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Kraft Heinz venture fund co-leads $23 million investment in cannabis platform
Flowhub (Denver, Colorado), a retail management platform for cannabis dispensaries, has raised an oversubscribed $23 million Series A financing led by the Kraft Heinz investment arm Evolv Ventures, e.ventures and Poseidon. Described as one of the largest Series A rounds in the cannabis tech industry, the investment will be used to position Flowhub as the software model of choice for cannabis retailers. “With this investment we will continue to automate the cannabis supply chain, retail and reporting processes, and bring to market technology solutions that are not only shaping the cannabis retail business but also driving forward the future of legalization and de-stigmatization," said Kyle Sherman, founder and CEO of Flowhub.
Kind embarks on strategic expansion, acquires Creative Snacks
Kind Healthy Snacks (New York, New York), best known for its clean-label fruit and nut bars, has acquired Creative Snacks Co. (High Point, North Carolina), a family- owned, better-for-you snack manufacturer. Founded in 2009, Creative Snacks makes almond and coconut nut clusters, trail mixes, granolas and pretzels. Creative Snacks had $55 million in revenues in 2018, according to Triad Business Journal. This is Kind’s first acquisition and part of an expansion strategy to broaden its healthy snacking portfolio and introduce multiple brands. Mars announced a strategic partnership and a minority stake in Kind in 2017.
Danone Manifesto Ventures invests in vegan creamery
Forager Project (San Francisco, California), a producer of organic plant-based food and beverages that have cashews as a core ingredient, has received a minority investment from Danone Manifesto Ventures. Founded in 2013, Forager is a family-owned company offering plant-based versions of milk, yogurt and other dairy products, in addition to protein and probiotic shakes. Danone says the acquisition is aligned with its ambition to develop a “best-in-class platform to meet the increasing needs of plant-based consumers globally.”
New Age Beverages expands partnership with Nestlé
New Age Beverages Corporation (Denver, Colorado) has expanded its partnership with Nestlé, broadening its license agreement for Nestea and launching Nestea Powders in the United States. New Age said it is re-launching an innovative natural and organic Nestea ready-to-drink assortment across America’s largest retailers. New Age cited Nielsen data valuing the powdered tea segment in the United States at $259 million for the latest 52-week period. New Age said it intends to capture a significant share of the market by leveraging Nestea’s consumer loyalty and its own direct-store-distribution system, distributor network and footprint with major U.S. retailers. Nestea Powdered Tea has historically generated retail sales of more than $30 million. Other New Age brands include Volvic, Evian, Tahitian Noni, Búcha Live Kombucha and Marley.
Cargill invests $35 million to produce soluble fibers for healthier products
Cargill (Mechelen, Belgium) is investing $35 million in Europe to add soluble fibers to its portfolio of starches, sweeteners and texturizers. Cargill says its new soluble fibers will enable sugar reduction of up to 30%, as well as calorie reduction and fiber enrichment in confectionery, bakery goods, cereals, ice cream and dairy. The investment marks Cargill’s first move into soluble fibers in Europe.
Winnow raises $12 million to monitor food waste
Ingka Group, a strategic partner of IKEA, has led a Series B round in food waste company Winnow (London, United Kingdom). Winnow uses AI technology to help commercial kitchens manage food waste. Its intelligent camera, Winnow Vision, sits on top of wherever food is thrown away, identifies it, calculates value by weight and type, and gives insights into how to improve inventory management. According to Winnow, food waste costs the hospitality industry more than $100 billion annually, and kitchens waste up to 20% of food purchased. This investment follows a recent $7.5 million loan from The European Investment Bank.
Reed’s Inc. announces proposed public offering of common stock
Reed’s Inc. (Norwalk, Connecticut), a maker of natural carbonated beverages and best known for craft ginger beer, announced a public offering of common stock estimated to generate net proceeds of approximately $6.5-7.5 million. Proceeds will be used to fund growth, new products, sales and marketing and working capital, as well as for general corporate purposes. The company is focusing on its Reed’s and Virgil’s brands as part of an ongoing initiative to streamline operations. Net sales were $9.5 million in the second quarter ended June 30, up 1% compared with the prior year period, with the Reed’s brand growing in volume for the first time in almost two years. Reed’s has a wellness ginger beer with hemp extract in development.
Strategic partnership and investment for insect protein startup
Seafood producer Thai Union Group PCL is investing in Flying Spark (Ashdod, Israel), enabling the startup to move ahead with its insect growing and processing capabilities in Thailand. The partnership will promote larval insect protein as a sustainable, nutritious competitor in the alternative protein market. From larvae of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Flying Spark produces 70% protein powder that offers a mild taste but is extremely rich in iron, calcium, fibers and more. According to the company, its low-cost cultivation and processing and nearly zero waste gives it an edge over other protein sources.
Vertical Future urban farm announces seed funding
Vertical Future (London, United Kingdom) has announced a £4 million (US$4.9 million) seed round led by impact investor Earthworm. Funds will be used to increase Vertical Future’s crop production capacity as the company aims to increase its B2B restaurant business and expand its direct-to-customer business under the MiniCrops brand. The vertical urban farming startup grows micro-greens and micro-veggies.
Upfield enters plant based cheese category with Violife deal
Upfield Europe BV (Amsterdam, Netherlands)—parent company of Country Crock and other spreads formerly belonging to Unilever—is acquiring Arivia SA (Thessaloniki, Greece), a maker of plant-based cheeses and owner of the Violife brand. Violife is the No. 1 plant-based cheese brand in the United Kingdom, and Arivia has a fast-growing presence in the United States, according to Upfield. Arivia’s products are made primarily with coconut oil and affordably priced. The company employs more than 300 people and has a production capacity of 2,500 tons per month.
Investment for supply chain technology that boosts transparency and trust
TruTag Technologies (Emeryville, California), a manufacturer of microscopic edible barcodes, has received investment from Pangaea Ventures Ltd. and Happiness Capital Limited. TruTags can be applied directly to products or packaging for product identity, combatting counterfeiting, quality control, recalls and other supply-chain functions. This is especially relevant in industries such as pharmaceuticals and food where counterfeiting can threaten health. The microtags are made of high quality, nano-porous silica.
The Ambition Fund backs Femly Box
Femly Box (Bowie, Maryland) has received an initial investment of $25,000 from The Ambition Fund, matched by former NBA player Baron Davis for a total of $50,000. Femly Box manufactures and delivers directly to consumers a range of sustainable, eco-friendly feminine hygiene products. Television personality Tanya Sam of the Real Housewives series launched The Ambition Fund in September to focus on funding women and underrepresented business owners. Femly Box was one of five finalists in the fund’s Business Battle Pitch Competition.
Ugly Drinks attracts financing
Ugly Drinks (London, United Kingdom), maker of an unsweetened, fruit-infused sparkling water, has completed a multi-million-dollar financing with investors including Pentland Ventures and Steadman Partners (owned by the founder of BrewDog pub chain). Ugly Drinks was co-founded by two former Vita Coco managers and launched in the United Kingdom in 2016. Ugly claims 300% growth year over year. The company name stands for “the Ugly Truth” that too many products promise health but don’t deliver. The brand will focus on expanding its presence in Europe, on U.S. sales and marketing, product innovation and its direct-to-consumer business.
Parsley redefining primary care with whole-person approach
Parsley Health (New York, New York) has announced investment of $26 million and the launch of two telemedicine services. White Star Capital led the Series B round. Parsley Health provides holistic personalized medicine designed to reverse chronic illness and optimize health. Founded in 2016 by Dr. Robin Berzin M.D., Parsley Health puts nutrition, wellness and prevention on the front lines of health care, while also making care more data-driven. First appointments with your doctor and the Parsley Health team last 75 minutes or more—four times the length of a typical doctor visit.
Provivi completes $85 million Series C
Provivi (Santa Monica, California), an emerging crop protection company, has completed an $85 million Series C financing co-led by Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Fund and a global investment fund. Provivi is developing a family of safer, effective and economical solutions for crop protection based on pheromones as a foundation for integrated pest management.
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