From lab-grown meat to fermented fungus, here’s what corporate food VCs are serving up

TechCrunch | 4/20/2019 | Staff
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In a foodie’s ideal world, we’d all eat healthy, minimally processed cuisine sourced from artisanal farmers, bakers and chefs.

In the real world, however, most of us derive the lion’s share of calories from edibles supplied by a handful of giant food conglomerates. As such, the ingredients and processing techniques they favor have an outsized impact on our daily diets.

Mind - Crunchbase - News - Look - Food

With this in mind, Crunchbase News decided to take a look at corporate food VCs and the startups they are backing to see what their dealmaking might say about our snacking future. We put together a list of venture funds operated by some of the larger food and beverage producers, covering literally everything from soup to nuts (plus lunch meat and soda, too!).

Like their corporate backers, startups funded by “Big Food” are a diverse bunch. Recent funding recipients are pursuing endeavors ranging from alternative protein to biospectral imaging to fermented fungus. But if one were to pinpoint an overarching trend, it might be a shift away from cost savings to consumer-friendliness.

Technologies - Producers - Rob - LeClerc - Partner

“You think of food-tech and ag-tech 1.0, these were technologies that were primarily beneficial to the producers,” said Rob LeClerc, founding partner at AgFunder, an agrifood investor network. “This new generation of companies are really more focused on what does the consumer want.”

And what does the consumer want? This particular consumer would currently like a zero calorie hot fudge sundae. More broadly, however, the general trends LeClerc sees call for food that is healthier, tastier, nutrient-dense, satiating, ethically sourced and less environmentally impactful.

Trends - Detail - Companies - Investors - Edibles

Below, we look at some of the trends in more detail, including funded companies, active investors and the up-and-coming edibles.

Mass-market foods may get better but also weirder. This is particularly true for one of the more consistently hot areas of food-tech investment: alternative protein.

Demand - Foods

Demand for protein-rich foods, combined with ethical...
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