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News for March 17, 2021

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

WeFarm brings in $11M to link up small-scale farmers

As an extension of its $13 million series A in 2019, WeFarm (London, England) has closed another $11 million tranche from Octopus Ventures, True Ventures, Rabo Frontier Ventures, LocalGlobe, June Fund and AgFunder. Founded in 2015, WeFarm has built a social network to enable small independent farmers in the developing world to exchange ideas or advice, sell or trade equipment, and network with others. While it has a website, most users access the network through an SMS interface. The new investment will fund WeFarm’s move to an app-based platform that will allow it to expand to more countries and reach more farmers.



PanTheryx adds probiotic maker TruBiotics

In alignment with its strategy to accelerate growth in the probiotics and microbiome category, PanTheryx (Phoenix, Arizona) has acquired the TruBiotics probiotic brand from Bayer HealthCare. PanTheryx is a leader in colostrum-based nutrition for human and animal health. With TruBiotics, it adds a line of products made with a proprietary blend of two probiotic strains to support digestive and immune health. The company plans to continue offering TruBiotics products through retail and e-commerce channels and anticipates strong growth in the U.S. and in other major international markets.



Functional beverages draw $2.7M in seed funding for Cloud Water

Two-year-old Cloud Water Brands (New York, New York) announced a $2.7 million seed round that will allow the functional beverage startup to grow its product lines in both retail and direct-to-consumer. Currently, its portfolio includes CBD sparkling waters and a newly launched line of drinks designed to support immune health with vitamin D and zinc. A number of investors participated in the round, including The Lockton Co., former Glaceau board member Bruce Nierenberg, and NHL stars Adam Fox and Scott Mellanby.




Natural indigo maker takes on the denim industry with $9M series B

Stony Creek Colors (Springfield, Tennessee) announced the first closing of its series B funding round, which it expects to total more than $9 million. With the new funding, the indigo supplier can embark on a geographical expansion of its crops and scale its operations. While traditional synthetic indigo used in denim relies on petroleum-based processes that leave behind toxic residue, Stony Creek’s plant-based indigo is free from these toxins and creates a valuable rotation opportunity for farmers. Lewis and Clark AgriFood led the round, which also included Innova Ag Innovation Fund, iSelect, Green Spark Capital and Next Wave Impact.



Pet supplements firm Food Science Corp. bought by PE firm

Food Science Corp. (Williston, Vermont), the R&D engine behind pet treat and supplement brands VetriScience Laboratories, Pet Naturals and DaVinci Laboratories, has sold to private equity firm Wind Point Partners (Chicago, Illinois). The family-owned company also formulates and manufactures private label and custom nutritional supplements. Wind Point is a longtime investor in the pet industry, with current investments in Petmate and Targeted PetCare. In a statement, Managing Director Paul Peterson said Food Science is “well-positioned to capitalize on the acceleration of e-commerce and growth in human and pet nutritional supplements.”


Porter Road bags $10M for pasture-raised meat delivery

On a mission to take meat production in a more sustainable direction, Porter Road (Nashville, Tennessee) has garnered a $10 million investment to grow its whole-animal butchery business. The company sources pasture-raised meat from local farmers, which it hand cuts in its facility and ships to customers and restaurants across the country. In line with its sustainable, whole-animal philosophy, Porter Road is also expanding its product line to include cooking tallows and fats. The funding, which came from L37 Ventures and a number of other venture and angel investors, will help ready its new processing facility in Kentucky.


Beauty brand incubator buys clean fragrance maker Phlur

The Center (Los Angeles, California), a beauty brand incubator and investor started by HatchBeauty Brands cofounder Ben Bennett, has a new portfolio company in Phlur (Austin, Texas). The digital-first brand sells cruelty-free, sustainably sourced fragrances and body care products on its website and in select retail stores. It joins Naturium and Make Beauty as part of The Center’s portfolio. Plans for Phlur include nurturing the direct-to-consumer business, broadening relationships with retail partners and launching new products.


Fake meat maker Planted looks beyond central Europe with $18M series A

Alternative meats continue to rake in investor cash. Among the latest to get funded is Planted (Zurich, Switzerland), which raised an $18 million series A to grow distribution of its vegetarian chicken alternatives and develop new products. Planted uses pea protein, pea fiber and other plant-based ingredients to mimic the texture of chicken. It sells cutlet and pulled-style faux meats in more than 3,000 retail stores across Switzerland, Germany and Austria, and also works with food service partners. Vorwerk Ventures and Blue Horizon Ventures co-led the round, with other investors also joining in.


Biota addition boosts Novozymes’ probiotic R&D

Biotech firm Novozymes (Copenhagen, Denmark) has acquired the R&D team and data science platform of industrial genomics company Biota (San Diego, California). As it pursues growth in probiotic development, Novozymes says the acquisition will allow it to discover new microbes and new applications for microbes that benefit human and animal health, as well as sustainability.


Ag investors bet $17M that insect pheromones can ward off pests

BioPhero (Copenhagen, Denmark), a startup spun out of the Technical University of Denmark, has completed a $17 million series A to fund the manufacturing of its first commercial product. With the goal of reducing farmers’ reliance on potentially harmful chemical pesticides, BioPhero developed a natural way to deter pests from crops. Using fermentation technology, the company produces insect pheromones which, when sprayed on crops, inhibits pests’ ability to reproduce. Life science investor DCVC Bio led the round, while FMC Ventures, Syngenta Ventures and Novo Holdings also participated.


Vegan pizza maker locks in $1.5M to grow retail presence

After pivoting its focus from restaurants to retailers and e-commerce during the pandemic, plant-based food brand Blackbird Foods (Long Island City, New York) has closed a $1.5 million seed funding round to double down on that approach. It makes a line of seitan products and frozen vegan pizzas using Violife’s plant-based cheese. This year, it’s looking to ramp up its retail presence, with Whole Foods and Harmons joining its distribution lineup. Alt-protein venture fund Lever VC led the seed round, and Sustainable Food Ventures joined in.


Drinkable oat brand scoops up $2M

Oats Overnight (Tempe, Arizona) has $2 million in capital to support R&D efforts and distribution growth. The brand makes on-the-go breakfast packets that contain oats, protein (either whey or pea) and other plant ingredients such as dates, chia seeds, hemp seeds and monk fruit. Users combine them with milk or a milk alternative, leave the concoction in the fridge overnight and then have a high-protein, on-the-go breakfast ready in the morning. The seed funding came from Schnitzel Capital and individual investors.


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