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News for September 2, 2020

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Barn2Door raises $6M to equip farmers with tools to sell online

With the COVID-19 pandemic driving more U.S. food shoppers online, Barn2Door (Seattle, Washington) sees a big opportunity for farmers. The startup has raised $6 million for its e-commerce software that helps farmers sell food directly to consumers, with functions for managing sales, inventory and logistics. Bullpen Capital led the series A round, which brings Barn2Door’s total funding to $11.6 million. Quiet Capital, RAINE Ventures, Lead Edge Capital, Global Founders Capital and Sugar Mountain Capital also participated.

Bunge invests $30M in Merit’s pea and canola protein ingredients

Agricultural commodities supplier Bunge Ltd. (St. Louis, Missouri) has taken a minority stake in plant protein supplier Merit Functional Foods (Winnipeg, Manitoba). With the $30 million investment from Bunge, Merit will expedite the construction of its Canadian production facility, where it will produce its novel pea and canola protein ingredients. The facility is on track to be in use by the end of the year. “Bunge also holds a deep knowledge of international commodity markets which will help reinforce our canola business with customers globally,” said Merit’s co-CEO Ryan Bracken. 

Big-name investors back faux-fur fashion brand Apparis

Apparis (New York, New York) already sells its vegan fur coats in stores like Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Intermix. With $3 million in fresh funding, it has plans to grow its presence online and internationally, starting with 12 countries in Europe. Backers include Third Kind Venture Capital, Exor Seeds, supermodel Karlie Kloss and New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. The cruelty-free fashion brand launched in a Brooklyn, New York, pop-up in 2017. This fall, it plans to release its first vegan knitwear, home and gender-neutral fashion lines. 

Subscription coffee startup secures $960K in seed money

To support its growth plans throughout Canada, Dispatch Coffee (Montreal, Quebec) has raised CA$1.26 million (about $960,000). Dispatch started in 2012 as a bike delivery service for cold brew, then opened a coffee truck, followed by a trio of brick-and-mortar locations in Montreal. Last year, it launched its e-commerce subscription service, which ships members freshly roasted and responsibly sourced coffee each month. Investors in the latest funding round include Anges Quebec, 0MC Capital and private investors. 

Breakfast brand Birch Benders acquired by Sovos Brands

Deepening its presence in the breakfast and snacking categories, brand builder Sovos Brands (Berkeley, California) has acquired Birch Benders (Denver, Colorado). This is the fourth acquisition for Sovos, which also owns Rao’s, Noosa Yoghurt and Michael Angelo’s. Birch Benders was founded in 2011 with its flagship product, a line of just-add-water pancake and waffle mixes. Today, its lineup also includes toaster waffles and single-serve pancake and snack cups. Post-acquisition, the focus will be on deepening the company’s product assortment in its existing retailers such as Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, Sprouts and Walmart

Clio wraps up series C funding for its take on the refrigerated bar

Landing somewhere between a protein-packed snack and an indulgent dessert, Clio’s chocolate-covered Greek yogurt bar has hit a sweet spot with investors. The company just closed an $8 million series C from Alliance Consumer Growth and AF Ventures (formerly AccelFoods). Currently, Clio’s product lineup includes seven bars with around 8 grams of protein and less than 170 calories each. Year-over-year growth tops 100%, according to the company, as retail partnerships with Whole Foods, Target and Wegmans drive distribution growth. Clio has not said what it will do with the funding. 

Kadenwood buys hemp ingredient supplier EcoGen Labs

In a deal that reportedly creates a $250 million CBD supplier, Kadenwood LLC (Newport Beach, California) has acquired EcoGen Laboratories (Grand Junction, Colorado). Kadenwood is a brand-building firm with a focus on growing consumer confidence in CBD as a trusted mainstream wellness product. It grows hemp and sells finished products derived from it, including its Level Select brand of sports creams and roll-ons. EcoGen, which generated more than $63 million in revenue last year and closed a $40 million round in January, is also a vertically integrated company but focuses on supplying specialty hemp-derived ingredients to the market. Though the CBD industry is currently facing an oversupply of raw materials and uncertainty around federal regulation, the company expects to grow in 2021. 

Plant-based protein brand Kos collects $2.1M

With $2.1 million in new funding, plant-based protein and superfood brand Kos has set its sights on more product innovation and distribution growth in the U.S. Springdale Ventures led the round and was joined by former Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb and Horizon Bank Chairman Jim Schneider. Two-year-old Kos sells organic and plant-based protein, greens and functional ingredient powders through its website, Amazon, Whole Foods and other SoCal retailers. It recently added new functional blends to its lineup. 

Shef nabs $8.8 million to help home cooks monetize

Inspired to help immigrants, refugees and laid off restaurant workers earn income on their own terms, Shef (San Francisco, California) launched a homemade food marketplace in 2018 and just raised $8.8 million to grow it. On Shef’s platform, home cooks can go through food safety training and sell homemade meals to their local communities. This business model is enabled by new home cooking laws, including California’s Homemade Food Operations Act. Shef says its business has skyrocketed during the pandemic, and that it’s already served more than 200,000 meals across the U.S. It plans to expand to more communities in the near future. The new funding came from Y Combinator, Craft Ventures and M13, as well as individual investors. 

Equity consortium acquires Waterloo

Sparkling water brand Waterloo (Austin, Texas) has been bought by a consortium of investors led by Flexis Capital. Eurazeo Brands, Moore Strategic Ventures, JW Levin Management Partners and Waterloo Capital’s investors are also part of the deal. Founded in 2017, Waterloo has been a fast-growing player in the sparkling water category, which is growing by double digits annually. The company currently has more than 13,000 points of retail distribution, including Whole Foods Market, Costco and Target. Its next phase of growth includes innovation in products and marketing. 

Keurig Dr. Pepper invests in adult nutrition brand Don’t Quit

Don’t Quit (Los Angeles, California), a new adult nutrition brand, is the result of a collaboration between fitness personality Jake “Body by Jake” Steinfeld and Danny Stepper, the CEO of beverage incubator L.A. Libations, which is also a minority investor. Keurig Dr. Pepper has made a minority investment in the brand with a defined path to ownership. Don’t Quit makes clean-label, ready-to-drink nutrition shakes targeted toward the baby boomer population. Each shake contains 10 grams of protein and is free from artificial ingredients. A secondary line called Don’t Quit Max is positioned more as a sports nutrition product. Though it initially started by selling direct-to-consumer online, Don’t Quit recently launched in 2,500 stores including Safeway, Kroger and Walmart. 

Perishable Shipping Solutions raises $8.7 to meet growing demand for food delivery

Four-year-old Perishable Shipping Solutions (Youngstown, Ohio), announced the closing of its $8.7 million series A led by SJF Ventures with participation from Grotech Ventures, Supply Chain Ventures and others. PSS handles perishable cold and frozen food fulfillment services for food and beverage brands including Treeline, Teton Waters Ranch, Fresh Bellies and Ripple, according to its website. With the funding, the company plans to add new fulfillment facilities and build its multi-channel direct shipping and analytics platform. 

Weee! secures $35 million to deliver Asian specialty groceries

In the crowded grocery e-commerce market, Weee! (Fremont, California) differentiates by delivering authentic Asian products and fresh produce to customers. It just received a $35 million series C infusion from DST Global to build its staff and expand its services to reach more than a dozen U.S. cities by the end of the year. The five-year-old startup currently offers its next-day delivery services in eight cities and has raised more than $100 million from investors. 

Genius Juice gets $1.1M to grow in retail

Genius Juice raised nearly half of its new $1.1 million round through WeFunder, with the rest coming from Tech Coast Angels and other small angel groups and individuals. It will use the money to gain distribution and new customers for its coconut-based beverages. Genius Juice’s coconut smoothies come in three flavors and incorporate not just coconut milk but the meat of the coconut, delivering a healthy dose of MCTs and electrolytes. In the near future, the company plans to release a new flavor and then raise a bridge round to continue expanding its product line and building its retail footprint, which currently includes 2,000 stores.

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