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News Roundup: Last Week in Foodtech and Agtech Startups

From potential FoodTech IPO's to Canadian Beekeepers increasing food security, we have your trending news in FoodTech and AgTech.

1. European Food Startup Hello Fresh planning
for IPO

European Food Startup Hello Fresh Product Image

Hello Fresh was valued at approximately $3 Billion USD  in September 

  • What: The Berlin based company which delivers food boxes including precise amounts required to cook meals along with recipes is heavily considering an IPO on the Frankfurt exchange.

    The company, founded in 2011, has taken in $217 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2015, but has not recorded any profit since its inception, with an operating loss of over $50 million in the same first three quarters of 2015 which saw a 4x revenue increase from the first three quarters of 2014.
  • Why: Subtracting the marketing costs being used to turn conservative shoppers in eight international markets including the UK, Netherlands, and United States, Hello Fresh is profitable by over fifteen million dollars in 2015.

    The massive marketing push is aimed at converting a large segment of the European grocery shoppers resistant to new "food in a box" services such as Hello Fresh.

    Berlin-based Rocket Internet, which is a majority stakeholder in HelloFresh, hopes that an IPO will provide a much needed push to secure generation Y customers and reduce marketing expenses.
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2. Sydney Based Green Camel leader in computerized hydroponic crop and fish production

Facility Image of Sydney-Based Green Camel: Leader in Computerized Hydroponic Food Production

Green Camel's food production facility on the outskirts of Sydney is one of the most efficient in the world.

  • What: A 5,000 Square Meter Facility in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, Green Camel produces 130,000 Kg of herbs and 15,000 Kg of fish each year.

    The warehouse produces nearly zero waste: almost all of the solar energy is absorbed and the fish waste is integrated into fertilizer for plants such as coriander and basil which are grown above the tanks full of Barramundi, a fish that responds particularly well to hydroponic conditions (on average one fish grows 9% of its body weight each day in the Green Camel System)
  • Why: Green Camel's system is one of exemplary efficiency. Nearly all of the growing process is automated, and only a couple workers are required to operate the massive facility.

    The fish produced from the system exhibit a "wet food conversion ratio" of .9 to 1 (.9 Kg of fish feed produce 1 Kg of fish), which is nearly twice as efficient as the next meat (chicken: 1.8 to 1). Facilities like these may very well be a snapshot of the future of food production.
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3. Tokyo-Based Planet Table launches Send

Tokyo based Planet Table launches send to improve food logistics for restaurants

Send allows for a more efficient supply and demand balance for Japanese food distributors and restaurants.

  • What: Planet Table's Send Platform, originally launched with first customers in August in Tokyo, allows restaurants to place orders from different farmers, pay in one lump sum, and rely on Planet Table to deliver the foods.

    Planet Table has used computer algorithms to predict demands in certain types of produce and meats, and holds surplus inventory of certain products to allow same day delivery to restaurants.
  • Why: The Send service is an encouraging step toward food supply chain efficiency in Japan. Due to the logistics efficiency provided by Send, shrinkage in Planet Table's supply line is only 3%, with company leadership believing they can reduce this level of waste even further.

    The size of the platform also allows for wider distribution and sale of so called "imperfect produce", produce which cannot be served plainly in restaurant dishes due to deformities, but can be used for purees, soups or sauces.

    Without Send, says Planet Table Founder CEO Shin Kikuchi, deformed produce would be much less likely to find a buyer.
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4. S.F. based ZeroCater surpasses $100M in orders

Foodtech Startup ZeroCater offices and employees in San Francisco

ZeroCater has grown to over 100 employees with only $1.5 in venture backing to date.

  • What: A service created to help offices order group lunches for employees, ZeroCater partners with food establishments to efficiently facilitate large orders, provide custom menus, and ensure order accuracy and food quality.

    In return they charge a percentage of the order price. The company was founded by Arram Sabeti, who started the company originally using exclusively excel spreadsheets to organize orders.
  • Why: The company has been lauded for being lean and mean financially. It has reportedly surpassed over $100 Million in orders as well as 100 employees with around $1.5 million dollar in venture capital funding.

    ZeroCater was a participant in Y-Combinator, has expanded outside of San Francisco to cities like Chicago and New York.
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5. Unprecedented amount of investment in Ag
Startups in Q3 2015

Funding for Agriculture Startups Growing: Sources: Dow Jones VentureSource | Venturewire | L Kolodny
  • What: Agriculture startups have raised $113.6 million in venture funding in Q3 of 2015. This quantity is the most since Dow Jones VentureSource began collecting data in 1992, according to Lora Kolodny of the Wall Street Jounral.
  • Why: The Ag Startup sector is booming in a down year for venture capital. This unprecedented funding news broke not far after the news of new $100+ Million Ag-Tech and Food-Tech funds like S2G Ventures and ‍Open Priarie
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‍6. IBM's Supercomputer Watson Preventing
F‍ood Waste

Demo of IBM Watson supercomputer collaborating with Bon Appetit to prevent food waste

Watson can quickly pluck optimized recipe suggestions from a 10,000 recipe database.

  • ‍What: IBM's supercomputer Watson has the ability to suggest optimal recipes with given ingredient inputs. The computer accesses a database of over 10,000 recipes then uses an algorithm to determine best choices based off of flavoring and palette.
  • Why: Watson's computing ability is so powerful that it can concoct viable recipes from usually unrelated ingredients.

    This capability has far reaching implications for food waste: Powerful computers based off of Watson in the future may be able to optimally combine leftover ingredients in pantires across the world and suggest new and tasty recipes with the leftovers.
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‍7. Genetically modified bees could be key to food security

Hi resolution photo of bumble bee pollination courtesy Pixabay

New research will focus on combining over ten desirable traits for future generations of bees.

  • What: Over $7.3 Million in funding will be granted to the University of British Columbia, in an effort to breed genetically fortified bees that can survive pests, viruses, and winter temperatures.
  • Why:‍ Bees are a vital supporter of agricultural diversity. In Ontario alone, nearly 100,000 bee-keepers support around 13% of a $7 billion dollar crop industry ‍annually.

    In the past decade, Canadian bee populations have been steadily declining, leading to increased bee imports to support the agricultural pollination requirements.

    The economic benefit of a stronger domestic bee population in Candada is projected to be as high as $15 million annually. ‍
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Stay tuned for our next article tomorrow!

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About the Author

Author: Pat Flynn Article: News Roundup: Last Week in Foodtech and AgTech Startups

Pat Flynn

Co-Founder
Hazel Technologies LLC

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