Top stories on the FFF investment radar week 4

By John Reynolds on Tuesday 1 February 2022

Top stories on the FFF investment radar week 4
Image source: Top stories on the FFF investment radar week 4
CommentaryFood DeliveryGrocery DeliveryAlternative proteinPlant-Based FoodTech

FutureFoodFinance cherry-picks the stories we think should be on the radar of investors.

Public markets and IPOs: Eat Beyond to acquire Mylk Brands

Canadian listed Eat Beyond investment vehicle buys into Banana Wave which makes fiber-rich oats and real bananas. They are available in five different flavors: original, unsweetened original, mango, chocolate, and strawberry

Public markets and IPOs 2: AppHarvest announces FY21 numbers

One year after IPO, the closed loop specialist says sales and EBITDA at higher end of guidance range but shares fall sharply

AppHarvest now expects to report 2021 net sales in the range of $8.9 to $9.1 million, versus a previously announced outlook of $7.0 to $9.0 million. AppHarvest also expects to report a net loss in the range of $170.0 to $172.5 million and now expects an Adjusted EBITDA loss in the range of $69.3 to 72.5 million, versus a prior outlook of an Adjusted EBITDA loss of $70.0 to $75.0 million.

This matters: how biomanufacturing is stepping up a gear

One of the biggest challenges in the alt protein space is the production process – especially scaling up. The big winners will be the picks and shovels developers of technology to allow startups to scale up

 The good news is that a growing number of companies are building out technology and services platforms to help these companies move towards scaled production. One such company is Solar Biotech, which makes customized plant architectures to help future food and other companies scale up their biomanufacturing capacity. The company has been working with startups such as Motif Foodworks and TurtleTree Labs to help them develop their product and move towards higher capacity production.

This matters 2: Walmart makes a big bet on the FoodTech space

Walmart is investing heavily in vertical farms business Plenty as part of their $400m Series E round

The companies will work to bring vertically farmed produce to Walmart stores, including all of its California locations. Walmart will join Plenty’s board of directors as part of the investment, according to the news release. Walmart said it plans to create a “new, market leading product category” in vertically farmed produce that’s available to shoppers year-round.

This matters 3: Milk alternatives run afoul of regulators

UK advertising watchdog bans Oatly ads. The pushback against FoodTech innovation intensifies

The advertising watchdog has banned a series of oat milk adverts that made misleading claims about the environmental benefits of abandoning dairy products. More than 100 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about TV, online and newspaper adverts by Oatly, which is based in Sweden.

Worth reading: The Spoon’s big five predictions for plant based meat

We rate The Spoon highly as a publication. Their predictions for the coming year is essential reading. Highlight ? The rise of the clean label

One criticism of some early plant-based meats is the long list of ingredients. While these alt-meats are no doubt miracles of modern food science, the unfamiliar ingredient list has scared away some customers concerned about eating exotic or genetically modified ingredients. Enter the clean label.

Worth reading 2: useful primer on the challenges facing cultured meat production

Telling the story of cultured meat through the Kaplan Laboratory at Tufts

“What we do, essentially … is that we isolate stem cells from tissue, for example from a cow,” John Yuen, a Ph.D. student who works in the Kaplan Lab, said. “And then we try and multiply those stem cells, proliferate them into a huge amount, and then turn those little cells into actual muscle fibers.”

Worth reading 3: Big study on regenerative farming launched

Watch the AgTech players embrace regenerative farming as part of a natural capital strategy. New study launched in South Dakota

Researchers have divided the country into 10 eco-regions and will gather large amounts of data from farms in each region. “We'll be looking at soils and carbon down to a meter deep. We'll be looking at micronutrient status of the soil. We'll be looking at soil microbiology, water quality and dynamics within the water profile,” said Lundgren. “We'll be looking at insects and plants and birds and the nutrition of the food, and we'll also be looking at the economics of the operation.”

Worth reading 4: Peak plant-based meat here already?

One of the big stories of 2022 will be the worry that plant based alternatives may have peaked too early.


but cultured meat businesses reckon 2022 will be a crucial year

The AgTech space 1 Deals: Biofertilizer firm bags $50m in series A

We think the biofertilizer space is one of the most interesting parts of the AgTech spectrum at the moment. Watch out for a flood of funding in this space.

Kula’s product, Kula-N, is a microbial product leveraging the bacteria Xanthobacter autotrophicus, which has been removing nitrogen from the air and putting it in the soil for millennia. Kula-N also “energizes” the bacteria with a carbon-rich energy source that allows the bacteria to build up larger-than-normal stores of nutrients. Farmers apply the product via traditional irrigation practices. It will live in the soil and communicate with the plants, producing nitrogen on an as-needed basis.

The AgTech space 2 Deals:  App based service snags $140m

Momentum is really building in the AgTech VC space with an emphasis on integrating agriculture and data sources

Founded in 2017 and headquartered in Seoul, GreenLabs aims to bring technological advances to two broad areas of agricultural operations: production and distribution. On the production side, its Farm Morning platform enables growers to integrate different technologies on their farm and manage them remotely from a single mobile app. Farmers can use the software to monitor factors like humidity and temperature in real time via sensors. The Farm Morning app also provides growers with information on regional weather conditions, agronomic advice, and current market prices for fresh produce. The system’s AI uses the data it collects from these sensors and from the app to automate tasks such as opening and closing greenhouse roofs and doors, or adjusting heating and cooling systems, in response to shifting climatic conditions.

The AgTech space 3:  12 AgTech starts ups to watch

Agtech companies are at the center of the move towards precision farming with their smart solutions. Start-ups like the ones on this list are working on various solutions to help farmers optimize their farm productivity and move towards sustainable agriculture.

Deals North America 1: Lamb substitute raises $5,25m in funding

Black Sheep is focused on imitating meats that haven’t gotten as much attention from plant-based protein manufacturers as North American favorites like beef and chicken; its initial product range features lamb analogs built around pea protein (Towards the end of last year, it entered a partnership with Israeli seed genetics company Equinom, which will supply the US startup with its 70%-protein yellow pea concentrate.)

Deals North America 2: Consolidation starts as Upside Foods buys cellular lobster firm

With its purchase of Wisconsin-based Cultured Decadence, cell-based meat company Upside Foods is adding lobster to its portfolio.