Best of the Web - February

By David Stevenson on Sunday 21 February 2021

Best of the Web - February
Image source: Image source: Tomislav Jakupec from Pixabay
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Our monthly round-up of the best sector articles from the rest of the internet.

This really matters… probably missed this, but ignore at your peril

Bill Gates backs 100% synthetic meat

Billionaire Bill Gates says all rich countries should move to 100 percent synthetic, aka plant-based, beef to fight the climate crisis. The Microsoft co-founder and Gates Foundation co-chair said he isn’t sure if ‘lab-grown’ meat “will ever be economical.” But he said that plant-based protein makers like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat — both of which he has invested in — “have [a] quality road map and a cost road map that makes them totally competitive.”

Impossible lowers prices again

After slashing wholesale prices, Impossible Foods has now cut prices by 20% for grocery stores across the U.S., making their famous heme-filled plant-based patties cheaper for the average American consumer

This is the first retail price cut since the launch of Impossible products, but it follows two other price cuts that have already taken place in the past year. Having already cut prices by 15% for foodservice providers, particularly restaurant retailers, Impossible recently cut them by a further 15%.

Here comes the opposition – watch this lawsuit

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) has filed suit [PDF brief here] in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, arguing the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) erred in its 2019 decision to approve soy leghemoglobin — a key ingredient in Impossible Foods‘ plant-based meat analogs — for human consumption. The CFS claims the decision wasn’t based on ‘convincing evidence’ as required by the FDA’s approval process. The agency “approved soy leghemoglobin even though it conducted none of the long-term animal studies [needed] to determine whether or not it harms human health,” said Bill Freese, CFS science policy analyst, according to Food Safety News.

Soil sequestration bags Microsoft as client

Truterra, a sustainability-focused subsidiary of US farmer cooperative Land O’Lakes, has agreed to sell carbon credits worth up to $2 million to tech giant Microsoft, which is aiming to become ‘carbon neutral’ by 2030. The deal covers the equivalent of 100,000 metric tons of carbon sequestered by Land O’Lakes corn, cotton, soybean, and wheat farmers.

IPOs and market talk… meets the investing community

More details on Oatly IPO

Oatly AB, the maker of vegan food and drink products, is considering seeking a value of around $10 billion in a U.S. listing, according to people familiar with the matter.

For now, Oatly will be going ahead with a U.S. listing, though it did consider going public in Hong Kong as well, said the sources, without citing reasons behind the decision. Talk of Oatly’s debut – which has been going on for weeks – will no doubt attract investors, given its status as a major plant-based player sharing the same ranks as the world’s first public vegan food tech, Beyond Meat

More on Oatly deal from Reuters

Oatly raised a $200 million equity investment in July last year from a group led by buyout group Blackstone that includes Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman and former Starbucks Corp chief Howard Schultz. ( The new investors also included Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation, Orkila Capital and Rabobank’s Rabo Corporate Investments.

Canadian fund adds new investment

Eat Beyond Global Holdings has completed an investment in Zoglo’s Incredible Food Corp. (“Zoglo’s”), ..Zoglo’s has been a leading company offering kosher, plant-based products for over 25 years and is now ready to enter the mainstream market. It has a product selection of over 14 plant-based protein offerings including plant-based meat, appetizers and veggie products made with concentrated, non-gmo, plant-based proteins that are rich in vitamins c and a, iron, calcium, potassium and folic acid. Its products are high in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. 

 Eat Beyond Global Holdings (CSE: EATS

Canadian AgTech AI firm seeks Canadian IPO

Farmers Edge Inc., a firm that uses artificial intelligence to help growers boost crop yields, is seeking to raise about C$100 million ($79 million) in an initial public offering to strengthen its finances and repay debt. The Winnipeg, Manitoba based startup plans to sell a 16% stake and price its shares at between C$10 and C$17 each, according to documents filed Tuesday with Canadian between C$10 and C$17 each.

NextFerm completes Israeli IPO

The Israeli company, which develops novel active food ingredients based on yeast and fermentation, held the offering at a company valuation of NIS 115 million. Israeli food-tech company NextFerm Technologies Ltd. has completed its initial public offering (IPO) on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, raising NIS 30 million at a company valuation of NIS 115 million.

UK fund Agronomics invests another $0.5m in VitroLabs

Cellular agriculture and alternative meat investor Agronomics has invested a further $0.5m (£0.35m) in VitroLabs, it announced on Thursday, which is a cellular agriculture company creating slaughter-free, environmentally friendly cultivated leather.

…and ups stake in Meatable

London-listed Agronomics is an investor in alternative proteins with a focus on cellular agriculture and cultivated meat. It is one of the investors backing the Dutch lab-grown meat startup Meatable. In a recent development, Agronomics has invested a further €2M for 1,197 Preferred shares in Meatable. According to Agronomics, the subscription will be paid using cash from the company’s own resources and will take Agronomics’ total cash investment in Meatable to €5M.

New products?......coming to a high street near you

The Big Guns : McDonalds tests out new plant burger…using same cooking equipment

McDonald’s plant-based burger, co-developed with Beyond Meat, is officially on the chain’s menus in Denmark and Sweden, according to a company press release . As with other Beyond products, the primary protein ingredient in the McPlant is pea protein, with rice protein a secondary ingredient. The product is for sale as a burger topped with lettuce, cheese, tomato, pickle, onion, mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup.

The Big Guns 2 : Burger King launches plant based alternatives throughout Asia

Burger King has added a plant-based version of its famous Whopper to its menus across Asia, partnering up with different vegan meat producers to meet growing mainstream consumer demand. While the fast food giant has opted for Australian startup v2food’s patties in Japan and the Philippines, in the Chinese market, the plant-based burgers will be supplied by Unilever-owned The Vegetarian Butcher

The Big Guns 3 :KFC also launches meat free alternative in Singapore

KFC Singapore has announced that it has debuted its first-ever meat-free alternative product called Zero Chicken Burger. It will be available for consumers at all KFC Singapore restaurants except the outlets at Singapore Polytechnic and Singapore Zoo.

The Big Guns 4: Starbucks try completely vegan menu

A Starbucks store with a completely plant-based food menu is being used to trial the latest vegan offerings.One store in Seattle now has a 100% plant-based menu, CEO Kevin Johnson confirmed on a conference call. The store is used as a ‘test site’.

Fish alternatives 1: Thai giant launches vegan shrimp

Tuna giant Thai Union, which owns brands including John West and Chicken of the Sea, is to debut a plant-based shrimp in 2021.

Fish alternatives 2: Vegan tuna anyone ?

Schouten, the Dutch company that has been specialising in developing plant-based proteins since the 1990s, has recently debuted its latest product: vegan tuna. It marks the first time the firm has entered the plant-based seafood alternatives space, which is expected to undergo major growth as more companies tap into fish-free innovation.

Fish alternatives 3 :Austrian firm launches first 3D printed salmon

Revo Foods has now announced the launch of what it claims is the world’s first 3D printed smoked salmon, “Salmon with Attitude”. The new product will be sampled for the first time on 6 March in Vienna in cooperation with Budapest Bagel.

Anyone for a Dutch seaweed burger?

The Netherlands is famed for being one of the few countries where cannabis is legal. But the Dutch Weed Burger is made from a different kind of weed — seaweed.

Canadian firm launches vegan wagyu beef in sushi restaurants

Canadian plant-based company Top Tier Foods is to launch its vegan waygu beef at Advanced Fresh Concepts, the largest sushi franchise in the US.

Natures Fynd pitches fungus based non diary cream cheese and meatless patties

Nature’s Fynd, the food technology company with a new food offering cultivated from fungus found in the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, is releasing its first products for pre-order. Pitching both a non-dairy cream cheese and meatless breakfast patties, Nature’s Fynd had managed to attract some serious investors, including Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and the Bill Gates-backed investment fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The company most recently raised $80 million in its last round of funding.

Competition heats up in plant based plant based baby milk space

Plant-Based baby, toddler and children nutrition producer, Else Nutrition, which became a publicly listed company last Autumn, announces today that its Plant-Based Nutrition for toddlers begins national rollout in the US with around 350 Sprouts Farmers Market locations, as plant-based alternatives become increasingly mainstream.

Ice cream with fat you can’t absorb…

Swedish food tech startup Lub Foods, owner of the sugar-free brand Nick’s which has won a licence for a new type of ice cream that contains a special fat which the body cannot absorb. It’s part of a growing trend of investors pouring money into foodtech, with companies making lab-grown meats, plant-based meat and 3D printed cheese all raising serious amounts of money amid shifting consumer habits.

Oat milk delivery service launched in UK

Jay and Katja Wilde of Bradley Nook Farm in the U.K. have recently launched a new oat milk subscription service, ditching their traditional dairy farm operations to produce the ethical and sustainable plant-based alternative. Working with Refarm’d, a London-based startup that helps farmers transition into the plant-based dairy business, their fresh oat milk is now being delivered in reusable glass bottles across the Midlands.

Bug Burger launched

Malaysian Ento launches insect based burger patty…used Ento cricket powder

Nick’s sugar free and dairy free products

Looking to reinvent the ice cream space, Nick’s entered the U.S market in late 2019 with a line of light ice creams.

Lidl adds 11 new plant based vegan products in Belgium

Lidl has released 11 new plant-based products to its own label vegetarian and vegan range in Belgium.

The Next Big Thing…..what we believe might become the ‘new new ‘thing

3D printed meat gets bigger

Spanish company NovaMeat, which develops 3D printed plant-based meat, has developed the world’s largest cellular meat prototype, according to Giuseppe Scionti, bioengineer, foodtech entrepreneur and founder of NovaMeat. “Our largest cell-based meat prototypes (or you can call them hybrid meat analogs, as we mix mammalian adipose cells with a plant-based biocompatible scaffold) reach 22500 mm3 in volume. I believe our microextrusion technology can unlock the potential of whole-cut alternative protein products,”

Great Economist report on ‘alternative’ pet food

Pet owners, at least in the West, are more likely than other people to be vegetarians or vegans. That puts many of them in a quandary when it comes to feeding fully paid-up carnivores such as cats and dogs. But technology may soon resolve this dilemma.

The Pack is also homing in on the same alternative pet food space…with celeb backing

The Pack has recently announced that it has successfully closed a pre-seed investment round for its new range of plant-based dog food. While the funding total is undisclosed, the round received support from high profile celebrities such as international footballer Chris Smalling and UK’s famous vegan celebrity chef duo Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, also known as BOSH!, among others.

Red seaweed is the future at Trophic

California-based startup Trophic thinks it’s found a way to make alt-meat products even more environmentally friendly — seaweed. Seaweed is a highly sustainable protein source — it requires no fertilisers or fresh water, absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide, and is high-yielding. According to Trophic, if seaweed farms covered an area the size of Massachusettes then the protein yielded would be enough to replace all the beef consumed

Wider AgTech space….farming is digitized and food revolutionised

Great Reuters profile (and video) on vertical farming pioneer

Argentinian AgTech raises money for blockchain products

Traceability continues to be an area of interest for various stakeholders in the agrifood supply chain, particularly after Covid-19 raised questions about the safety of our food system. “We are solving a verification problem, which is to understand and unbox how crops are being produced from seed to harvest for a world demanding more sustainable and food security practices,” Diego Hoter, CEO and co-founder at, told AFN.

Thai precision agtech gets strategic partner

ListenField, a Thai precision agritech startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Japanese agricultural equipment maker Kubota as part of a wider strategic partnership. ListenField’s API ecosystem can bring together data from various sources, such as satellites, weather stations, and in-field devices.

Tevels flying fruit bot raises Asian cash

Tevel Aerobotics Technologies, which is developing autonomous flying robots that can pick fruit, has raised $20 million in fresh funding. Tevel has designed a system of small, interconnected drones that can harvest orchard-grown fruits and carry out other tasks, such as pruning, trimming, and thinning, that would typically require human labor

AgTech Pairwise raises money using CRISPR technology

Pairwise announced the closing of its $90 million Series B funding round, signaling a new frontier in healthy, sustainable food innovation. … Pairwise is using its cutting-edge technology to break down barriers to increase consumption of fresh produce.

Excellent deep dive on Pairwise

Pairwise is focusing its early efforts on a few fruits and vegetables before turning its ambitions to other products in these categories. It is using CRISPR to change the DNA to remove the bitterness from a nutrient-dense green, the seeds from the outside of a blackberry and the pit in a cherry.

Probiotics comes to animal biotech…interesting

Resilient Biotics has built a drug discovery platform which can identify and validate microbiome-based biotherapuetics for the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections in animals.

Anuvia secures $103m for bio alternative fertilisers

The company, headquartered in Winter Garden, Florida, was founded in 2005 and manufactures high-efficiency, sustainable bio-based fertilizers for the agriculture, turf and lawn care industries from recycled organic material, such as livestock waste, food waste, or other plant-based materials.

Market Growth? …the helicopter view

Vegan butter is the next big thing?

The steadily increasing popularity of plant-based butter has led to brands experimenting with new flavours and sources. Plant-based butter is produced around the world from oat milk, rice milk, corn milk, soy milk, pea milk, almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, flax milk, and hemp milk among others, meaning that plant-based options offer a far wider range of flavours and brands than dairy can provide.

Plant based alternatives market worth over $10 bn

The plant-based protein market is now worth US$10.3 billion, says a new report. ….Driven by shifting consumer trends in high-growth markets in Asia-Pacific, the researchers expect the plant-based protein market to top US$15.6 billion within the next five years.

Watching the VCs

$31 bn invested in foodtech startups in 2020 says AgFunder

Thirty-one billion dollars was invested in agrifoodtech startups in 2020, according to the AgFunder 2021 Agrifoodtech Investing Report, released this week.

Pitchbook estimates $4bn invested in the space

Food Tech remained an attractive target for venture capital during the last quarter of 2020. According to data from PitchBook released last week, food tech companies raised a total of $4 billion during the quarter. According to PitchBook, the pandemic spurred much of the continued investment in the food tech space as consumers adopted new behaviors around online grocery shopping as well as restaurant takeout and home delivery.

Spotlight on Founders Future

Founders Future, a French investment firm for European startups, is launching a new fund focused on supporting the next generation of impact driven entrepreneurs.

Worth noting…..details that matter

Blue Nalu raises targets Asia as a growth market

“We’re really, really focused on Asia. We want a presence there, and it’ll [host] one of our very first factories – I’ll make that commitment now,” Cooperhouse says. “Frankly, per capita consumption of seafood in Asia is about three to five times higher than Europe or North America. The Asia market is really where we see the lion’s share of our growth.”

Further reading….articles which drill down into the space

Very readable guide to fake meat and egg products by New York Times

I spend nearly as much time talking about how I want to stop eating meat as I do eating it. I care about animals and the environment and, even more, virtue signaling about how much I care about animals and the environment. I just don’t want to make any effort or sacrifice any pleasure.

Useful overview by VC of Fourth agricultural revolution

We have now reached a fork in the agricultural road: one path is to continue farming on an industrial scale, the other involves revolutionising our food system to focus on sustainability, nutrition and protecting the environment.

WSJ on how farming is lowering its impact and using tech

Farm production in the U.S. has nearly tripled over the past 70 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and trying to pull that off using the low-tech methods of the past—which delivered lower yields per acre—would have meant that more forests would have been lost, more fragile lands plowed and more natural habitats destroyed.

European consumers like food taxes

70% of consumers in Germany France and the Netherlands support a meat tax if tax revenmues used tor educe VAT on vegetables and fruit says survey

What is the legal and regulatory backdrop for cellular meat.

Lawyer David Ettinger investigates….Cultured meat is meat produced by in vitro cell culture of animal cells, instead of from slaughtered animals. Typically, selected cell lines or stem cells are grown in a bioreactor with suitable growth media, and subsequently onto a "scaffold" to produce the cultured meat. This process involves relatively small amounts of land and labor in a climate-resilient and sustainable manner.

Food inflation coming

Record-breaking female founder warns of food inflation risk amid Covid-19 & climate change

There are signs that the food inflation that’s gripped the world over the past year, raising prices of everything from shredded cheese to peanut butter, is about to get worse.

Researchers analyse climate costs of Ag

Current price tags on dairy, animal- and plant-based foods do not reflect the environmental costs associated with their production. But if they did, what would the ‘true cost’ of these products be?


Original paper -

Great Guardian feature on ecosystem impact of salmon farming

Salmon farming is wreaking ruin on marine ecosystems, through pollution, parasites and high fish mortality rates which are causing billions of pounds a year in damage, a new assessment of the global salmon farming industry has found. Taken together, these costs amounted to about $50bn globally from 2013 to 2019, according to a report published on Thursday.

In depth look by Wired magazine at vertical farming

Gartenfeld Island, in Berlin’s western suburb of Spandau, was once the bellows of Germany’s industrial revolution. It hosted Europe’s first high-rise factory and, until World War II, helped make Berlin, behind London and New York, the third-largest city on Earth.

Dealflow…..funding news from the last month

One to watch : Mosa Meat steps up funding in series B round – raising another $10m

Asia 1 : Another Shanghai Chinese funding round – pre seed Hero Protein

Mainland China plant-based meat brand HERO Protein, which produces chicken, beef & fish analogues, has announced the closing of a US$850K pre-seed funding round

Asia 2 : Hong Kong Avant buddies up with Vietnamese producer

Asia 3: Another Singapore startup snags money from Temasek for chicken alternative

Asia 4: South Korean firm gets early stage funding: CellMEAT’s $4,.5m

North American firms 1; Californian cultured meat firm NewAge Meats nets $2m

Californian cultured meat startup New Age Meats has raised $2M in funding via convertible debt. This seed extension funding brings the total amount raised by the company to $7M.


North American firms 2: Canadian firm Nabati raises private placement cash

North American firms 3: Canadian plant alternative Nabati Foods raises money in private placing

UK firms 1 : firm Cellularevolution raises £1m

British cell-based meat company CellulaREvolution has raised £1M in its latest funding round, with investors including Orange Light Ventures, CPT Capital, and the Northern Accelerator Seed Investment Fund.

UK firms 2 : Newcastle Uni spin out bags capital

A university spin-out which grows cells for a range of industries has secured £1m from a set of investors. CellulaREvolution, which aims to revolutionise the way cells are grown in labs, has raised the money from CPT Capital, Stephan Schmidt, Orange Light Ventures, and funds managed by Northstar Ventures, the North East Innovation Fund and the Northern Accelerator Seed Investment Fund.

UK firms 3 : based Jack & Bry secures £1.25m in funding for meat substitutes

Based out of London, food tech company Jack & Bry recently secured £1.25 million (approx US$1.73 million) in seed funding to further disrupt the alternative protein industry with the launch of new jackfruit meat substitutes for the conscious consumer.

UK firms 4: Hoxton Roundabout gets into the alt meat space

Europe 1: Slaughter free cellular meat Swiss outfit gets funding

Europe 2: Swedish pea mil firm Sproud raises money

Europe3 : Dutch insect protein firm snags $18m

Israeli firms 1: Future meat raises money for push into cellular poultry

Israeli firms 2: Future Meat raises extra capital and brings down price of chicken replacement

Nigerian VeggieVictory raises pre seed funding