kale united
Vegan sandwich, from iStock

Success during Covid-19: Plant-based investor Kale United raises €350k in one day from 125 investors

April 2, 2020

Kale United, a Swedish investment company with a portfolio of public and private plant-based food companies, reached its €350,000 crowdfunding campaign target on its first day yesterday.

The company sold just under 19% of its share capital to 125 investors including some high profile individuals like Marin Muyser, cofounder of Booking.com who said in a statement: ”We love the proposition of Kale United as it offers us exposure to the most prominent plant-based initiatives on the planet.”

Kale United considered changing the terms of the deal that were set before the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent global lockdown but in the end, decided not to.

“We talked a lot with our investment network, existing shareholders and advisors on how to relate to the situation,” Kale United founder Måns Ullerstam told AFN. “I had a number of high profile people who told me I was crazy and should cancel the round completely. We were discussing lowering the bar for the investment round and/or lowering the share price as some sort of Covid-19 discount. We decided against it, partly because our maximum discount we could make was in the region of 5% and the stock market had fallen with more than 30% at the time, so a 5% discount would probably not meet expectations of a Covid-19 discount anyway.”

Ullerstam added that Kale United’s portfolio, which includes US-based sushi alternative Ocean Hugger Foods, plant-based meals group Plantable, fellow Swedish company and plant-based cheese startup Noquo Foods, and remote sensing startup Vultus, is up 80% in value with public companies in the portfolio down just 2% by current levels.


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“Those are fairly impressive numbers in the current situation,” he said. “I think the number one reason was that people felt our mission was more important than ever in these times. Plant-based foods are a lot better from a food safety perspective and if we want to avoid more pandemics.”

Of course, limitations on consumer movement, high unemployment related to that and a predicted global recession will see even tougher times ahead for Kale United’s portfolio, although, perhaps as expected, Ullerstam remained relatively upbeat about his companies.

“Of course, individual companies have had a tough time. One company had most of its current sales to pubs and bars in the UK. But in general we have been very lucky in this unfortunate situation that our portfolio companies were very little exposed to Food Services (hotels, restaurants, catering, etc) and mostly exposed to regular retail. And the supermarkets have mostly seen an increase in the need for food in general, and plant-based products in particular. Since we like companies that are at the forefront of new consumer behaviors, such as online food delivery, D2C sales (direct-to-consumer), we believe many of our portfolio companies will be performing better during the crisis, and after, if the consumer behavior is changed long term.”
The investment group now has €590,000 in cash, enabling it to last over two years without raising any more money, although the company says it does intend to go back to investors in the fourth quarter of the year to raise a much large chunk of funding, between $2 million and $4 million. In the meantime with this new injection of funding, Kale United plans to make around 10 investments before that larger round, and is currently in the process of closing two, according to Ullerstam.
“We are going to pursue investments as usual. As you said, valuations will be in our favor. Dealflow is still strong, even though a lot of startups might get the recommendation to wait until after this crisis. We are also actively looking for acquisitions of brands that might need a safer harbour during these times,” he said.
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