Top Stories on the FFF Investment Radar- NotCo deep dive, Big China & Asia, and hidden footprint of indoor farming

By David Stevenson on Monday 14 March 2022

Top Stories on the FFF Investment Radar- NotCo deep dive, Big China & Asia, and hidden footprint of indoor farming
Image source: Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash
CommentaryAlternative proteinPlant-Based FoodTechVertical / Indoor FarmingIngredient Producer

Future Food Finance cherry-picks the stories we think should be on the radar of investors.

Must read: NYT says we’re far from peak plant milk

Confirms growing consensus view that dairy milk is in deep trouble from alternatives

Sales of plant milk in the United States totaled $2.5 billion at the end of 2020, accounting for 15 percent of all retail sales of milk, and 35 percent of the larger market for plant-based foods. By the end of 2026, Ms. Olson said, sales of dairy alternatives are projected to make up 30 percent of all milk sales. Much of that growth, Ms. Purcell said, will come from small-batch producers.

Must read 2: Deep dive into pioneer NotCo

The Spoon talks AI with leading alt protein business

Their database was comprised of chemical and biological attributes that made food what it is and the attributes that impacted the human perception of taste, texture, smell, and color. The goal, said Muchnick, was to create a large enough database of information to use their AI (which would eventually be called Guiseppe) to create a whole line of new plant-based food products.

Must read 3: Measuring the value of regenerative agriculture

More and more farmers may be embracing regenerative approaches but how do you accurately measure the results?

For years, Lundgren and the team at Ecdysis have been studying and documenting the impact of regenerative practices—everything from reduced tilling to compost applications, cover crops, and prescribed grazing. Now, they’re embarking on a national, 10-year study they’re calling the 1,000 Farms Initiative.

Big picture: Alt protein think tank says Asia Pacific region growing fast

The Good Food Institute’s (GFI) latest Asia Pacific survey confirms Asia as huge opportunity set

Highlights include a 60 percent increase in funding into the sector on a global level, with fermentation and cultivated projects claiming more funding than ever before. Overall, alt protein companies raised $5 billion worldwide, with $312 million invested in APAC.

plus GFI also highlights IPCC report on role of agriculture in emissions

Studies have shown that changes to the number, placing, or prevalence of vegetarian options on a menu, the relative price of vegetarian options and the “access” (order and distance) to vegetarian options in the retail physical environment can all increase consumption of plant-based foods and decrease meat consumption. Studies simply educating people about the negative health and environmental/climate outcomes of meat consumption have been found to have very little impact. (5.12.6 / p943)

Markets, SPACs and IPOs: Agronomics follows up investment into Alt cotton business GALY with extra $1m

The Company will subscribe for 364,710 Series A Preferred Stock (the "Subscription") using cash from the Company's own resources. Following this investment, Agronomics will own a 4.11% equity stake in GALY. GALY is a leading plant cell culture company with disruptive technology for growing cotton from cells in a laboratory facility rather than utilising traditional soil-based methods. It is headquartered in Boston, US, with research also in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Big trend: watch how the Chinese embrace alt proteins as a food security challenge

In his speech, Xi said that China must adopt “a ‘Greater Food’ approach” to nutrition, to ensure a secure supply of of all staple food groups, according to Xinhua. “While protecting the ecology and environment, we should shift our focus from farmland only,” he told delegates. “Apart from traditional crops, livestock, and poultry resources, we should exploit biological resources. By developing biological science, biotechnology, and bio-industries, we can obtain calories and protein from plants, animals, and microorganisms.”

Big trend 2: More on China and precision farming for strawberries

Fascinating discussion with China Ag tech business producing fruit and China VC expert Lillian Zi

You can not rush agriculture, not only because of the weather but also because client relationships are built on long-term trust. This also means the sector wouldn’t have the typical exponential growth investors and internet giants are used to. The market is a big opportunity but will require players to be in it for the long haul.

Investigation: Hidden footprint of indoor farming

In depth examination of energy usage of closed-loop indoor farms

Using geospatial and mathematical modeling, the research team compared vertical farms, greenhouses and open-field farming in nine city areas, Reykjavik, Stockholm, Boston, Tokyo, Santiago, Johannesburg, Phoenix, Singapore and the UAE, all with differing land availability, climatic conditions and population density. The results confirmed that location was the determining factor when comparing the overall land needed to grow the six vegetables. In colder climates, greenhouses and vertical farms could reduce the net land footprint when compared with open-field farming (combined land use per capita). In warmer climates, open-field farming had a lower overall land footprint than vertical farms.

Legal battles: Impossible sues Motif Foodworks

The first of what will be many high profile battles over synbio Intellectual property

Impossible Foods has sued fellow FoodTech player Motif FoodWorks for patent infringement, in one of the highest-profile intellectual property (IP) disputes to date in the burgeoning alt-protein space. In its complaint filed yesterday with the US District Court of Delaware, Impossible Foods alleges that Motif — which was spun out of Massachusetts-based bio-engineering company Ginkgo Bioworks in 2019 — has infringed “at least” one of its patents relating to the use of heme to mimic certain characteristics of animal-derived meat in plant-based substitutes.

AgTech highlight: Regulators clear gene-edited cattle

The cattle by Recombinetics are the third genetically altered animals given the green light for human consumption in the U.S., after salmon and pigs. Many other foods already are made with genetically modified ingredients from crops like soybeans and corn. The cattle reviewed by the FDA had genes altered with a technology called CRISPR to have short, slick coats that let them more easily withstand hot weather. Cattle that aren’t stressed by heat might pack on weight more easily, making for more efficient meat production.

New products

Plant-based salmon fillet

JBS-owned Vivera has revealed a new vegan salmon analogue that the company says mimics the flavour, fattiness and flaky texture of real salmon in response to a ‘lack of plant-based fish alternatives’ currently in circulation in the Netherlands. Sold in a pack of two, for €3.49, the Dutch brand claims that this makes it more cost-effective than conventional fish.

Impossible to develop private label products for supermarket chain Kroger in US

Kroger is expected to release a competitively-priced line of meat substitutes, powered by Impossible analogues. The goal is to put plant-based meats on the menu for price-conscious shoppers as well as less budget-restricted households.

Burger King Debuts Two Plant-Based Katsu Options In The UK

The new Katsu Vegan Royale comes with a meat-free Royale chicken patty, katsu sauce, pickled slaw, cri onion, and the brand’s signature vegan mayonnaise.

Deals and Funding

Finless Foods nets $34m series B

With new funding in place, Finless will now seek to progress cultivated bluefin tuna in an 11,000 square-foot pilot production plant, ready for regulatory approval and consumer release. To date, Finless has secured close to $48 million in funding since its inception in 2017.

Lypid bags $4m for vegan meat

Lypid’s long-term plans centre around the production of 10 tonnes of fat per year, in line with the alt-protein sector’s growth.