Innovative Food is a category of agrifood tech startups encompassing novel food products and ingredients such as alternative meat – both plant-based and cell-culture-based — insect protein, alternative sugars, and flavor enhancers.
In 2018, the category raised $516 million in funding across 70 deals. While that represented a 2% decrease in investment levels from 2017, the number of deals increased by 140% compared to the prior year. This represents a major shift in momentum from the 23% drop in deal count between 2017 and 2016.
Also, this category contributed some of the year’s largest deals at the early stages marking the capital intensive nature of some of the biotechnological processes used in their development.
Despite being a comparatively small group of startups in AgriFood Tech — a sector that raised a total of $16.9 billion in 2018 overall — the number of innovative food companies has grown significantly in recent years. And the category is dominated by animal-free alternative meat and dairy products, as well as healthy ingredient alternatives.
Here are the top 20 innovative food fundings from 2018:
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- Impossible Foods – Redwood City, Cal.-based Impossible Foods, one of the most mature plant-based meat startups, raised a $114m convertible note bridge round with Singapore state fund Temasek and Sailing Capital. It’s unclear if the round is a precursor to an IPO.
- Ripple Foods – Cultured dairy products maker Ripple Foods closed a $65 million Series C round led by Euclidean Capital, S2G Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Goldman Sachs, Fall Line Capital, GV, and others. Based in Emeryville, Cal., it’s Ripptein pea-based protein is used in a range of products including pea milk and half & half substitute.
- Beyond Meat – Based in Manhattan Beach, Cal., the plant-protein meat substitute startup raised a $50 million Series H with DNS Capital and Cleveland Avenue. It also filed to go public under the symbol BYND a month later.
- kite hill – The cultured dairy startup raised a $40 million uncategorized venture round from General Mills’ venture arm 301 INC and CAVU Venture Partners. Its products are already available in major supermarkets nationwide Whole Foods, Target, Kroger, and Publix.
- Huel – Dubbed the European version of Soylent, the Los Angeles-based startup closed a £20 million ($26.43 million) venture round with Highland Europe. Its product is a dry, oat-colored powder that it claims provides a complete nutrient profile.
- Dixie Elixirs – Raising $25 million in a Series C round led by Irving Investors, the Denver-based startup is infusing a range of different consumer products with cannabis. It also applied for listing on the Canadian Securities Exchange.
- Puris Proteins – The Minneapolis non-GMO ingredients maker completed two fundings in 2018. In January, it completed a $25 million venture round with major ag company Cargill and signed a partnership with the corporation.
- MycoTechnology – Operating out of Aurora, Colorado, the fungi-focused ingredients maker raised $23 million towards its Series C round for its sweetener and protein ingredient products. The first close on its Series C was co-led by existing investors S2G Ventures and Middleland Capital. It later raised an additional $5 million in January 2019 to top off the round.
- Jennewein Biotechnologie – This German startup completed a €15 million ($16.96 million) with the European Investment Bank. The company manufactures a range of rare sugars used in the food and cosmetics industries.
- Puris Proteins – Six months after completing its $25 million Series C (see above), the startup closed a $12.5 million Series D again with Cargill for its non-GMO plant-based products.
- NextFoods – The Boulder, Colorado-based startup raised a $12 million venture round with General Mills’ venture arm 301 INC for its GoodBelly line of probiotic products.
- Plus Products – The California cannabis products developer closed a $6 million Series B financing round led by Serruya Private Equity Partners and Navy Capital Green Fund. A few months later, it completed its CAD$20 million (%15.04 million) IPO.
- Mosa Meat – Founded by Mark Post and based in the Netherlands, this startup was one of the first to replicate a burger in a lab. It raised a €7.5 million ($8.5 million) Series A funding led by M Ventures.
- 3fbio – As a Glasgow-based cell-cultured meat company, 3fbio raised a £6.1 million ($8.12 million) Series A round led by The University of Stratchclyde, Scottish Investment Bank, EOS, Data Collective, and private investors.
- Sunfed Meats – Based in Auckland, New Zealand, the pea protein company raised a NZ$10 million ($6.8 million) Series A round led by Blackbird Ventures.
- Plus Products – Based in California, the cannabis products maker filed for its $20 million Canadian IPO in 2018.
- Good Catch – The New York-based startup is creating plant-based seafood and closed an $8.7 million Series A led by Stray Dog Capital and New Crop Capital.
- YCook – The India-based organic ready-to-cook processed food startup raised a $5 million Series B led by 021 Capital.
- Liquid I.V – Located in California’s Marina Del Rey, the health science nutrition and wellness company raised a $5 million Series B round led by CircleUp.
- Stem – Formerly Cambridge Glycosciences, the Y Combinator grad closed an undisclosed seed round involving AgFunder.