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Waterdrop's hydrating cubes. Image credit: Waterdrop

The Week in Agrifoodtech: Waterdrop Series B, Kalera SPAC & Oatly ads ban

February 3, 2022

This past week saw foodtech companies Waterdrop and Lunchbox close eight-figure Series B rounds; while over in agtech, vertical farming operation Kalera announced plans to go public via a SPAC deal.

Elsewhere, a new report from the nonprofit Good Food Institute found that the plant-based protein sector may need billions of dollars more in investment to meet future demand.

Disclosure: AFN’s parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in Retailo, which is mentioned below.

Foodtech startup funding

🇦🇹 Waterdrop raises $70 million in Temasek-led Series B round. The Austrian company, which makes hydrating “microdrink” cubes that dissolve in water, will further expand in the US and Asia. (Food Dive

🇺🇸 Restaurant ordering platform Lunchbox raises $50 million. Coatue led the Series B round, which Lunchbox will use to accelerate product research and development as well as expand hiring. (Lunchbox)

🇰🇪 B2C e-commerce company Copia Global closes $50 million Series C round. Copia will use the funding to expand from Kenya to other African nations. (AFN)

🇺🇸 Zero Acre Farms raises $37 million for vegetable oil replacement. The company makes “healthy oils and fats” via fermentation and will use the Series A funds to grow that business. (Zero Acre Farms

🇮🇳 Retailo raises $36 million from AgFunder, others for its Series A round. The online B2B marketplace that connects merchants with food producers and other suppliers will use the funds for geographical expansion and to launch new products and verticals. (AFN)

🇳🇱 Dutch online-only supermarket Crisp raises $35 million. The Series B capital will be used for new hires and gives the company a valuation of “right under $500 million.” It recently partnered with vertical farmer Infarm. (TechCrunch)

🇮🇩 Astro closes $27 million Series A round. The ‘quick commerce’ app — which aims to deliver 1,500 SKUs anywhere in Jakarta within 15 minutes — scored the funding from lead investors Accel and Sequoia Capital, among others. (DealStreetAsia)

🇵🇹 Kencko takes in $10 million to shake up fruit and vegetable consumption. The Portuguese plant-based nutrition platform sells freeze-dried drinks powders and capsules that contain multiple servings, helping consumers get their ‘five a day.’ Siddhi Capital led the round. (TechCrunch)

🇺🇸 Sustainable pet food company Wild Earth secures $10 million credit facility. The financing came from Canadian firm Espresso Capital. Wild Earth — which makes plant-based alternatives to traditional dog food — will use the funding to boost customer acquisition. (PE Hub)

🇯🇵 Plant-based “healthy junk food” brand 2Foods raises $4.4 million. Kagome Corporation, Japan’s largest producer of processed tomato products, led the Series A round. (Green Queen)

🇸🇬 Gobble gobbles $1.3 million in seed round led by Beenext and Flash Ventures. The Singaporean ‘group-buying’ food delivery app allows users to view and select what their friends have ordered. (Tech in Asia)

🇸🇬 Plant-based ice cream firm scoops up $1.1 million. Kind Kones said the DSG Consumer Partners-led round values it at $7.4 million. (Tech in Asia)

Agtech startup funding

🇮🇳 Agribusiness platform Our Food closes $6 million round. The company deploys mini-food-processing units to farmers in order to help rural entrepreneurs process raw material at the farm gate. (Business Line)

🇮🇳 MoooFarm raises $2.4 million in seed funding. The company, which offers tech solutions for small-scale dairy farmers, will use the funds to expand geographically. (Economic Times)

🇳🇿 Cropsy raises NZ$1.5 million ($995,000) from angels for AI-powered ‘crop vision’ system. Its tractor-mounted tech helps growers with decision making, identifying pests and diseases, and optimization of spraying. (Fresh Plaza)

🇳🇿 Livestock tech startup Protag bags NZ$1 million ($662,000) in seed capital. The Te Aroha-based company makes smart ear tags which transmit herd health and location data to dairy farmers. Accelerator Sprout led the round. (Protag)

🇸🇪 IRRIOT closes $590,000 round led by LRF Ventures. The Swedish agtech company will use the new funds to scale up sales of its automated irrigation technology. (IRRIOT)

M&A, IPOs & partnerships

🇺🇸 Vertical farming operator Kalera agrees to merge with SPAC Agrico Acquisition Corp. The deal will value the combined entity at $375 million. (AFN)

🇺🇸🇧🇷🇨🇦 ADM and Marfrig joint venture PlantPlus Foods acquires Sol Cuisine for $100 million. The purchase of the Canadian vegan foods manufacturer will give PlantPlus “a strong foothold” across the Americas, said CEO John Pinto. (Forbes)

🇸🇬🇲🇾 Grab completes takeover of Jaya Grocer. The Singapore-based mobility and food delivery app has acquired a 75% stake in the supermarket chain, with the aim of expanding on-demand grocery delivery coverage across Malaysia. (Grab)

Funds, grants & accelerators

🇺🇸 Lightsmith Group closes $186 million “climate resilience and adaptation” fund. Backers include the Rockefeller Foundation, the European Investment Bank, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The New York-based firm recently backed Indian farm produce marketplace WayCool. (DealStreetAsia)

🇺🇸 Iowa to expedite cover cropping. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will reimburse Polk County up to $350,000 for planting cover crops in the Des Moines and Raccoon River watersheds, with a goal of seeding 40,000 acres in four years. (Successful Farming

🇨🇭 Nestlé to triple its cocoa sustainability funding to $1.4 billion. Some of the money will offer financial incentives to cocoa-farming families in Africa, geared towards implementation of sustainable practices and preventing child labor. (Food Business News

Other news

🇸🇪🇬🇧 Oatly ads banned by UK watchdog over “misleading” green claims. The Advertising Standards Agency found the alt-milk firm’s ads “overstated” meat and dairy industry greenhouse gas emissions. (The Guardian)

🇺🇸 Plant-based protein infrastructure needs $27 billion investment to meet 2030 demand. The world needs to build 800 extrusion factories each producing 30,000 metric tons of extruded protein product annually, according to estimates from the Good Food Institute. (Food Dive

🇹🇭 Thailand decriminalizes cannabis in “major step” towards commercialization. The lifting of criminal penalties paves the way for a regional cannabis industry in a part of the world known for having some of the strictest drug laws around. (AFN)

🇺🇸 Square Roots opens its largest vertical farm. The Brooklyn-based container farming company and North American food distributor Gordon Food Service have opened a modular container farm in Kenosha, Wisconsin that can generate 2.4 million packages of greens and herbs annually. (Food Navigator)

🇺🇸 Pepsico Europe to eliminate virgin plastic from crisp bags by 2030. Initiatives to switch to recyclable or renewable plastic will span Pepsico snack brands like Walkers, Doritos, and Lays, among others. (Food Ingredients First)

🇺🇸 Synthetic biology company Tierra Biosciences launches “proteins-on-demand” e-commerce portal. The platform hopes to make protein sourcing faster and more efficient for scientists and researchers. (AFN)

🇸🇦🇺🇸 Greenhouse operator Red Sea Farms to expand to the US. The Saudi Arabia-based company says its indoor farming technology, developed for deserts, could be commercially valuable in water-scarce parts of the US. (Horti Daily

🇺🇸 US Department of Agriculture launches market news mobile app for farmers. The free app gives famers and others in the ag supply chain access to nearly 800 livestock, poultry, and grain market reports, with additional commodities expected for the future. (Successful Farming

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