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News for March 3, 2021

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Supplant raises $24M for a plant-based alternative sweetener

To help it commercialize a low-cost sugar substitute made from plant fiber, Supplant (Cambridge, England) has completed a $24 million financing round. Manta Ray, Khosla Ventures, Felicis, Soma Capital and Y Combinator participated in the round. Supplant says it will use the funding to begin targeted trial runs of its low-GI sweetener ingredient, which it says is produced with less water and at a lower cost than sugar.

Household cleaners without the plastic attract $21.8M for Everdrop

Everdrop (Munich, Germany) has raised an €18 million (about $21.8 million) series A round to market its range of sustainable cleaning products across Europe and, later, the U.S. Felix Capital led the round, which also saw participation from HV Capital and Vorwerk Ventures. Everdrop’s cleaning tablets that dissolve in water eliminate the need for single-use plastic bottles. The brand also sells dishwasher tablets that aren’t individually wrapped and sustainable laundry detergent.

Legacy vegan brand Follow Your Heart joins Danone

In pursuit of growing its plant-based business, Danone has acquired Earth Island (Canoga Park, California), maker of the Follow Your Heart brand. Most known for its dairy-free cheeses and iconic Vegenaise egg-free mayonnaise, Follow Your Heart will now sit alongside Silk, Alpro and So Delicious in Danone’s plant-based portfolio. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. 

UK startup banks $5.1M for debit cards with a sustainable twist

As it prepares to launch its wooden debit card across the United Kingdom, TreeCard (London, England) has collected $5.1 million in seed funding from EQT Ventures, Seedcamp, Episode 1 and angel investors. The six-month-old startup created a Mastercard-powered spending card that’s made from wood, not plastic. Instead of reward points, TreeCard offers its customers the promise that it will put 80% of the transaction fees it collects from merchants toward funding forest restoration projects. Next steps include hiring talent to support its launch across the U.K. and expand into the U.S.

VCs back Madison Reed with $52M as at-home hair care sees pandemic boom

While the pandemic has been tough on much of the beauty industry, Madison Reed’s (San Francisco, California) omnichannel approach helped it surpass $100 million in revenue last year. Now it’s raised $52 million from True Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Comcast Ventures, Goldman Sachs, Motley Fool Ventures and others to double down on that approach. The brand sells directly to consumers permanent hair color that’s free of eight common harsh ingredients. It also sells wholesale and operates a chain of hair color bars across the country, including 16 new locations opened in 2020. It’s raised nearly $200 million since launching in 2013.

Kerry to acquire Biosearch Life for probiotics, botanical extracts

Kerry Group (Dublin, Ireland) plans to pay €127 million ($154 million) to acquire Biosearch Life (Granada, Spain), a public company listed on the Madrid Stock Exchange. Operating in the nutraceutical, functional food and pharmaceutical sectors, Biosearch Life has a range of probiotic (including some obtained from human breast milk), omega-3 fatty acid and botanical extract ingredients that are distributed across Europe, Asia and the U.S. Kerry has bolstered its probiotic offerings in recent years by adding Ganeden and Bio-K Plus to its portfolio.

$42M investment will double Foxtrot Market’s upscale convenience stores

With a $42 million series B funding round complete, Foxtrot Market (Chicago, Illinois) plans to add to its lineup of eight upscale convenience stores in Chicago, Illinois, and Dallas, Texas, and expand to Washington, D.C. this year. Foxtrot’s stores carry snacks, grocery items, prepared foods, coffee and alcohol, which it can deliver in an hour or less. Almanac Insights, Monogram Capital Partners, the University of Chicago, Bluestein Ventures, Walter Robb and others provided the funding, which Foxtrot says will help it open new stores and grow its private label line. 

Redefine Meat secures $29M to bring 3D-printed meat alternatives to market

Redefine Meat (Rehovot, Israel) has raised a $29 million series A and partnered with Israeli meat distributor Best Meister to get its 3D-printed plant-based meat cuts into butchers and restaurants this year. The company, which has raised $35 million since its inception, is working on completing its large-scale production facility. It uses 3D-printing technology and ingredients including plant-based protein, fats and natural colors and flavors to create products that mimic the look, taste, texture, juiciness and mouthfeel of steak and other whole cuts of meat. The round was led by Happiness Capital and Hanaco Ventures with participation from CPT Capital, Losa Group, Sake Bosch and K3 Ventures.

Sweet juggernauts invest in affordable sugar alternatives. 

American Sugar Refining Inc. and The Hershey Co. have led a strategic series B investment in past NCN presenter Bonumose (Charlottesville, Virginia), a startup specializing in the affordable production of naturally occurring rare sugars such as tagatose and allulose. The companies say these ingredients have a similar texture and mouthfeel to traditional sugar (sucrose) but with fewer calories and a lower glycemic index impact. Because they’re less abundant in nature than other forms of sugar, food manufacturers have not been able to use them at scale. Bonomuse has figured out how to make them from plant starches and says it will use the investment to develop its first commercial-scale production plant. It will leverage its partnership with ASR to distribute the ingredients for food, supplements, pharmaceuticals and personal care products across the world.

Investors get behind chocolate milk for adults with $1.7M in seed funding

Slate Milk (Boston, Massachusetts) and the investors in its $1.7 million seed round are hoping millennials will embrace the nostalgia and function of its shelf-stable, canned chocolate milk beverages. To make chocolate milk suitable for health-conscious adults, Slate Milk has scaled back the sugar, amped up the protein and added lactase enzyme to break down the lactose. It sells direct-to-consumer online and is working its way into 3,000 stores this quarter, including Whole Foods Market, Harris Teeter and Hannaford.

HowGood adds $6M as hunger grows for sustainable products

Two brothers started the digital platform HowGood (New York, New York) back in 2007 to aggregate data on the sustainability of different food ingredients so companies and consumers could make more informed choices. To keep up with the recently increased demand, the company raised $6 million in fresh capital from Contour Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital and Danone Manifesto Ventures and others. In addition to growing its platform, HowGood plans to add databases for other sectors such as beauty and cleaning products over the next year.

Nestlé grows DTC presence with SimplyCook

Nestlé has acquired SimplyCook (London, England), which ships its customers recipe kits that include easy-to-follow recipe cards and seasonings, without the waste that full meal-kit companies are known for. The deal bolsters Nestlé’s direct-to-consumer reach (as does its November takeover of Mindful Chef) when eating at home has taken on a new importance. With help from Nestlé’s resources and expertise, SimplyCook plans to expand in the U.K. and beyond.

Neptune expands its CPG portfolio with Sprout Foods

Health and wellness company Neptune Wellness Solutions (Quebec, Canada) announced that it’s acquired a majority stake in Sprout Foods (Montvale, New Jersey) and will work with the brand’s investor, Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, to grow it under the Neptune umbrella. Sprout Foods makes organic plant-based foods for babies and toddlers, bringing in $28 million in annual net revenue. According to Neptune, the deal “accelerates its ongoing transformation into a disruptive consumer packaged goods company.”

Project Well’s ‘food-as-medicine’ marketplace collects $2M

Using food interventions to help people with chronic diseases achieve better health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs is the premise behind Project Well (Stamford, Connecticut), a digital startup that has taken in a $2 million seed investment. Project Well describes itself as a “food-as-medicine marketplace” that works with health plans and providers to match their at-risk patients with food vendors who supply nutritionally targeted, customized meals. It will use proceeds from the round to run pilot programs and expand its commercialization efforts with health plans and medical groups. S2G Ventures, Primetime Partners, Tom Scully of Welsh Carson (and former CMS administrator) and angel investors from Formation Capital participated in the round.

Better Origin’s automated fly farming containers gain $3M

Better Origin (Cambridge, England) has raised $3 million in seed funding from Fly Ventures, Metavallon VC and solar energy entrepreneur Nick Boyle. Farmers can buy Better Origin’s automated insect mini-farms which raise black soldier flies using the farmers’ food waste. The flies can then be fed to chickens in place of soy feed, providing a new lifecycle for food waste and cutting down on the need for soy. The startup, launched in May of last year, plans to use the funding to expand across the U.K.


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