Monarch Tractor
Image credit: Monarch Tractor

The Week in Agrifoodtech: Monarch Tractor’s $61m round, JBS’s cell meat bet & Bayer-Microsoft match

November 18, 2021

This week, The Week in Agrifoodtech includes news of a major strategic partnership between one of the world’s biggest agribusiness companies and one of the world’s biggest software companies; while the world’s number one meat processor made a big bet on cell-cultured protein. Meanwhile, California’s Monarch Tractor raised funding to boost its manufacturing capabilities.


Agtech startup funding

🇺🇸 Monarch Tractor raises $61 million for its fleet of autonomous electric tractors. The Series B round was led by Astanor Ventures, with participation from CNH Industrial, At One Ventures, and Trimble Ventures. (Bloomberg)

🇺🇸 Plastomics closes a $7.1 million Series A round led by Lewis & Clark AgriFood. St. Louis-based biotechnology company Plastomics will further develop its platform that deliver traits to a plant’s chloroplast instead of its nucleus, improving crop yield in the process. (Plastomics)

🇵🇹 Sustainable aquaculture firm Oceano Fresco secures €6.1 million ($6.9 million) in Series B round. Aqua-Spark and Semapa NEXT led the round. Oceano Fresco, which runs an open-sea clam farm, will accelerate commercialization of its products with the new funding. (The Fish Site)

Foodtech startup funding

🇺🇸 GrubMarket raises $200 million in Series E funding from Tiger Global Management and others. San Francisco-based Grubmarket says it will also debut on the public market within the next 11 months. (GrubMarket)

🇮🇩 E-commerce company Ula raises an additional $23.1 million in Series B funding. The B2B e-commerce marketplace has added funds from Tiger Global and Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal that will close its ongoing Series B investment round at $110 million. (e27)

🇦🇺 Restaurant wholesale marketplace FoodByUs raises A$10 million ($7.29 million). The online marketplace connecting chefs and caterers with food and bev suppliers will use the Series A funds increase sales, marketing, and product development. (Startup Daily)

🇮🇳 Wingreens Farms raises a ₹1.24 billion ($16.7 million) Series C round. Private equity firm Investcorp led the round, which will allow Wingreens Farms to expand the number of “better-for-you” food and bev brands on its WingreensWorld.com platform as well as offline. (The Hindu Business Line)

🇺🇸 Meal delivery service Daily Harvest secures Series D funding. The undisclosed round was led by Lone Pine Capital. Daily Harvest will use the money to invest in more technology, expand its food offerings, and “amplify its efforts” in regenerative farming practices. (Daily Harvest

🇬🇧 Clean Kitchen Club raises £1.4 million ($1.9 million). The plant-based restaurant chain’s first-ever investment round will go towards expansion to new sites around the UK, including a flagship store in London slated to open in 2022. (Startups.co.uk)

🇮🇳 Cookd raises $600,000 in pre-seed funding. Konglo Ventures, Kerala Angel Network, and other angel investors led the round for the company, which helps users plan recipes and meals as well as buy groceries. (VCCircle)

M&A, IPOs & partnerships

🇧🇷🇪🇸 JBS to acquire cultivated meat company as part of $100 million investment. In addition to obtaining a minority stake in Spain’s BioTech Foods, the Brazilian meat processing giant will build an R&D center and a production plant that will manufacture up to 1,000 tons of cultivated meat each year. (AFN)

🇩🇪🇺🇸 Bayer and Microsoft partner to “advance digital capabilities for food, feed, fuel, and fiber value chain.” The two giants said they will create “the go-forward infrastructure for digital farming solutions” and license-out solutions built on the platform. (AFN)

🇺🇸 Ocean Spray and Brightseed collaborate to “decode the total health potential of the cranberry.” Ocean Spray will use the startup’s AI platform to profile the compounds present in the fruit that could have as-yet unknown benefits to human health. (Brightseed) [Disclosure: AFN’s parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in Brightseed.]

🇺🇸🇨🇭 Aqua Cultured Foods and Migros team up to accelerate development of fungus-based seafood. The Chicago alt-protein company and Swiss food retailer will test acceptance of Aqua Culture’s whole-cut fermented seafood products among consumers in Switzerland. (Vegconomist)

🇦🇹🇬🇧 Austrian spa operator Therme Group will launch in-resort vertical farms with IGS. Greens grown onsite via the new concept — called ‘Therme IGE’ — will be used in restaurants, bars, and skin products at Therme’s wellbeing resorts. (IGS) [Disclosure: AFN’s parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in IGS.]

🇺🇸 McDonald’s strikes new partnerships with DoorDash and Uber Eats. The mega-fast food chain will launch white-label partnerships with both on-demand delivery services in order to further grow its McDelivery channel. (Restaurant Dive)

🇧🇷🇨🇦 Canadian digital ag company Farmers Edge partners with Brazilian ag fintech platform Gira. The two companies will distribute one another’s products in order to create a more transparent credit environment through more reliable data for farmers and lenders.

🇺🇸 Hill’s Pet Nutrition collaborates with Bond Pet Foods to develop ‘craft’ meat protein. Using Bond’s precision fermentation capabilities, the pair will create an alternative to one of Hill’s most popular meat proteins for cats and dogs. (Hill’s Pet Nutrition)

🇳🇱🇳🇴 Aqua-Spark buys shares in Hofseth Biocare, marking its first investment in a publicly listed company. The VC firm has purchased “a significant stake” in the Norwegian biotech company, which makes health products using salmon offcuts. (Aqua-Spark)

Funds & accelerators

🇸🇬 SATS commits S$3 million ($2.21 million) to invest in foodtech startups and projects. The Singapore-based airline and commercial catering company will “ideate, incubate and grow” ventures to boost its non-travel business. (The Business Times)

🇸🇬 GROW Impact Accelerator opens to applications for its 2022 intake. The 20-week program — delivered virtually and in-person from Singapore — will support agrifoodtech startups to “scale rapidly and create lasting positive change across the globe.” (AFN) [Disclosure: GROW is backed by AFN’s parent company AgFunder.] 

Other news

🇸🇬🇺🇸 Impossible Foods‘ plant-based pork alternative debuts in Singapore. Impossible Pork — which is made of soy protein among other ingredients — will be available at more than 120 restaurant outlets across the city-state from today. (The Straits Times)

🇺🇸 Perfect Day‘s ‘animal-free’ milk trialled at Starbucks locations around Seattle. The startup produces the same proteins found in cow’s milk milk through a process of fungal fermentation. (Bloomberg)

🇺🇸 Meanwhile, General Mills is using Perfect Day’s proteins in its newly-launched cream cheese product. Named Bold Cultr, the (again) ‘animal-free’ cheese is now available to buy online and at select Hy-Vee stores in Minnesota. (FoodNavigator)

🇫🇷 Danone is making one of its dairy factories 100% plant-based in response to market demand. The world’s biggest yogurt-maker said it will invest €43 million ($49 million) to convert its plant in Villecomtal-sur-Arros, France, into a production site for its Alpro plant-based dairy alternative brand. (Reuters)

🇺🇸 DJ Khaled is launching a virtual chicken wing brand. “We will be delivering by sea, with jet skis offering boat-side delivery,” the musician said of the delivery-only chicken wing restaurant he has started in partnership with ghost kitchen provider Reef. Wings are also available via the usual on-demand platforms: Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub. (CNN)

🇺🇸 AcreTrader launches land brokerage platform. The Fayetteville, Arkansas-based startup allows users to make fractional investments in farms. Its new AcrePro platform will work with “top-tier” brokers and agents “who are looking to grow their businesses.” (AcreTrader)

🇬🇧 Claridge’s is to part ways with chef Daniel Humm after rejecting his plan for all-vegan menu. The storied five-star London hotel said that Humm’s proposal for a completely plant-based menu was “not the path we wish to follow.” The chef reopened his three-Michelin star New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park earlier this year as a 100% vegan establishment. (The Guardian)

🇺🇸 John Deere is turning to tech to keep factories running during strike action – though not in the way you might think. The farm equipment maker has reportedly reassigned several of its software engineers to factory floors to assemble harvesters and sprayers amid a strike involving around 10,000 skilled union laborers. (Bloomberg)

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