Russian food industry giant EFKO Group – well known from Moscow to Vladivostok for its sunflower oils, milk products, margarine, and ketchup — is launching its own global foodtech venture fund worth $50 million, the fund’s new directors informed AFN on the sidelines of Israel’s AgriFood Week.
Registered in September, and structured in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands, the fund will be headed by Andrey Zyuzin and Anna Nenahova, both senior executives at EFKO with a focus on foodtech innovation.
Zyuzin later sent further details to AFN by email outlining how their key investment areas “are technologies and markets that could disrupt existing businesses, make more efficient use of existing resources, reduce health impact and promise, finally, to make food production more sustainable and environmentally friendly.”
He said the first deals are already being brokered, and should be announced by the end of 2019. There are no restrictions on the geographic range of these investments, he added, stressing it is a global fund: “The main selection criteria for startups are availability of a product prototype,” he noted, “and a strong team able to realize any ambitious plans with a great potential for scaling.”
In a statement announcing the fund’s launch, CEO of EFKO Group Evgeny Lyashenko pointed to what he sees as the most promising directions in foodtech today:
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- Products based on vegetable protein — including the rapidly growing industry of vegetable meat and alt milk;
- Developments in production of sugar substitutes
- Next-generation’ modern «smart» packaging;
- Biotechnologies and digital solutions for the optimization of processes of the sector.
Describing his company’s various innovations in modern Russia, dating back to the early years of privatisation in the 1990s, Lyashenkoo said EFKO “has its own scientific and research center ‘Biruch’ that deals with biotechnologies (genetics, fermentation etc).”
The large number of high-tech projects enable EFKO Group to enact its internal processes together with talented scientists and external startups, he said.
EFKO is a founder and the first investor of the fund, but it is planning to attract other investors as well, including international ones. It aims to invest in projects at the sharp end of today’s global foodtech solutions markets – Israel, Europe, the US and Asia.