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News for October 28, 2020

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Australia’s Provectus raises $3.25M to scale algae production for food and ag

With the goal of optimizing algae to create a more sustainable world, Provectus (Noosa, Queensland, Australia) has secured $3.25 million in seed funding. The biotech company developed technology to grow algae at scale for various industries. Initially, it’s focusing on making natural, clean-label ingredients for the food and agriculture industries but hopes to eventually use synthetic biology to make compounds for other applications, including therapeutics. Hong Kong’s Vectr Ventures led the funding round, with participation from Canadian VC firm Maropost Ventures and other family offices and angel investors. 

Amazon’s Alexa Fund backs Rise Gardens’ home hydroponics

Bringing the allure of hydroponic gardens to consumers’ homes, Rise Gardens (Chicago, Illinois) created a connected, indoor gardening system that enables people to grow more than 60 varieties of herbs and vegetables year-round. It’s now got Amazon on board with an investment from the ecommerce giant’s Alexa Fund, which builds on Rise Gardens’ $2.6 million seed round earlier this year. The at-home hydroponic garden includes a mobile app that monitors plants and reminds users to water, fertilize and care for their plants. 

With $135M, Livekindly plans U.S. launch of 3 plant-based brands

Plant-based food company Livekindly Collective (Zurich, Switzerland), founded earlier this year when Foods United bought vegan-focused content brand Livekindly Media and raised $200 million, has taken in another $135 million from investors. Founding investor Blue Horizon Corp. led the round, which also saw participation from a syndicate of Asian investors led by Trustbridge Partners. With the new capital, Livekindly says it will develop new products and accelerate the launch of three of its portfolio brands—The Fry Family Food Co., LikeMeat and Oumph!—in the U.S. next year. 

Danone grows specialized nutrition platform with Real Foods Blends buy

Nutricia (Amsterdam, Netherlands) which is owned by Danone as part of its specialized nutrition business, has added to its portfolio a suite of blended, real food meals for children and adults with feeding tubes. Real Food Blends (Chicago, Illinois) was started by husband-and-wife pair Tony and Julie Bombacino, inspired by their young tube-fed son, A.J., in 2012. The startup hopes Nutricia’s broad reach in the U.S. will build awareness of its products.

Israeli cultured meat company to acquire cultured fats startup

Meat-Tech 3D (Ness Ziona, Israel), a company that joins cellular agriculture with 3D printing, has invested €1 million (about $1.2 million) in another cell-based food tech startup. The investment is reportedly part of an agreement to acquire that startup, Peace of Meat (Antwerp, Belgium), for about $17.5 million if it can hit certain milestones. Publicly traded Meat-Tech has developed stem-cell-based and 3D printing technology to produce meat without hurting animals. Peace of Meat also uses stem-cell-based technology but instead produces animal fats. Meat-Tech sees using cultured fats to enhance the aromas, flavors and textures of plant-based burgers as an exciting opportunity for the future. It says the acquisition will diversify its product range and allow it to introduce cultured meat technologies to the market as quickly as possible. 

IoT tech to monitor the grain supply chain gains $10.2M

A $10.2 million series B will power TeleSense (Sunnyvale, California) as it makes its supply chain monitoring technology available to more grain suppliers globally. Its Internet of Things and cloud-based AI technology gives suppliers such as Bunge, Cargill and ADM real-time insights into the temperature, moisture and location of their grain as it’s stored and transported. The California-based company recently opened offices in Australia and Europe. Finistere Ventures led the series B; Fulcrum Global Capital, Mindset Ventures and Rabobank’s Food & Agri Innovation Fund also joined in. 

Australian fake-meat maker V2food targets Asia with $55M in new funding

Like several other meat alternative companies, Australia’s V2food (Sydney, Australia) has its sights set on Asia and plans to get there with $55 million in new equity. Investors in the series B round include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and several heavyweight investors in Asia including Singapore’s state-owned Temasek Holdings, Chinese food producer Esenagro and Hauxing Growth Capital. V2food sells plant-based burger and minced meat alternatives made from soy protein in Australian supermarkets and restaurants. 

Plenty raises $140M, inks deal with Driscoll’s to grow berries inside

In a series D round of funding, vertical farming startup Plenty (San Francisco, California) raked in $140 million, bringing its total funding so far to more than $500 million. Plenty operates indoor vertical farms powered by wind and solar energy. They grow pesticide-free produce year-round using less land and water. The round was led by SoftBank, with participation from berry producer Driscoll’s. Part of the funding will help Plenty carry out its new deal with Driscoll’s under which it will grow strawberries in its indoor farms. According to Driscoll’s, Plenty will incorporate Driscoll’s proprietary genetics and berry expertise with its own plant science expertise to optimize the flavor, texture and size of berries. 

Kainos Capital buys Nutrisystem, South Beach Diet from Tivity Health

Tivity Health (Franklin, Tennessee) has sold off its full nutrition business— including legacy brands Nutrisystem and South Beach Diet—to private equity firm Kainos Capital for $575 million. Nutrisystem has been around since 1972 and today includes a range of low-calorie snacks, meals and shakes, and the nutrition app NuMi. The South Beach Diet Brand includes low-carb meal and snack delivery. Their new owner, Kainos Capital, is a middle-market PE firm exclusively focused on food and consumer products. It’s invested in brands including Ghirardelli, Earthbound Farm and JJ’s bakery. 

Deep Desert to launch THC drinks with $1.7M

Deep Desert Beverages (Nevada City, California) is set to launch its line of non-alcoholic, zero-calorie cannabis-infused beverages in California next year. To help build out its production facility and prepare for a successful launch, the startup raised a $1.65 million series B. Deep Desert says its THC-infused drinks don’t smell or taste like cannabis and are made with natural spring water and natural fruit and botanical extracts. A line of leisurewear appears to be in the works, too. 

Investors fuel Love Good Fats with $10.7M

Canadian firms InvestEco Capital Corp. and Export Development Canada are helping keto-friendly snack startup Love Good Fats (Toronto, Ontario) accelerate its growth in North America with $10.7 million in equity financing. Products from the brand’s line of low-sugar, low-carb bars and shakes are sold in more than 20,000 retail stores including Walmart, Kroger, Costco and CVS. 

PanTheryx builds gut health portfolio with Goodgut acquisition

Nutrition and biotech company PanTheryx (Boulder, Colorado) is expanding its gut and immune health product lines by acquiring the Goodgut digestive health brands from Greenteaspoon Inc., an NCN past presenter. Goodgut’s prebiotic supplements are made with the proprietary ingredient Preliva, a natural polyphenol that helps good gut bacteria flourish. “This acquisition will add a high-quality prebiotic to the PanTheryx product lines that already include bovine colostrum for digestive and immune health,” the company said in a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Hydroponic farming startup BrightFarms brings in $100M investment

NCN past presenter BrightFarms closed a $100 million series E funding round to help grow its network of indoor farms. With operations in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and new farms in the works in North Carolina, Massachusetts and Texas, BrightFarms provides locally grown greens year-round through retailers including Walmart and Kroger. Cox Enterprises led the round and now owns a majority stake in BrightFarms. Catalyst Investors also participated. 

GoPuff gets $380M for on-demand delivery

Delivery service GoPuff (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) has garnered $380 million from investors as it builds out its geographic footprint and product offerings. Seven-year-old GoPuff offers 30-minute delivery of food, alcohol, electronics, cleaning supplies and more to customers in more than 500 U.S. cities. Existing investor Accel and D1 Capital Partners led the round, which pushed the company’s valuation to $3.9 billion. Luxor Capital and SoftBank Vision Fund also joined in. 

Jaxjox lands $10M as it readies connected at-home fitness studio

A $10 million series A round helped fund R&D for Jaxjox’s (Redmond, Washington) AI-powered, all-in-one workout system. The funding, which came from investors including Dowgate Capital Ltd. and entrepreneur Nigel Wray, brings the startup’s total raised to $17 million. It plans to start shipping its InteractiveStudio smart gym to users later this year. For $2,199 and a $39 monthly subscription fee, users can get on-demand classes, a 43” touchscreen TV and digitally adjustable weights, which also include connected technology to monitor their performance metrics.

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