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Ag Industry Brief: Animal Feed Startup Using Insects and Waste Wins FoodBytes!, FreshDirect Launches FoodKick Offering Other Food Ecomm Startups’ Products, more

October 28, 2016

FoodBytes! Boulder Announces Top 3 Winners

Rabobank’s FoodBytes! Boulder event took place on Wednesday with three startups heralded as the event’s winners. Sustainable animal feed startup Mad Agriculture won the Judges’ Choice Award, while dairy-free sauce maker The Honest Stand won the People’s Choice Award and local products school fundraiser innovator FarmRaiser was highly commended. The three were selected from 10 finalists. AgFunder CEO Rob Leclerc was one of the judges who were tasked with selecting the company they felt best-demonstrated industry creativity, sustainable practices, growth potential and social innovation. The judges picked Mad Agriculture for its compelling pitch about harnessing the nutrient recycling abilities of insects to turn food waste into a protein-rich supplement for feed, to encourage less dependence on unsustainable ingredients like fishmeal and soy.

FreshDirect Launches FoodKick in NYC, Offers Other Food Ecommerce Startups’ Products

NY-based FreshDirect, the farm-to-consumer delivery service, has launched an on-demand app called FoodKick selling a combination of fresh produce, meal kits, prepared food, and other grocery products. FoodKick can deliver within an hour, although not all of the farm-fresh produce on FreshDirect will be available through it. By launching FoodKick, FreshDirect is answering the consumer call for more on-demand and frequent delivery, which was a factor in the demise of Farmigo and is something that’s been addressed by the new Good Eggs CEO. Interestingly, FoodKick will also feature meal kits and other third party startup products like Splendid Spoon, the soup delivery startup, or Hungry Root, the healthy food delivery startup. Is this is a hint to future consolidation in the food e-commerce startup space? It’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s taken FreshDirect 12 years to get to this point and scale, and it’s still only available in a few cities.

The Yield Lab Ireland Adds Paul Finnerty to the Team

The Yield Lab, a St. Louis, Missouri-based agtech accelerator has brought on Paul Finnerty as Chairman of its newly-created Ireland-based subsidiary. Finnerty was most recently CEO of ABP Food Group, one of Europe’s leading agri-businesses.

Thought for Food Recruiting 700 Teams for Global Hunger Innovation Challenge

The 2016 Thought for Food Challenge is accepting 700 teams for this year’s competition in which the best and brightest students from universities around the world will develop ways to help improve our food system to match our changing needs. Participants will have the chance to work with various mentors and may even receive up to $25k in cash prizes. Top ideas will be invited to participate in a 10-week intensive startup bootcamp culminating in the TFF Global Summit. For more info on how to apply, click here.

USDA Releases Study on Precision Ag Use and Portability

The USDA has released a new study assessing the adoption, use, and profitability of precision ag technologies. Analyzing data from US cropland between 1996 and 2013, the study concludes that large farms are more likely to adopt precision ag technologies in their operations, with roughly 30% to 50% of corn and soybean acres being managed using some form of the technology. Forty percent of these acres use yield mapping, 30% use soil mapping, and over 50% use guidance assistance. Interestingly, the biggest corn farms consisting of 2.9k acres or more, use twice the amount of precision ag technologies than other farms.

Endexx Signs MOU to Acquire Cannabis Extract Company Phyto Labs

Endexx Corporation, a provider of phytonutrient based food and nutritional products, has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to acquire Phyto Labs, the owner of Amrita, and their proprietary formulas for flavored cannabis extract beverages. Endexx markets and distributes a unique line of cannabidiol products including oils, tinctures, isolates and capsules through its online presence and a national distribution and food broker network under the CBD Unlimited brand. With the acquisition of Phyto Labs, Endexx hopes to develop proprietary formulas for flavored CBD beverages further, with a projection of distributing 32k bottles per month between 2017-2018.

United Nations Calls Junk Food a Human Rights Issue

The United Nations’ special representative on the issue of the right to food has characterized cheap and junk food a human rights concern. The representative, Hilal Elver, believes the combination of trade liberalization and industrial food production have flooded the world market with nutrient-lacking, cheap foods that are primarily marketed to low-income individuals. To bolster this argument, the representative noted that while there are 800 million hungry people on the planet, over 2 billion are coping with nutrient deficiencies and another 600 are obese. Countries should be responsible for ensuring their citizens have enough nutritious food, not just food to eat, she argues.

USDA Allots $3.6bn in Loans for Rural Projects

The USDA is providing $3.6 billion in loans to fund 82 electric projects in 31 states. These loans will finance infrastructure upgrades to improve system operations for rural electric customers. The build out will improve 12.5k miles of transmission and distribution line. It includes $216 million for smart grid technologies, $35 million for renewable energy, $6 million for environmental improvements, and nearly $1.8 million for energy efficiency. Improvements to rural electric utility systems help to provide reliable and affordable electricity to rural customers, increasing efficiencies, reducing carbon emissions and improving the quality of life in rural areas, according to a USDA press release about the fundings.

HSUS Asks FTC to Crack Down on Alleged False Advertising Involving Animal Welfare Claims

Animal rights group Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) filed a complaint with the FTC alleging that National Pasteurized Eggs, a national egg marketing company, is using false advertising when it comes to animal welfare claims, including statements like “pasture-raised.” According to the complaint, HSUS claims that NPE is misleading because it depicts lush and open pastures, free-roaming chickens, and open barns when in reality the eggs in the carton are produced using battery cages, which prevent chickens from roaming or leaving the enclosure.

Cargill Sells its Canadian Egg Production Facility

Global Egg Corporation has entered into an agreement with Cargill to purchase the latter’s Etobicoke egg processing facility. Terms of the sale are not disclosed. The majority of the facility’s 53 employees will be offered positions with Global Egg, while the remainder will be let go. Cargill’s US egg processing facilities are not affected by this sale. Over the past year, the Cargill protein group’s activities have led to $500 million worth of investments to grow its Wichita, Kansas-based business. Those investments include construction of a $50 million beef distribution center at Dodge City, Kan.; $111 million for conversion of a facility in Nebraska to better serve cooked meats customers; $27 million to expand egg processing capabilities in Michigan; and the purchase of a beef processing facility in South Carolina and a custom cooked meats business with operations in Fort Worth, Texas, and Nashville, Tenn. 

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • Dow CEO tells Bloomberg that the merger with DuPont could be delayed until 2017.
  • And the ChemChina-Syngenta merger may also have to wait until Q1 2017, according to a recently released statement.
  • Whether to continue the use of thickening and emulsifier ingredient carrageenan, which is derived from seaweed, in the National Organic Program will be a big topic of debate at the upcoming National Organic Standards Board meeting in St. Louis.
  • Sweden just banned cameras on drones, on BBC.
  • The World Bank looks at how climate-smart poultry is helping Kenya’s farmers, who represent 75 percent of the country’s economy.

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