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This global pandemic may have slowed down our day-to-day activities, but VCs are still cranking out deals in the food tech world.
We at The Spoon have covered 19 funding announcements between May 15 and June 15. FWIW, a quick check through the archives showed that we covered 21 funding announcements throughout ALL of May and June in 2019. And last year, we weren’t all confined to our homes and forced to do all our business via Zoom.
But back to this year. There was a total of $699.58 million raised over this past month, with big raisers being Instacart ($225M) and Apeel ($250M). There was a pretty even split between consumer-facing and B2B companies, with 10 consumer-facing companies getting funded and nine B2B companies.
Breaking it down by (broad) category, funding went to:
Three lab/cultured cell companies:
Three plant-based food companies:
Three food waste companies:
Two grocery companies:
Three home cooking companies:
Three restaurant-related companies:
One AgTech company: Agro Club – $1.5M
One garden company: Rise Gardens $2.6M
Just looking at this list, it’s easy to see that the alternative/cultured/plant-based food space is still hot. That’s not too surprising, given COVID-driven disruptions to the traditional meat processors and skyrocketing sales of plant-based meats.
The home cooking investments make sense as well. With people stuck at home, they are in the market for tools that make cooking their own meals easier. Tovala told us at the time of its funding announcement that it has seen its business accelerate since COVID hit.
Food waste as a category is interesting because three very different approaches to the problem got funding. CleanCrop ionizes gasses around food post-harvest to reduce spoilage. Apeel uses a plant-based coating to extend produce shelf life. And Imperfect sells boxes of “ugly” produce.
I’m curious to see what happens as summer approaches. Typically, summer is a time of vacations and travel, but given fears around travel that remain, [–MORE–] food tech startups could be boarding the money train.
Shifting food equity
Publisher’s Note: Here at The Spoon, we wanted to find ways to better highlight voices with a lived understanding of the deep-rooted, long-standing systemic racism in the United States, black voices, with a focus on how it has impacted the food system. The following is an excerpt from a guest post by Journey Foods CEO, Riana Lynn. We’re hoping to continue the conversation, so if you have a perspective on this important issue, we’d like to hear from you.
Our eating is not equal
And it hasn’t been since the day we laid eyes on the crops of our native landholders. In America, too many of us have had to hold our heads down, fixing our hunger after hours of kitchen warfare, just to eat off a measly plate in the corner of the kitchen. It has become a lonely place: an emotional and physical food desert.
Today, many of us have heard of the defining term “food desert,” otherwise known as an urban or rural geographic area with low levels of access to healthy and affordable foods. In a 2019 Household Food Insecurity in the United States USDA report, more than 37 million Americans face deep hunger while Black neighborhoods have the lowest access to supermarkets and pervasive access to underserving corner stores and bodegas. The word “desert” for many conjures images of emptiness or destitution instead of the realities of life and communities.
A “food desert” may indicate a natural phenomenon for some, rather than shedding light on the systemic racism that underlies food inequality in America. In fact, if you ask people in low-income Black and Brown communities whether they have food most respond with a feeble, “yes.” You see, having food is one thing. What we must remember is that most of our food has been developed the same way as our schools, roads, and train systems: backwards. So, even when we are braced with an overwhelming lot of food options, they almost always lack the nutrient-density need to curb away from negative outcomes. Our bodies, minds, and spirits are left thirsty. We’ve failed 100 million eaters.
Join in our First Virtual Food Tech Pitch Sesh
This Thursday at 10 a.m. PT, The Spoon will be hosting our first ever Virtual Food Tech Pitch Sesh.
Three startups. Two judges. Lots of constructive feedback and even more fun. Join The Spoon as we invite three food tech startups to pitch their product and they get constructive feedback from our judges.
The judges for the first Food Tech Pitch Sesh will be Brita Rosenheim of Better Food Ventures and Scott Heimendinger, the founder of Sansaire and long-time food tech entrepreneur.
The startups you will see pitch are:
- Immuric – a personalized nutrition app
- Minnow – a contact-free food pickup solution
- Kitch – commercial kitchen marketplace connecting underutilized commercial kitchens
Join us and cheer them on!