12 notable deals and things to know this week (2024 โ€“ week #10)

Startup news and deals

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ“ Oishii, a US-based vertical farming startup focused on high-end fruits and vegetables, raised $134M. This startup, known for its qualitative (and expensive) strawberries, is interesting as it bet on a very different strategy from other vertical farming startups: it focused on complicated and seasonal produce such as strawberries and tomatoes, and also on quality. Other players are mainly competing on low-value produce such as leafy greens and never succeeding in creating a brand as strong as Oishii. With the funding, it will expand its production and its portfolio of products. It is definitely a startup to keep on your radar.

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡งย ๐Ÿ’ป Mondra, a British startup, raised ยฃ3.6M for its food supply chain decarbonisation platform.

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐ŸŒฑ Day 8, an Israeli startup, raised $750K for its technology to extract rubisco, an enzyme that is present in all green plants, and sell it as a source of protein.

๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท ๐ŸŒฑ La Fourche, a French startup, raised โ‚ฌ24M for its subscription-based organic online grocery business.

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟย ๐Ÿฝ ย Choice, a Czech startup, raised โ‚ฌ2.3M for its platform aimed at helping restaurants digitise their customer base and increase retention.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธย ๐Ÿ„ย Smallhold, a US-based vertical farming mushroom cultivation startup, filed for bankruptcy. This comes after financial difficulties due to increasing operational costs and the departure of one of its co-founders. It has raised almost $54M since being founded in 2017. This doesnโ€™t come as a surprise, as the startup was at the intersection of two categories that have been doing extremely poorly in the past year: vertical farming and alternative proteins with mycelium/mushroom.

Regulation & public support

๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธย ๐Ÿ”ย Cataloniaโ€™s regional government is investing โ‚ฌ12M in a pre-industrial facility dedicated to extracting, producing, and developing alternative protein ingredients and foods. We often get asked how Spain has succeeded in developing such an attractive alternative protein ecosystem: we think the implication of different regions competing to attract talent through this kind of smart scheme combined with a strong food B2B ecosystem is a part of the answer.

๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ทย โš–๏ธย France has banned (again) the use of certain names such as steak, sausage or bacon for plant-based meat alternatives. As the previous attempt, it only targets products made in France and not those imported. It will be contested, but if the ban succeeds, it will limit the (already limited) growth of the local plant-based industry.

Industry news ย & trends

๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡บย ๐Ÿฆย VFC Vegan Food Group (VFG), a British group of plant-based companies, announced the acquisition of Germany-based Tofutown. This will create a new European leader with revenues beyond โ‚ฌ100M. This follows similar concentration deals that have either been revealed recently or which are in the making. The plant-based space will eventually concentrate around a handful of companies owning both strong brands and the production facilities required to make profits with these products.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธย โš–๏ธย JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, is being sued by the U.S. state of New York over its net-zero claims. The state demands that JBS stop making misleading environmental claims.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธย ๐Ÿ“‰ย  Users of the weight-loss shot Ozempic are cutting their grocery spending by up to 9%, causing concern for snack food makers.

๐ŸŒŽย ๐Ÿ“ˆย  There are now more than 1 billion obese and almost 2 million overweight people globally, according to a WHO study. The whole study is quite interesting; you can access it here.

๐Ÿฆ„ ๐Ÿ’ธ [New report] FoodTech unicorns in 2024
๐Ÿข Food giants indicate optimism for the future of food

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