NCN News for January 26, 2018

Cargill invests in PURIS pea protein production

Cargill (Minneapolis, Minn.) has signed a joint venture agreement with Minneapolis-based PURIS (formerly World Food Processing), a family owned company that produces pea protein. The joint venture will focus on the development of “label-friendly” plant-based foods, and Puris expects to add substantial capacity, including a second plant. In addition to its flagship organic pea protein, PURIS also produces starches, fibers and non-GMO ingredients from soy, pulses, lentils and corn for use in powders, mixes, energy bars, and cereals. “PURIS is a game changer in terms of taste and vertical integration in pea protein,” said David Henstrom, vice president of Cargill Starches, Sweeteners and Texturizers. Pea protein has grown in popularity among consumers seeking a source of vegan, dairy-free and soy-free protein.

The Nature’s Bounty Co. acquires The Best Bar Ever

The Nature’s Bounty Co. (Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) has acquired The Best Bar Ever (Hunt Valley, Md.), adding “real food” nutrition bars to its portfolio of sports and nutrition products.  The bars contain no artificial flavors, sweeteners or added preservatives and are described as having an ideal ratio of quality fats, carbs, and proteins. Founded in 2005 by CEO Mike Clay, The Best Bar Ever is sold primarily in the health and fitness channel. Nature’s Bounty Co.’s sports and nutrition brands include Pure Protein, MET-Rx, Body Fortress protein powder, and Balance bar. KKR acquired majority control of The Nature’s Bounty Co. from The Carlyle Group in mid-2017.

Novolyze raises €2.2 million to lower risk of foodborne illness

Against a backdrop of increasingly stringent food safety regulations, Novolyze (Daix, France; Cambridge, Mass.) has raised €2.2 million to accelerate commercialization of its Surronov range of surrogate microorganisms for use in food safety control processes. Of this, €1.2 million came from private investors, family offices and business angels and the rest from public research programs and grants, including the French government’s Investissement d’Avenir fund. Novolyze has developed ready-to-use surrogate microorganisms geared to a wide variety of food (milk powder, flour, meat, fish, pastries, juice, etc.) that the company says offer advantages over traditional sampling-based control methods. Novolyze was a presenting company at NCN’s Fall 2017 Investor Meeting in San Francisco.

EVOLVE Brands to acquire Gorilly Goods and Supernola

EVOLVE Brands LLC (Jackson, Wis.), a newly formed holding company for healthy snack brands, has conditionally agreed to acquire Gorilly Goods, also of Jackson, and Supernola (Harrisburg, Pa.). Launched in 2012, Gorilly Goods produces raw savory and sweet snacks from fruits, nuts, seeds and greens; ingredients are organic, vegan and non-GMO. Supernola is a line of snacking granolas created by founder Cindy Poiesz. Supernola snacks are made with anti-inflammatory superfoods and are certified by the Paleo Foundation. EVOLV plans to consolidate and operate both companies out of Jackson.

Seventure invests in Zipongo digital nutrition platform

Seventure Partners has invested $9 million as part of an $18 million Series B1 funding round in Zipongo (San Francisco, Calif.) that results in Zipongo’s total financing rising to over $50 million. Seventure was joined by existing investor Mayfield and Zaffre Investments, the investment fund of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Founded in 2011 Zipongo is a digital nutrition platform that provides personalized meal recommendations based on biometrics and food preferences. Zipongo works with employers, health plans and wellness companies to reduce chronic disease and improve the health of employees and members. Funding will be used to expand Zipongo’s European presence and launch the FoodScripts program to reduce reliance on medication by using food as an alternative first-line therapy. Isabelle de Cremoux, CEO and managing partner of Seventure Partners, said Zipongo’s position at the intersection of wellbeing and technology makes it a “perfect investment” for its Health for Life Capital fund. Seventure is an NCN Cornerstone Investor.

301 INC. leads Series B for plant-based Urban Remedy

Urban Remedy (Point Richmond, Calif.), a plant-based food company that offers organic, non-GMO ready-to-eat meals, snacks, and cold pressed juices, has closed a $17 million Series B fundraising round with lead investment from 301 INC. Investment will be used to scale the business. John Foraker, former head of Annie’s, the organic food company acquired by General Mills in 2014, will join Urban Remedy’s board of directors. Urban Remedy was founded in 2009 by licensed acupuncturist Neka Pasquale; recipes use organic ingredients and are intended to lower inflammation naturally. Urban Remedy ships directly to customers, in addition to operating 13 retail locations and 30 Whole Foods kiosks in California.

capital D takes majority stake in Invincible Brands

Capital D has acquired a majority stake in Invincible Brands (Berlin, Germany), an e-commerce brand builder focused on healthy living and that uses Snapchat and other social media platforms to grow health, beauty and fitness brands. Founded in November 2015, Invincible has three brands, two of which are in health and wellness: Natural Mojo superfood powders, and HelloBody coconut oil beauty products. “The Invincible Brands’ management team has achieved spectacular tangible results in a short time, capitalising on the tribal buying tendencies of millennials,” said Stephan Lobmeyr, co-founder of capital D. Invincible Brands says its marketing platform reaches over 100 million women and men worldwide on social media every month.

Castanea invests in Yasso frozen yogurt

Castanea Partners has invested in Yasso (Quincy, Mass.), a Greek frozen yogurt brand featuring stick bars, sandwiches, and pints. Yasso was founded in 2009 by co-CEOs Amanda Klane and Drew Harrington and today distributes products nationwide through conventional grocery stores, as well as the natural, club and mass channels. “Yasso’s nutritional profile, simple ingredients and great tasting product fill a market void between high calorie, overly indulgent products and artificial tasting diet brands,” said Juan Marcos Hill, a partner at Castanea.

Nestlé partners with Know Brainer

Know Brainer (Lafayette, Colo.), a producer and marketer of a ketogenic coffee creamer made with organic grass-fed clarified butter and non-GMO MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides), has partnered with Nestlé via the Terra Food + Ag Tech Accelerator program, according to a Bevnet article on Know Brainer’s website. Know Brainer was founded by Shari Leidich in 2016 after leaving her previous organic snack venture, Two Moms in the Raw. Nestlé has been helping Know Brainer with consumer insight and market research as well as providing guidance on product development, the article said. Leidich said the goal is to go deeper in grocery with a refrigerated product. The partnership currently involves no financial investment or equity. Know Brainer was a presenting company at the NCN XXI Fall Investor Meeting in 2017.

BGF invests in British retailer Revital

Business Growth Fund (BGF) has made a significant minority investment in Revital (London, UK), a retailer of supplements, beauty and wellness products online and in 18 stores. Founded in 1991 by Raj Vora, the family business sells branded and own-brand products. Funding will be invested in its online channel, new product development and rollout of stores. Revital reported revenues of €12 million for the year ended 30 April 2017, according to Realdeals.EU. MuscleFood, an online purveyor of meats, sports nutrition supplements and high-protein foods, is another BGF portfolio company.

Inflexion invests in third pet-care company in UK

Inflexion Private Equity is investing in pet supplement company Lintbells (Weston, U.K.), its third investment in the animal care arena. Founded in 2006, Lintbells supplement brands include YuMOVE for joint mobility and YuMEGA for skin and coat. According to Inflexion, the UK market for pet supplements is worth approximately £100 million and is growing at 7% per annum. “Lintbells operates in an immature and fragmented market, so there is significant scope for the business to accelerate its growth in both the UK and internationally,” Inflexion said. Inflexion previously invested in Medivet, a veterinary clinic operator, and Kynetec, a provider of market research for animal health and agriculture.

Biotech company announces Series D for spider silk

Bolt Threads (Emeryville, Calif.) announced a $123 million Series D funding, led by Baillie Gifford, with participation from Fidelity Management and Research Company, Formation 8/BUILDERS VC, Founders Fund, and Temasek. Founded in 2009, Bolt Threads develops proprietary technology to deliver high-performance materials focused on sustainability. Bolt Threads makes Microsilk, a protein fiber cultured with the same molecular structure as spider silk. In 2017 the company released a Microsilk-wool blend hat made in partnership with Best Made Company, an outdoor apparel and gear business acquired by Bolt Threads last year.

Unilever invests in Indian startup Milkbasket

The investment arm of Unilever has invested around Rs 19 crore in microdelivery grocery startup Milkbasket (Gurgaon, India), according to the Times of India. Milkbasket delivers milk and daily groceries to consumers’ doorsteps by 7am in the city of Gurgaon. It is one of the several investments in India by Unilever Ventures, including water solutions provider Mor, ice cream brand Hangyo, and startup Peel-Works, the article said.

Ando joins UberEats family

Food delivery startup Ando (New York, N.Y.), which delivers food prepared in its own kitchen, has announced that it is integrating with Uber Eats (San Francisco, Calif.).  It is Uber’s first food-related acquisition, according to PitchBook. Founded in 2015 by chef David Chang, Ando’s service was predicted to generate $3 billion in gross sales in 2017. UberEats is an automated restaurant meal delivery app that has become the most profitable arm of Uber, at times outpacing its ride services in some cities, Pitchbook said.

Series C brings funding to $57 million for food-waste technology

Waste-to-fertilizer technology startup WISErg (Redmond, Wash.) has raised a $19.2 million Series C round, bringing the company’s total fundraising to $56.6 million, according to AgFunder. The round was led by Laird Norton Company, with Second Avenue Partners and other existing investors also participating. WISErg provides grocery stores with a way to recycle expired produce and leftover prepared foods with their self-contained digester, the Harvester.


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