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News for December 9, 2020

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

LemonBox raises $2.5M to sell personalized American supplements in China

Founded in 2018 to give Chinese millennials affordable access to vitamins and supplements from the United States, LemonBox (San Francisco, California) has secured $2.5 million in pre-A funding. Chinese firm Panda Capital and Y Combinator were investors in the round. LemonBox sees its focus on personalization and affordability as differentiators from other importers. The startup creates customized daily supplement packs for users based on information it collects about their health. With the new funds, the startup plans to open a fulfillment center in China (in addition to its Silicon Valley-based one). 

Unilever scoops up another gummy vitamin brand, SmartyPants

Supplement brand SmartyPants (Los Angeles, California) sold to Unilever (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey) for an undisclosed price, joining Olly, Liquid I.V. and Equilibria in the conglomerate’s functional nutrition and supplement segment. Since its founding in 2011, SmartyPants has struck a chord with health-seeking consumers with its line of whimsically marketed gummy supplements for adults, kids and dogs. The company focuses on quality ingredients, convenience and sustainable sourcing. Recently, it also launched a line of supplements for infants and added to its immunity-supporting lineup.  

Investors back Cure’s organic electrolyte drinks with $2.6M

Andy Roddick, Thrive Market CEO Nick Green and a number of other celebrities backed beverage brand Cure Hydration (New York, New York) in its $2.6 million seed funding round. VC firms Lerer Hippeau, M3 Ventures and Litani Ventures also participated. Cure’s powdered electrolyte drinks, which are made with a base of coconut water and pink Himalayan salt, dissolve in water and are flavored with organic ingredients such as stevia extract and lemon juice powder. The new funds will go toward helping the startup grow its team, brand awareness and product line. Cure also says it’s expanding to 4,200 retail stores in the U.S. 

HelloFresh buys Factor75 in latest move toward meal delivery dominance

As it looks to gain more ground in the U.S., HelloFresh is acquiring past NCN presenter Factor75, which dishes up ready-to-eat fresh meals. The deal is structured so that HelloFresh will pay $177 million to Factor 75 up front, with another $100 million possible in performance-based earn-outs. HelloFresh, which also owns EveryPlate and Green Chef, is reportedly the meal kit market leader in the U.S., winning out over rivals Blue Apron, Freshly and Sun Basket. With the acquisition, it gains its first office in Chicago, plus four production and fulfillment centers. Another facility is in the works to provide capacity to deliver more than $500 million in prepared meals annually.

Kind buys Nature’s Bakery to bulk up Mars’ healthy snack lineup

Now under the Mars umbrella, snack brand Kind (New York, New York) has added Nature’s Bakery (Reno, Nevada) to its lineup as it looks to build out a distinct health and wellness platform within the global consumer goods company. Like Kind, Nature’s Bakery is known as a leader in the snack bar space prioritizing simple, wholesome ingredients. The joining of the competitors will “satisfy a broader range of nutritional needs, dietary restrictions and taste preferences,” Kind said in a statement. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. 

Newly launched Sugarbreak gets $3M

Earlier this year, startup Sugarbreak (New York, New York) rolled out a trio of natural health products to help consumers reduce their sugar consumption and promote healthy blood sugar management. Now it’s raised nearly $3 million from Skagen Conscious Capital, Bronze VC, BBG Ventures and Sorven Capital. Sugarbreak leverages natural ingredients in its breath strips, pre-meal capsules and daily supplements, which it sells directly to consumers online. The B-Corp. says the new funding will support product innovation, as it plans to add more offerings to its lineup next year. 

Hemp drinks draw investors for Unity Wellness’s $1.25M series A

A group of investors has infused hemp beverage brand Unity Wellness (Beverly Hills, California) with $1.25 million in series A capital. The brand’s “wellness beverages,” which fit into the booming functional beverage category, are crafted with hemp complex and adaptogens like ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea and ginkgo biloba. Unity Wellness is gearing up to launch a new CBD protein bar and also sells a collagen drink mix. With the funding, it plans to work on raising brand awareness, scaling up and investing in products and the team. 

Cell-based fish maker Avant pulls in $3.1M for 2021 launch

As numerous cellular meat companies march toward commercialization, Avant Meats (Hong Kong, China) tosses its hat in the ring with a $3.1 million seed round to fund R&D and bring down production costs for its cell-based fish products, which it hopes to launch next year. Avant Meats uses fish cells to cultivate animal-free proteins that are used for skin care products and food, including fish maw, sea cucumber and fish fillets. Investors in the round include Markus Haefeli, the chairman of sustainable fish company Regal Springs, China Venture Capital, AngelHub, ParticleX, Lever VC, CPT Capital and Artesian. 

Tate & Lyle grows sweetener offerings with Sweet Green Fields acquisition

Ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle (London, U.K.) is the new owner of Sweet Green Fields (Bellingham, Washington), acquiring a portfolio of stevia products, an integrated stevia supply chain and a bigger presence in the Asia Pacific region. Tate & Lyle has been distributing Sweet Green Fields’ stevia-based products since 2017 and took a 15% stake in the company the following year. Its purchase of the rest of the company’s shares supports Tate & Lyle’s strategy to grow its sweetener solutions portfolio, CEO Nick Hampton said. Stevia is a growth driver in the alternative sweeteners category. 

Re-Nuble raises $1.1M to feed soilless crops with food waste

Among the myriad approaches to slashing the amount of food we waste, Re-Nuble’s (New York, New York) is rather novel. The startup has raised $1.1 million for a recovery system that turns food waste into water soluble, organic nutrients for hydroponic farms. Global Sustainable Future led the round, with participation from She1K, SOSV, SVG Ventures, WOCstar and others. Re-Nuble says it’s been working on case studies with soilless farms and will release the results early next year. “That will definitely lead to growth and allow us to accelerate more farms getting access to our product,” says CEO Tinia Pina. 

Chinese food delivery app HungryPanda adds $70M

Food delivery services have received major attention from investors this year, including HungryPanda (London, United Kingdom), a Mandarin-language app aimed at Chinese consumers living abroad. Following up on a $20 million investment earlier this year, HungryPanda raised a $70 million series C from e-commerce investor Kinnevik, 83North, Felix Capital, Piton Capital and Burda Principal Investment. HungryPanda delivers food from Asian restaurants and grocery stores in 47 cities in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and the U.K. The company says it’s grown 30-fold since launching and is profitable in some markets. 

Canadian plant-based condiment maker Mother Raw secures $6.1M

As it looks to grow distribution of its vegan dressings, dips and condiments across North America, Mother Raw (Toronto, Canada) has $6.1 million in fresh capital from investors. About 3,700 stores across the continent, including Meijer, Target and Whole Foods, currently stock Mother Raw’s recently rebranded and reformulated products. Forage Capital Partners led the round, with Export Development Canada and Whitecap Venture Partners joining in. 

Karakuri nets $8.4M for a robot that serves up personalized healthy meals

Robotics company Karakuri (Northwood, U.K.) has $8.4 million in fresh funding as it works to create a device that could serve up made-to-order health food with no person-to-person contact. Initially designed to make breakfast bowls, Karakuri’s DK-One robot can store up to 18 ingredients—each with their own temperature controls—and dispense them to create customized meals in under two minutes per meal. The company recently debuted a pre-production version of the device, which uses sophisticated robotics, sensing and control technologies. The round was led by Firstminute Capital and was followed on by Hoxton Ventures, Taylor Brothers, Ocado Group and the U.K.-backed Future Fund. 

$2M seed round will help Phood fight food waste

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That’s the philosophy behind Phood’s (New York, New York) solution for empowering grocers and foodservice providers to cut back on how much of their supply goes to waste. In its first round of institutional capital, Phood raised $2 million led by New Stack Ventures and Story Ventures. A scale and camera partnered with AI-powered software capture and analyze data about the food that businesses purchase, prepare and store, to help them become more efficient.

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