The one thing that doesn’t seem to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is investor’s willingness to open up their wallets for food tech companies.
Just in October:
- GrubMarket raised $60M
- Cooler Screens raised $80M
- Instacart raised $200M
- Plenty raised $140M
- LIVEKINDLY raised $135M
- Zomato raised $52M
- V2Foods raised $55M
- BrightFarms raised $100M
- Apeel raised $30M
- Ordermark raised $120M
And that’s not even the full list of food tech companies that announced fundraises this month.
So what can we glean looking at this sample list?
Indoor food production is attracting money with both BrightFarms and Plenty raising more than $100-plus million each for their farming solutions.
Food delivery could become the new normal as the pandemic keeps dining rooms closed and pushes more people towards online grocery commerce. Instacart and GrubMarket both offer ways to get you groceries at home, while Zomato and Ordermark advance restaurant delivery.
Plant-based foods are still hot, with Australia’s V2Foods angling to bring its plant-based burgers to Asia and LIVEKINDLY looking to expand into the U.S. as well as develop plant-based chicken and eggs.
Grocery is going to change with Cooler Screens bringing big, bright electronic advertising to a store’s refrigerated section, and Apeel’s plant-based coating extending the shelf life of produce.
Again, this is a small sample siz, and not completely representative of all the companies that have raised money this month or even the past few months. But it reinforces a bigger trend that we reported on back in June: Despite economic upheavals brought on by the pandemic, food tech companies continue to find investment.
This makes sense considering that everyone on the planet has to eat. What we can start to see from these investments is where the biggest changes are coming to how we eat.
This is the web version of our weekly newsletter. Subscribe today to get all the best food tech news delivered direct to your inbox.
In addition to big funding news, this week also saw what could wind up being two big developments in food robotics:
White Castle announced that it was adding Miso Robotics’ Flippy ROAR cooking robot to 10 more locations. Considering White Castle’s first pilot with Flippy was just announced in July, this seems to be validation for automation in QSR kitchens. Not only can robots provide more contactless meal prep and create social distance for employees, robots can work around the clock, which is important for a restaurant chain like White Castle, which is open 24 hours a day.
Also this week, we learned that Briggo’s automated Coffee Haus is now Costa Coffee BaristaBot. Coca-Cola acquired the Austin, TX-based Briggo earlier this year. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the deep pockets and brand recognition of Costa Coffee could provide the means to not only expand its own automated vending ambitions, but kickstart growth for the entire robo-barista sector.
The pandemic certainly accelerated interest in food robots and automation, so bet on seeing more of them actually deployed in 2021.
Mobile Servers and Menu Innovation: Crave’s Virtual Food Hall Brings Fine Dining to the Delivery Realm – Crave employs its own couriers, which it calls “mobile servers.” They are W-2 employees, and many are former servers out of work because of the pandemic.
Uber Expands Grocery Delivery to Manhattan – online grocery could heat up again as the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down.
Deep Branch Secures €2.5M to Scale Up Production of Novel Protein Using CO2 Inputs – With today’s news, Deep Branch is expanding to mainland Europe as part of an effort to accelerate the scaling of production for the company’s novel protein.
Lunchbox Raises $20M to Expand Its Online Ordering System for Restaurants – Lunchbox’s software integrates digital ordering, loyalty programs, delivery dispatch, marketing, analytics, and many other features into a single interface, effectively eliminating the need for restaurants to juggle multiple restaurant tech platforms on the front end.
DouxMatok to Scale Production of Its Sugar Tech in N. America with Lantic – DouxMatok’s technology makes sugar particles more efficient, so you don’t need as much of it.