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News for April 28, 2021

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

SunOpta buys Dream and WestSoy brands from Hain Celestial

After manufacturing the brands for more than a decade, SunOpta (Mississauga, Ontario) now owns the Dream and WestSoy brands, which were sold by The Hain Celestial Group (Lake Success, New York). SunOpta hopes the $33 million acquisition will accelerate the growth of its plant-based foods and beverages segment. “These two brands are perfect examples of niche brands that complement, but do not directly compete with, our vitally important co-manufactured partners,” said SunOpta CEO Joe Ennen.


Meat giant JBS acquires plant-based meat brand Vivera for $408 million

JBA SA, the world’s largest meat supplier, continues to bet on the exploding plant-based trend. The company’s recently acquired plant-based food producer Vivera BV (Netherlands). Vivera, Europe’s third-largest plant-based food producer, has a portfolio of 50 different food items and sells its products in 25 European countries. JBS purchased Vivera for 341 million euros ($408 million) but is awaiting regulatory approval.


Taste Republic owner Tribe 9 scoops up restaurant brand Carla’s Pasta

Tribe 9 (Windsor, Connecticut), maker of gluten-free pasta brand Taste Republic, bought Carla’s Pasta (South Windsor, Connecticut) for $26.3 million at an auction. The Carla’s Pasta business was hit hard by the pandemic and forced the restaurant brand to file for bankruptcy. Operations will transfer to Tribe 9 when the purchase is finalized later this month. Tribe 9 plans to continue to operate the manufacturing facilities while preserving production and jobs.


OneThird furthers technology to predict produce shelf life with $1.8 million raise

Food tech company OneThird (Netherlands) has raised $1.8 million to further develop a platform to “look inside” produce to determine its remaining shelf life. The company’s shelf-life predicting technology helps growers, retailers and distributors cut down on food waste by utilizing near-infrared sensors and artificial intelligence throughout multiple stages of the supply chain. OneThird will also use the funding—provided by SHIFT Invest and Oost NL—to expand retail pilots of its platform.


Newcomer Vejii buys veteran plant-based e-tailer Vegan Essentials, raises CA$10 million

Canada’s Vejii has acquired U.S. e-commerce platform Vegan Essentials (Waukesha, Wisconsin), which has grown into one of the largest exclusively plant-based retailers in the U.S. since it opened in 1997. The $1.4 million purchase will provide Vejii (Kelowna, British Columbia) more than 20 years of consumer insights and data to establish a stronger foothold in e-commerce. The newcomer—launched just four months ago—also raised CA$10 million ($7.9 million) led by Eight Capital to fuel its expansion into the online vegan marketplace.


RipeLocker secures $5 million more to improve shipping perishables

Startup RipeLocker (Seattle, Washington) secured an additional $5 million for its Series B round of funding. The company will use the funds, led by angel investors, to make specialized containers that extend the life of fresh food after harvest. In completed trials, the reusable pallet-sized containers held freshly harvested organic blueberries in “pristine condition” for eight weeks and fresh hops for six weeks. RipeLocker has raised a total of $12 million.


Arcadia Biosciences purchases Spanish food ingredient company Agrasys

U.S. agricultural biotechnology company Arcardia (Davis, California) has acquired Agrasys (Bareclona, Spain) for its novel cereal grain tritordeum. The acquisition will enable Arcadia to commercialize the proprietary grain, which is a combination of durum wheat and wild barley and is high in fiber, protein and lutein. Agrasys has commercialized the grain in 10 countries with seven retailers in Europe, including grocery retailer Albert Heijn in the Netherlands.


Supplement startup Feel gets $6.2 million

Feel (London, England) closed a $6.2 million investment led by Fuel Ventures and with participation from TMT Investments; Sova VC; Richard Longhurst, founder of; and Igor Ryabenkiy, founder and GP of Altair Capital. The U.K. startup is a year old and has a direct-to-consumer subscription model, which it says will keep costs down for consumers.


Skin care brand Disco nabs $5 million in seed round

Disco (Austin, Texas) raised $5 million in seed funding led by Midnight Venture Partners with participation from Paul Hedrick, founder of Tecovas; Bryan Mahoney, founder of Arfa Brands and former CTO of Glossier; and Taylor O’Neil, founder of Richards Rainwater. The skin care startup intends to use the funds to scale the business and expand its product offering as well as accelerate rollout to hundreds of retail doors across the U.S. this year.


Jellatech closes a $2 million pre-seed round for its animal-free collagen

Launched in November, Jellatech (Raleigh, North Carolina) has raised $2 million in a pre-seed financing round to fuel the company’s continued development of animal-free collagen and gelatin ingredients. The company is looking to provide a replacement for animal-based ingredients in multiple industries such as food and beverage products like gummy bears as well as supplements, skin care and cosmetics. “Being able to manufacture native collagen without animals is unique, this is what makes our technology truly groundbreaking,” explained co-founder Kylie van Deinsen-Hesp, who heads the science behind Jellatech. The round saw participation from a number of venture capital investors, including Iron Grey, YellowDog, 7 Hound Ventures, Capital V, Sentient Investments and Bluestein Ventures.


Atlast Food raises $40 million from high-profile investor lineup

Atlast Food Co., the maker of mushroom-sourced bacon, has raised $40 million from a roster of investors that includes the founders of Applegate, Stonyfield Organics and Whole Foods Market; Stray Dog Capital; and Robert Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition Ventures. The company sells its own branded product line, MyBacon, to a select set of specialty retailers but plans to sell its patented mycelium-based ingredient that mimics the texture of bacon to other food companies getting in on the alternative meat craze. Most of the funding will go toward construction and staffing of the company’s new production facility—expected to be the world’s largest mycelium farm.


Chickapea nabs $9.3 million in a Series C round

Organic pasta brand Chickapea (Collingwood, Ontario) received a seed capital investment from District Ventures Capital in 2017 after participating in the District Ventures Accelerator program. The company has now gained another $9.3 million from District, co-led with InvestEco Capital and Export Development Canada. The funds from the Series C round will be used to support Chickapea as it continues to grow in both Canada and the U.S. and expand its product line to include more nutrient-dense pasta. The certified B Corp produces organic pasta made with only chickpeas and lentils.


Aussie effervescent vitamins brand Voost sells to Procter & Gamble

VitaminHaus, which operates consumer brand Voost (Melbourne, Australia), has sold to Procter & Gamble for an undisclosed sum. After seven years of growth, the brand leads the effervescent vitamin category in Australia and has large distribution in grocery and pharmacy retailers throughout the country, as well as in Singapore, Hong Kong and the U.K. Founder Thomas Siebel said the acquisition will help “elevate the brand to a new level,” including launching in more markets worldwide.


Cultured Decadence closes $1.6 million pre-seed round

Cultured Decadence (Madison, Wisconsin), which specialized in cell-cultured seafood products such as lab-grown lobster meat, has closed a $1.6 million pre-seed round of funding. The company received non-dilutive funding from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. administered by the Center for Technology Commercialization. Other investors included Bluestein Ventures, Joyance Partners, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, gener8tor, GlassWall Syndicate, Bascom Ventures and Dao Foods, The financing will go toward expanding the Cultured Decadence team and technical progress toward a commercial launch.


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