Food And Beverage Financial News Roundup: Upcycling Trend, Alt Protein, Diversity Investing In Focus – Forbes

LIVERMORE, CA – JULY 18: A Safeway customer browses in the fruit and vegetable section at Safeway’s … [+] new “Lifestyle” store July 18, 2007 in Livermore, California. Safeway unveiled its newest Lifestyle store that features numerous organic and natural foods as well as expanded produce, meat, seafood and floral departments. The store also offers freshly made desserts and baked goods, a coffee roaster, a fresh nut bar and wine section with over 2,000 wines, some of which are stored in a climate controlled wine cellar. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
January of 2022 has continued to see a robust fundraising and M&A pipeline in the food and beverage space, following a record year for U.S. VC activities — a staggering $329.9 billion invested across an estimated 17,054 deals, PitchBook showed. Total 2021 exit value was over $774.1 billion in 2021, with IPOs accounting for 88% of total VC exit value at $681.5 billion.
In consumer goods and services, U.S. VC deals have also reached all-time high as of Q4 2021 at $30.5 billion, more than doubled compared to the same period of the prior year. Moving forward, PitchBook analysts expect the precision agriculture sector to experience record M&A activity in 2022, while fermented protein will see significant widespread adoption gains fueled by record VC funding.
Here’s the latest fundraising and M&A news roundup for the food and beverage category:
B-Corp Kencko Raises $10 Million To Reduce Food Waste
Plant-based food company Kencko, a B-corp that started by focusing on blender-free smoothies and gumdrops, while diverting food waste through freeze dried technology, has raised $10 million in Series A funding after seeing its sales grow by 500% per year. This round was led by existing investor Siddhi Capital, with additional participations from both current and new investors including Next View Ventures, Riverside Ventures, Silas Capital, Cheyenne Ventures, Shilling Capital, Indico Capital, Mission Point, Gather Ventures, Nakhla Ventures, and Nextblue Ventures, bringing the brand’s total funding to more than $13.5 million. Kencko will be expanding into a new ready-to-heat product category to deliver a nutritionally balanced hot meal later in February.
PurePlus Raises $1.56 Million To Launch Upcycled Faves Candy
Plant-based ingredients supplier PurePlus has raised a $1.56 million pre-seed funding round led by Trousdale Ventures and PTK Capital to launch its own branded candy, Faves, made with upcycled fruits and vegetables. Faves claims it works with U.S. farmers to procure imperfect produce that would have otherwise ended up in landfill, and part of its goal is to provide a healthy alternative to the confectionery aisle while fighting against climate change. Amy Keller, the CEO and cofounder of PurePlus says the investment will be used to expand Faves’ footprint in the confectionery industry, and her team will solely focus on brand awareness and sales growth for its proof of concept.
Purely Elizabeth Entering New Category Upon $50 Million Raise
Breakfast foods company Purely Elizabeth has closed a $50 million series B financing round to drive its continued growth through product innovation, e-commerce, and investment in marketing. The round was led by the new SEMCAP food & nutrition division, and joined by co-investors Swander Pace Capital and SEMCAP’s Partner, Fresh Del Monte. The company has grown a 55% CAGR over the past five years, and has nearly doubled its retailer doors from 8,000 retailers in 2018 to 15,000 retailers in 2021. Purely Elizabeth, which primarily sells nutrient-dense breakfast foods in the natural channel, including granola and oatmeal, will expand its SKUs within their current line of offerings, while working to launch into a new category later this year.
Dalci Raises $1.5 Million For Gut-Friendly Brownies Business
Gut-friendly brownies startup dalci has raised an oversubscribed $1.5 million pre-seed funding round led by CPG angel investors Anush Amin and Nirav Desai, who operate their own specialized pharmacy and prescription delivery service, Apotheco Pharmacy Group. The founder of dalci, Najwa Khan, has become one of the very few female food and beverage entrepreneurs in the U.S. with Bengali and Moroccan ancestry to raise more than $1 million in seed funding. dalci’s products are made without sugar alcohols, additives, gums, or emulsifiers traditionally used for shelf stability.
Waterdrop Raises $66.8 Million To Accelerate Global Expansion
Austrian hydration company Waterdrop, which has recently entered the U.S. market, has closed a series B funding round of €60 million, approximately $66.8 million, led led by Singapore-headquartered global investment firm Temasek with additional participations by existing shareholders Bitburger Ventures and Founders Future. The capital will be used to further accelerate the company’s global expansion and continuous R&D pipeline. Waterdrop has reached $100 million in revenue in 2021, and recently entered the beverage tech industry with the release of Lucy, the first smart cap capable of filtering water through an UV-C system.
Meat Snacks Producer Chomps Raises $80 Million PE Money
Chomps, which manufactures meat snacks without hormones, antibiotics or added sugar, has secured a $80 million minority investment from private equity group Stride Consumer Partners after reportedly generating $100 million in sales in 2021. The money will be used to accelerate Chomps’ strategic initiatives, including product innovation, brand building, and distribution expansion.
Eat Beyond Global Holdings Acquires Mylk Brands
Alt protein investment firm Eat Beyond Global Holdings has agreed to acquire Mylk Brands for approximately $9 million. Mlyk Brands’ shareholders will still hold approximately 39% of ownership in the pro-forma company upon the completion of the deal. The company’s directly owned beverage brand, Banana Wave, is made from fiber-rich oats and bananas. Available in five different flavors: original, unsweetened original, mango, chocolate, and strawberry, all products are gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO with 90 calories or fewer, and contain vitamin b, potassium, and protein.
The Planting Hope Company Acquires RightRice
Women-led plant-based food and beverage player, The Planting Hope Company, has acquired alternative legume-based meal brand RightRice for $7 million. Previously backed by Strand Equity, RightRice was created by Keith Belling who is also the mastermind behind one of the fastest-growing potato chips brands Popchips, and it is one of the first brands to launch in collaboration with both Whole Foods and Amazon. The acquisition broadens Planting Hope’s capabilities in nutrient-dense innovation and emerging category leadership. Its extensive sustainability-focused portfolio includes Hope and Sesame sesame milk, Mozaics veggie chips, and Veggicopia dips and snacking olives.
Upside Foods Acquires Cultured Decadence
Previously known as Memphis Meat, cultured meat producer Upside Foods has acquired cellular agriculture company Cultured Decadence for an undisclosed sum. The deal is expected to accelerate the commercialization of lab-grown shell-free seafood including lobster meat. Cultured Decadence, which will adopt Upside’s brand upon the transaction while remaining in Wisconsin as its innovation center and headquarters, has amassed a total funding of $2.2 million to date, according to PitchBook.