This week certainly kept us busy. Bear Robotics, which we were the first to cover, got a $2M investment, and Amazon opened the door to in-car grocery delivery. We also explored meat alternatives, from a tour of JUST’s cultured meat lab to Omnipork’s plant-based pork. Most excitingly of all, we had our first food tech meetup in which we explored the future of recipes.
If you don’t feel news-ed out, we’ve rounded a few food tech stories that caught our eye around the web this week. Great to peruse on a Sunday morning, post-snooze.
Crowd Cow moves to pork
Beginning May 2nd, Crowd Cow, the Seattle-based startup that lets carnivores buy cuts of meat directly from farmers, will expand into pork. Customers will be able to buy various snout to tail porcine products like bacon, pork chops, and sausages from four pig farmers; two on the East Coast, two on the West Coast. This expansion speaks to consumers’ growing interest in food transparency, especially in meat, as well as their demand for convenience — Crowd Cow cuts out the visit to the grocery store and delivers flash-frozen meat directly their customers’ doors.
Documentary on minority women in Agtech
Journalist and filmmaker Amy Wu has created a documentary called “From Farms to Incubators,” which tells the stories of minority women entrepreneurs in agtech in the California area. The film will premiere on May 3rd in the 2018 Steinbeck Festival in Salinas Valley. The documentary profiles minority women who are creating innovation in the agricultural sector through mobile apps, robotics, data systems, and beyond. Agtech, like many tech fields, is male-dominated. (Despite notable exceptions like women-run companies SomaDetect and AgShift.) The screening is free and open to the community.
Hooch debuts next-level exclusive subscription
Hooch, the company that lets you claim a free drink every day from one of their participating bars and restaurants, just launched a new subscription level: Hooch Black. It’ll cost you quite a bit more — $295 per year, instead of $9.99 per month — but it has a lot more perks, too. On top of the drink-a-day service, subscribers also get hotel discounts, preferred restaurant reservations, and even tickets to performances like Hamilton or Coachella. Wannabe users also have to fill out an application before they even have the option to pay for the subscription.
CEO Lin Dai told Techcrunch that Hooch Black will continue Hooch’s mission to be the “an antidote to apps that ‘facilitate a couch economy’,” such as food delivery services. Instead of bringing the booze to you, they’re encouraging you to get out and drink it in a bar — and Hooch Black takes that even further by pushing users to go on trips, eat at restaurants, and attend live shows.
100% plastic-free grocery store opens in Amsterdam
This Wednesday a grocery store opened in Amsterdam that claimed to be the world’s first plastic-free pop-up store. The shop, dubbed Ekoplaza, has over 700 grocery items according to The Washington Post — and no plastic. Instead, food is packaged in plant-based compostable biofilm or just displayed, packaging-free, in glass, metal, and cardboard containers.
Plastic waste from food packaging is a huge problem — that’s why companies like NASA, the U.S. Army, and Unilever are working on ways to find alternatives. Ekoplaza, and other stores focusing on bulk shopping like Bulk Market, are tackling plastic food packing waste from the consumer shopping side.
Edible grasshopper company reportedly has $5M in order requests
This week Israeli edible insect company Hargol FoodTech told CTech that they had already received $5 million in requests for orders from companies in the U.S. and Europe. According to the aforementioned article, Ikea, Whole Foods, and Pepsico have already expressed interest in purchasing the startup’s grasshopper-based protein powder.
If these numbers are accurate, it would indicate a shift towards acceptance of edible insects — especially after recent growth news from Entomo Farms and Aspire/Exo. And if companies like Pepsico and Ikea are really getting on board, bugs could become a mainstream ingredient relatively soon.
A new accelerator for startups fighting food waste
Copenhagen-based transport and logistics company A.P. Moller-Marsk is partnering with startup accelerator Rockstart to create a program targeting food waste, reported FoodNavigator. Dubbed FoodTrack, the one-month program will start on June 6th and will offer workshops and guidance from mentors to the 10 startups selected to participate. They hope to help give the startups tools to tackle food waste, specifically in the early stages of the value chain (growth, harvest, and distribution.)