the Epic Mountain Bike Series, which collectively draw in about 1 million athletes each year. As part of the deal, Wanda will continue to operate several of the franchise’s races in China under an exclusive license agreement, and Orkila Capital will co-invest in the Ironman Group. Ironman’s global headquarters will remain in Tampa, Florida.


UK-based artisan tea maker secures growth funding

Specialty tea company English Tea Shop (London, England) has received a financing package of £2.5 million ($2.97 million on March 19), as part of the HSBC UK’s £14 million lending fund. It will use the funding to support the launch of new products as well as international expansion and a redesign of its packaging. The socially conscious business sources teas, herbs, flowers, fruits and spices from organic, fair-trade farms across the world.


Silicon Valley startup scores $16M for sports performance platform

Sparta Science’s (Menlo Park, California) hardware-software service is already being put to use by a handful of collegiate and professional sports teams. And now, bolstered by a $16 million series B, the company says it’ll hire new engineering staff and deploy the technology into health systems, too. Sparta’s system scans a users’ body to determine their balance, strength and jump. AI-powered software analyzes that data and creates a personalized plan to help users improve their physical performance or lower their risk of injury. GSR Ventures led the round, with participation from Arsenal Growth and other investors.


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

News for March 24, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

PepsiCo pushes further into energy drinks with Rockstar Energy acquisition

PepsiCo (Harrison, New York) has added to its energy-drink portfolio by acquiring Rockstar Energy (Las Vegas, Nevada) in a $3.85 billion deal that’s expected to close in the first half of the year. PepsiCo has had a distribution deal with Rockstar since 2009. Its current energy drink lineup includes Mountain Dew-branded AMP, Kickstart and GameFuel. As soda sales slide, energy drink sales have been steadily growing over the last several years, led by Red Bull and Monster Energy.


Nassau Candy buys natural products distributor Island Natural

Wholesale candy manufacturer and distributor Nassau Candy (Livonia, Michigan) has acquired Island Natural (Long Island City, New York), a natural products sales and distribution company. The deal will grow Nassau’s presence in the Northeast and allow it to offer more natural and eco-friendly food, cleaning, health and beauty products to its customers. It will also enable Island Natural to offer its customers access to a broader-reaching distribution network.


GrainChain’s blockchain platform for ag gets $8.2M

A commodities transaction platform developed by GrainChain (McAllen, Texas) and powered by blockchain technology has received an $8.2 million boost from investors. GrainChain says its platform streamlines the process of buying and selling commodities, allowing farmers to receive fair value and quick payment for their crops, monitor inventory, access more buyers and avoid fraud and corruption. Medici Ventures, a subsidiary of Overstock that invests in blockchain technologies, led the round, which also saw participation from blockchain venture company Eden Block and several other investors.


Foods United adds vegan media brand, raises $200M

Livekindly Media (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), a content platform focused on plant-based living, was bought by Foods United (California), a plant-based food brand owned by Swiss investment company Blue Horizon. Now known as The Livekindly Co., the combined company will be led by former Unilever North America President Kees Kruythoff. It plans to buy majority stakes in meat-alternative makers and connect them with production and distribution partners. Currently, it has stakes in chicken substitute maker LikeMeat (Dusseldorf, Germany), meat-alternative brand The Fry Family Food Co. (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) and non-GMO ingredient company Puris Holdings (Minneapolis, Minnesota). In conjunction with the acquisition, Livekindly Co. also announced a new $200M funding round, which will go toward more acquisitions to scale its plant-based portfolio.


Organic baby food startup Amara raises $2M for powdered purées

A recent newcomer in the organic baby food market, Amara Organic Foods (San Francisco, California), has put together a $2 million seed round to grow its three-person team and help meet demand for its products in-store and online. Bucking the trend of fresh baby foods that need refrigeration, Amara created a non-GMO, preservative-free, plant-based purée that is shelf-stable. It comes in powdered form and can be mixed with water, milk, breast milk or formula. The company launched in Whole Foods’ Northern California region in 2017 and is also sold in some Target stores. Investors in the round included ecommerce platform Pharmapacks and Moses Ventures.


Climate-friendly snack brand PlanetFWD secures seed funding

PlanetFWD (San Francisco, California), a new company started by Zume Pizza cofounder Julia Collins, has garnered $2.7 million in seed money from BBG Ventures, Cleo Capital, Cowboy Ventures, Precursor Ventures, Kapor Capital and others. By sourcing ingredients from regenerative farms, PlanetFWD is creating snacks that are climate-friendly, starting with its first upcoming release, a cracker. It’s also building a software platform to connect regenerative farmers with other climate-conscious food makers.


Starfield marks New Crop Capital’s first investment in China

New Crop Capital, a firm that’s hyper-focused on funding animal protein alternatives, has joined Chinese impact investor Dao Foods International in backing Starfield Food and Science Technology Limited (Shenzhen, China). The company’s first product is a ground meat alternative, and it owns a patent for a process that allows it to extract proteins from seaweed. The company says it’s reached product collaboration intents with more than 20 local and international restaurants, including Papa John’s Pizza. Chinese venture firms Matrix Partners China and Joy Capital are also investors.


Smart Foodservice Warehouse Stores to be acquired by US Foods

The second largest food distributor in the United States., US Foods (Rosemont, Illinois), bought Smart Foodservice Warehouse Stores (Portland, Oregon) from Apollo Global Management in a $970 million deal.Smart Foodservice operates 70 small-format stores in seven states that serve small- and midsize restaurants and other food businesses. US Foods says Smart Foodservice will help it better reach independent restaurant operators who prefer a self-serve model, in addition to providing current customers with another growth channel. Post-acquisition, Smart Foodservice will operate as a separate business unit and keep its leadership team.


GMO probiotics maker raises $2.3M

Science company ZBiotics (San Francisco, California) has announced a $2.3 million round to fuel product development and drive sales growth for its genetically engineered probiotics. Its first release is a probiotic that claims to break down an unwanted byproduct of alcohol in the gut to help the body rebound from drinking. This funding round was led by Oyster Ventures, bringing ZBiotics’ total raised so far to $5.7 million.


Firmenich adds French ingredient supplier DRT to portfolio

In its latest deal, Firmenich (Geneva, Switzerland) has acquired flavor and fragrance ingredients supplier Les Dérivés Résiniques et Terpéniques (Dax, France) for an undisclosed amount. The two companies have been partners for years, and Firmenich says the acquisition will add to its renewable and sustainable ingredient offerings. DRT makes a range of plant-based ingredients, mostly from pine trees. It operates nine production facilities in France, the U.S., India and China.


$10M will fund pilot of Basil Street’s pizza vending machines

Basil Street (Los Angeles, California) has developed a sleek, so-called “automated pizza kitchen” that cooks 10-inch thin-crust pizzas from frozen in about three minutes and serves them to consumers for about $8 a piece. A new $10 million round of funding will support the company’s upcoming pilot program, which is expected to roll out in multiple cities across the U.S. in April. Basil Street says it hopes that will lead to a full-scale launch later this year.


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

News for March 19, 2020


Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

JJ’s Sweets becomes part of Madhava Foods

Madhava Foods, a seller of natural sweetener products such as honey, agave and coconut sugar, has acquired organic candy company JJ’s Sweets. The deal between the two Boulder, Colorado-based companies is intended to boost distribution and sales growth for JJ’s and its line of organic, dairy-free coconut caramels called Cocomels. JJ’s was founded in 2010 by JJ Rademaekers, who will join the Madhava Foods team. The company will continue production in its Boulder facility. JJ’s is a past NCN presenter.


Kidfresh celebrates 10th anniversary with fresh capital

Frozen kids’ meal brand Kidfresh (New York, New York) has secured an undisclosed amount of growth capital from Monogram Capital Partners, Emil Capital Partners and AccelFoods. The brand, which is a past NCN presenter, says it will use the funds to roll out new branding and innovation, and expand retail distribution of its frozen meals made with better-for-you ingredients and hidden vegetables. Last year, Kidfresh made its first foray into breakfast foods with a new line of frozen waffles. 


Kerry grows plant-based portfolio with Pevesa Biotech buy

As demand for plant-based foods continues to soar, Kerry (Tralee, Ireland) expands its platform of plant-based protein offerings with the acquisition of Pevesa Biotech (Seville, Spain). Specializing in non-allergenic, non-GMO plant proteins, Pevesa offers organic pea and rice protein, as well as protein hydrolysates. Kerry says the deal will strengthen its position in the hydrolysed plant-protein space for specialized nutrition, as well as its ability to serve the rapidly growing plant-based-food market. The deal comes on the heels of Kerry’s launch of its Radicle line of plant-based ingredients for use in meat and dairy alternatives last year. 


MycoWorks rounds up $17M for mushroom-based leather alternative

To meet growing demand for sustainable fashion products, MycoWorks (San Francisco, California) has developed a sustainable, fine mycelium leather alternative made from reishi mushroom. It’s already in use by some European luxury and footwear brands, but a new $17 million series A financing round will help the company scale its manufacturing operations. The round was led by tech investment firm DCVC Bio, with additional participation from Novo Holdings and 8VC, as well as Future Tech Labs, AgFunder, Susa Ventures, Cthulhu Ventures and Wireframe Ventures. 


Overnight oats brand Brekki acquired by Cedar’s execs

Brekki (Carlsbad, California), a brand that took oats from the shelf to the refrigerated case, has been acquired by members of the executive team of Cedar’s, which makes hummus and other Mediterranean foods. Since Brekki emerged three years ago with a line of dairy-free, single-serve, ready-to-eat overnight oats, it has gained national distribution. Its acquirers say they’ll help propel the brand’s distribution and marketing. Once the deal is complete, Brekki will continue operating as a separate venture but will be manufactured and packed at Cedar’s production facilities in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Cedar’s completed construction of a new 125,000 square-foot production facility last year. 


Greek yogurt brand Ellenos gets $18M boost from Kind founder

Equilibra Partners Management, the family office of Kind Snacks founder and executive chairman Daniel Lubetzky, has invested $18 million in craft yogurt brand Ellenos (Seattle, Washington). Ellenos started as a brick-and-mortar fresh-scooped yogurt bar before offering packaged products at retail in 2016. Its Greek yogurts are made using a proprietary, five-day process and are topped with fresh fruit purees and indulgent compotes. With the investment and partnership with Lubetzky, Ellenos plans to expand. In 2018, the brand secured an $18 million investment from Monogram Capital Partners to build a bigger production facility, which reportedly increased its capacity tenfold. 


Mission-forward chocolate brand Tony’s attracts new investors

Tony’s Chocolonely (Amsterdam, Netherlands) will forge ahead with international growth fueled by a new minority investment from Belgian investment firm Verlinvest and London-based venture capital fund JamJar. The quirky Dutch chocolate company, which operates in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, aims to take slave labor out of the chocolate supply chain. With the investment, it also plans to create a factory and visitor’s center in the Netherlands called Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate Circus to educate visitors about inequality issues in the chocolate industry.


Yerbae investment will fuel foodservice, retail expansion

Sparkling water brand Yerbae (Scottsdale, Arizona) has reportedly received a minority investment from Vistar, a division of Performance Food Group that distributes products to vending, campus retail, specialty retail hospitality and concession accounts. In addition to opening up new outlets for distribution, the deal will also help the beverage maker ramp up manufacturing to support expanded retail distribution. Yerbae recently rebranded and reformulated its beverage to be sugar-free and zero-calorie.


Danone expands in UK market with acquisition of Harrogate Water

Danone Waters’ U.K. and Ireland subsidiary has acquired a majority stake in Harrogate Water, which owns the Harrogate Spring Water and Thirsty Planet brands. “This move will expand our offering in the U.K. and help to meet growing demand in sparkling water and on-the-go consumption,” Danone Waters U.K. & Ireland Managing Director James Pearson said in a statement. Danone’s existing bottled water offerings include Evian and Volvic. 


BlueNalu gets $20M to make seafood from fish cells

One of several companies working to bring cultured seafood to market, BlueNalu (San Diego, California), has raised a $20 million Series A round. Stray Dog Capital, CPT Capital, Clear Current Capital and New Crop Capital co-led the round. According to the company, it’s developing a process in which “living cells are isolated from fish tissue, placed into cultured media for proliferation, and then assembled into great-tasting fresh and frozen seafood products.” In January, it announced a strategic partnership with the aquafeed company Nutreco to accelerate commercialization. 


Retail fulfillment startup Fabric gets backing from Kraft-Heinz

Evolv Ventures, a fund backed by Kraft-Heinz, joined in a $110 Series B round for tech startup Fabric (New York, New York). The company uses proprietary robotics and software to give retailers a way to quickly fulfill home delivery and in-store pickup orders and replenish their stock. It already operates with a large grocery chain in Israel and is working to grow in the U.S. Corner Ventures, Aleph, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Innovation Endeavors, La Maison, Playground Ventures and Temasek also participated in the round, which was first announced in October. 


Subscription meal service for dogs lands $9M

General Mills’ 301 Inc. led a $9 million Series A round for Pet Plate (New York, New York), a pet food subscription service for pet parents who are willing to pay a premium for quality, healthy food. Pet Plate was founded in 2016 and quickly grew into a national brand after an appearance on Shark Tank. With the new funding, the company says it will expand its offerings to include new recipes, organic treats and nutritional supplements, as well as continue building its team and corporate infrastructure. The round was also led by DFE Capital Management, with additional investment from Marco Polo, Fernbrook Capital Management, The Yard Ventures and Castor Ventures. 


Lunchbox lines up $2M investment for restaurant ordering tech

In a $2 million seed round, tech company Lunchbox Technologies (New York, New York) secured investments from Primary, 645 Ventures and individual investors. Under Lunchbox’s model, small restaurant chains pay a setup fee and monthly subscription fee for software that streamlines a number of their pain points, including digital ordering, delivery dispatch, catering and sales analytics.


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.