The Week in Food Tech Funding: Olio Continues Food Waste’s Hot Streak – The Spoon

Food waste reduction is a hot investment space and one of the most active investor segments within the broader category in surplus food marketplaces.

And this week Olio, perhaps the most well-known of the share-your-food app startups, announced a $43 million Series B investment. Cofounder Tessa Clarke describes the funding as transformational via this Medium post and explains the three ways she sees funding being put to use:

  • Investment in Core Product: The company plans to hire more developers and build out new features in the core product, including “new features such as ‘Borrow’ and ‘Wanted’.”
  • Expansion of Food Waste Hero Programme: The company plans on expanding its corporate partner program that sources food from food service companies to pick up their excess food waste and redistribute into the community
  • International: the company is eyeing expansion into markets beyond Europe and North America, and it currently has 10 most promising in mind in ” Latin American, Asian & Northern European regions.”.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve watched as companies like Too Good to Go, Flashfood and Karma have raised funding to expand their platforms that enable restaurants and grocery stores to sell excess or soon-to-expire food to deal-shopping and lower-income consumers.

What sets Olio apart is that it enables home to home sharing for food. In this way, it’s like a more focused and less cluttered version of the Buy Nothing Facebook groups that have popped up in recent years. According to Clarke’s Medium post, Olio has helped save 25 million portions of food and 3 million other household items from being tossed in the waste bin.

Olio’s round continues a hot streak for food waste prevention investment over the past month after we saw Apeel raise an eye-popping quarter billion in funding in August. Both Apeel and Olio said they’d seen an acceleration in adoption over the past year, which echoes what we heard at our Food Waste Innovation Forum in June: The pandemic forced both companies and consumers to get serious about reducing food waste.

Here’s what else happened in food tech funding:

Plant-Based

Proeon – $2.4 Million: Pune-based plant-based ingredient company Proeon has raised a $2.4 million seed round. The company is similar to Motif Foodworkds in that its focus is building a range of different ingredient building blocks for companies building plant-based food products. The company plans to use its funding to build an R&D facility in the Netherlands, file more patents and hire more people.

CHKN Not Chicken – $4.5 Million: Portland Oregon based plant-based chicken startup CHKN Not Chicken has raised $4.5 million from Stray Dog Capital. The company will use the funding to expand the distribution of its flagship product into retail and grow its restaurant business. Unlike many of the alt-chicken products like Impossible’s new nuggets, which is made with soy, CHKN Not Chicken is made with pea protein.

Precision Fermentation

All G Foods – AU$16 million: Australian alt-protein startup All G Foods has raised AU$16 million in seed funding to fund growth for its plant-based meat business (Love BUDS Meat) and its precision fermentation-based alt-milk (CellMilk). The company is moving fast with veteran entrepreneur Jan Pacas at the helm. Pacas, who cofounded pet-sitting website Mad Paws, started the company only a year ago.

Cell-Based Meat

CellX – $4.3M: China-based cell-based meat startup CellX has raised $4.3 million in funding. The company makes a cell-based pork product. The company, which has 25 scientists working on developing its cell-based meat product platform in Shanghai. CellX is one of two startups this week that are semifinalists for the XPRIZE “Feed the Next Billion” competition, which is an indication that investors see participation in the XPRIZE contest as a validation of the company.

Wild Earth – $23 Million – Plant-based pet food startup Wild Earth announced a $23 million funding round from a group of investors that includes Mark Cuban and the star of Vampire Diaries, Paul Wesley. The company plans to use the funding to expand its pet food product line into products that use cell-based meat. The company plans to offer cell-based beef, chicken, pork, and seafood as part of the ingredient list for the new lineup, which it plans to start rolling out in 2022.

Mogale Meat Co. – Investment Amount Unknown: Mogale Meat Co, a South African-based cultured meat company, received an investment from alt-protein investor CULT Food Science Corp. Mogale plans to use the capital to invest in BioBank, which, according to the announcement, is “Mogale’s core intellectual property asset that currently contains over 500 cryo-preserved cell samples derived from free-roaming livestock and wild antelope.” Like CeeX, Mogale is an XPRIZE “Feed the Next Billion” semi-finalist.

Food Delivery

Cookunity – $47 million; Chef-powered meal delivery service CookUnity raises a $47 million Series B funding round. CookUnity, which provides chefs with kitchens and the digital platform to connect directly with consumers, is planning on using the money to expand the cities it’s doing business in. The company saw a topline revenue growth rate of over 5x over the past 12 months and has 55 chefs on its roster.

Food Robotics

Piestro – $2 Million+: Piestro, the automated artisanal pizza-making robot that is part of the Wavemaker Labs family of food robot investments, has raised over $2 million on crowdfunding startup platform StartEngine with less than three weeks to go. WaveMaker has continued to emphasize equity crowdfunding as a way to raise capital, starting with Miso Robotics, in which the company has raised $30 million so far via crowdfunding, and other portfolio properties such as the Bobacino robotic tea bar and Future Acres’ ag-bot.

Restaurant Tech

Heard – $10 Million: Hospitality and restaurant point of sale startup Heard has raised $10 million. The company, which counts Tiger Woods as one of its investors, makes point of sale software suite that includes front and back-of-house management tools for smaller restaurant operators.

That’s it for this week. If you have funding news you want in our weekly food tech news wrapup, let us know. And make sure you subscribe if you want to get The Week in Food Tech Funding in your inbox.

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