Best of the web-May

By David Stevenson on Friday 4 June 2021

Best of the web-May
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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

Cultured meat pioneer drastically reduces fat costs

Mosa Meat, the Dutch food tech that pioneered the world’s first cell-based beef, has announced a new R&D milestone, reducing its fat medium cost by over 65-times. The company’s “Fat Team” has also ensured that the differentiation media used to cultivate its meat is free from all animal components.

Spoon’s excellent mid year review based on GFI research papers

Fermentation could “revolutionize” the entire alt-protein landscape. It has the potential to influence other areas of alternative protein. As GFI’s report notes, “Fermentation can enable a new generation of proteins, fats, and other functional ingredients that combine with plant-based and cultivated components to create biomimicking whole-cut meats, egg replacements, animal-free dairy proteins, seafood products, and more.”

Cell cultured chicken brand says ready to launch next year with price parity in 8 years

Future Meat has reduced its production costs by almost 50 per cent. It can now create 110g of slaughter-free chicken breast for under $4. The start-up’s Chief Executive Rom Kshuk predicts the cost will drop to below $2 in the next 12-18 months. He told the Financial Times: “We will launch a product in the US market in the next 18 months that will have a commercially viable price.”


OmniPork Slashes Retail Prices By Double-Digits & Announces Parity With Pork

Green Monday’s OmniFoods arm has announced double-digit price reductions for its OmniPork line of plant-based pork alternatives. It comes as the brand expands its international presence to 40,000 point-of-sales across 20 markets, achieving greater economies of scale and enabling its vegan analogues to compete at price parity with its real animal-based counterparts.  OmniFoods is reducing retail prices of its OmniPork range by double-digits. Its flagship product OmniPork Mince will see prices slashed by 22 per cent, while OmniPork Strip and OmniPork Luncheon will be lowered by 22 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

Eat Just raises even more money ($170m) for GOOD meat sub

In another record-breaking turn, Eat Just, the San Francisco-based food tech company whose plant-based mung bean alternative has sold 100 million vegan eggs across the globe including in mainland China, where it just debuted a JUST egg version of jianbing pancakes with street vendors in Shanghai, has just closed a US$170 million round for its newly separate GOOD Meat subsidiary from funds managed by UBS O’Connor, K3 Ventures and Graphene Ventures among others.

Britvic buys cold pressed plant milk and juices business Plenish

Plenish was founded in 2012 by Kara Rosen, who spotted a gap in the market for sustainable, organic juices and plant milks with no refined sugar or additives. It is now one of the UK’s fastest-growing plant-based drink brands, as well as the only one to be certified carbon negative. It also achieved B-Corp status earlier this year.

IPOs and market talk… meets the investing community

Beyond Meat releases disappointing first quarter numbers

Reports a wider-than-expected loss in the first quarter as restaurant customers take longer to return and grocery shoppers aren’t stockpiling its meat substitutes anymore. However, CEO Ethan Brown said the company is seeing a “slow thaw” in its food service segment in the United States and some international markets, prompting the company to issue a revenue forecast for the next quarter.

Plant biotech firm Benson Hill to go public via SPAC

US crop genetics startup Benson Hill will become a publicly traded company via a merger with Star Peak Corp II, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) operated by Illinois’ Star Peak. The parties expect the deal to raise around $625 million in cash proceeds, valuing St Louis-based Benson Hill at $2 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports. This includes a $225 million private investment in public equity transaction involving funds managed by BlackRock, Lazard, and Van Eck Associates, among others. Star Peak Corp II is the second SPAC launched by Star Peak, which took ‘smart battery’ maker Stem public last month.

Synthetic biology firm goes public in $15 bn SPAC

Founded by a group of MIT alumni in 2008, Ginkgo Bioworks has developed a tech platform that uses synthetic biology, genetic engineering, robotics, data analytics, and software to ‘program’ microbes for different purposes. Taglining itself as ‘The Organism Company,’ Ginkgo says its ‘engineered biology’ capabilities are relevant in a multitude of industries, from industrial chemicals and food production to agriculture and healthcare.

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

Vegan butcher opens outlet in London’s landmark Selfridges store

London based Rudy’s Vegan Butcher makes a significant leap forward by announcing the opening of a new location in exclusive UK department store Selfridges, as its second butcher’s shop location in addition to its popular diner. As of today, Rudy’s will offer its wide range of vegan meats in the store’s famous food hall.

Singapore firm says its created first hard boiled egg using plants

OsomeFood’s product range is made from naturally occurring fungi that undergoes a fermentation process to create mycoprotein that carries the same essential amino acids that are present in meat products, and contain contains a variety of seaweed and algae that are high in antioxidants. Further, the company’s creations use 90 per cent less land and water compared to its traditional counterpart’s production process.

Swedish plant based cheese from Stockeld launches in Stockholm

Stockeld Chunk is made from fermented peas and fava beans and can be crumbled onto either hot dishes or on salad like a feta cheese. It has a similar nutritional composition to feta, with 13 percent protein, 1.5 per cent carbs and 20 per cent fat. Skaven Ruben is quick to point out in his post that Stockeld isn’t trying to create a “fake” version of feta, only that the product be used like feta.

Tesco’s wicked Foods works with Beyond Meat

After recently adding its first vegan cheese to its Grab and Go deli counter, UK’s largest supermarket Tesco has announced a major new partnership with Beyond Meat through its hugely popular Wicked Kitchen range, headed by vegan chef Derek Sarno

First plant based Burger King restaurant opens in Germany

Global fast-food chain Burger King is to open the world’s first Plant-based Burger King Restaurant in Cologne, Germany. Working in collaboration with The Vegetarian Butcher, the chain aims to display its increasing commitment to plant-based fast food with the new slogan, “100 per cent taste, 0 per cent meat”. Running from June 7 to 11, Burger King will be offering its range of exclusively plant-based meats and giving consumers and industry players the chance to take a look at some of its recent product innovations. One such product will be its Plant-based Long Chicken Patty, debuting for the first time in Germany.

Meat brand Richmond launches meat free bacon rashers

British meat brand Richmond, owned by food giant Kerry, is to launch meat-free bacon rashers. It describes them as “the tastiest, crispiest, meat-free bacon you’ll try”. Made with soy protein, the rashers are lower in calories, salt, and saturated fat than conventional bacon. They will be available at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Waitrose from May 28th, retailing at £2.50 for a pack of 8 rashers.

US restaurant chain launches Impossible Burger

Johnny Rockets  is debuting the Impossible Original burger, Craig’s Vegan Shakes, and dairy-free Daiya Cheddar Style Slices at Johnny Rockets outlets for a limited time. .. The new vegan shakes will be made with fellow LA company Craig’s Vegan‘s hand-scooped ice cream, and are topped with non-dairy whipped cream. The Vegan Shakes will be available in Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry flavors.

Nestle brings pean based milk alternative – just in time or too late?

Nestlé has been ramping up its plant-based operations across the globe, but with a focus mainly on alt meats. Last year the company launched a new research and development accelerator to work on the efficiency of vegetable milk development, and now Wunda will enter the market in France, the Netherlands and Portugal in the coming weeks, with a rollout in other European markets soon to follow. Although Nestlé has released dairy alternative beverages before – for example its Nesfit drink, and Ninho Forti+, an oat- and pea-based beverage, both in Brazil –  the launch of Wunda represents a move into the competitive alt milk segment and the food and beverage giant is looking to directly challenge leading brands such as Oatly and Danone’s Alpro.

The last Mile…getting new products into the kitchen

Plant based dairy brand launches vegan milk service

Milkadamia  launches  Milkman 2.0. The service will help reach the company’s growing consumer base by making shopping more convenient. The company hopes to reconnect with the community aspect of the local milkman across history. Products available include both the Lightly Sweetened and Unsweetened milkadamia Milk, Latte de milkadamia, and Cinnamon Creamer.

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

Memphis Meats reckons its cell cultured chicken will be on market in 2021

The company, which was founded by cardiologist Uma Valeti, as well as Nicholas Genovese and Will Clem, focuses on developing cell-cultured meat, poultry and seafood, and will start commercial production of its first product – chicken – by end of 2021. UPSIDE felt chicken made the most sense as its flagship debut product given the increasing demand for the protein across the globe. The company previously released the world’s first cultured meatball in February 2016 and the world’s first cultured poultry in March 2017.

Arbiom converting wood into food grade protein

Year round feedstock can be converted into food using a fermentation process and then separated into residual media which is then dried.

Wider AgTech space….farming is digitized and food revolutionised

M&A in Agtech as Valmont acquires crop analytics firm Prospera

US irrigation equipment and services company Valmont Industries has acquired Israeli crop analytics startup Prospera for $300 million. The partners claim that they now operate the largest vertically integrated AI company in agriculture, which focuses on digitizing center pivot irrigation systems.

Mycorrhizal bio inputs firm Groundwork BioAg raises $11m

Mychorrizae and other microbes exist naturally in the soil but end up being harmed or destroyed through conventional farming practices that disrupt and denude the soil, according to Groundwork BioAg. The startup invested in major R&D to figure out how to harness their power and their beneficial relationship with plants, minerals, and soil. The Mazor-based startup claims that it is the first to crack the code on mass production of highly concentrated, cost-effective mycorrhizal inoculants.

Plant biotech seed outfit Inari hits $1.2 bn valuation after $208m round

Inari aims to make food production more sustainable, using gene-edited seeds to enhance crop yield while requiring less fertilizer and water. The funding will be used to accelerate development of its existing corn and soybean platform; expand into new crops, such as wheat; and grow in markets outside North and South America, Inari CEO Ponsi Trivisvavet said in an interview.

Market Growth? …the helicopter view

German meat production fell last year but plant based alternatives grew double digits

Germany decreased its animal meat production, but vegan meat manufacturing grew, new data shows. Over 2020, the total value of meat production in the country fell by 4%, while its plant-based counterparts saw its value grow double-digits, fuelled by mass consumer demand for sustainable and healthier alternatives.  Animal meat manufacturing in Germany took a 4% year-on-year dive in 2020, according to new data released by Destatis, the country’s Federal Statistics Office. The value of German meat products totalled €38.6 billion (US$46.8 billion), down from the decade-high recorded in 2019 when the segment reached €40.1 billion (US$48.8 billion).

Consumers reckon cultivated protein could make up 40 per cent of their future meat intake says report

New research published in the peer-reviewed journal Foods estimates that cultivated meat will make up a significant part of the meat market in the future. The study, commissioned by Israeli cell-based food tech Aleph Farms, found that the average consumer imagined that cultivated protein will make up at least 40 per cent of their future meat consumption, while conventional meat will constitute the other 60 per cent.  The international team of researchers, led by Dr. Keri Szejda of Arizona State University, surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. consumers and over 2,000 U.K. consumers to examine attitudes and perceptions of the general population on novel cultivated protein products. Most of the participants of the study were not familiar with cell-based protein.

But another report says consumers reluctant to reduce animal product intake

Excellent deep dive by Food Navigator into complex consumer attitudes. Well worth a read.

Watching the VCs

Big Idea Ventures raises $50m for alternative proteins fund

Big Idea Ventures has announced the final closing of its US$50 million debut New Protein Fund, which saw major Japanese confectionary brand Meiji Holdings join as the latest investor to back the fund. Other investors who participated in the round were some of the largest global food conglomerates, among them Bühler Group, Givaudan, AAK, Temasek and Tyson Foods.

Worth noting…..details that matter

Brazilian agtech platform launches climate bond funding round

Brazilian farm management platform Solinftec has raised 140 million reals ($26.6 million) in the form of a Green Agribusiness Receivables Certificate (CRA-Green). CRAs are fixed income instruments which allow businesses in the agrifood sector to securitize the payments they are owed by their customers. The CRA-Green is a version overseen and certified by the global Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI).

Colorado based academics reckon carbon impact of beef can be drastically reduced

Focused on producing more beef per unit as well as enhanced land based carbon sequestration to offset cattle emissions. But won’t get o net zero.

Beyond Meat legal action with Don Lee Farms plays out in California courts

The Superior Court of California has ruled Beyond Meat must pay Don Lee Farms in their contract dispute. The Court found that, despite Beyond Meat's claim, the product in question was not adulterated and no evidence submitted by Beyond Meat disputed the fact that Don Lee Farms fully performed under their Exclusive Supply Agreement with respect to this claim. The Court stated that Beyond Meat cannot create a triable issue of material fact based on conjecture, speculation or guesswork. The Court also ruled that Beyond Meat had no evidence to support their property claim and that their negligent misrepresentation claim was meritless.



Further reading….articles which drill down into the space

Guardian feature on lab grown meats and consumer interest

Younger generations had the greatest openness. More than 85% of those under 39 years old said they were likely to try cultivated meat. About 75% of those in older age groups said the same. On average, people said they expected cultivated meat could make up about 40% of their future meat intake.

Excellent Axios deep dive into vertical farming

There are more than 2,000 vertical farms in the U.S. Most are run by small growers with a few bigger players, including Bowery Farming, Newark-based AeroFarms, and Wyoming-based Plenty. Internationally, says Seibel, "Japan has looked at vertical farming as a way to increase food security and reclaim production lost during the tsunami, while Singapore — which imports 90 per cent of its food — is making significant investments in the sector to increase its own food security."

FT feature on growing competition in the alt milk space : well worth a read

With little fanfare, plant-based milk has become a fiercely contested consumer market. At $17bn a year, according to research group Euromonitor, it is still only a fraction of the size of the overall $650bn annual dairy market, but dozens of start-ups and many of the biggest multinationals are investing in products that mix the latest in food science with a shift in consumer tastes towards products seen as healthier and more sustainable.

Dep dive into when cultured meat will hit the main markets – worth reading for regulatory overview

But as cell-cultured meat companies strike a more public-facing stance, an odd dynamic is emerging. After years of promises and delays, companies like Upside and Eat Just are finally poised to break into the U.S. market—where federal regulatory agencies appear to be moving at a much more deliberate pace.

Dealflow…..funding news from the last month

UK 1: Seaweed focused Oceanium raises £2m

Oceanium refines sustainably grown seaweed to produce a number of products that range from home-compostable packaging materials to food ingredients including protein, fibre and nutraceuticals. These products are still under development and will be sold under the brand names Ocean Actives, Ocean Health, and Ocean Ware. The first line of Ocean Active nutraceuticals is projected to launch in Q4 of this year.

North America 1 : Drake backs LA based alt chicken firm in Series B round

Plant-based chicken startup Daring announced today that it has raised a US$40M Series B round involving the backing of Canadian rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and entrepreneur Drake. The company plans to use this capital to triple its internal team by the end of this year, as well as scale its retail and foodservice growth. Los Angeles-based Daring just closed a $40M Series B funding round with D1 Capital Partners leading the round, joined by global entertainer Drake as well as existing investors Howard Schultz co-founded venture capital Maveron and Palm Tree Crew.


North America 2: Biotech firm secures more funding for cell cultured pet food

Biotech company Because, Animals has announced the closing of its seed stage financing round led by Orkla ASA that puts the startup’s total financing to date at US$6.7 million. The company aims to use these funds to help ramp up the production of its cell-cultured meat for dogs and cats. Philadelphia-based Because, Animals was founded in 2016 with the aim of creating animal-free pet food employing cell-based technology. The startup launched its first product back in 2018, a cell-based probiotic supplement that helps cats and dogs with digestion and immunity. After successfully raising seed funding in 2019, Because unveiled organic cookies developed with cultivated nutritional yeast called “noochies” for dogs.

North America 3: Pongamia tree specialist Terviya raises $45m

The California-based firm says that the funds will primarily be used to fuel its go-to-market strategy for its novel culinary oil and plant protein, made from its patented high-yielding and regenerative pongamia tree. To commercialise, the company is opening its U.S. production facility in 2022 to begin producing pongamia-based foods. Terviva says it also expects to close an additional $24 million in equity and debt capital later this quarter to bring the total funds to $78 million to further “drive its expansion”.

North America 4: GEM raises $10.5m for plant based vitamins

Instead of the bulky pills or fruity gummy vitamins that usually line the shelves of the supplement aisle, GEM produces chewable bites made from plant-based ingredients. Its cube-shaped bites are chock full of things like spirulina, turmeric and valerian root to provide natural sources of nutrition for various purposes ranging from sleep support and general immunity to overall health.

Europe 1 : Fish alternatives Bluu raises capital to accelerate product roll out

Berlin-based Bluu Biosciences has secured investment from DX Ventures, the venture capital arm of European online food delivery giant Delivery Hero. The capital raised is part of Bluu’s seed funding round, and will go towards accelerating the food tech’s time-to-market and distribution strategy when it launches its first cell-based fish products. Delivery Hero-backed DX Ventures has invested in Bluu Biosciences’ seed funding round. The amount of funding provided by DX Ventures, which has €50 million (~US$60.7 million) in initial capital, was undisclosed.

Alt Dairy startup Vly raises $7,4m

Berlin-based Vly, which is the sixth biggest plant milk brand in Germany, saw a capital injection from foodtech investors including Five Seasons Ventures, Global Founders Capital and Good Seed Ventures. Founded in 2018, the startup went through 400 iterations before creating its alternative dairy milk from yellow split pea protein that is neutral in taste, high in protein and low in sugar. Vly claims the milk is very similar to the nutrients, taste, and functionality of cow’s milk albeit with a much more favourite environmental footprint. To produce one litre of vly requires 15x less CO2, 13x less water and 5x less land than its dairy counterpart.