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News for June 23, 2020

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Paleo chocolate brand Honey Mama’s looks beyond natural with $5.8M raise

Chocolate bar maker Honey Mama’s (Portland, Oregon), known for its innovative flavors, has completed a $5.8 million fundraise to boost sales, distribution and marketing beyond the natural channel. Founded in 2011, Honey Mama’s crafts truffle-like chocolate bars from raw honey, coconut oil, cocoa powder and other whole-food ingredients. Its bars, which include varieties like Ginger Cardamom and Tahini Tangerine, are housed in the refrigerated section of natural grocery stores. This round marks the first institutional capital for Honey Mama’s; it previously raised a friends and family round in 2014. Amberstone Ventures led the round, which also saw participation from angel investors and Zachary D’Angelo of Rodeo CPG.


As demand for delivery surges, DoorDash brings in $400M

On the brink of an IPO, food delivery company DoorDash (San Francisco, California) has raised $400 million in new equity funding led by Durable Capital Partners and Fidelity, joined by T. Rowe Price. In February, DoorDash confidentially filed paperwork to go public. With the new round, it is valued at $16 billion. The coronavirus lockdown has led to peak delivery volumes for DoorDash, which has grabbed more market share than competitors UberEats, GrubHub and Postmates. It also recently expanded its platform to help restaurants develop digital storefronts and to deliver household essentials to customers through a partnership with CVS Health.


Collagen company Vital Proteins sells to Nestlé Health Science

Nestlé Health Science (Lausanne, Switzerland) has taken a majority stake in leading collagen brand Vital Proteins (Chicago, Illinois). Financial details of the deal were not made public. Since launching in 2013, Vital Proteins has become the top-selling collagen brand in the U.S., fueling overall growth in the category. With the deal, Vital Proteins gains access to Nestlé’s rich resources to further scale its innovation and reach while Nestlé makes entry into a growing area of nutrition. Vital Proteins will continue to operate as a standalone business led by founder and CEO Kurt Seidensticker.


Heartbest takes on Mexico’s dairy alternatives market with $2M series A

Heartbest Foods (San Luis Potosi, Mexico) recently raised a series A led by a $2 million investment from Blue Horizon Ventures. Heartbest’s vegan cheese and milk products mimic the taste and texture of animal-based products but are made using peas, amaranth and other plant ingredients. The company, which was selected to participate in a Google incubation program, sells its products in grocery stores in Mexico, including Chedraui, Costco and Comercial Mexicana Fresco.


Mia & Ben raises capital to bring fresh, HPP baby food to the UK

Blue Horizon Ventures has invested €2.5 million (about $2.8 million) in a United Kingdom baby food brand that believes parents shouldn’t compromise nutrition for convenience. Founded by a pair of entrepreneurs who previously ran a healthy soup restaurant in London, Mia & Ben (London, England) utilizes high pressure processing to create chilled baby food pouches made with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. They’re available in the online supermarket Ocado and in retail stores including Abel & Cole and Sainsbury’s in Britain and Dunnes in Ireland. The investment will help the company expand into new markets.


Instacart rival Dumpling empowers personal shoppers to build their own businesses

A different type of grocery delivery company, Dumpling (Seattle, Washington, and Berkeley, California), has raised $6.5 million in series A funding from Forerunner Ventures, Floodgate and FUEL Capital. Bucking the Instacart “gig” model, Dumpling provides individuals with the digital tools, technology and business support they need to launch and run their own independent grocery shopping and delivery businesses. They can set their own pricing and schedules and keep all tips. According to Dumpling, it powers more than 2,000 businesses in the U.S. and has seen a 20-fold surge in order volume since March. So far, it’s raised $10 million in capital.


Jupiter raises $2.8M to automate grocery delivery

Meal planning and food delivery startup Jupiter (San Francisco, California) is the recipient of a $2.8 million seed round led by Khosla Ventures and NFX. Jupiter partners directly with suppliers and maintains a central warehouse where orders are picked. It’s geared toward upscale Bay Area clientele who can afford a $45 fee each month plus a premium on groceries. In the long term, the company wants to fully automate the ordering process to learn users’ preferences and behaviors.


L’Oréal acquires Thayers

Natural skincare brand Thayers Natural Remedies (Easton, Connecticut), best known for its Witch Hazel Aloe Vera Formula Facial Toner, will be acquired by L’Oréal in a deal reported to be worth $400 million. Thayers recorded $44 million in sales last year from a multichannel strategy that includes natural, mass and beauty retailers, drugstores and online. Alexis Perakis-Valat, president of L’Oréal’s Consumer Products Division, called Thayers a “love brand” that sits at the intersection of two big skin care trends: nature and health. Thayers will join Garnier, Maybelline New York, NYX, Essie and other brands under that division.


PepsiCo invests in free-from brand Rude Health

The founders of food and beverage brand Rude Health (London, England) say PepsiCo Venture Group took a 9% stake in the company last year. Founded in 2005, Rude Health started selling muesli, then added oats, granola and cereals before launching almond, oat and brown rice drinks in 2013. It has since added a number of other new products including cashew, tiger nut and chocolate hazelnut milk, and opened up a brick-and-mortar café. The founders say sales of its dairy-free drinks have grown 120% over the last three years. PepsiCo Venture Group Managing Director Grubbs has highlighted functional beverages as an area of interest for the company in past presentations.


Smart kitchen software company snaps up $13.3M

On a mission to create the ultimate connected kitchen, Drop (Dublin, Ireland) is taking its next step with the help of a $13.3 million series A from new investors Alpha Edison, Morpheus Ventures and ACT Venture Capital, plus existing investors. With the capital, Drop says it will continue to grow its team. Drop created a digital platform on which “appliance manufacturers, recipe publishers and grocers can come together to inspire and guide everyday cooks at home,” the company says. More than 100 different appliances made by Bosch, GE Appliances, LG Electronics and more can be controlled from its platform and its recipes app. Steve Horowitz, who led the engineering team that created Android, is now a partner at Alpha Edison and has joined Drop’s board of directors.


Meal replacement startup CTRL gets influential gaming investor

Nutrition for gamers has not been a big part of the esports conversation. CTRL, which stands for Catered to Real Life, hopes to change that. It makes a line of powdered meal replacement shakes it says taste like the “bottom of the cereal bowl” but with protein, fiber, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, MCTs and prebiotic fiber. The influential gaming lifestyle brand FaZe Clan has taken an ownership stake in CTRL and will use its marketing prowess, which includes 230 million followers across social media platforms, to help CTRL grow. The two will also collaborate on new flavors.


Investors bet on mushroom ingredients in MycoTechnology’s $39M series D

A fresh round of investment totaling $39 million will fuel the development and launch of new products for food technology company MycoTechnology (Denver, Colorado). It’s built a functional ingredients platform based on mushroom fermentation, with a product lineup that includes a popular bitter blocking ingredient called ClearTaste and a pea and rice protein blend called PureTaste. Company leadership says it’s looking toward a potential IPO in the second half of 2020. The latest investment round was co-led by Greenleaf Foods, SPC, S2G Ventures and Evolution Partners. Rich Products Ventures, Tyson Ventures, Continental Grain, Middleland Capital, Bunge Ventures, Seventure Partners, Cibus Investments Limited and Kellogg’s Eighteen94 Capital also participated.


Chr. Hansen bolsters probiotics portfolio with UAS Labs acquisition

In its second probiotics acquisition this year, Chr. Hansen (Horsholm, Denmark) is set to purchase UAS Labs (Wausau, Wisconsin) from Lakeview Equity Partners in a deal worth $530 million. UAS produces a suite of trademarked probiotic strains that can be used for digestive health, immune health, weight management and other applications. Chr. Hansen says this will boost its health and nutrition business and allow it to reach new customers globally. Earlier this year, the company bought women’s health probiotics maker HSO Healthcare.


After raising $225M, Instacart valued at $13.7B

DST Global and General Catalyst led a $225 million funding round to help Instacart (San Francisco, California) keep pace with surging demand for grocery delivery during the pandemic. Existing investor D1 Capital Partners also participated in the round. In a statement, founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta said the company would use the cash to grow its shopper network and support infrastructure to help customers get their groceries on time. Orders are reportedly up 500% year over year.


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