It safe to say that 2020 has been a difficult year for many of us – to say the very least. But as the global Covid-19 pandemic has rumbled on, agrifoodtech startups have continued to attract capital from investors.
They’ve had to work even harder than usual, not only to bring investors to the table — or perhaps to Zoom — but to prove their value propositions and staying power to prospective backers.
As reflected in agrifoodtech VC AgFunder‘s 2020 Mid-Year Investment Review, sudden shifts in consumer demand and rapid market changes brought on by Covid-19 created new pain points and opportunities for investment. E-commerce and restaurant tech saw steady deal flow, for example, as companies clamored for new ways to get their products into hungry, quarantined consumers’ hands. [Disclosure: AgFunder is AFN‘s parent company.]
Although the AgFunder research team still has to comb through a mountain of funding data to compile its next agrifoodtech investing report, here’s an end-of-year appetizer featuring the (tentative) top 20 highest-funded agrifoodtech startups of 2020 to hold you over.
Please note that, for the following list, all separate disclosed rounds or tranches of funding are grouped together – so agrifoodtech startups that closed multiple rounds or tranches during the year are listed in order of their total disclosed funding amount for the year. The list includes only completed, publicly-disclosed agrifoodtech funding deals recorded and confirmed by the AgFunder research team as of 30 December.
1. MissFresh (China) — In July, this e-grocer announced a $495 million round from investors including Tencent and Goldman Sachs. It closed out the year with another $306 million round in December from Chinese state-linked funds.
2. Impossible Foods (US) — The alternative protein maker raised $500 million from predominantly Asian investors in March as it eyed expansion in the region. It completed an additional $200 million raise later in the year, led by New York’s Coatue Management.
3. Zomato (India) — With plans to go public in the first half of 2021, the food delivery unicorn has raised at least $660 million this year — including a $52 million injection from US-based Kora Investments in October — as part of an ongoing Series J funding round.
4. Indigo (US) — Offering a range of ag services including farm input and carbon credits marketplaces, this self-described “five startups in one” had a busy year in funding terms. It closed a $200 million debt round with FedEx and Pacific Western Bank in January 2020, and announced a $360 million Series F equity round in August 2020.
5. DoorDash (US) — Food delivery services like DoorDash saw a boon of business thanks to the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders. In June, the company closed a $400 million equity financing that valued it at $16 billion, prior to its $71 billion IPO earlier this month.
6. Samsara Networks (US) — The industrial IoT startup, which provides sensor and networking tech for supply chain and other contexts, raised $400 million in funding and outlined a detailed plan for how it intended to cope with Covid-19 – including layoffs. Read CEO Sanjit Biswas’ open letter to employees here.
7. Toast (US) — Restaurant and retail tech saw a huge boost of interest as consumers sought out new and ‘contactless’ ways to order food. Restaurant management and point-of-sale platform Toast raised a $400 million Series F amid what it called “tremendous” growth.
8. Dingdong Maicai (China) — This e-commerce platform for fresh produce closed a $300 million venture round led by General Atlantic that valued it at $2 billion. Dingdong reported a 14% boost in user activity in January as Covid-19 took hold in China.
9. Apeel Sciences (US) — This startup is hoping to reduce food waste with is plant-derived, edible coating that extends the shelf life of fresh produce. It added star names like Oprah and Katy Perry to its cap table in a May funding round worth $250 million, following that up with a $30 million injection from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and other investors in October.
10. Berkshire Grey (US) — At the start of the year, this robotics and AI startup announced a $263 million Series B financing. It company offers retail, e-commerce, and fulfillment automation services.
11. Farmers Business Network (US) — The online agribusiness marketplace announced it had raised $250 million in Series F funding in August, with asset management giant BlackRock leading the round. 2020 also saw the startup expand to Australia with its acquisition of Perth-based counterpart Farmsave in July.
12. Instacart (US) — At a valuation of $13.7 billion, this grocery delivery startup raised $225 million in a round led by DST Global and General Catalyst to ramp up operations and advertising amid a surge in pandemic-related demand.
13. Ÿnsect (France) — The mechanized mealworm farming startup raised $224 million in October as part of an ongoing Series C round, the first close of which was announced in February 2019. Ÿnsect’s total capital raised to date stands at $425 million, which the startup claims is more than the total amount raised by rest of the insect protein sector globally.
14. Tongcheng Life (China) — A group-buying platform that offers fresh produce directly from farmers, Tongcheng Life closed a $200 million Series C in June led by major players in the region, including livestreaming app developer Joyy.
15. Memphis Meats (US) — The cell-cultured animal protein startup raised $161 million for its January Series B round, which was co-led by SoftBank, Temasek, and Norwest and saw celebrity tycoons Bill Gates, Kimball Musk, and Richard Branson hop on board too.
16. Swiggy (India) — This food delivery unicorn has raised at least $156 million in Series I funding during 2020, across multiple tranches – in much the same manner as archrival Zomato (see above.) This includes a $43 million injection from Samsung, Tencent, and Mirae Asset in April.
17. Benson Hill (US) — In October, the St Louis startup secured $150 million in a Series D funding round led by Wheatsheaf Group and Google affiliate GV. Its aiming to super-power seeds through computational biology and traditional breeding practices, and has developed a non-GMO, “ultra-high” protein soybean.
18. Market Kurly (South Korea) — This next-day delivery app for fresh groceries raised $150 million to build out its fulfillment capabilities and customer base, but left the round open. It is using the funding to build a new fulfillment center and expand its cold chain capabilities.
19. RWDC Industries (Singapore) — With facilities in Georgia, US, as well as Southeast Asia, RWDC raised $133 million in its May Series B financing. It’s seeking to replace single-use plastics in food retail, foodservice, and other industries with biodegradable, biopolymer-based materials that it produces through microbial fermentation of plant-based oils and sugars.
20. GreenLight Biosciences (US) — This biotech startup is working on applications of RNA-based solutions in contexts such as crop protection. It raised $119 million across back-to-back rounds after shifting some of its focus to work on Covid-19 vaccines. [Disclosure: GreenLight Biosciences is a portfolio company of AgFunder, which is AFN‘s parent company.]