News for August 3, 2020
Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:
FoodChain ID buys Nutraveris
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. FoodChain ID’s CEO Brad Riemenapp says the deal will build his company’s global profile in the good-for-you sector. FoodChain ID has been owned by private equity firm Paine Schwartz Partners since 2016. In recent years, it’s beefed up its portfolio by buying Diversified Laboratories, Quality Partner and Decernis.
As online grocery booms in China, 2 e-grocers raise millions
Investors have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into Chinese e-grocers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, Nice Tuan (Beijing, China) closed an $80 million round from CDH Investments, GGV Capital, CMBC International and INCE Capital. The fresh funding comes on the heels of more than $169 million in capital closed in the first half of the year and will go toward enhancing Nice Tuan’s warehousing and distribution capacity. On Nice Tuan’s platform, consumers can join up to buy fresh food in bulk quantities at lower prices, as well as non-perishable foods, snacks and beauty and household products. According to the company, it delivers to more than 20 million households in 100 cities in China.
Competitor MissFresh (Beijing, China) also closed a round in July. A unit of the investment bank CICC led the $495 million round, which also saw participation from Goldman Sachs, Tencent, Tiger Global, ICBC and Abu Dhabi Capital Group. MissFresh runs a network of 1,500 small-scale distribution centers across China and will deploy the money to build on its technology, including its intelligent warehouse replenishment system. Leaders of the company revealed that it turned a profit during the height of China’s COVID-19 pandemic, when millions of consumers were under lockdown.
Vive Organic soaks up $13M for wellness shots
Functional beverage brand Vive Organics (Venice, California) closed a $13 million series B funding led by Monogram Capital with participation from Cambridge SPG and Powerplant Ventures. Vive Organic makes cold-pressed wellness shots focused on supporting the immune system with organic ingredients like ginger, turmeric, echinacea and elderberry. With the capital, it will work on building its product pipeline, growing its digital footprint and expanding its distribution. Since launching in the natural channel in 2015, Vive Organic has expanded to conventional, mass and drug stores as well as Amazon.
Better Meat Co.’s ‘blended’ meat ingredients net $8.1 million
As many consumers look to cut down their meat intake, The Better Meat Co. (Sacramento, California) created a solution to help meat companies keep up. It supplies a line of plant-based proteins that blend into ground meat products including beef, chicken, pork, fish and crab. The desired result is products that taste comparable to pure animal products and contain similar amounts of protein, but with a smaller environmental footprint, fewer calories and less saturated fat and cholesterol. The Better Meat Co. just closed an $8.1 million seed round from Greenlight Capital, Green Circle Foodtech Ventures, Johnsonville Holdings and Lever VC. Already its ingredients have been used in Perdue Foods’ Chicken Plus line of blended nuggets, tenders and patties that launched in 7,100 U.S. supermarkets last year.
Vegan collagen maker scores $91M
Geltor (San Leandro, California), a startup that creates animal-free cultivated protein ingredients for consumer goods, is ready to grow with help from a $91.3 million series B. The round was led by CPT Capital, an alternative protein investor, with additional participation from WTT Investment, Blue Horizon Ventures, RIT Capital Partners, Humboldt Fund and more. Geltor uses fermentation technology to create proteins that can replace animal products in consumer goods, including animal-free collagen and elastin replacements for skin care products. It also struck a deal with collagen maker Gelita to commercialize a vegan collagen for supplements. With the funds, the startup is looking to grow its “Ingredients-as-a-Service” platform to help other brands and manufacturers develop ethically produced ingredients.
Misfits Market collects $85M for ugly produce
Misfits Market, a subscription service for imperfect organic produce, is looking to expand its reach with $85 million in new funding from Valor Equity Partners, Greenoaks Capital, Third Kind Venture Capital and Sound Ventures. The company also takes surplus product off the hands of manufacturers such as Bob’s Red Mill, Teatulia and Taza Chocolate and sells them to subscribers for 25% to 50% off retail prices. It’s working on building out its team and opening a new state-of-the-art warehouse in New Jersey that will bolster its order capacity on the East Coast and allow it to deliver to more Southern and Midwestern states.
Smol raises $10.5M to deliver eco-friendly detergent to users’ doors
Created in 2018 by two former Unilever employees, laundry subscription service Smol (Sussex, England) has its eyes on new product categories, new markets and new team members. To support that growth, it’s just raised £8 million (about $10.5 million) in series A funding led by Balderton Capital with participation from JamJar Investments. Smol offers eco-friendly, cruelty-free laundry detergent capsules, dishwasher tablets and fabric softener bottles that it ships monthly to subscribers in plastic-free, child-lock packaging.
Flavor firms National Flavors and GSB join up through Riverside deal
Private equity firm The Riverside Co. invested in GSB & Associates (Kennesaw, Georgia), a flavor house that specializes in custom flavor development. GSB will be the first add-on to National Flavors (Kalamazoo, Michigan), which Riverside acquired in March, and will operate under the direction of its CEO Brian Briggs. Together, the companies can offer customers access to a broad portfolio of products and development capabilities, Riverside says. The private equity firm is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy in flavor development and production, saying it will continue looking to invest in businesses with unique product portfolios, R&D capabilities and market expertise.
Nerd’s nootropic drink sells to Beverage USA Holdings
Beverage USA Holdings has acquired the assets of Nerd Beverage Corp. (San Antonio, Texas), which makes a self-proclaimed “think drink” marketed to enhance focus, concentration, memory and energy. Instead of caffeine and chemicals, Nerd’s Focus beverage is powered by nootropics and adaptogens. It’s currently sold in 800 Texas retailers and online. As BevUSA looks to grow the brand, it says it will specifically target cities with booming colleges and universities with a long-term goal of expanding globally. It also sees future partnerships and sponsorships with influencers in eSports and gaming, extreme sports, music and entertainment, fashion and streetwear.
Blue Apron cofounder’s pasture-raised chicken venture nabs $10M
A vertically integrated regenerative ag startup that’s working to breed and raise healthier, tastier chickens has closed a $10 million series A. SJF Ventures led the funding for Cooks Venture (Decatur, Arkansas), with participation from Larry Schwartz and Nutiva founder John Roulac. Cooks Venture developed a breed of slow-growing heirloom chickens that are raised on a biodiverse farm using regenerative agriculture practices. Along with the fundraising, the company announced a partnership with testing company Food In-Depth to validate to consumers that it never uses antibiotics and feeds its birds verified non-GMO feed. The new funding will aid in expanding Cook Ventures’ distribution nationwide and also fund its regenerative crop management program. The company was founded in 2018 by Blue Apron cofounder Matthew Wadiak.
Noops puts a plant-based twist on pudding, scoops up $2 million
Oat milk pudding brand Noops (Roslyn, New York) is launching its first product online and in some Northeast grocery stores with the help of a $2 million pre-seed investment. The funds came from lead investor 25madison, plus Unovis/New Crop Capital and Siddhi Capital. They’ll reportedly fuel further innovation, commercialization and distribution into retail and foodservice. Noops is made with organic oats, dates and sunflower seed protein, which come together to create a vegan pudding with 5 to 7 grams of protein and fiber per 4.75-ounce cup.
Barvecue cooks up $2M for vegan BBQ
Plant-based investor Stray Dog Capital spearheaded a $2 million funding round for a startup taking barbecued comfort foods vegan. Three-year-old Barvecue (Cornelius, North Carolina) will use the funds, which also came from Siddhi Capital, Clear Current Capital and members of the GlassWall Syndicate, to build up its manufacturing capability and make new hires. Its first product is a pulled pork alternative made from its proprietary blend of soybean, textured wheat protein and sweet potato. It’s packaged and sold in a frozen pouch at health food stores, mostly in the Eastern and Midwest parts of the country.
Kraft-backed Evolv leads $7M round for Joywell’s sweet protein platform
Nearly $7 million in fresh capital will accelerate the development of Joywell Foods’ (Davis, California) sweet protein platform and help it establish partnerships with better-for-you CPG brands. The round was led by Kraft Heinz-backed Evolv Ventures. Khosla Ventures, SOSV, Alumni Ventures Group and others also joined. Joywell Foods has identified several naturally sweet proteins and produces them at scale using both plants and fermentation technology. Its first protein, miraculin, is reportedly thousands of times sweeter than sugar without the long-term negative health effects. Sugar reduction is top of mind for many CPG companies right now, and the market for sugar alternatives is expected to grow 4%-5% annually through 2025, according to several reports.
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.
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