Chowbotics' salad-making robot, Sally. Image credit: Chowbotics

The Week in Agrifoodtech: Cruising Kitchens nets $100m, foodtech layoffs & shutdowns continue

July 14, 2022

The biggest funding round this week went to mobile kitchen manufacturer Cruising Kitchens, which counts Hard Rock Cafe, Whataburger, and the LA Dodgers among its clients.

But a growing number of foodtech headlines these days seems to be about layoffs, restructurings, and shutdowns; and this week certainly fit that trend.


Foodtech funding

🇺🇸 Food truck and mobile kitchen manufacturer Cruising Kitchens lands $100 million. Ghost Financial, a financing platform for ghost kitchens, provided the funds and is now the exclusive financial partner of Cruising Kitchens. (Restaurant Dive)

🇨🇦 Oatbox raises C$7 million ($5.4 million) for organic oat milk. Funds will help the company construct a large-scale production line and bring its products to more grocery stores across Canada. (FoodBev Media)

🇳🇿 Cetogenix nabs $4.5 million in seed round led by Pacific Channel. Cetogenix will use the new capital to scale up its organic waste-to-renewable energy technology. (Scoop)

🇨🇦 TMRW Foods bags C$2 million ($1.5 million) from Telus Pollinator Fund for Good and others. The raise comes ahead of TMRW’s launch at Sprouts stores in the US, slated for this August. (Vegconomist)

Agtech funding

🇮🇳 B2B ag marketplace for fruit growers Vegrow raises $25 million. Prosus Ventures led the Series B round. (Inc42)

🇨🇦 Dairy tech startup Milk Moovement closes $20 million Series A led by VMG Catalyst. New funds will go towards further developing Milk Moovement’s supply chain platform for North American dairy producers. (Milk Moovement)

🇮🇳 Lightspeed Venture Partners leads $12 million Series A round for fresh food supply chain startup Wheelocity. The latter will use the funds to hire new talent in its product, tech, and operations functions. (Tech in Asia)

🇫🇷 Micropep closes $8.8 million Series A extension to bring its peptide-based crop protection products to the US. Fall Line Capital led the round as a first-time investor in the startup. (AFN)

🇺🇸 Phospholutions will promote more judicious phosphorus usage with its latest fundraise. The startup scored $5.3 million in a convertible note round involving Ospraie Ag Sciences, Bunge Ventures, and UPL. (AFN)

🇱🇹 Divaks secures €3 million ($3 million) in seed round for its mealworm-based food ingredients. The company will use the funds to finalize the launch of a pilot manufacturing facility and work towards EU novel food authorization. (Nutraceutical Business Review)

M&A, IPOs & partnerships

🇩🇪 Biotech startup Mushlabs partners with Bitburger. The brewer will provide capacity as well as byproducts from beer production for Mushlabs to cultivate its mycelium for food ingredients. (Mushlabs)

🇮🇱🇸🇬 MeaTech 3D to collaborate with cultured seafood maker Umami Meats. Cultivated meat company MeaTech will work with Umami on developing 3D-printed seafood products for the Asian market. (MeaTech)

🇺🇸 Tillable to expand its digital loan platform to more US states. Tillable has partnered with chartered commercial bank Evergreen Bank for the expansion, which will give more US Midwestern farmers with access to financing. (AFN)

Other news

🇺🇸 Shore Capital Partners raises more than $290 million for second food and beverage fund. The raise surpasses the original target of $250 million, according to the private equity firm. (Food Business News)

🇵🇰 Quick commerce startup Airlift shuts down. Airlift, which offered Pakistani users with express delivery of groceries, produce, and other items, ceased operations after unsuccessfully trying to raise more funding. (TechCrunch)

🇺🇸 ‘Instant delivery’ service GoPuff cuts 10% of its workforce and closes 76 warehouses. The company says the cuts are part of an effort to reach profitability by 2024. (CNBC)

🇺🇸 DoorDash will shutter Chowbotics 18 months after acquiring the robot salad-maker startup. DoorDash confirmed that the ‘Sally’ robots were not meeting internal company benchmarks. (OttOmate)

🇺🇸 Virtual restaurant startup NextBite makes second round of layoffs after cutting staff in April. The company is restructuring to “strategically focus on current opportunities,” according to CEO Alex Canter. (Business Insider)

🇺🇸 Foodtech company Motif FoodWorks also lays off staff. It cut an undisclosed number of personnel and will refocus “to key priorities that we know will return maximum ROI for our customers and investors.” (Food Navigator)

🇺🇸 Leading agricultural supplier Hort Americas donates $10,000 to the AppHarvest Foundation. The money will support AppHarvest‘s agtech education program that introduces high school students to controlled environment agriculture (CEA). (Perishable News)

🇨🇳 Alibaba‘s Freshippo high-tech supermarket chain seeks funds at lowered $6 billion valuation. The company said it had to cut valuation expectations due to China’s Covid-19 restrictions. (Retuers)

🇺🇸 Autonomous delivery startup Nuro axes facility. Nuro’s Phoenix hub, which hosts a fleet of its delivery robots, will be shuttered – with the company focusing its efforts on the Bay Area and Houston. Several autonomous vehicle operators in Phoenix have reportedly been laid off. (TechCrunch)

🇺🇸 SciFi Foods makes breakthrough leading to “1000x” cost reduction for cultivated beef production. The company says its milestone of growing edible beef cell lines in single-cell suspension is a major development for the entire industry. (Vegconomist)

🌎 More than 30 aquaculture leaders issue call to action for “purpose-driven aquaculture.” The letter’s signatories included executives from salmon producer Cermaq, Cargill, and inverstor Aqua-Spark, amongst many others. (SeafoodSource)

🇪🇺 Halt use of biofuels to ease food crisis, says green group. RePlanet has also called on the EU to ditch its organic farming targets and work to lift bans on genetically modified crops. (The Guardian)

🇺🇸 Local Bounti opens new controlled environment ag facility in Byron, Georgia. The site “combines vertical and greenhouse technologies” and will grow produce for Local Bounti’s East Coast customers including Albertsons, Kroger, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, and Amazon, the company said. (Local Bounti)

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