Happy weekend, food techies. Hopefully your plans include nothing more strenuous than curling up under a blanket with a cup of cocoa watching The Final Table. But before you enter full binge mode, catch up on a few of our favorite food tech stories from around the web this week, featuring some new food and beverage incubators, pizza acquisitions, and bread made of seaweed.
Givaudan launches “optimizer” platform for food innovation companies
Flavor and fragrance company Givaudan has teamed up with Danone, Mars, and Ingredion to unveil MISTA, a new platform meant to help businesses develop innovative new products, strategies, and solutions for nagging food system problems. MISTA will open the doors of its 7,000 square foot San Francisco facility in 2019. The program will launch with 10 startups, including Wild Type (cell-based fish), Analytical Flavor Systems (AI-powered flavor prediction), and Drop Water (eco-friendly bottled water).
Pizza Hut to acquire online ordering provider QuikOrder
This week Pizza Hut announced that it would acquire QuikOrder, an online ordering software and service provider for restaurants. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. With this acquisition, Pizza Hut is working to distinguish itself from high-tech competitors like Domino’s (who has an ordering chatbot) and Little Caesar’s (who, despite not offering delivery, has a pizza portal), and develop a so-called “personalized online ordering experience” for its customers.
USDA gives Maine company $600,000 to develop kelp-enriched bread
Seaweed snacks are taking off in popularity, and now there will be a new way to chow down on kelp: bread. The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded VitaminSea, a Maine-based company that harvests and processes seaweed for use in food and supplements, a $600,000 grant to develop a bread made with seaweed (h/t FoodDive). This funding is on top of the $100,000 VitaminSea raised last year to develop the bread, called SeaKelp+. By putting kelp in bread, the USDA and VitaminSea hope to bring the health benefits of seaweed mainstream.
Grocery tech startup Fetch Rewards raises $8 million
This week Fetch Rewards, a Madison, WI-based grocery tech startup raised an $8 million funding round (h/t BizTimes). With Fetch Rewards’ app, users upload photos of their grocery receipts for points, which they can then redeem for in-store rewards. The company works with thousands of supermarkets, including Costco and Kroger. This latest round brings Fetch Rewards’ total funding to $35.3 million.
Food business incubator The Hatchery opens in Chicago
This week The Hatchery, a food & bev incubator, officially opened in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. Members will have access to the Hatchery’s kitchen production space as well as business incubation services, classes, and networking events. The space will also become the new permanent home for the Garfield Park Garden Network Neighborhood Market.
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