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The Week in Agrifoodtech: Cargill, Heineken & Nestlé unveil regenerative ag programs

September 22, 2021

In the past seven days, a trio of major agrifood corporates doubled-down on sustainability by announcing new regenerative ag schemes.

Meanwhile, Ford and Walmart said they are partnering on autonomous food delivery tech; and Indigo made the first payouts to farmers participating in its carbon sequestration program.


Regenerative ag, soil & carbon

🇨🇭 Nestlé is investing $1.29 billion to support regenerative ag. The five-year effort involves working with its network of over 500,000 farmers and 150,000 suppliers to support and accelerate the transition to regenerative farming practices. (Food Dive)

🇺🇸 Cargill introduces revenue-generating regenerative ag platform for farmers. Named RegenConnect, the offering aims to link farmers to emerging carbon credit marketplaces with the hope of scaling adoption of regenerative agriculture and granting them access to new revenue streams. (Cargill)

🇳🇱🇬🇧 Heineken is exploring sustainable barley production in a new trial. Partnering with Muntons Malt and Future Food Solutions, the brewer’s UK business will experiment with different cultivation methods across 7,000 acres of winter and spring barley varieties in Northern England. (AFN)

🇺🇸 Leaps by Bayer leads $10.3 million Series A investment in carbon mapping startup EarthOptics. Also joining was new investor S2G Ventures and earlier backers FHB Ventures, Route 66 Ventures, and Middleland Capital’s VTC Ventures. (AFN)

🇺🇸 Indigo Ag pays 267 farmers in first distribution from its carbon sequestration program. As one of the first ag carbon credit markets to launch, the payments mark a key milestone. (Indigo Ag)

Crop protection

🇺🇸 AgBiome raises $116 million Series D funding. The Bayer-backed startup has developed a line of bio-based crop protection products. Through its tech platform, Genesis, it screens microbes found in the natural world to identify potential candidates for pest and crop protection. (AFN)

🇺🇸 Andes banks $15 million Series A round. The startup offers a seed treatment technology that can reduce farmers’ reliance on synthetic, chemical-based fertilizers. The round was co-led by the VC arms of Bayer and Wilbur-EllisLeaps by Bayer and Cavallo Ventures. (AFN)

Livestock tech

🇬🇧 Belfast-based livestock tech startup CattleEye notches up $2.5 million seed round. The company offers autonomous livestock welfare and performance monitoring technology backed by AI and machine learning. (CattleEye)

Indoor ag

🇺🇸 Iron Ox closes $50 million Series C round led by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy. Other investors included Crosslink CapitalR7 PartnersPathbreaker Venturesi/o VenturesAmplify PartnersENIAC VenturesTuesday VenturesAt One Ventures, and Y Combinator. (AFN)

Farmer fintech

🇺🇸 “Crowdfarming” platform Steward raises $8.8m Series A funding. The round was co-led by Neglected Climate Opportunities — the VC arm of the Grantham Foundation — alongside impact investors Ponderosa Ventures and Tripple. (AFN)

Alt-protein

🇺🇸 Eat Just nets $97 million funding for its cultivated meat unit. GOOD Meat has also appointed two distinguished agrifood veterans to board roles: ex-US agriculture secretary Dan Glickman and former DuPont executive vice president Jim Borel. (AFN)

🇸🇬 Alt-protein startup Growthwell Foods raises a $22 million Series A. The Singaporean company is hoping to expand its range of plant-based seafood analogs while launching a new meat-free ‘chicken’ product. (AFN)

🇮🇱🇳🇱 Leonardo DiCaprio invests in Aleph Farms and Mosa Meat. The Hollywood star, who’s also joining the two cell-cultured meat startups in an advisory capacity, said they’re solving “some of the most pressing issues [in] industrial beef production.” (AFN)

🇺🇸 Sophie’s Kitchen raises $5.6 million to expand into alternative seafood. The startup claims its alternative protein shrimp and crab cakes were consumer hits, with its product gracing the shelves of major retailers like Walmart, Wegmans, and Sprouts. (Food Navigator)

🇺🇸 Immi scores $3.8 million to make plant-based instant ramen. The instant ramen market sells four billion packets each year, according to the startup, while only a few key players have dominated. (TechCrunch)

🇳🇱 Meatable and DSM partner to lower cultivated meat manufacturing costs. The cellular ag startup and chemicals giant are hoping to develop more convincing meaty tastes and textures for cell-cultured proteins. (Food Dive)

Food production & manufacturing

🇦🇪 8F Asset Management hits $61 million first close of Southeast Asia sustainable aquaculture fund. The Abu Dhabi-based fund manager owns Pure Salmon, which is building land-based, vertically integrated salmon farming operations across Asia. (DealStreetAsia)

🇳🇿 CertusBio raises $4.6 million for its biosensor technology. The startup focuses on improving production efficiencies and reducing wastewater treatment costs for food producers. The funding will be used to boost growth in New Zealand and globally. (Dairy Foods)

Supply chain, logistics & retail

🇳🇱 Gates Foundation leads $707 million investment in Dutch e-grocer Picnic. The new funding will be used to grow its team, its network of automated fulfillment centers, and its electric vehicle fleet. It also plans to expand its existing presence across Europe. (AFN)

🇺🇸 GrubMarket raises $120 million in Series E round at a $1 billion pre-money valuation. The startup aims to revolutionize the food supply chain by providing software and services to link produce suppliers and buyers. (TechCrunch)

🇮🇪 Ireland’s Vromo (formerly WeBringg) nets $8 million Series A funding for food delivery tech. It offers delivery management software for restaurants and helps them tap into commercial delivery services in new markets or during peak times. (Silicon Republic)

🇳🇬 Releaf raises $2.7 million to improve supply chain efficiency. The Nigerian company is creating proprietary hardware and software solutions to address the challenges that smallholder farmers face in getting their crops to the nearest processor before spoilage begins. (TechCrunch)

🇺🇸 Walmart and Ford are teaming up for a multi-city pilot of autonomous delivery vehicles. Partnering with Argo AI, the duo will test the technology in dense urban settings like Miami, Austin, Texas, and Washington DC. (Supermarket News)

🇺🇸 Kroger and Instacart are partnering to launch Kroger Delivery Now, a “virtual convenience store.” Featuring fresh groceries and household staples, the new service offers delivery within 30 minutes. (Supermarket News)

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