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Shiok Meats co-founders
Shiok Meats co-founders Ka Yi Ling (L) and Sandhya Sriram (R). Image credit: Shiok Meats

Southeast Asia’s food innovation scene bloomed last year with Shiok Meats, Alchemy Foodtech among top funded

July 1, 2020

Shiok Meats recently secured $3 million in bridge funding as it prepares to begin raising its Series A round, co-founder and CEO Sandhya Sriram told AFN.

The funding comes as new research from AgFunder identified ‘Innovative Foods’ as one of the most active agrifoodtech categories in VC dealmaking in Southeast Asia last year, with Shiok Meats among the alt-protein and food reformulation players from the region to secure funding.

The Singaporean startup is developing cultured seafood, including prawn, crab, and lobster meat. Its initial focus is on shrimp, which as already made it into a test batch of siew mai dumplings and is expected to be available in select Singapore restaurants sometime next year.

Among the investors in the bridge round were UK firms Agronomics and Impact Venture, US trust VegInvest, and UAE-based Mindshift Capital, said Sriram. The deal takes its total funding to date to $7.6 million.

This latest investment will be used “to further [our] R&D and also bridge into manufacturing,” she said.

“We are currently in the midst of raising our Series A round to setup our first manufacturing plant in Singapore to commercialize in the next two to three years.”

Shiok Meats earlier raised $4.6 million for its April 2019 seed round. In its first investment in a so-called ‘clean meat’ company, Y Combinator participated in that seed round, alongside Henry Soesanto, the CEO of Philippines-based food manufacturer Monde Nissin. (Well-known mycoprotein brand Quorn was acquired by Monde Nissin for $831 million in 2015.)

Southeast Asia’s top funded Innovate Foods startups in 2019. Image credit: AgFunder ASEAN Agrifoodtech Investment Report 2020

According to AgFunder’s first-ever ASEAN Agrifoodtech Investment Report, which was released yesterday, Shiok Meats’ seed round was the largest venture deal involving an Innovative Foods startup in the region during 2019.

Among the other Singapore-based startups in this category to secure funding last year were Alchemy Foodtech, which raised $1.8 million in seed funding for its novel active food ingredients aimed at combatting diabetes, and Hoow Foods, which is reformulating fat and sugar-heavy food items and netted $1.2 million. Plento, which is developing plant-based and insect-based proteins, raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from VC and accelerator Brinc.

Singapore’s Hoow Foods raised a further round of funding earlier this year. Find out how it’s applying a drug development approach to food design here.

Beyond the city-state, Thailand’s JuiceInnov8 banked $500,000 seed funding from 500 Startups. It’s working on microbial sugar-reduction tech for the beverages market. In Malaysia, Ento raised an undisclosed amount for its line of snacks and ingredients made from crickets and soldier flies; while compatriot Phuture Foods, which recently released a plant-based minced ‘pork’ product, also received funding.

Given that Southeast Asian agrifoodtech startups as a whole raised $423 million in 2019, Innovative Foods’ total funding figure of $9.5 million looks rather small by comparison. But with 12 deals it was the third most active category by number of transactions, with only the downstream segments of In-store Retail & Restaurant Tech and Online restaurants & Mealkits seeing more in the way of dealmaking.

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