Friday, February 23, 2024
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This week in foodtech: Cultivated meat is still a sizzling topic

If you’re adventurous with your food, or just like to keep up with the fast-moving foodtech industry, here’s a roundup of this week’s stories and some notable news we weren’t able to cover.

Bring home the bacon

Some big news came from across the pond where the U.K.-based cultivated meat startup Higher Steaks raised $30 million and changed its name to Uncommon. Balderton Capital and Lowercarbon Capital co-led the round.

The cultivated meat segment of the alternative protein industry is one of those that often has highlights and lowlights. Perhaps it’s because they hold out hope that the United States government will catch up to the forward-thinking Singapore where these products are being served. The U.K. has already made some financial commitments even as Italy’s government puts forth a bill that would ban cultivated meat.

As mentioned in the story, “being able to produce large enough quantities of cultured meat at a low enough price is problematic.” Some companies, like Dutch foodtech company Meatable, said in May that its technology reached a milestone: creating cultivated pork products in eight days.

Whatever happens, it’s clear from this round that some venture capitalists remain bullish about investing into this space. On Monday, look for a special TechCrunch+ investor survey on alternative proteins.

Steaming cup ‘o Joe

Speaking of a food segment where funding continues to brew, this week the Green Coffee Company closed on $25 million in Series C equity funding. The company touts itself as “Colombia’s largest coffee producer,” and is the latest to get some funding amid coffee companies, including Chamberlain Coffee Fellow and Blank Street.

Green Coffee Company’s operations span 9,000 acres across 39 farms. It also has over 11.5 million coffee trees under ownership.

Its funding was a bit unique: raising capital from a network of over 450 individual, high-net-worth investors that invest directly into portfolio companies that investment firm Legacy Group advises rather than into a pooled fund, company founder Cole Shephard told TechCrunch. In total, investors have injected over $60 million into the business.

Shephard noted that the company raises in this manner because “the team at Legacy has always felt strongly about offering unique and exciting deals that provide individual investors the ability to directly invest in companies that they like rather than into a blind or diversified fund model over which they have little control or in which they hand over decision-making to large funds and institutions who provide little personalized attention.”

Nutrition is fashionable

Meanwhile, we’re always trying to eat healthier, and as reported this week, Ahara is a new personalized nutrition company that “provides recommendations to its customers after they first fill out a health questionnaire that asks them about their diet and health history, and their age and location, after which they can take a variety of at-home tests for genetic, epigenetic and biomarkers.”

At the helm are Julie Wainwright, founder and former CEO of luxury online consignment company The RealReal, and celebrity physician-nutritionist Melina Jampolis. It’s currently in beta and reportedly will have both a freemium model and premium membership that will include special benefits.

Ahara joins a crowded nutrition startup arena. As noted in the story, most offer different things, but are increasingly pushing personalization. Venture capitalists like them, too. Within the past few years, we’ve seen daily health program Mighty Health raise $7.6 million, telehealth nutrition  platform Nourish raise $8 million and British nutrition and health tracking app Zoe, bring in £25 million.

Not so Impossible

I’ve not previously covered the lawsuit between Impossible Foods and Motif Foodworks that began in 2022, but in the past few weeks, the case got a bit interesting.

At the end of May, some disclosures came to light that Motif suspected Impossible hired some private investigators who allegedly used fake identities to get information on Motif products.

This week, a court ruled that this strategy by Impossible did not break any rules, according to a report.

Here’s a brief background: Impossible sued Motif related to Motif’s use of heme proteins in making its plant-based meat alternative. Learn more about Motif’s process. Impossible alleges that Motif is infringing on its patent that covers the use of heme in making such food items.

Motif says that its heme use is not the same as Impossible’s and has previously stated that, “If Impossible wins​ ​[its lawsuit in Delaware], it means no one else can experiment with heme in the plant-based industry.”​​

More headlines:

Mushroom mania: Quorn Foods and Prime Roots partner to expand mycelium meat category and Meat from mycelium: MyForest Foods raises $15m Series A-2, hires new CEO, teases new product.

Beef, it’s what’s for dinner: Volta Greentech and Protos launch next phase of climate-friendly beef project in Sweden.

Celebrity endorsements: MLB legend Derek Jeter joins Rachael Ray, David Chang as investors in Meati Foods and Marcus Samuelsson partners with cultivated meat maker Aleph Farms.

If you have a juicy tip or lead about happenings in the venture and food tech worlds, you can reach Christine Hall at chall.techcrunch@gmail.com or Signal at 832-862-1051. Anonymity requests will be respected.

This week in foodtech: Cultivated meat is still a sizzling topic by Christine Hall originally published on TechCrunch

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