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Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry
Promising to deliver groceries and other everyday items to customers in as little as 10 minutes, Gorillas (Berlin, Germany) has taken the European market by storm in the 10 months since its founding. Now it’s raised a $290 million series B (following a $44 million series A closed in December) and has its sights set on more international growth. The delivery startup operates 40 micro fulfillment centers and employs more than 1,000 delivery riders across Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. With the new funding—from Coatue Management, DST Global, Tencent, Green Oaks, Fifth Wall, Dragoneer and Atlantic Food Labs—it’s looking to set up operations in Paris, New York City and dozens of other cities across the world.
Meatable (Delft, the Netherlands) is equipped with $47 million in fresh series A funding to continue work on its cultivated meat products. Meatable says its proprietary process, which mimics the natural process of fat and muscle growth, enables a more cost-effective and scalable solution for meat production. After finalizing its first pork showcase product last year, the startup is adding cultivated beef to its repertoire. The new funds came from a consortium of life science and food investors including Section 32, DSM Venturing, BlueYard Capital, Agronomics, Humboldt and individual investors.
Specialty food retailer Stonewall Kitchen (York, Maine) has acquired Urban Accents (Chicago, Illinois). Urban Accents sells more than 150 seasonings and sauces in stores including Whole Foods, Macy’s and Safeway. Stonewall Kitchen, which is owned by private equity firm Audax, owns brands including Tillen Farms, Vermont Village and Napa Valley Naturals, as well as retail stores and cooking schools. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Quantum Energy Squares (Los Angeles, California) uses plant-based protein, caffeine from organic green coffee and MCT oil from coconuts to craft a wholesome, nutritious energy bar with athlete appeal. Now, the startup has $2.5 million in funding to help it ramp up brand awareness through marketing, sampling and events. Launched in 2019, Quantum counts tennis stars Sloane Stephens, Mike Bryan and Sam Querrey, and soccer MVP Jozy Altidore among its investors. Following national launches in Whole Foods Market and Sprouts Farmers Market, the startup is focused on continuing to grow in the natural channel and branching out into the sports and convenience channels.
Leaps by Bayer and Spruce Capital Partners invested $6 million in a series B for Amfora (San Francisco, California), a startup that’s using gene-editing techniques to increase the protein density of crops, starting with soy. The proceeds from the financing will also support Amfora’s development of other crops, such as rice and wheat, with improved nutritional profiles. “Our protein-rich crops will enable manufacturers of plant-based meat, dairy and seafood to meet the growing demand for their products at lower costs while allowing them to take meaningful steps to address the climate crisis,” CEO Lloyd Kunimoto said.
VFC Foods (York, England) launched in December, but the startup is already working on a second iteration of its vegan fried chicken and plans to use €2.5 million (about $3.4 million) in new seed funding to scale up production and grow its brand. VFC sells a line of fried chicken alternatives—made from wheat protein, sesame seeds, corn flakes and other plant-based ingredients—in the U.K. and Spain. With the ultimate goal of wiping out factory farming, it’s focused on competing directly with chicken on price, taste and convenience. The seed funding came from plant-based investors Veg Capital and Johnson Resolutions, as well as the company’s senior leadership team.
Women-owned and family operated nut butter brand Abby’s Better (Charlotte, North Carolina) has new investors—including NBA star Kevin Love and model Kate Bock—and $1 million in new funding to reach new customers. Abby’s makes clean-label, peanut-free and paleo-friendly nut butters in unique flavors such as French toast pecan and strawberry cashew. With the seed funding, it plans to invest in building brand awareness and scaling its national retail distribution, though it’s seen great success with online sales over the last year.
Danone Manifesto Ventures and several high-profile investors have equipped Moju (London, England) with €2.5 million (about $3.4 million) to accelerate the growth of its functional wellness shots. Formulated without sugar or artificial ingredients, Moju’s product line taps into the functional benefits of plant ingredients such as ginger root, turmeric, lemon and seaweed. Its offerings come in individual and multi-shot bottles, including a recently launched prebiotic beverage, that sell in retail stores and direct-to-consumer online.
Whitebridge Pet Brands (St. Louis, Missouri) has acquired Grizzly Pet Products (Woodinville, Washington), maker of Wild Alaskan fish oil supplements for cats and dogs. Whitebridge was founded in 2015 as the result of a merger between pet treat manufacturer Cloud Star and Petropics, maker of Tiki Cat and Tiki Dog. Since then, it’s acquired a handful of other pet brands including Dogswell and Pet Botanics. Grizzly Pet Products markets its supplements in pet specialty channels in North America and Europe.
Groceries delivered in 15 minutes or less: That’s the premise of Fridge No More (Brooklyn, New York), the latest food delivery startup to get funded. A $15.4 million series A from Insight Partners and Altair Capital will fund its expansion across New York City and the East Coast. Fridge No More offers more than 2,000 SKUs through its app-based platform. Orders are picked at its warehouses then delivered by employees on bikes or scooters. Since fulfilling its first order in October, the startup says it now averages 200 orders per day
Just a few months after officially launching, new plant-based meal kit delivery company Vegano (Vancouver, British Columbia) has closed a $4.2 million series A. The startup sources fresh ingredients from local suppliers and delivers them to customers weekly. Next on the agenda for Vegano is accelerating product development, boosting marketing efforts, preparing for the upcoming launch of its vegan marketplace, and expanding its services to Toronto, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and Los Angeles, California, later this year.
Dog food startup KetoNatural Pet Foods (Salt Lake City, Utah) has raised $2 million in seed financing led by Corazon Capital. Founded on the premise that carbohydrates are the root cause of many pets’ health problems, KetoNatural Pet Foods created a high-protein, low-carbohydrate dry food with a nutritional profile that’s similar to fresh or raw food but offers the convenience and price point of kibble. Much of the $2 million investment will go toward marketing, expanding the product line, hiring staff and new scientific work.
iFoodDecisionSciences Inc. (Seattle, Washington) and its fresh food supply chain platform have garnered $15 million in series A funding led by Insight Partners. Next steps for the 8-year-old company are to focus on product innovation and expand into new markets and categories. iFoodDS offers a cloud-based platform to provide growers, processors, distributors and retailers with real-time insights that improve the safety, traceability and quality management of the fresh food supply chain.
Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, has led a $200 million funding round for Eat Just (San Francisco, California), bringing the plant-based food company’s total funding to more than $650 million since 2011. Its first cultured chicken product was approved by regulators in Singapore last year, and it now plans to seek approval in other markets. The funding, which also comes from Charlesbank Capital Partners and Vulcan Capital, will help Eat Just scale its manufacturing operations and work to lower the cost of cultured meat production. Meanwhile, it’s also announced plans to take its pourable Just Egg product to hundreds of grocery stores and foodservice providers in Canada.
Stor.ai (Tel Aviv, Israel), formerly known as Self Point, positions itself as an alternative to Instacart, offering end-to-end e-commerce solutions to help retailers thrive in an increasingly digital market. The company announced it closed $21 million in extended series A funding led by Meitav Dash and Mizrahi Tefahot, with support from Kli Capital and individual investors. With the new capital, it plans to build out its digital tools, accelerate growth in North America and enter new markets in Latin America and Europe.
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Promising to deliver groceries and other everyday items to customers in as little as 10 minutes, Gorillas (Berlin, Germany) has taken the European market by storm in the 10 months since its founding. Now it’s raised a $290 million series B (following a $44 million series A closed in December) and has its sights set on more international growth.
To help it commercialize a low-cost sugar substitute made from plant fiber, Supplant (Cambridge, England) has completed a $24 million financing round. Manta Ray, Khosla Ventures, Felicis, Soma Capital and Y Combinator participated in the round. Supplant says it will use the funding to begin targeted trial runs of its low-GI sweetener ingredient, which it says is produced with less water and at a lower cost than sugar.
In a new series B round led by Adjuvant Capital, a fund backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other global health investors, Frontier Nutrition (New Haven, Connecticut) has brought in $6 million. The mission-based company makes affordable fortified snacks that are sold in Bangladesh, a country with one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world.
Muniq (Los Angeles, California), a startup founded by Uplifting Results Labs, has added $8.2 million in series A funding to support its mission to address chronic health conditions by harnessing the power of the gut microbiome. In May, Muniq debuted a line of nutritional shakes with prebiotic resistant starch to help people improve their blood sugar, lose weight and keep their gut bacteria healthy.
A startup that believes its technology is integral in helping the cultured meat market mature has locked in seed funding. Matrix Meats (Columbus, Ohio) was born out of a partnership between Ikove Capital’s Startup Nursery and regenerative medicine company Nanofiber Solutions. It manufactures animal-free nanofiber scaffolds for cultured meat to be grown on.
Egg Innovations (Warsaw, Indiana), a Midwestern purveyor of free-range and pasture-raised eggs, has acquired snack brand Peckish (Sonoma, California). Born last year out of the Sonoma Brands incubator, Peckish packages hard-boiled eggs (supplied by Blue Sky Family Farms, Egg Innovations’ consumer-facing brand) with crispy dips for a high-protein snack with no added sugar.
Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund led a $20 million funding round for Virtual Kitchen (San Francisco, California), a startup that empowers restaurants to focus on delivery and minimize real estate costs. Founded in 2018 by two former Uber executives, Virtual Kitchen provides technology for restaurants to set up virtual or cloud kitchens that are optimized for delivery and don't have dining rooms or storefronts.
With the COVID-19 pandemic driving more U.S. food shoppers online, Barn2Door (Seattle, Washington) sees a big opportunity for farmers. The startup has raised $6 million for its e-commerce software that helps farmers sell food directly to consumers, with functions for managing sales, inventory and logistics.
What if people with food allergies carried a sensor that could detect the presence of allergens in their food? That’s the premise of Allergy Amulet (Lowell, Massachusetts), which announced a $3.3 million seed round led by Titletown Tech, a partnership between the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft.
Food safety and quality services company FoodChain ID (Fairfield, Iowa) expanded its portfolio with the purchase of Nutraveris (Ploufragan, France). Nutraveris is an AI-based software and services provider that helps supplement, pharmaceutical, personal care and ingredient manufacturers get their products approved and launched.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.