Private investors have long been aware of the opportunity in the vegetarian alternatives category, with Kleiner Perkins, for example, emerging as a big winner in Beyond Meat’s IPO with a 15.9% pre-IPO stake—having first backed the company in early 2012. And now the ravenous race for market share begins, with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods (which has raised nearly $500 million in debt and equity) in prime position to benefit from rapid and radical changes around what we eat. Other notable investors include Obvious Ventures and DNS Capital. Big-name industry players are also heavily invested in the space, though Tyson Foods (via its venture arm Tyson Ventures) might lament selling its Beyond Meat stake right before the IPO as it reportedly pursues its own meat-free products. Another opportunity parallel to meatless alternatives is lab-grown or “cultured” meat, a still-emerging area where venture investors have committed more than $42 million. Lab-based fish producer Finless Foods, as an example, has plans to commercialize a Bluefin tuna product in the second half of the year.
Food Tech Innovator Halla Raises $1.4 Million Seed Round to Expand Personalization Technology for Online Grocers
Halla is an AI company focused on personalization for the food ordering industry. Using machine learning technologies built around the psychograph of food selection and billions of food-related data points. Halla’s core offering I/O (Intelligent Ordering) helps online grocers, meal kit services and food delivery businesses offer highly personalized food ordering suggestions to their customers. Last year, it was one out of eight startups selected to participate in Food-X, the first and most active food innovation accelerator in the world. The $1.4M seed round – led by early stage food industry investor E&A Venture Capital and multi-stage technology investor SOSV – brings the total equity raised to $1.9M. It will use the funding to scale its I/O platform, onboard new customers and further develop its AI technology. Halla’s I/O is currently being used in stealth mode by several regional and national grocery chains.
With the help of available technology; the following 10 foodtech startups – Taster, Too Good To Go, Allplants, Ekim, Huel, Keatz, Simple Feast, Feedr, Eatwith, Feed – have leveraged it to fulfill our needs. From having our food delivered to our doorstep to building a zero-food-waste society, food startups have entered the innovation space and transformed the way we look at food. Startups are focusing more on our health and taking care of the environment, and want us to enjoy food but have time for other things, as consumers hate to wait and want to try out new things.
JVP and Mars are now teaming up to create a research and development center in Israel dedicated to scaling and commercializing tech solutions that touch any aspect of the global food system, from farming to nutrition. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But it comes at a time when the food and Ag tech industries are hot with investment activity. It will be the first research center that Mars has opened in Israel, though the candy and pet food giant has recently launched similar research in other parts of the world.
Resy launched back in 2014 as a platform that allowed users to buy reservations from restaurants in situations where they’d usually have to book months in advance. For restaurants, it allowed them to offload unused inventory. American Express has today announced its intentions to acquire Resy, the CRM and reservation platform based out of New York. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Resy Fly uses data to help restaurants understand how to manage their inventory, looking at signals like date, time, weather and the average time spent eating at a restaurant. Using this data, restaurants can be more agile in the way they offer their reservations and tables on an ongoing basis. The Amex deal will allow American Express to offer to its card member’s further benefits and experiences that aren’t your standard points and rewards.
Shanghai-based VC firm Bits x Bites has teamed with the likes of Coca-Cola, Danone, and General Mills, as well as multinational biotech firms and agricultural companies, to launch the China Food Tech Hub. For huge corporations and CPGs like Danone, the China Food Tech Hub is also a way to stay relevant and hang on to their customer bases. Thanks to food preferences largely driven by Millennials, more consumers want things like transparency around ingredients, organic and/or natural foods, convenience, and personalized food choices. Through China Food Tech Hub, major CPGs will get easier access to both startup innovation and that cutting edge.