News for July 21, 2020
Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:
Meditopia’s meditation app for global audiences draws in $15M
European investors Creandum and Highland Europe led a $15 million series A for Meditopia (Istanbul, Turkey, and Berlin, Germany), a meditation app built primarily for non-English-speaking markets. The startup works with mental health professionals in different regions of the world to develop mindfulness, meditation and music content that’s specific to different cultures, languages and countries. Its founders launched in 2017 with a focus on Turkey. They’ve since expanded the app’s reach to 75 global markets and a reported 14 million users. This round brings Meditopia’s total funding to $18.2 million.
Sampler closes $4M for at-home product sampling
As the COVID-19 pandemic forces the cancellation of CPG industry trade shows and in-store product sampling, past NCN presenter Sampler (Toronto, Canada) has seen a spike in demand for its direct-to-consumer sampling services. StandUp Ventures and BDC Capital—both existing investors—have led a $4 million financing round that Sampler will use to build its sales and service teams. EDC, Factory LLC and The51 also participated in the round. With clients like Unilever and Kimberly Clark, Sampler’s home sampling platform lets companies get their products in front of target customers and gather consumer insights. A newly launched retailer program also enables brands to send product samples to the homes of participating retail buyers. (Editor’s note: Sampler is a technology partner with New Hope Network, a sister company of Nutrition Capital Network.)
Native-owned Tanka sees new investment for meat snacks
Native American Natural Foods (Pine Ridge, South Dakota), maker of the Tanka bar and other meat snacks, says a multimillion dollar equity capital investment will support its growth and its mission to bring bison back to the lands, lives and economies of native communities. The Candide Group led the round on behalf of the Libra Social Investment Fund. Tanka products are made with prairie-fed bison and without nitrites or nitrates, antibiotics or added hormones. Recently, NANF established an operational partnership with sustainable meat producer Niman Ranch to help grow its customer base and geography, as well as to help build a sustainable supply of bison and other animals raised humanely.
Crisp’s food supply forecasting software attracts $12M
A software platform designed to help food companies reduce waste and optimize profits has garnered $12 million in new funding from FirstMark Capital, Spring Capital and Swell Partners. The series A will support Crisp (New York, New York) in expanding its supply chain offerings, which helps food suppliers and distributors better predict retail demand. Crisp is also building an open-data platform to connect suppliers’ data and help all stakeholders better match supply with demand. Crisp came out of beta in January and has raised a total of $24 million.
FreshFry takes in $3.3M for frying oil filter technology
FreshFry (Louisville, Kentucky) has secured a $3.25 million funding round from The Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund—a licensed fund of the U.S. Department of Agriculture—and Lightship Capital. Its flagship product is a disposable, plant-based pod that cleans and extends the life of frying oil used in foodservice. According to the company, when the pod is dropped into a commercial deep fryer, it catches water, acids, metals and other impurities. Currently, FreshFry has a national distribution deal agreement with foodservice company Sysco. The new funds will bolster FreshFry’s sales, marketing and operations teams; accelerate R&D; and help cultivate strategic partnerships.
Investors funnel $12M into a silk-based solution to food waste
Acre Venture Partners led a $12 million series A for a startup spun out of MIT and Tufts University to extend the shelf life of food. Mori (Cambridge, Massachusetts), formerly Cambridge Crops, developed an edible micro-coating for food that’s made from silk-based proteins. It prevents oxidation, improves water retention and slows bacterial growth, Mori says. It recently obtained GRAS status from the FDA and expects more certifications soon. Meanwhile, the $12 million will help the startup build out its manufacturing capabilities and develop commercial partnerships. New investors Prelude Ventures, The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust. ACCELR8 joined the round, along with existing investors The Engine, Refactor Capital, Closed Loop Partners, Blindspot Ventures and The Fink Family Foundation.
HumanCo takes majority stake in vegan ice cream brand Coconut Bliss
Plant-based frozen dessert maker Coconut Bliss (Eugene, Oregon) has a new majority owner that wants to grow it into a globally recognized brand. HumanCo (New York, New York) is a brand-building company just launched by Jason Karp, a co-founder of Hu, and a team of entrepreneurs, scientists and investment professionals. It invests in and grows brands focused on sustainability and healthy living. Since Coconut Bliss’s inception in 2005, it has been a pioneer in the vegan ice cream category, rolling out bars, pints and sandwiches made with organic, ethically sourced ingredients. HumanCo says its plans for Coconut Bliss include product innovation, expanded distribution and more marketing investment.
Seed funding lifts Grounded Foods’ allergen-free vegan cheeses
By turning fermented cauliflower and hemp seeds into creamy, high-end vegan cheeses, Grounded Foods (New York, New York) has attracted $1.74 million in seed funding. The financing was led by Stray Dog Capital, which also has backed Beyond Meat, Miyoko’s Creamery and other plant-based brands. Other investors include Rocana Ventures, Veg Invest Trust and members of the GlassWall Syndicate. The Grounded Foods team comprises a husband and wife who moved to New York from Australia earlier this year to join the Big Idea Ventures food accelerator program. They plan to build a manufacturing plant on the West Coast and launch their cheeses in high-end restaurants later this year before moving into direct-to-consumer and retail sales.
Oat milk pioneer Oatly scores $200M
The brand that put oat milk on Americans’ radar screens says it will keep expanding in Europe, the U.S. and Asia with $200 million in new investment capital. Oatly’s (Malmö, Sweden) round was led by Blackstone Growth. Celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, Jay-Z and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz also got in on the round. Oatly was founded in the 1990s but launched its oat milks in the U.S. in late 2016, following up with oat-based frozen desserts and yogurts. Competing brands such as Califia Farms, Chobani, Pacific and Silk followed. Oat milk is the fastest-growing nondairy milk product, with sales spiking more than 300% year-over-year, according to Nielsen.
Business spikes for NY meal delivery service as it pulls in $2.8M
RealEats (Geneva, New York) has raised $2.8 million to grow its home-delivered prepared-meal business. The round was led by Finger Lakes Forward Venture Capital Fund LP with participation from Armory Square Ventures and other investors. RealEats delivers precooked, vacuum-sealed meals to 28 states. The meals stay fresh in the fridge for up to seven days and are cooked in boiling water. In addition to sourcing many ingredients from its home state, RealEats has also benefited from a combination of private investment and public funds from New York, Ontario County and the city of Geneva. Like other food and meal delivery services, it’s reported strong sales growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As meat alternatives gain favor in Asia, Karana raises $1.7M to take on pork
A new pork substitute made by a startup called Karana (Singapore) has caught the attention of investors including Big Idea Ventures, Germi8 and a number of angel investors. Karana has raised $1.7 million and plans to launch its first product in restaurants later this year and retail next year. That product is a shredded pork substitute made from jackfruit, a sustainable, abundant plant native to Asia.
Omnichannel beauty seller Social Bella raises $58M
Following a $40 million series D funding last year, online beauty marketplace Social Bella (Jakarta Barat, Indonesia) has secured $58 million to upgrade its technology infrastructure and support its newly launched marketplace for mothers and mothers-to-be. The investment comes from Singaporean state investment fund Temasek, its private equity subsidiary Pavilion, and Jungle Ventures. Social Bella was founded in 2015 as an e-commerce business but now also operates six brick-and-mortar beauty stores in Indonesia, where the beauty industry is seeing fast growth. The company says it reaches about 30 million users per year.
Upward Farms gets $15M to scale aquaponic vertical farming
Upward Farms (Brooklyn, New York), formerly Seed & Roe, has closed more than $15 million in new funding led by Prime Movers Labs, bringing its total funding to more than $20 million. Combining aquaponics with indoor vertical farming, Upward Farms says its ecosystem uses fish to fertilize crops, which results in better yields and elimination of harmful pathogens without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Currently, it produces microgreens, baby greens and fish. The funding will go toward building a new headquarter farm that will increase its production 20-fold and enable the brand to offer its ready-to-eat salad greens in New York City grocery stores.
Swiss meat manufacturer doubles down on Mosa Meat’s cultured beef
A leading European meat manufacturer has expanded its stake in a company that plans to have a cultured beef product on the market by 2022. Bell Food Group (Basel, Switzerland) has invested €5 million (about $5.7 million) to help Mosa Meats (Maastricht, Netherlands) get its pilot plant in working order by next year and its first cultured beef product in restaurants by 2022. Bell previously participated in Mosa’s 2018 series A funding.
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