Fish replacement may be the next big wave in alternative protein development


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Fish make up 16% of animal protein consumed globally, and demand is set to rise, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, largely thanks to rising disposable incomes.

But overfishing is hugely problematic – and it’s not sustainable to continue with the way things are. Fish populations are being decimated – including the Pacific bluefin tuna, which is now at four percent of its original size. Industrial fisheries are using large machinery to trawl oceans, which traps and kills many other animals, including whales and dolphins.

In China alone, where demand for seafood dwarfs any other country, demand is rapidly growing. This is partly due to the African Swine Fever outbreak hitting pig farms affecting pork, and causing people to turn to other sources of protein. In addition, the country’s

GettyImages 1140243144

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Pod Foods gets VC backing to reinvent grocery distribution


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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Larissa Russell and Fiona Lee founded a cookie startup called Green Pea Cookie in 2014. The cookies were 100% natural, vegan and “handcrafted with love.”

The company failed but not because the cookies weren’t selling. The business couldn’t keep up with the antiquated wholesale food distribution system’s steep costs. Two incumbent players, United Natural Foods Inc. and KeHE Distributors, essentially controlled its only pathway to grocery stores across the country. So the founders shut down Green Pea and focused their efforts on building the tool Green Pea had needed to survive: Pod Foods, a distribution and logistics platform for emerging food brands.

“We were like so many other young entrepreneurs,” Russell, Pod Foods’ chief executive officer, tells TechCrunch. “I had studied government and economics and did the cookie company because I wanted to create something better for the world but we realized there was a much bigger issue

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Millennials don’t want to get drunk. What do they want? Apéritifs.


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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Gen Z doesn’t want to get drunk. Millennials are tired of the obligatory after-work drinks.

Haus, a new startup selling apéritifs online, has a solution for them. The company’s beverages have a lower alcohol content than standard hard liquors on the market, which means you can drink one, even a few, without getting wasted. Made from distilled grapes, fresh herbs and botanicals, its natural ingredients and A-plus branding are sure to appeal to the younger demographic.

Launching today with pre-seed backing from venture capital funds Combine, Haystack and Partners Resolute, customers can begin ordering Haus’ citrus & flower-flavored debut apéritif (15% ABV), priced at $70 apiece. The goal, co-founder Helena Price Hambrecht explains, is to be the first fully direct-to-consumer player in an industry dominated by digitally-novice incumbent alcohol brands and distributors.

Haus enters the market at an opportune time. VCs — more than ever — are funneling cash

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Indonesia’s Kopi Kenangan raises a sweet $20M to expand its coffee business


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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Kopi Kenangan, a startup that wants to make quality, fresh coffee affordable to Indonesian consumers, has raised $20 million as it begins to consider overseas expansion in Southeast Asia.

The round comes courtesy of Sequoia India and Southeast Asia, via the $695 million investment fund it closed last year. Kopi Kenangan previously raised $8 million from Alpha JWC Ventures.

Started in 2017 by Edward Tirtanata and James Prananto, the company aims to bridge the gap between cheap street vendor coffee and drinks priced at the higher end of the spectrum from international chains such as Starbucks — the ‘sweet spot,’ you might say. That delta is a major reason why Indonesia, which is the world’s fourth-largest coffee exporter, has Southeast Asia’s lowest coffee consumption per person, Tirtanata argued.

Kopi Kenangan is also unashamedly local. Rather than lattes, mochas or flat whites, its top-selling drink is ‘Es Kopi Kenangan Mantan,’ a

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Domino’s serves up self-driving pizza delivery pilot in Houston


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Domino’s really emphasizes its commitment to ‘innovation,’ but even if it’s a marketing tactic, the global pizza brand does indeed walk the walk. Case in point: It’s launching a new pilot for self-driving pizza delivery in Houston in partnership with Nuro.

Autonomous driving tech startup Nuro was founded by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu, two veterans of Google’s self-driving car project (which became Waymo), and now includes a team of self-driving engineers with experience at Waymo, Apple, Uber, GM and Tesla. The company’s ability to book such tremendous talent as a startup probably has a lot to do with the nearly $1 billion investment from SoftBank it announced in February. Or vice versa, I suppose.

Domino’s will make use of Nuro’s felt of autonomous test vehicles to deliver pizzas to people in Houston who order through their app or online, and the pizzas will be delivered using Nuro’s R2 vehicle,

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Tyson Foods launches its take on alternative proteins with new “Raised & Rooted” brand


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Earlier today, Tyson Foods announced the launch of its first foray into the meat replacement market with the unveiling of its Raised and Rooted brand.

While the company’s plant-based nuggets present a direct challenge to companies like Beyond Meat, Tyson Foods is playing a different game by introducing consumers to foods that are blended with meat and protein replacements.

So it’s not exactly a direct competitor to Beyond Meat, a former Tyson Foods venture portfolio investment, or Impossible Foods, which are the two current leaders in the growing alterna-beef category.

Rather it seems to be an attempt to up-sell customers on products with less beef for potentially more money? Tyson did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

For Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods, making alternative proteins is less of an optional strategy and more of a necessary response to what could be an existential

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YouTuber gets 15 month prison sentence, $22,000 fine for toothpaste-filled Oreos


This post is by Brian Heater from TechCrunch


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YouTube star Kanghua Ren was just handed a 15 month prison sentence and 20,000 euro ($22,300) fine for a January 2017 video.

The video, which generated widespread outrage online, found Ren giving a homeless man in Barcelona repackaged Oreo cookies filled with toothpaste.

“Maybe I’ve gone a bit far, but look at the positive side: This will help him clean his teeth,” the China-born YouTuber (then 19) known as ReSet said in the video. “I think he hasn’t cleaned them since he became poor.”

The 52-year-old man vomited after ingesting the cookies, later telling a paper that he had, “never been treated so poorly while living on the street.”

Ren was given the sentence on Friday, though The New York Times notes that he’ll likely not actually serve any time, given how nonviolent crimes are generally treated in Spanish court. In addition, his YouTube channel and various

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Looking Beyond Meat, the future of food investment looks pretty cheesy


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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As Beyond Meat continues its reign as one of the kings of this year’s IPO mountain and Impossible Foods serves up impossibly good numbers for Burger King, venture capitalists seem ready to feast on new food deals.

And judging by market size and the returns that some companies have already realized by targeting the dairy aisle, the next big wave in food tech might just come with a whiff of Camembert. Meat alternatives and cultured meat may be grabbing headlines, but a wave of early-stage companies are looking at the dairy business for the next big thing.

There’s nothing cheesy about the size of the check that Danone wrote for WhiteWave Foods. That over $10 billion payout for WhiteWave’s dairy alternatives was one of the single biggest acquisitions in the new food space. And consumers spent a whopping $61.9 billion on cheese in 2018 — a number that’s expected

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Why Luckin’s ultimate target may not be Starbucks


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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Starbucks plans to double its store count in China to 5,000 in 2021 and Luckin, a one-year-old coffee startup, is matching up by aiming to reach 4,500 by the end of this year. Luckin’s upsized $651 million flotation has brought American investors’ attention to this potential Starbucks rival in China, where the Seattle giant controlled over half of the coffee market as late as 2017. But as soon as you make your first purchase with Luckin, you realize its ultimate goal may not be to topple Starbucks.

To get your caffeine intake from Luckin, the ordering process happens entirely on its app. First, you will decide how you want to fetch the drink: have it delivered within 30 minutes, pick it up at a nearby Luckin kiosk, or sit back and sip at one of its full-on cafes, or what it calls ‘relax stores.’

Say you’re tied up at

luckin

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As meal-kit melee stretches on, Sun Basket whips up $30M Series E


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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Sun Basket, a provider of a healthy meal delivery service, has raised another $30 million in venture capital funding. The round, led by PivotNorth Capital, brings the company’s total raised to $125 million.

The Series E funding delays Sun Basket’s expected initial public offering once again. There’s been unsubstantiated talk of a Sun Basket float for quite some time; in fact, before Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, a pair of fellow meal kit delivery businesses, completed IPOs, Sun Basket was the subject of exit rumors. Alas, we will have to wait a while longer before the company makes the big leap.

After all, Blue Apron has performed very poorly since going public on the New York Stock Exchange two years ago. Sun Basket chief executive has been honest about the difficulties of being a meal kit startup in a post-Blue Apron IPO universe, telling PitchBook his company’s Series D

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Crowned by Burger King, meat replacement company Impossible Foods raises $300 million


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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After being crowned by Burger King as the first meat replacement patty to roll out nationally with one of the largest fast food chains, Impossible Foods has raised $300 million in capital.

The financing brings the company’s total equity raise to $750 million — and provides a sizable pool of funds to draw from as it continues to compete with its newly-publicly traded rival, Beyond Meat.

Both companies are looking to provide plant-based replacements for animal proteins, but while Beyond Meat has focused on consumers in the grocery store, Impossible Foods has focused on restaurants and business-to-business sales.

That focus paid off earlier this year with the announcement of the Impossible Whopper, and its subsequent nationwide rollout only a month later.

Meet Bobbie, a baby formula delivery startup promising healthier ingredients


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


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Don’t like the idea of your baby guzzling down liquid candy all day? It may surprise you to find corn syrup is the main ingredient in most infant formulas in the U.S. That’s where Bobbie, a Bay Area-based baby formula delivery startup promising only wholesome ingredients hopes to fill in.

Just go down the baby food aisle of any supermarket in America and start reading the ingredients and you’ll likely find corn syrup, soy bean oil, glucose syrup, maltodextrin and palm oil at the top. Even “organic” options often add these ingredients.

While it’s high fructose corn syrup we should be most concerned with when it comes to diabetes (and some doctors might even recommend adding some sort of syrup to your baby’s diet to combat constipation), corn syrup is not something some parents may want their baby guzzling down all day.

Bobbie - baby food delivery startupTouting itself as “European” style, Bobbie’s

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Luckin Coffee plans to raise over $500M in US IPO


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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Luckin Coffee, the ambitious Chinese upstart that’s going after Starbucks, could raise nearly $600 million from its upcoming IPO. That’s according to a price range released by the Chinese startup.

In a new filing, Luckin said it plans to sell 30 million shares at an initial range of $15-$17. That gives an estimated raise of $450 million to $510 million, but it could be bumped up if underwriters take up the additional allocation of 4.5 million shares. So, as a grand total, the listing could raise $586.5 million if the full offering is bought at the top of the range.

The company will list on the Nasdaq as ‘LK.’

Luckin filed to go public last month, just weeks after it closed a $150 million Series B+ funding round led by New York private equity firm Blackrock, which interestingly holds a 6.58 percent stake in

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Beyond Meat rockets in early trading on Nasdaq, reaching a valuation of over $3 billion


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Meat alternatives are getting a big public market debut with the Beyond Meat public offering, as shares of the company rocketed above their initial list price.

The company’s shares surged up 135% in their market opener, valuing the company as high as $3.52 billion. Volatility was so high on the company’s stock that the Nasdaq had to pause trading of “BYND” shares.

The company’s first trade came in at $46 at 12:18 p.m. Eastern, according to a report in MarketWatch. That’s a whopping 76% above the initial price. Gains extended throughout the morning reaching an intraday high of $63.43 (or around 154% above its initial high) and the stock is now trading at around $55 per share.

The company priced its public offering at $25 per share last night — at the upper end of an already increased share price (likely in response to shareholder demand).

In

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Grainchain, a blockchain-based platform for commodity sales, launches in Mexico


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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In the two years since GrainChain launched its distributed ledger-based transaction platform for bulk dry goods the company has brokered thousands of contracts on everything from corn, sorghum, wheat, and soybeans to even sand from its headquarters in McAllen, Tex.

Now the company is expanding its services to Mexico, partnering with the government of Tamaulipas, to help farmers and grain elevators with commodity management and settlement.

Integrating with existing grain elevator equipment, GrainChain will deploy its sensors and software to automate the certification of inventory, invoice settlement and reporting to buyers and sellers, according to a statement from the company.

Although the company’s blockchain adoption is new, GrainChain began developing its technology six years ago as an inventory supply chain management toolkit for farmers.

The company’s founder and chief executive Luis Macias had sold his previous software business Verge Data to an insurance company in 2005 and took some time

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Starbucks CEO says Chinese rival Luckin’s ‘heavy discount’ strategy isn’t sustainable


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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A war of words in the coffee world is brewing after the CEO of Starbucks claimed Chinese upstart Luckin can’t last just days after it filed for a U.S IPO.

Kevin Johnson, who leads the American coffee giant, told CNBC that competitors in China including Luckin have adopted a strategy of building market share using “heavy, heavy discounts” that he believes is not sustainable.

“We’re deploying capital and building 600 new stores per year,” he said. We’re “generating the return on invested capital that we believe is sustainable to continue to build new stores at this rate for many years to come.”

Starbucks claims 30,000 stores worldwide. It has been in China for 20 years and it is aiming to reach 6,000 stores in the country by 2022. Luckin, fuelled by over $550 million in VC money, has quickly scaled to reach 2,370 locations in under two

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Beyond Meat files for a public offering


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Beyond Meat, the meat replacement company whose packages of Beyond Burgers line grocery store aisles across America, has filed for an initial public offering.

The company is looking to raise roughly $200 million in the stock sale for its portfolio of burger, chicken and sausage replacements, selling 8.75 million shares of common stock at an upper limit of $21 per share that would value Beyond Meat at more than $1 billion.

The Los Angeles-based company’s public offering should be a nice windfall for the Chicago-based investors DNS Capital, an investment firm managing the private wealth of the Pritzker family, and Cleveland Avenue, founded by former McDonald’s executive Don Thompson; as well as the venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins and Obvious Ventures.

Another winner from the Beyond Meat public offering is the corporate investment arm of Tyson Foods . The meat processor and marketer invested in Beyond Meat back in

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Starbucks challenger Luckin’s fundraising spree continues with $150M investment


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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Coffee startup Luckin is continuing its fundraising spree as it sets its sight on becoming an alternative to Starbucks in China.

The a-year-and-a-half old company announced on Thursday that it closed a Series B-plus raise totaling $150 million. The fresh proceeds valued Luckin at $2.9 billion post-money, up from $2.2 billion just four months ago.

While many question Luckin’s cash-fueled expansion, Blackrock, which owns a 6.58 percent stake in Starbucks, shows its confidence in the Chinese startup by pumping $125 million through its private equity fund into Luckin’s new round.

With that, the New York-based investment firm has its bet on two contrasting models for China’s coffee consumption. While Starbucks zeroes in on the brick-and-mortar experience, Luckin is a network of last-mile coffee delivery centers plus places for people to pick up orders and sit down targeting busy white-collar workers.

In a move that would amp up

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With a new CEO and fresh funding from Upfront, healthy prepared food delivery service Territory looks to grow


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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With a new chief executive officer and $4 million in fresh funding from investors including the Los Angeles-based investment firm, Upfront Ventures, Territory Foods is poised for growth.

The company recently hired powerhouse executive Abby Coleman, the former vice president of marketing and strategy at Quidsi and head of e-commerce at Diapers.com as its new chief executive and is now looking to expand its footprint and unique approach to meal delivery beyond its current geographies.

The company uses a proprietary food recommendation engine to determine its subscribers’ personal preferences to deliver them meals that are more tailored to their individual tastes.

Territory also employs a unique business model, leveraging local chefs to prepare meals according to menus designed by the company.

The distributed workforce of gig chefs allows the company greater flexibility in planning, preparing, and distributing its meals, according to Coleman.

A lifelong vegetarian and mother of two

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Trifecta adds Beyond Meat’s products to its organic prepared food delivery service


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Organic meal delivery service Trifecta is partnering with Beyond Meat to bring the company’s plant-based meat replacements to its prepared meal and a la carte delivery service, the companies said today.

Unlike its biggest competitor, Impossible Foods  (which chose to go a business-to-business route supplying its meat replacement to restaurants), Beyond Meat primarily went through the grocery store aisle to reach consumers. This marks the first time that prepared Beyond Meat foods will be available through a delivery service.

The provision of plant-based proteins will compliment Trifecta’s prepared food offerings for consumers looking for keto, vegan, vegetarian, paleo or other diets, the company said.

“With Trifecta fast becoming a household name within the health and fitness community, we did not have a high protein, low carb, low saturated fat option for our plant-based product lines, so Beyond Meat was a perfect fit for us,” said Greg Connolly, Trifecta’s chief executive,

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