Right on the cusp of announcing its first product, New York-based food tech company Tomorrow Farms has announced the close of $8.5 million in seed funding which it will use to recreate refrigerator and pantry staples with healthier ingredients.
Founder Ben Berman, who incubated Tomorrow Farms at NYC’s SALT Venture Fund in 2021, says his company is “reinventing pantry and refrigerator staples” with a focus on ingredients that are healthier for both people and planet.
- Through licensing partnerships with food scientists and other food tech companies, Tomorrow Farms is developing ingredients and in-house brands through which it will release its products via retail and direct-to-consumer channels.
- Berman says the company is focused on two key areas right now: developing alt-staples that taste good and making the choice to eat healthier and more sustainable “as easy as possible for consumers.”
- Specific details on products and food types are under wraps at the moment, with Berman saying only that they will be “category-defining products,” “animal-free,” and that the first is planned product for launch this spring as a direct-to-consumer offering.
- Tomorrow Farms’ LinkedIn page notes that “In Spring 2022, we’ll be launching the world’s first animal-free dairy chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry milk. (More on that soon!)”
Why it matters:
Tomorrow Farms is entering a crowded space, with companies large and small attempting to recreate favorite foods with alternative ingredients either extracted from plants or brewed up in a lab.
- The list grows longer each month: lab-grown chocolate from QOA, Voyage Foods’ peanut butter without peanuts, Atomo Coffee’s molecular coffee made without the beans, and countless alternative meat and dairy products from Impossible, Perfect Day, and others. [Disclosure: AFN’s parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in Atomo.]
- There are also now a number of food companies developing novel ingredients to sell directly to other food manufacturers. For example, Benson Hill launched its Ingredients business segment in 2021 to provide yellow peas and soy to plant-based protein manufacturers.
The bigger picture:
The Innovative Foods category, which includes alt-protein and novel and functional ingredients, was 2021’s most active space in terms of investment deals, raking in a total of $4.9 billion, or nearly 10% of all agrifoodtech startup funding for the year.
- Climate change is a major driver here as consumers and corporates alike come under pressure to make manufacturing and purchasing choices that rely less on traditional animal agriculture and chemical-based inputs.
- Supply chain disruptions that start with Covid-19 are also fueling interest in alternative ingredients.
- Many pantry staples are also linked to human rights abuses and other ethical issues that consumers are becoming more aware of as the food system strives to become more transparent.
How Tomorrow Farms will spend its funding:
A big chunk of the new funding will go towards launching Tomorrow Farms’ first brand. As mentioned above, the yet-to-be-named brand is slated to launch in spring 2022, though the company did not provide a specific date.
Seed funding will also go towards scaling up processes internally, including brand building and development, operations, manufacturing, supply chain, marketing, and R&D.
In summary, Berman says the money will “launch this first brand and give it the support that it really deserves, but allow us to build a company that can support many brands and aisles of the supermarket in the future.”