COFCO, China’s state-owned and largest food processor, manufacturer, and trader of rice, oil, corn, sugar, and other staples, has partnered with Chinese food tech venture firm Bits x Bites via its Nutrition and Health Research Institute (COFCO NHRI)
This engagement will be COFCO NHRI’s first with a startup investor.
The goal of the partnership is to power the development of agriculture and food tech innovation in China by opening up COFCO’s resources to Bits x Bites portfolio companies. It also aims to bring more creative startups and technologies into the COFCO organization.
COFCO’s portfolio includes Mengniu Dairy, Womai.com, and major JVs such as COFCO Coca-Cola. In 2018, the total revenue of COFCO was $70 billion. COFCO NHRI is the R&D engine to help COFCO develop new technology, products, services, and food experiences.
With a goal to elevate health and wellness in China and improve efficiency of agricultural and food processing, its research spans across consumer preferences, human nutrition and health, animal feed, food formulation and food safety, as well as biotechnology and chemical engineering.
Bits x Bites invests in six to eight early-stage food tech startups a year to tackle systematic food system challenges in China. To date, Bits x Bites has funded Chinese and international companies advancing technology from gene editing to cellular agriculture to clean-protein pet food to smart packaging and low-GI rice.
Through the partnership, Bits x Bites portfolio companies will have access to 50,000 square meters of COFCO NHRI lab space and scientific equipment across 12 R&D centers in China. They can also earn potential pilot opportunities across COFCO’s extensive supply chain covering 140 countries.
“Our entrepreneurs impress us all the time with their vision, execution, and persistence,” says Matilda Ho, founder and managing director, Bits x Bites. “But their journeys are littered with challenges, from the point of proof of concept, there are tremendous learnings to be had as they test their hypotheses, refine their technology to get to product-market fit and commercialization. With COFCO NHRI agreeing to lend R&D resources and pilot opportunities, we hope we can make their road to success a bit smoother and faster, whether it’s from 0 to 1 or 1 to 100.”