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AeroFarms achieves Series E milestone
AeroFarms (Newark, New Jersey) has raised a $100 million Series E led by the venture capital arm of Ingka Group, parent company of Ikea, according to Financial Times. The automated indoor farm will use the investment to expand warehouse space and grow more types of produce. Crunchbase reports total funding for AeroFarms at $238 million. The AeroFarms investment follows a $100 million round earlier this month for Berlin-based InFarm.
Microphyt raises €28.5 million for microalgae-derived ingredients
Microphyt (Baillargues, France), a developer of nutritional and functional ingredients from microalgae, announced a €28.5 million ($32 million) investment led by Sofinnova Partners and Bpifrance. Microphyt’s proprietary technology is based on tubular photo-bioreactors of 5,000 liters that ensure a high level of control and standardization. A portfolio of nutritional and functional cosmetic ingredients is under development and several commercial partnerships have been forged with key players, Microphyt stated.
Kopari Beauty closes $20 million for coconut-based NPC
Kopari Beauty (San Diego, California), a brand of personal care products based on coconut oil, has closed a $20 million funding round. Investors included L Catterton, Unilever Ventures and the San Diego based University Growth Fund. Funding will be used for product research, retail and international expansion, and e-commerce improvements for the brand's subscription platform. L Catterton previously invested in Kopari in January 2017. Kopari products are available at Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, Bloomingdale's and online.
HeavenlyRx announces strategic investment in Jones Soda
The hemp and CBD company HeavenlyRx Ltd. (Toronto, Canada), a portfolio company of SOL Global Investments Corp., has acquired around 25% of Jones Soda Co. (Seattle, Washington) with an option to increase its stake to 51%. The strategic financing, worth $9 million, will enable Jones Soda to expand its existing portfolio and explore commercialization of CBD-infused beverages. SOL Global acquired approximately 8% of Jones Soda last March. Jones Soda is a craft soda brand founded in 1986.
4th & Heart closes $7.6 million funding for gourmet ghee
4th & Heart (Los Angeles, California), an artisanal food brand known for grass-fed ghee, has closed a $7.6 million series C round led by Harbinger Ventures. Also participating were Cambridge Companies SPG, Blueberry Ventures, Boulder Food Group, Monogram Capital Partners, Finn Capital Partners and Everplus Capital. 4th & Heart products include flavored ghee, blended ghee-and-oil sprays and chocolate spreads. Founded in 2015 and available in the
natural retail channel, the company will be expanding into Target, its first exposure to mass retail.
McCain Foods leads $7 million round in “chicken” nuggets
A foodtech company making plant-based chicken nuggets from texturized pea protein has raised $7 million in funding led by the Canadian company McCain Foods (Florenceville-Bristol, Canada). NUGGS (New York, New York) embraces “iterative innovation” based on consumer feedback: “We believe the combination of the NUGGS approach and McCain's production and commercial expertise will accelerate the brand's growth and deliver market scale," said Mauro Pennella, chief growth officer at McCain, which also manufactures the nuggets. NUGGS was founded by the 19-year-old Australian tech entrepreneur Ben Pasternak, co-founder of the Monkey video chat app. After Monkey was sold, Pasternak turned his attention to helping end factory farming.
Meditation business attracts seed funding
A subscription-based meditation company has raised $5.65 million in seed funding backed by CrossLink Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Collaborative Fund and Ludlow Ventures. Lerer Hippeau welcomed Wave (New York, New York) to its portfolio in July, describing it as “the first immersive meditation experience made for everyone.” The Wave system combines a tech-enabled cushion, headphones and app to provide guided meditation using sound and vibration. Co-founders Mason Levey and Brad Warsh were previously involved in Y7 Studio, a yoga business.
CBD brand raises $4 million seed round
Kaleidoscope Labs (New York, New York) has raised a $4 million seed round led by RRE Ventures. Kaleidoscope offers “semi-customized” CBD-based supplements using microencapsulation technology to increase bioavailability. Unlike other CBD products that might yield varying doses of CBD, the Kaleidoscope design ensures a consistent amount with each capsule, according to the company. The supplements are designed to be “stackable,” allowing the consumer to use multiple formulations or increase dosage incrementally. Users can complete an online questionnaire to get product recommendations.
Kencko announces seed round for DTC smoothie packs
Kencko (New York, New York), a “nutrition service” offering instant smoothie mixes in the direct-to-consumer channel, has announced a seed round of $3.4 million. Investors included NextView Ventures, LocalGlobe, Kairos Ventures, Techstars and Max Ventures. The smoothies—made from flash-frozen and slow-dried organic produce—are intended to help Americans get their recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables. The company was co-founded by CEO Tomas Froes after he was diagnosed with acute gastritis. “We’re not just selling drinkable fruits and vegetables to our customers, we are selling a lifestyle,” said Froes.
Ready, Set, Food! raises $2.2 million to prevent childhood food allergies
Ready, Set, Food! (Los Angeles, California) has raised $2.2 million in venture capital funding led by Amplify.LA. The mission of Ready, Set, Food! is to provide parents a safe and easy way to protect babies from developing common food allergies. The daily allergen packets are sold by subscription and designed for introduction into a baby’s diet as early as four months of age. Aligned with national and international medical guidelines for early allergen introduction, Ready, Set, Food! says it has secured the support of over 300 pediatricians and allergists.
Report identifies investment approaches for building “soil wealth”
A new report, “Soil Wealth: Investing in Regenerative Agriculture Across Asset Classes,” has identified 70 investment strategies that include regenerative agriculture criteria and represent assets under management of over $47.5 billion in the United States; private equity and venture capital were associated with $6.9 billion of that total. Regenerative agriculture prioritizes soil improvement and benefits with regard to water usage, biodiversity, climate change and rural economics. In the PE/VC asset class, the report lists a dozen firms with an interest in regenerative agriculture, including 1st Course Capital, Almanac Investments, Renewal Funds and S2G Ventures. The report was published by the Croatan Institute, the Delta Institute and the Organic Agriculture Revitalization Strategy.
Lactalis acquires U.S. yogurt business
French dairy giant Lactalis Group (Laval, France) has acquired Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy (Brattleboro, Vermont), the U.S. yogurt business of Ehrmann AG of Germany. Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy makes yogurt and other dairy products under the Green Mountain Creamery and Liebe brands, in addition to having a private label business. Lactalis already owns the Stonyfield and Siggi's yogurt brands in the United States. Lactalis has eight factories and over 2,400 employees in the United States.
TreeHouse Foods to sell snacks division to Atlas Holdings
TreeHouse Foods Inc. (Oakbrook, Illinois) has agreed to sell its Snacks Division to Atlas Holdings LLC (Greenwich, Connecticut) for $90 million and plans to use net proceeds to pay down debt. According to Treehouse, its Snacks Division is one of the largest manufacturers of private-label healthy snacks in North America and a leader in the nuts and trail mix categories. Net sales of approximately $670 million were projected for the Division in 2019.
Minority investors expected to boost NI’s digital strategy
HGGC is selling a minority stake in Nutraceutical International Corporation (NI, Park City, Utah) to Snapdragon Capital Partners LLC and tech consultancy The Maze Group LLC. The move is expected to strengthen Nutraceutical’s omni-channel strategy. Founded in 1993, Nutraceutical is a vertically integrated manufacturer of nutritional supplements and other natural products, with brands like Solaray, Zhou Nutrition, Dynamic Health and Zand. Since HGGC invested in August 2017, Nutraceutical has made operational improvements “leading to attractive revenue growth and margin improvement,” according to HGGC. Snapdragon and Maze bring experience in e-commerce and digital strategies.
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