Food+Ag Tech News: July 17 - July 23
A Weekly Press Review About FoodTech
Plenty said it raised $200 million of Series B financing in a round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund and joined by affiliates of Moore Capital Management founder Louis M. Bacon as well as existing investors Innovation Endeavors, Bezos Expeditions, DCM, Data Collective and Finistere. The indoor farming company described the round as the largest AgTech investment in history.
Deals to private food and beverage companies hit an all-time high of 102 in Q2’17, growing 31% from the previous quarter. If this investment pace continues throughout the second half of the year, 2017 may see new records in both deal count and investment dollars to the food and beverage industry.
It’s probably never been a better time to be a new CPG brand. Thanks to new distribution channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, it’s never been easier — or cheaper — for a new brand to build and audience and find customers online.
Brandless, the brainchild of serial entrepreneurs Tina Sharkey and Ido Leffler, hopes to take advantage of this new environment and change the way consumers buy everyday essentials. It’s hoping to make going to the grocery store to stock up on pantry items a thing of the past with its direct-to-consumer business model and $3 price point for every product it offers.
Hargol FoodTech, a Misgav, Israel-based developer of a sustainable protein ingredient from commercially farmed grasshoppers, completed a financing round of $600k. Backers included Sirius Venture Capital (Singapore) and SLJ Investment Partners (The Netherlands).
Led by Dror Tamir, CEO, Hargol FoodTech aims to provide a protein alternative based on its proven technology and optimized methods to grow several species of grasshoppers quickly and under sanitary conditions.
Walmart.com is the most preferred online retailer for buying fresh foods, while Jet.com takes top spot for packaged groceries, according to a new report from Field Agent, a market research firm based in Fayetteville, Ark.
The report, which compares four major ecommerce retailers — Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Target.com and Jet.com — shows that one-quarter (25 percent) of Walmart.com shoppers purchase fresh foods from the site, compared with 10 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent at Target.com, Jet.com and Amazon.com, respectively.
Based just on trademark filings and reported plans, Amazon’s potential entry into the prepared meal kit market has had a significant impact on freshly-IPO’d Blue Apron’s stock price. Now, however, we know that Amazon is actually already testing its own “Amazon Meal Kits,” thanks to a customer in Seattle who has already ordered and prepared one.
Amazon has made no secret of its ambitions to expand into more fresh food services, from its own, homegrown efforts like AmazonFresh for groceries (first launched in 2013) and Amazon Restaurants for restaurant delivery (first launched in 2014), through to its most recent plan to acquire Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.
In fact, the company has its sights set on a number of other culinary areas, such as the development of its own farm-to-table products, Blue Apron-style meal kits, and other food fixes to help it better tap the $800 billion grocery opportunity.
With more than 30 years of experience leading economic development efforts across Missouri, Steve Johnson, CEO of Missouri Partnership, works with AgTech companies evaluating Missouri for investment and AgTech leaders across the state working to attract those companies, giving him a unique perspective on the AgTech industry.
Think of leCupboard as Redbox for vegan food, or as a mini, mobile version of eatsa, the expanding group of automat-style restaurants serving quinoa bowls through a system of iPads and lockers. leCupbaord pitches itself as a “full-stack FoodTech startup” with a “soil to software” approach, a description that’s probably only appetizing to Silicon Valley investors.
Non-technical diners will be more focused on leCupboards pretty-looking food offerings, like chia pudding breakfast jars, lentil salads, and zucchini noodles with walnut pesto, all in nicely-designed to-go boxes.
In connection with The Mixing Bowl’s “FOOD IT: Fork to Farm” event, Brita Rosenheim has released an updated version of her Food Tech & Media Landscape Map and provided some thoughts on the latest industry trends. For additional industry commentary, you can watch Brita’s interview on theCube from the event.
The food delivery space is like a clown car — an overstuffed vehicle spilling startup after startup. And just when you think the car can’t possibly fit another Postmates look-alike, VCs shell out for yet another multimillion-dollar round.
Since the beginning of the decade, capital invested in the space has skyrocketed, from just over $100 million in 2010 to a high of nearly $2 billion by 2015. With more than $750 million VC dollars invested into the space so far this year, per the PitchBook Platform, it’s not showing signs of slowing down.
Kimbal Musk, the brother of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, is trying to change the way we eat by creating what he calls a “real-food revolution.”
For over a decade, Kimbal Musk has run two restaurant chains, The Kitchen and Next Door, which serve dishes strictly made with locally sourced meat and veggies. Since 2011, his nonprofit program has installed so-called Learning Gardens in over 300 schools to teach kids about agriculture. Musk’s latest food venture delves into the world of local urban farming.
When the USA was founded 241 years ago, farming was the economy’s primary driver. By 1870, nearly half of the employed population held jobs in agriculture. Today, it’s a $3 trillion industry — but only 2% of Americans hold a farm-oriented job.
Testing is underway at Purdue University on a “human-computer collaborative decision-making system.” More simply put — Purdue researchers want to make it easier to make otherwise more complex irrigation decisions.
How Some Are Turning To Tech To Reinvent The Supermarket ?
The grocery store landscape is changing fast. Retail food palaces are simultaneously going big, small, mobile and even virtual to please millennial consumers who want it now, want it digital and want it delivered. At the same time, this rapidly growing audience wants it fresh and healthy. Add in technology, which has become a weapon for giant grocery chains, start-ups and food-tech visionaries who see such tools as AI, virtual reality, predictive algorithms and mobile apps as paths to new models of buying food, and the result is a market hurtling towards chaos.
The online beverage sales industry is expected to continue growing in the coming years, thanks to the increase in households with internet connections and the proliferation of online shopping. Time-poor consumers want the convenience that ordering their caffeine, alcohol, or soft drink fix online will bring them. But even with an online business, you can’t afford to skip market research. The odds may be in your favor, but nonetheless, an awareness of the supply and demand situation in your particular area is crucial.