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News for November 10, 2021

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Carbon-neutral brand Neutral Foods gets $4M in seed funding

Neutral Foods (Portland, Oregon), which works with diary farmers to implement strategies to drive down carbon emissions from the production of its organic milk, has raised $4 million in seed funding. The financing round was led by sustainable investment company Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Mark Cuban Companies and brings the company’s total funding to $4.8 million. Neutral Foods plans to expand the company nationally and distribute its Neutral milk across 500 Whole Foods stores in the U.S., as well as to drive sustainability awareness and trial of the brand.


Amara Organic Foods gets majority stake from Eat Well Group

Eat Well Investment Group (Vancouver, British Columbia), an investment company primarily focused on high-growth companies in the agribusiness, food tech, plant-based and ESG (environmental, social and governance) sectors, has made an equity investment in PataFoods, Inc. dba Amara Organic Foods (San Francisco, California). Amara is a fast-growing baby food brand. Eat Well acquired an additional 29% of the shares of Amara at a $100 million valuation for a total acquisition price of $29 million. “We are proud of what Jessica and her team at Amara have accomplished to date and anticipate this investment will provide a material impact to our growth in 2022 and beyond,” said Marc Aneed, President of Eat Well Group.


Utz Brands buys RW Garcia for $56M

Utz Brands (Hanover, Pennsylvania) has acquired organic snacks manufacturer RW Garcia for $56 million. RW Garcia makes tortilla chips, crackers and corn chips in Nevada and North Carolina, with significant production capacity to support the continued growth of Utz’s subsidiaries. Dylan Lissette, chief executive officer of Utz, said, “RW Garcia has a great track record of better-for-you innovation and production capabilities, and with the RW Garcia brand as part of our portfolio, Utz’ retail sales in the better-for-you segment will exceed $100 million on an annual basis following the closing.” The purchase follows that of Vitner’s snack brand in January for $25 million.


Frozen food maker Tattooed Chef buys private label bar manufacturer

Tattooed Chef (Paramount, California), which makes plant-based refrigerated and frozen foods, has acquired private label snack and nutrition bar manufacturer Belmont Confections for $18 million. The purchase will provide Tattooed Chef with a 47,000-square-foot bar manufacturing facility in Ohio. The purchase follows others in May of New Mexico Food Distributors, Inc. and Karsten Tortilla Factory for $35 million. Earlier this year, Tattooed Chef President and CEO Sam Galletti said, “We are comfortable producing food in any category.” The purchase of Belmont, which boasts a Non-GMO Project verification and gluten-free certification, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.


Cocoa-free chocolate maker closes $6M seed round

QOA (Munich, Germany) has raised $6 million in seed funding for a pilot production facility to make cocoa-free chocolate. The round was led by Cherry Ventures and included participation from 50years, World Fund, Nucleus Capital, Trellis Road, Pioneer Fund and Tet Ventures. The company’s goal is to combat some of the sustainability and ethical issues surrounding mass-market chocolate by developing an approach to the confection that removes cocoa, its most controversial ingredient. A brother-sister duo founded the company this year that uses precision fermentation through which it recreates the composition of cocoa using other food byproducts.


Brazilian food tech startup Future Farm closes $58 million Series C funding round

Future Farm (Brazil) touts plant-based meat substitutes with a “true” meat-like texture. The company has had another big raise with a $58 million Series C round co-led by BTG, with additional investments by existing investors Monashees, Go4It Capital, Turim MFO and Enfini Ventures, along with new investors XP Inc. and Rage Capital (which co-led the round). The capital will be used to expand the company’s range of plant-based meat substitutes into retail in the U.S. and Europe. Plans for plant-based milks and a butter alternative are also in the pipeline for this company that launched in 2019. As of now, the futurist-themed meat products are available in 24 countries, including the UK market, where it has had significant growth.


Above Food buys plant-based pioneer Atlantic Natural Foods

Above Food (Regina, Saskatchewan), which bought three other brands this year, has entered into a binding agreement to purchase Atlantic Natural Foods (Nashville, North Carolina). The transaction is scheduled to close in the first quarter of 2022 and is valued at more than $30 million. Atlantic Natural Foods—which makes tuna replacement Tuno, plant proteins under the Loma Linda brand, egg and meat replacers Neat and caffeine-free coffee substitute Kaffree Roma—has seen rapid growth since 2018, a decade after its founding. Above Food was founded in 2019 with the goal of developing and distributing plant alternatives to animal-based food through a transparent supply chain. It’s done so by developing partnerships with key suppliers and ingredient companies in Canada.


Plant-based ingredient startup Shiru gets new capital infusion

Shiru (Oakland, California), which uses precision fermentation and boasts a catalog of six ingredients that are colorless and flavorless that can be added to a variety of food products as meat analogs, has raised $17 million in a Series A funding round led by S2G Ventures. One of the food targets that protein biochemist Dr. Jasmin Hume and her team are looking to replace is methyl cellulose, a starch that is used in foods like vegetable protein-based foods. The new funding brings Shiru’s total funding to date to just over $20 million. The company plans to have ingredients ready for customers by next year, with the first commercial products containing Shiru’s ingredients on shelves starting in 2023.


Daring Foods another $65M in Series C raise

Plant-based chicken producer Daring Foods (Los Angeles, California) raised $65 million in its Series C round and will expand into over 3,000 Walmart stores across the U.S., doubling its distribution to 6,000 doors nationwide. The latest raise, which was led by Founders Fund and joined by existing investor D1 Capital Group and notable new investors such as Naomi Osaka, Cameron Newton, renowned DJ Steve Aoki and Chase Coleman, brings Daring’s total raise to over $120 million. It’s one of just a few companies to raise Series A, B and C in a single year.


Functional beverage company The Plug Drink gets investment from rapper Jack Harlow

The Plug Drink (Los Angeles, California), a functional recovery beverage, has closed a $1.5 million seed round. Grammy-nominated rapper Jack Harlow is along the investors who participated in the funding round, along with NBA and NFL players and others. The company will use the funds to scale its growth in both direct-to-consumer and retail channels, as well as boosting marketing efforts and bringing on more team members for sales and social media. The product is currently sold in Southern California, including recent roadshows in Sam’s Club. The product makes claims of cleansing the liver of toxins and easing unwanted symptoms after a night out.


Seafood analog brand Aqua Culture Foods closes pre-seed round

Aqua Cultured Foods (Chicago, Illinois), maker of seafood analogs, has raised $2.1 million in pre-seed funding. Founded in 2020, the company uses a microbial fermentation process and its own proprietary strain of fungi, which makes the product’s nutritional profile more robust than many plant-based seafood counterparts. Investors in the round included Supply Change Capital, Big Idea Ventures, Aera VC, Sustainable Food Ventures, Hanfield Venture Partners, Lifely VC, Conscience VC, Kingfisher Capital, Hyde Park Angels and Swiss Pampa CEO Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena.


Lucky Iron Fish nabs $1M in Series A funding

The Lucky Iron Fish (Toronto, Ontario) is a cooking tool that infuses meals with iron to help treat and prevent iron deficiency. Designed to be dropped in boiling water or liquid-based meals, the simple tools makes it easy to enrich meals with a boost of natural iron. The certified B Corporation behind the product, Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise (LIFe) has completed a $1 million Series A round led by Danone Communities, the impact investment fund and social business incubator for low-income populations. The capital will accelerate growth and achieve the company’s target of reaching 2.5 million people with low iron over the next five years.


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