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Fundings in Brief: Farmland Partners, Food E-Commerce Fundings, Drone Plays, a Tate & Lyle Exit, and a New Market for U.S. Rice

September 17, 2015

This week’s news includes an at-the-market offering from Farmland Partners, two food e-commerce fundings, a drone funding and drone acquisition, Tate & Lyle’s recent exit from food safety tech developer Lumora Ltd., and some exciting new about China’s decision to open it’s borders to U.S. rice imports.

Farmland Partners Looks to Raise More Capital through $25m Share Offer

Colorado-based Farmland Partners, which is in the business of buying and leasing farmland, is gearing up for another round of land acquisitions. The company announced recently that it will make up to $25 million of shares available for purchase. Farmland Partners has used prior raises to increase its portfolio from nearly 8,000 acres to over 70,000 acres. According to the company, capital raised through the upcoming offer will be used to continue this expansion in addition to facilitating corporate purposes like securing loans to farmers. There have also been hints that the company may stray from its core focus on oilseeds, forage crops, grains, and cotton into crops like fresh produce, peanuts, permanent crops, and biofuel feedstocks.

Drone Tech Startup Dronomy Seals $1.5m Round Led by Battery Ventures

Israel-based drone tech startup Dronomy, which has branded itself as providing brains for drones, secured a $1.5 million funding led by Battery Ventures with participation from other venture capital firms and angel investors like former head of engineering for Skype and active drone space player Toivo Annus. Other investors in the round include Lool Ventures and Oryzn Capital. The company plans to use the capital to refine its product and demonstrate it globally as well as expand its team and partner with companies in specific verticals.

Tate & Lyle Announces Exit from Food Safety Tech Developer Lumora Ltd

Tate & Lyle Ventures announced yesterday that its Fund I portfolio company Lumora Ltd has been sold to ERBA Diagnostics Mannheim Gmbh (ERBA), a global diagnostics company, in an all-cash transaction. Lumora has developed a molecular diagnostics platform that identifies and quantifies specific pathogens quickly and more accurately than some conventional methods. The platform has been licensed and launched globally by 3M for use in food safety. Tate & Lyle invested in the company after it received a seed round through the University of Cambridge and a group of angel investors.

Organic & Non-GMO Food Delivery Service Sun Basket Closes $4.5m

Sun Basket, a new cooking service that delivers organic, non-GMO ingredients in user friendly recipe packages to customers’ doors announced the close of a $4.5m venture capital funding with PivotNorth Capital and Baseline Ventures. A number of other firms participated in the round, including Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, Roth Capital. According to Sun Basket, the company has grown over 20 percent per week since its beta launch in March. Ingredients are sourced from Northern California’s sustainable and organic farming operations and recipes are developed with guidance from former James Beard restaurant head Chef Justine Kelly. The company also announced the addition of OrganicGirl produce co-founder and former CFO Don Barnettto as COO and CFO.

Hello Fresh Announces Close of $85m Series F

Berlin based food e-commerce company Hello Fresh recently announced the close of a $85 million Series F round led by Baillie Gifford, a Scottish investment firm. Based in Berlin, the company delivers fresh pre-portioned ingredients for weekly meals straight to subscribers’ doorsteps across seven different markets. Earlier this year, the company raised $126 million from existing shareholders, Rocket Internet and Insight Venture Partners, which was used to enhance customer experience by increasing flexibility and integrating along the value chain. The company participated in Rocket Internet’s startup factory.

Flower Foods Continues M&A Action with Alpine Valley Bread Co. Purchase

Fresh packaged bakery goods producer Flower Foods has entered into an agreement to purchase family-owned and certified organic all natural bread maker Alpine Valley Bread Company for $120 million in cash and stock. The deal comes only a few weeks after Flower Foods, whose flagship brand Nature’s Own earned more than $1 billion in retail sales, announced its acquisition of another popular bread maker, Dave’s Killer Bread.

Subversive Capital Acquires Share of Swedish UAV Helicopter Maker CybAero

CybAero, a Swedish unmanned helicopter company, announced recently that Subversive Capital, a US fund, acquired the remainder of California-based AeroVironment’s CybAero holding for an undisclosed amount. In a press release announcing the acquisition, Subversive Capital, which invests primarily in industries that require navigating complex regulatory and political schemes, referred to the technology as “a major disruptor to industries such as agriculture, pollution control, maritime security monitoring, as well as a delivery system for humanitarian aid.”

China Rice Market to Open Up to U.S. Imports with Trade Accord

China, the world’s largest rice market, is getting ready to open its doors to U.S. rice imports, with both parties’ governments intending to sign an accord later this month ratifying imports of American rice. According to a statement released Monday from the U.S. Rice Producers Association, the phytosanitary rice protocol will most likely be signed during Chinese President Xi Jingping’s visit to D.C. Although China is the largest producer of rice globally, its rice imports have climbed steadily during recent years, with inbound shipments projected to reach 4.7 million metric tons during the 2015-16 market year, up from 540,000 tons just five years earlier.

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