European foodtech startups raised $6.3bn in 2022 — a dip from 2021’s $10.9bn but progress on 2020’s $3.2bn. Grocery delivery company Getir’s $768m Series E raise in March 2022 came out on top as the biggest round of the year, according to Dealroom, and Austria’s foodtech ecosystem made the most progress globally, with VC investment growing 11x.
The early-stage scene is also making progress: foodtech ended the year as the third best-funded sector at seed-stage in Europe in December, with a total of €34m.
So as we head into 2023, which foodtechs should be on your radar? Sifted asked five investors to share the startups they reckon everyone will want a bite of soon — the only caveat is that they couldn’t be portfolio companies.
Christian Guba — principal at FoodLabs
FoodLabs is an early-stage, Berlin-based VC investing in food, health and sustainability startups.
Root Global is a next-generation carbon accounting and sourcing startup focusing on the food supply chain. Just over a third of greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2015 were food related, according to a 2021 studies, and there’s great potential for food producers and groups to reduce emissions by selecting and analyzing the right suppliers, which Root Global’s data sets, tailored climate strategies and transparent sustainability reports aim to help companies achieve.
Molecular farming is one of the most promising technologies aiming to produce real animal proteins using plants as hosts. Prose Foods is building a platform that uses computational biology to discover and express proteins in plants, and is led by an award-winning researcher from Stanford.
1.5m tonnes of cultured meat are projected to be produced by 2030 according to the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment — so, better bioreactors and bioprocesses adapted to animal cells are needed to scale production. Ark is developing fit-for-purpose affordable bioreactors for the industrial production of cultivated meat to solve the problem of capacity.
Plant-based cheese has a hard time winning consumer adoption, mainly because of the taste disparity with the dairy alternative. But Julienne Bruno has found a way to make dairy-free burrata and stracciatella alternatives almost indistinguishable from real cheese.
Nadim El Khazen — partner, PeakBridge VC
PeakBridge is a global agritech and foodtech investor with around €200m in assets under management. Targets include seed to Series B companies at the intersection of climate, health and food.
WNWN Food Labs
London-based WNWN Food Labs (pronounced “win-win”) develops a delicious and scalable alternative chocolate product without the harmful impact of the cocoa industry, which is reliant on deforestation and child labor. WNWN’s proprietary precision fermentation technology can create a full range of ethical, sustainable and resilient chocolate alternatives while using local and abundant ingredients, such as barley.
Revyve upcycles the yeast coming from the side streams of the world’s largest breweries. Through its proprietary process the company creates simple and sustainable proteins and fibers with unique functional properties, which can replace animal-based ingredients and E-numbers. By circularly sourcing feedstock from long-term partners such as AB InBev, Revyve does not need to grow any biomass.
CarobWay is looking to maximize the potential of the carob fruit worldwide. Combining agritech and foodtech solutions, it aims to fill a void in supply and introduce new applications for this superfood, from offering an alternative to synthetic sweeteners and functional proteins to properties that can potentially be used for wellness products. Carob is a key ingredient in dairy products, and a highly sustainable crop that requires very little water and no post-harvest cold storage.
Hyperplan is a Paris-based SaaS company. Its mission is to support the anticipations of the food industry and mitigate the increasingly volatile agricultural supply. Hyperplan’s technology, based on satellite and meteorological data, enables food players to make informed tactical and strategic choices for the success of their commercial or industrial operations. This includes economic efficiency, CO2 intensity optimization and food loss reduction.
Eléonore Lafonta — associate at Five Seasons Ventures
Five Seasons Ventures is a leading pan European foodtech venture capital fund investing in companies at Series A stage.
Perfood is a German startup working on glucose monitoring with various applications, as research has shown that a lot of chronic diseases are linked to blood glucose level. Its first reimbursed solution is for migraines: the team has developed a solution that enables patients to treat migraines without drugs. Its long-term vision is to become a one-stop-shop platform to support patients with chronic conditions.
A French startup working on seafood alternatives, Seafood Reboot — a spin-off of the algae specialist Algama — is developing a range of plant-based seafood products. It creates everything from salmon and spreads to tuna, using algae as the main ingredient.
This French company is turning waste into tomorrow’s ingredients. It uses an automated platform to connect a company with food waste to another business that needs the cut-offs to make its own new product — for example, the orange peel left over from making orange juice can be used to make orange-flavoured extract.
Jean-Gabriel Tarnaud — venture manager at Döhler Ventures
Döhler Ventures is investing in seed-stage startups in the nutrition and technology ecosystem around the globe.
EvodiaBio is a Danish startup that creates aromas through fermentation. Currently, the production of these compounds involves intensive farming or the need to synthesize them in a complex process, so EvodiaBio has created a more natural and sustainable way to produce the aromas. It’s started by replacing fresh hops, pellets or hop oil — ingredients that are normally used to make beer — with yeast-derived aromas in the brewing process to make non-alcoholic beers taste more like the real thing.
BettaF!sh is a German startup offering a comprehensive range of products based on its plant-based tuna ingredient, “Tu-Nah”, created from fava beans. With current products including sandwiches, pizzas and spreads, the company pairs food technology with compelling branding.
Plant B is another German startup, focused on producing plant-based alternatives for eggs. Based on lupins, the product is a liquid intended to be incorporated into your everyday recipes, while still behaving like a regular egg and bringing structure and richness to your dishes.
UK startup Mondra focuses on creating transparency in the ecological footprint of products, as both consumers and producers are increasingly interested in understanding their impact on the environment. Through its platform it’s able to measure a product’s impact across its full lifecycle and provide guidance through data-driven insights and benchmarks.
Another UK startup, Eden Bio operates at the intersection of biology and information technology. Its machine learning program can improve the yield of proteins produced for companies using fermentation to create proteins, by finding the ideal combination of genetical engineering processes of microorganisms.
Gustaf Brandberg — partner at Gullspång Re:food
Gullspång Re:food is a for-profit, evergreen investment firm in Stockholm and San Francisco, investing in early-growth companies driving the shifts to sustainable proteins and fats, healthy diets, sustainable supply chains and healthy soil.
The Mediterranean Food Lab
The Mediterranean Food Lab (MFL) is a next-generation flavor house, producing clean flavor ingredients from food waste using fermentation with ingredients like grains, legumes and vegetables. The main barrier limiting the adoption of plant-based alternatives is taste, which is a problem MFL is hoping to solve by making more appealing flavors to be used in the production of alternative proteins.
Heura Foods has a broad portfolio of plant-based products with strong brand loyalty in Iberia, producing a range of alternative protein products like chicken burgers, nuggets and chorizo. Its products are largely made of genetically modified organism (GMO)-free pea and soy protein.
Onego Bio uses precision fermentation to produce animal-free egg white in a safe, cost-efficient and environmentally sound way. It introduces microflora organisms grown in a bioreactor with cells that prompt it to produce egg white instead of its usual protein, eliminating the need for a chicken.
Founded by two siblings, Planet A produces cocoa and palm-oil-free chocolate — dubbed Nocoa — by fermenting plant-based materials. The process means that the chocolate can be produced locally rather than using limited land resources or exploiting labor. The alternative to palm oil, Nocoa Butter, can also be used as an ingredient by itself.
Sadia Nowshin is editorial assistant at Sifted. She tweets from @sadianowshin_