Finally, we are nearing the end of a year that has been complicated (a big understatement I know) for most of us, both personally and professionally! However, it seems that 2020 can still bring us some surprises. We have observed two trends in the last couple of months which are really eye-catching. Both look like a tipping point, a moment where a growing but small trend just becomes massive and obvious.
First, we are observing a huge increase in the number of DTC (Direct-To-Consumer) acquisitions by large corporations. I don’t think that’s a pure coincidence due to deals delayed by COVID. I rather view this as an indication that after COVID, many big brands want to go beyond physical retail and also look for startups to explore new ventures rather than develop them internally. Here are a few key examples:
- acquisitions of DTC/DNVB brands:
- Mars acquired Kind
- After the acquisition of Olly last year, Unilever bets again on gummies & supplements with SmartyPants
- acquisitions of food delivery startups:
- Dr Oeteker acquired German beverage delivery startup Flaschenpost for €1B
- Nestlé acquired a meal kit startup in the UK and a Fullstack meal delivery one in the US (for a whopping $1.5B)
Second, we observe an acceleration in the cellular agriculture market. After the first major financing of an R&D project by the EU, we have had many startups launching their first restaurant experimentations. This week, Singapore has made waves by becoming the first country to approve lab-grown meat sales. (It gets a bit on my nerves that France’s agriculture minister was among the first Luddites to condemn this initiative).
The two trends are interesting to compare in a typical hype versus reality contest (see how we map them on our FoodTech trends analysis and report here). While we observe right now an acceleration of both of them in terms of news flow, their maturity is starkly different. DTC is now a mature and well-understood subject with €1B+ acquisitions while cellular agriculture is still far away. Indeed, if startups talk about “restaurant experiments”, it is mostly for “selected dinners”, and real-world products will not be on the shelves for at least a couple of years (and that is coming from a very optimistic point of view). This communication is understandable for an ecosystem that relies on higher and higher funding rounds to scale its R&D pilots to larger volumes.
We can expect DTC growth and acquisitions to keep going and even increase in 2021 as big corporations look to diversify and reach directly to the final consumer. On the other hand, we can expect a reality check on the cellular agriculture ecosystem as it is setting the expectation too high.
For more information, look at our 2020 FoodTech trends and FoodTech brands reports. Should you want to discuss these trends (as an entrepreneur or larger company) and see how they could shape the future of your business, please contact us!
Have a great week!
TOP INSIGHTS FROM DIGITALFOODLAB
#1 – Flashenpost gets acquired for €1 billion
Flaschenpost, a 4-year old delivery startup, has been acquired by Dr Oeatker for €1 billion. The startup that few knew outside its home country delivers beverages in 2 hours or less in 23 German cities. It had raised €70M before the acquisition from various investors, including Vorwerk Ventures, the CVC arm of Thermomix’s manufacturer…
#2 – The Protein Brewery, a Dutch fermentation-based alternative protein startup raises €22M
The Protein Brewery, a Dutch startup, raises €22M. The startup has created a new protein, named Fermotein, which can be used both for alternative proteins and as an ingredient. It has already started its application process for the European and US markets and expects to be approved in the next couple of years…
#3 – Dija, a food delivery startup launched by former Deliveroo employees raises $20M before launching
A yet to be launched startup has raised $20M before its launch. The startup was founded in the UK by former senior employees of Deliveroo. Few details are public, it will deliver fresh food, apparently from dark stores…
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