The innovative food sector, which includes cultured meat, novel ingredients, and plant-based proteins, saw explosive growth last year. No doubt the 30x oversubscribed IPO and subsequent record-breaking stock market performance of plant-based meat products company Beyond Meat played a role in this growth. Multiple new startups launched in the space during the year and existing players raised bigger and bigger rounds, often from a bevy of high profile and celebrity investors. The year also saw many companies move from an initial focus on the fast-food industry to selling products in stores. The category faced some growing pains such as supply chain shortages to meet explosive growth, calling for larger rounds to ramp up production and partnerships with suppliers of key ingredients such as pea protein.
As the space generated more interest from consumers, retailers, and entrenched food companies, brands ventured into finding substitutes for more than just ground beef. Today, startups are innovating plant-based alternatives for poultry, pork, and seafood. Alternative dairy has also gathered pace as Perfect Day released its first CPG product, a plant-based ice cream.
In 2019, startups in the Innovative Foods category raised $1 billion in funding, doubling its 2018 funding total, according to AgFunder’s Agri-FoodTech Investing Report. Impossible Foods’ $300 million bridge round and a 17% increase in the number of deals were a big part of the sector’s boom.
Here are the top 20 Innovative Food deals of 2019:
- Impossible Foods – The San Francisco-headquartered company completed a $300 million Series E led by Singapore state fund Temasek Holdings and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures for its plant-based meat products.
- Perfect Day Foods – The San Francisco-based company raised $140 million in Series C funding bringing Temasek Holdings and Horizons Ventures together again to lead the round for animal-free dairy products.
- Motif Ingredients (now Motif FoodWorks) – Newly-spun out from Ginko Bioworks, Motif completed a $90 million Series A from a group of high profile financial and strategic investors including Bill Gates and Richard Branson-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures, global commodity trading house Louis Dreyfus Companies, New Zealand daily cooperative Fonterra, and global asset manager Viking Global Investors for its fermentation-based ingredients platform.
- Puris Proteins – The Iowa-based company completed a $75 million venture round led by Cargill for its plant-based food ingredients.
- Perfect Day Foods – The dairy-free food products company also completed a $35 million Series B in 2019, again with Temasek Holdings and Horizons Ventures, as well as ADM.
- Microphyt – The EU-based company completed a $32 million venture round led by Sofinnova Partners and Bpifrance for its microalgae extracts.
- The Not Company – The Latin American raised a $30 million Series A led by The Craftory and Bezos Expeditions for its AI tech to create foods from plants.
- Motif FoodWorks – Motif Ingredients re-branded to Motif FoodWorks and raised a further $28 million led by global growth equity firm General Atlantic with participation from CPT Capital in August. It confirmed its focus on animal-free food products at this announcement.
- v2food – The Australian company completed a $24 million Series A led by Main Sequence Ventures for its plant-based meat products.
- Undisclosed – A $23 million funding from an AgFunder portfolio company.
- DouxMatok – The Israeli company raised a $22 million Series B led by BlueRed Partners for its sugar reduction technology.
- BlueNalu – The San Diego-based company completed a $20 million Series A led by UK-based Agronomics for its cellular aquaculture technology.
- Noblegen – The Ontario-based company completed an $18 million Series B led by Richardson Ventures and BDC Capital Cleantech Practice for its biotech-driven microorganism-based ingredients.
- Strong Roots – The Dublin-based company completed a $18 million Series A led by Good Partners for its frozen plant-based food products.
- Future Meat Technologies – The Israel-based company completed a $14 million Series A led by S2G Ventures and Emerald Technology Ventures for its cellular agriculture technology.
- Cubiq Foods – The EU-based company completed a $14 million venture round led by Moira Capital Partners for its platform that cultivates fats for industrial clients.
- Nutriati – The Virginia-based company completed a $13 million Series C led by Manna Tree Partners for its plant-food ingredients R&D business.
- Wild Type – The San Francisco-based company completed a $13 million Series A led by CRV for its fish and meat cellular ag technology.
- Kiva Confections – The San Francisco-based company completed a $12 million venture round for its cannabis products.
- Aleph Farms – The Israel-based company completed a $12 million Series A led by VisVires New Protein and Cargill for its cultured meat technology.
- Ripple Foods – The Emeryville, CA-based company completed a $12 million venture round for its plant-based dairy alternatives.