Best of the Web - March

By David Stevenson on Friday 9 April 2021

Best of the Web - March
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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

Avant Meats says it has cut costs by 90% working with Chinese biopharma business

Avant Meats announced today via an emailed press release, that it has achieved a 90 percent reduction in the cost of producing its cultured functional proteins. The Hong Kong-based company also announced that it has partnered with Chinese biopharmaceutical company QuaCell to bring the cost down even further.

Worlds biggest meat supplier muscling into plant space

Demand for faux burgers is growing so rapidly that JBS SA, the world’s biggest meat supplier, said it will likely set up a new global company focused solely on plant-based products

Oatly plans mega factory in UK

Oatly is planning to open one of the world’s largest plant-based factories in the UK. The facility, located in Peterborough, is slated to open in Q1 2023. It is expected to supply the local area with around 200 new jobs.

GFC analysis on lower alternative costs and measuring sustainability impact

The studies, which were supported by the Good Food Institute, show that cultivated meat could be cost-competitive with multiple forms of slaughtered animal meat by 2030.  The main findings from the study demonstrate that, when compared with beef from cows, cultivated meat can result in up to 92% less global warming and 93% less air pollution, as well as 95% less land. When renewable energy is used in the production of both forms, 78% less water is used

The big numbers : The LiveKindly Collective raises $335m

The Livekindly Collective — “a collection of heritage and start-up brands” marketing plant-based food products — has raised $335 million in a funding round led by TPG Capital‘s The Rise Fund. Rabo Corporate Investments — the VC arm of Rabobank — and US-based VC firm S2G Ventures also joined the round, alongside several undisclosed investors.

Eat Just ramps up investment raising $200m – hurtling towards an IPO?

San Francisco-based Eat Just has raised US$200 million in a new financing round, the company announced on Tuesday (March 22). The investment was led by the Qatar sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), and saw participation from Microsoft-co-founder Paul G. Allen’s private investment arm Vulcan Capital and Boston based private equity firm Charlesbank Capital Partners.

Dutch rival Meatable not far behind after raising another $47m

Meatable, the Dutch cultivated meat startup, has raised US$47 million in its Series A financing round. The funds will be geared towards expanding its current product portfolio, adding cell-based beef after having showcased its cultivated pork last year. Meatable says the capital will also help the firm advance production using its proprietary cost-effective and scalable technology.

Agronomics reports on Meatable raise

IPOs and market talk… meets the investing community

SPAC momentum 1: AeroFarms strikes SPAC deal for Q2

US vertical farming startup AeroFarms has agreed a merger with Spring Valley Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The deal will see AeroFarms go public on New York’s NASDAQ exchange under the symbol ‘ARFM’.

SPAC momentum 2: Alexandria REIT forms $313m AgTech SPAC

Alexandria Agtech/Climate Innovation Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) formed by US real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities, has filed with the US Securities & Exchange Commission to raise up to $250 million in an IPO. The Pasadena-based SPAC will aim to acquire technologies and privately held businesses in the agritech and climate change mitigation sectors. It plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol AACE, and says it will offer 25 million units at $10 apiece consisting of one share of common stock and one-fourth of a warrant exercisable at $11.50. It would be valued at $313 million under the proposed deal terms.

FT on Foodtech and Agtech race to markets

Quorn owner files for IPO in Philippines

Monde Nissin Corporation, the Philippine-based food conglomerate, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) aiming to raise ₱63 billion (approx. US$1.3 billion), the country’s largest-ever first-time share sale. The firm, who acquired British legacy vegan and vegetarian brand Quorn in 2015, says the fundraising will fuel its international expansion as it pivots towards the fast-growing alternative protein category amid record plant-based sales.

Canadian firm lists on TSX Venture Exchange

The Very Good Food Company (VGF), has announced it reached full approval to list on the Canadian stock exchange, TSX Venture. The move makes it one of the first vegan companies on the TSX exchange.

New VegTech index launches

A new index tracking the global list of publicly traded plant-based stocks has just been launched, offering users a simple and accessible way to overview the burgeoning sector. Described as the “vegan Dow Jones”, VegTech, The Global Vegan Impact and Innovation Index (VEGT), currently features 21 companies and will be reporting monthly to reflect the investment sentiment and health of the industry.

BeyondMeat’s shares looking a bit like GameStop

Beyond, while growing at a healthy clip, is nowhere near its historic growth rates. Analysts expect year-end revenue to top $400 million, up a projected 37% from 2019. Sales of plant-based proteins, which are just 1% of total meat sales today, shot up 238% in the same period and more than doubled in the prior two years.

Canadian AgTech business Farmers Edge lists on Toronto Stock Exchange

Canadian digital ag company Farmers Edge has completed its IPO on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and is now trading under the ticker symbol FDGE. It raised just over C$125 million ($98.7 million), with underwriters getting a greenshoe option that could secure a further C$18.8 million if exercised in full

Israeli lab grown meat firm lists on NASDAQ

Israeli cultured meat company MeaTech 3D Ltd. (Nasdaq: MITC; TASE: MITC) has priced its initial public offering on Nasdaq and is raising $22 million. The amount will rise to $25.4 million if the underwriter exercises its options. MeaTech is offering of 2,427,185 American Depositary Shares at $10.30 per share for net proceeds of $21.9 million.

Useful investor primer on investing in this space, using Morgan Stanley data

Collectively the sectors offer “2030 revenue potential in excess of US$1 trillion, a market size similar to that of the global pharmaceutical sector,” according to Morgan Stanley, and mid-to-high single digit market growth.

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

First plant based marled filet mignon steak

Slovenian food tech Juicy Marbles has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first 100% plant-based, whole cut filet mignon that bears the fatty marbling found in a real cut of animal-based steak. Developed using their patent-pending “reverse grinder” technology, the startup has been able to recreate the texture, look and taste of filet mignon by layering fibres made with only plants and nothing else.

New oat blend milk with mushrooms and hemp

One of North America’s most recognisable plant milk brands, Califia Farms, today announces the additions of  Mushroom Oat Barista Blend and Hemp Barista Blend. Both products offer functional ingredients which continue to trend and were revealed as the most important quality in plant-based milks and creamers by 1 in 5 coffee drinkers in new research conducted by OnePoll. With oat milk sales up 351% from a year ago (SPINS data), Califia Farms is continuing to add new oat-based products to satisfy the growing consumer demand. The survey reveals that 58% of coffee drinkers have tried different types of plant-based milks in their coffee during the pandemic, and that 42% of coffee drinkers are attempting to recreate their favorite coffee drinks at home.

Freshwater Algae alternatives to Tuna emerging

Triton Algae Innovations, a startup leveraging freshwater algae species, is preparing to launch its plant-based algae ingredients and its first retail product – a tuna analogue – to show consumers the potential of the underwater crop in alternative proteins. The single-celled algae species that Triton uses, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii​, can express plant proteins, and the startup has managed to produce it in a scalable, cost-efficient heterotrophic process.

Honey without bees ?

MeliBio, the startup that uses synthetic biology, precision fermentation and plant science to create molecularly identical honey – with the same health benefits and delicious taste – but requiring no bees, has bagged US$850,000 in a pre-seed round of funding. The investment saw participation from Big Idea Ventures (BIV), the accelerator program that MeliBio has graduated from in New York, as well as Joyance Partners, 18.Ventures, Capital V and Sparklabs Cultiv8.

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

Massive plant based smokehouse opens

Wood-smoked, plant-based barbecue? U.S. food company Barvecue has announced its plans to open the world’s largest plant-based smokehouse, which will be able to manufacture 800,000 pounds of plant-based barbecue meat annually.

Sugar alternative raises $24m

Supplant uses alternative sugars to create its sweetener, Simmons said.  “The core difference is they’re working with cane sugar,” according to Simmons. “Our pitch is we make sugars from fiber so you don’t need to use cane sugar.”

Great idea – Irish startup launches carbon counting app

Users simply photograph their grocery receipt using the Evocco app, which identifies the food products by reading the printed text and using machine learning. It then calculates the carbon footprint based on the store's location and by checking the type, weight and origin of a food against a database.

Oishii sees itself as ‘the Tesla of vertical farming’ via strawberries

Alongside the allure of being the first to crack indoor strawberry cultivation, Koga sees the fruit as a way to address what he calls the “unit economics problem” in indoor farming. He sees strawberries as providing a very strong revenue and profit model, as well as a crop that can further “democratize” vertical farming.

Plant biotech takes shape as Japanese firm offers genome edited tomato

Japan’s Sanatech Seed has soft-launched what it claims to be the world’s first genome-edited (GE) tomato for the consumer market. The Tokyo-based company is handing out five seedlings each of its new variety to 5,000-plus home gardeners who applied online to participate in the free-of-charge distribution drive. Uses CRISPR/CAS9

Wider AgTech space….farming is digitized and food revolutionised

AgFunder reports says AgTech pulled in $26bn in funding in 2020

Lab on a chip targets indoor farming

“We have a tiny test cartridge, similar to what people use to measure blood sugar, that allows a farmer or agronomist to more specifically make measurements in the field,” co-founder Keenan Pinto told AFN. “More specifically, an indoor grower can [use it] measure the water quality and also measure the nutrient content in the leaves to get a much better understanding of what they need to apply.”

Precision farming outfit Augmenta raises $8m

Augmenta was founded in 2018 in Greece by George Varvarelis and Dimitris Evangelopoulos, with the mission to augment the capacity of arable land and help feed the growing world sustainably. Currently headquartered in Paris, the company started the development of their solution in 2016. Augmenta operations have since been carried out on hundreds of fields across 16 countries around the world


Market Growth? …the helicopter view

Don’t count meat out yet – meat sales soaring

Meat sales surged to $82.5 billion in 2020, up 19.2% over the previous year, according to The Power of Meat 2021 report published by the Food Industry Association (FMI) and the Foundation for Meat & Poultry Research & Education. Beef accounted for the highest share of sales as it brought in $5.8 billion, the report noted.

Alt proteins could be $290 billion market by 2035 says report

The market for alternative protein, including meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood products, could reach at least $290 billion by 2035, according to a new report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Blue Horizon Corporation (BHC). The report, entitled “Food for Thought: The Protein Transformation,” was released this week and finds that the market for alternative proteins — including plant-, microorganism-, and cell-based analogues — will grow from its current 13 million metric tons per year to 97 million metric tons by 2035.

In depth market report asks what consumers are willing to pay

Moonshot Collaborative’s poll also showed that younger plant-based buyers in particular were more likely to get their wallets out for plant-based alternatives, with a whopping 92% of Gen Z consumers, 81% of millennials and 72% of Gen X shoppers saying they would pay more. Of course, it needs to be noted that the study was based on a small sample size of just under 900 respondents, but it’s still indicative of the youth-driven plant-based trend we’re seeing

Chinese consumers may be more reluctant to buy alternative protein products, survey says

As many as 47% of respondents in French survey said they would not cell based meats regularly

But another report says the opposite! China a huge growth market

A report by Asymmetrics Research has predicted rapid growth for the alt-protein market in China. The growth will be driven by flexitarianism, which is on the rise in the country due to concerns about health, safety, and sustainability.

Back in Europe plant based food segment grew by 49% over last two years

Consumption of plant-based foods is growing at record levels across Europe, according to data from the market research institute Nielsen, now published in a new report by the Smart Protein Project. The project, conducted in collaboration with ProVeg International, analysed previously unpublished Nielsen data to gain unprecedented insight into European consumer habits.

BurgerKing UK menu to 50% plant based by 2031

2031, the menu at Burger King locations in the United Kingdom could be 50 percent plant-based.

BeyondMeat signs three year deal with McDonalds

Another huge step forward for the McPlant, as Beyond Meat announces a three-year worldwide strategic agreement with fast food icon McDonald’s. Today’s agreement means that Beyond Meat will be the McDonald’s supplier of choice for the McPlant patty, as well as future products for the upcoming plant-based range to include items such as vegan chicken, pork and egg products.

Dark kitchens meet Chicken alternatives in this great FastCompany read

Ben Pasternak had a problem. The founder and CEO of alt-meat startup Nuggs had seen plenty of initial buzz and success for his plant-based chicken nuggets, signing on investors that include AgFunder, McCain Foods, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and former Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb since its founding in 2019. But as of mid-2020, the company wasn’t yet in retail stores or sold in any fast-food outlets.

Watching the VCs

Green Queen talks to Stray Dog about their investments

Out of all things, I am the most excited about bacon. The bacon [alternatives] up until last year were just uninspiring – I would never feed that to my non-vegan family members, it would just never make the cut

Israeli VC OurCrowd works with Waterfund to crack impact investing

Waterfund and OurCrowd are building Aquantos, a water-focused platform to issue blue bonds and other investment products in $50m deal

Worth noting…..details that matter

BASF ploughs $9 bn in to R&D projects in sustainable ag space

BASF has committed itself to launching at least 30 R&D projects by 2030, which will focus on sustainable agriculture innovations that complement its offerings in seeds, seed treatments, biological and chemical solutions, and digital services.

Use the right term : cell cultured is the way to go

A consensus is building around the term “cell-cultured” as the best description of seafood grown directly from cells in a lab, in comments published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The document contains feedback and discussion about regulations to label cell-based seafood from industry stakeholders, including food tech players such as BlueNalu, Memphis Meats and Finless Foods.

US ingredients outfit Ingredion ramps up alt proteins production with help from US farms

Global ingredients manufacturer Ingredion recently opened a new plant protein facility in Sioux City, Nebraska. Now, it has announced that the plant will be the first one in North America to produce pea protein isolate and pea starch. The new ingredients will be entirely sourced from North American farms. They are aimed at producers of plant-based foods and beverages, who can use them to make a variety of products.

More on Bill Gates obsession with farmland

“The agriculture sector is important. With more productive seeds we can avoid deforestation and help Africa deal with the climate difficulty they already face. It is unclear how cheap biofuels can be but if they are cheap it can solve the aviation and truck emissions.”

Further reading….articles which drill down into the space

Interview with Alwaleed of KBW about sector

When I started eating healthier, learning more about the food chain, production, the social ills that come with what is modern animal agriculture matched with the overall disregard for the environment – it all culminated in the need to get involved at a deeper level.

NYT Oped on the extinction of the traditional burger

This is the future: not a meatless one — not anytime soon — but one with less meat. I’m now sure of that. It’s the inevitable consequence of alarm over climate change, to which livestock farming contributes significantly.

Wall Street Journal feature on Singapore’s chicken alternative

A few weeks ago, I sunk my teeth into a chicken nugget—the first one I’d eaten since I became a vegetarian 19 years ago. The tastes took me back to the fast food of my childhood. The crunchy exterior contrasted with the soft white flesh underneath, livened by a dash of hot sauce.

Fast Company talks to Patagoni’as former CEO on his alt proteins new venture

Started in 2014 by a group of University of Colorado doctoral students, Meati uses mycelium—the root-like part of mushrooms—to create fungi versions of steak and chicken breasts that look and taste like the real thing.

Great analysis by Spoon on next steps to cut prices to match meat in your local super market

cultivated meat companies need to optimize their processes to produce at high-volume commercial scale production. This means a lengthy, multistage biooptimization process goes from high-throughput screening to identify optimal cell cultures for manufacturing, to lab-scale demonstration, pilot plant production and finally commercial scale production.

Wired’s deep dive into vertical farming

Infarm has shipped over a thousand of its “farms” to shops and chefs across Europe (and a few in the US). These units, which look like jumbo vending machines, grow fresh greens and herbs in rows of trays fed by nutrient-rich water and lit by banks of tiny LEDs, each of which is more than ten times brighter than the regular bulb you’d find in your dining room. Shoppers pick the plants straight from the shelf where they’re growing.

Short but succinct Crunchbase survey of space

While hybrid meat seems like a new concept, it is actually not, and many consumers will know this as a “filler,” said Ido Savir, co-founder and CEO of SuperMeat. The Israel-based company has raised $4.2 million in known funding since it was founded in 2015, according to Crunchbase data.