News for February 17, 2021
Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:
On a mission to fight malnutrition, Frontier raises $6M
In a new series B round led by Adjuvant Capital, a fund backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other global health investors, Frontier Nutrition (New Haven, Connecticut) has brought in $6 million. The mission-based company makes affordable fortified snacks that are sold in Bangladesh, a country with one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. Proceeds from the round will help it bring its manufacturing in-house and raise awareness for its Hashi Khushi brand of fortified lentil butters, which are packed with 23 micronutrients, protein and fats. Other backers in the round include DSG Consumer Partners, Great Point Ventures, Royal DSM’s investment arm and individual investors.
Cannabis-based drug pioneer GW Pharmaceuticals sells for $7.2B
In a deal worth $7.2 billion, Jazz Pharmaceuticals (Dublin, Ireland) has agreed to acquire GW Pharmaceuticals (Cambridge, United Kingdom), maker of the first cannabis-derived drug to be approved by the FDA. Epidiolex was greenlighted in 2018 as a treatment for seizures associated with childhood-onset epilepsy. The company has another drug candidate in phase 3 clinical trials for patients with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, plus drugs for autism and schizophrenia in earlier-stage development. Jazz, which is a leader in sleep medicines and has a growing oncology business, says the multi-billion dollar deal brings “a scientific platform and deep innovative pipeline of cannabinoid product candidates, as well as highly specialized manufacturing expertise.”
Good Eggs eyes return to Southern California with $100M investment
Good Eggs (San Francisco, California) is the latest of many food delivery companies to get a boost from investors during the pandemic, securing a $100 million funding round that will help it expand to Southern California this summer or fall. Good Eggs offers groceries, meal kits, prepared meals and alcohol, many of which are locally sourced. In 2015, it shut down its operations in Los Angeles, New York City and New Orleans, Louisiana, to focus its growth in the Bay Area. That seems to have been successful: In the last year, the company says it’s nearly doubled its customer base, hired 400 new employees and opened a new, larger warehouse. The $100 million round was led by new investor Glade Brook Capital Partners with several other investment firms including Benchmark Partners, Index Ventures and S2G Ventures also participating.
$5M funding round fuels Beam’s growth into functional hydration
Though it’s most known for its CBD products, Beam’s (Boston, Massachusetts) next steps are in the buzzing functional beverages category. The brand has closed a $5 million series A from C2 Ventures, The Yard Ventures, Litani Ventures, Obvious Ventures, Camwood Capital and more, bringing its total capital raised to $12 million. Its first non-CBD product is a line of individually packaged hydration powders with electrolytes from coconut water, Himalayan sea salt, potassium bicarbonate and sodium hyaluronate. Beam says the funding will fuel more depth in its product pipeline and allow it to invest in organizational structure.
Unilever buys Eric Ryan’s bold first-aid brand Welly
Welly Health PBC (Minneapolis, Minnesota), a colorful and whimsical first-aid brand, is the latest addition to Unilever’s (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey) consumer brand portfolio. Welly was cofounded by serial entrepreneur Eric Ryan, whose previous ventures Method and Olly Nutrition sold to SC Johnson and Unilever, respectively. Welly started out selling its bandages, ointments and first aid tools exclusively at Target before branching out into a number of department, grocery and drug stores. The deal, it says, will put power behind its innovation and growth. Unilever has been on a kick acquiring purpose-driven, sustainable brands in recent years, including Seventh Generation, SmartyPants, Schmidt’s and Olly.
American Licorice acquires organic sweets brand Torie & Howard
Organic candy maker Torie & Howard (New Milford, Connecticut) has been bought by American Licorice Co. (LaPorte, Indiana) for an undisclosed price. Torie & Howard makes hard and chewy candies that are organic, allergen friendly, vegan and free of artificial colors and flavors. American Licorice, which owns the Red Vines and Sour Punch brands, says the deal complements its other recent investments in the better-for-you treat space, including fair trade chocolate maker Theo Chocolate and Zing Bar creator Mindful Nourishment.
Red Clay Hot Sauce lands $1.5M to spice up the condiment category
On the heels of a strong 2020, Red Clay Hot Sauce (Charleston, South Carolina) has attracted $1.5 million in seed funding from investors. Last year, the company pivoted from a foodservice model to a direct-to-consumer presence, grew revenue 300% and got its cold-pressed, barrel-aged hot sauces and hot honey into 1,200 Publix stores in the southeastern United States. The new funding will support further retail growth and the launch of a new line of spicy seasonings.
Rosie, an e-commerce platform for local retailers, raises $10M
As retailers scrambled to take their businesses online during the pandemic, Rosie (Ithaca, New York) was one of the companies there to help. It equips local retailers with personalized e-commerce software, and recently raised a $10 million series A round led by B2B software investor Avenue Growth Partners. It will invest the funds in introducing new features to the platform, developing more digital offerings for retailers and recruiting talent.
Hoxton Farms gets £2.7M to make animal fats without the animals.
Ukko (Tel Aviv, Israel) closed a series B for its AI-based approach to eliminating food allergies and sensitivities. Bayer’s corporate venture unit, Leaps by Bayer, led the $40 million round. Other investors included Continental Grain Company, PeakBridge Ventures, Skyviews Life Science, Fall Line Capital, Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors and TIME Ventures. Using a combination of artificial intelligence and bioengineering, Ukko says it can map and alter problematic aspects of a food protein that trigger an allergy. It’s developing both functional food ingredients and medical therapeutics.
Senior-focused fitness platform Bold picks up $7M
Bold (San Mateo, California), an online fitness platform that aims to prevent falls and chronic health problems in older adults, has nabbed $7 million in seed funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz. Bold works like this: Users fill out a questionnaire on the web-based platform and get a personalized exercise program that might include Tai Chi, cardio, strength or other classes.
Flipdish, a food ordering platform for restaurants, secures €40M
Tiger Global Management has made a €40 million (about $48.5 million) investment in Flipdish (Dublin, Ireland), a software platform that enables restaurants to bring online ordering in-house instead of relying on third-party platforms. Its platform is a white-label online ordering system that powers restaurants’ websites or mobile apps. It also includes built-in analytics tools. With the new funding, Flipdish says it’s investing heavily in its product and expansion. Currently, it operates in the U.K., Germany, France, Ireland, Spain and the U.S.
Gene-edited produce gets $90M in Pairwise’s series B
Using CRISPR technology, Pairwise (Durham, North Carolina) hopes to cultivate fruit and vegetable varieties with enhanced taste, longer shelf life, better yield and a longer season of availability. The startup closed a series B round that brought in $90 million from Pontifax AgTech, Deerfield Management, Temasek and Leaps by Bayer. It’s hoping to launch its first product, a new variety of leafy greens, next year. Pairwise launched in 2018 with funding from Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer. It’s working with the company in a $100 million deal to advance gene editing tools in corn, soybeans, wheat and canola.
Tovala raises another $30M to reinvent home cooking
In its second large funding round within a year, Tovala (Chicago, Illinois) has brought in another $30 million to ramp up distribution of its smart oven and meal kit services. Launched in 2017, Tovalo sells a WiFi-enabled countertop oven and ready-to-cook meals. The meals come with a barcode that’s scannable by the oven, which then steams, bakes or broils the food without the user having to do anything more. The company plans to use the funding to open a new distribution facility in the western U.S., improve customer service and build its team. Also on the agenda is creating more options for premade meals and recipes that can work with the oven. Left Lane Capital led the funding round, with Finistere Ventures, Comcast Ventures, OurCrowd, Origin Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Joe Mansueto also participating.
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