Food VC Peakbridge has new $187M fund to transform future of food, like lab-made cocoa | TechCrunch

Food VC Peakbridge has new $187M fund to transform future of food, like lab-made cocoa | TechCrunch

Climate change isn't just about removing carbon from the atmosphere or making more fuel-efficient cars. It is also about our food.

It is the center of attention Peak BridgeA global fund manager in the agri-food tech sector. It recently raised $187 million for its PeakBridge Growth Fund II to invest in innovation in these sectors. This brings the firm's total assets under management to over $250 million.

PeakBridge, based in Luxembourg, is a member of the Edmond de Rothschild Private Equity Partnership. The firm was launched in 2020 by founding general partners Eric Seiber and Nadav Berger.

“We want to be the 'bridge' to help these entrepreneurs reach the 'top,'” Berger told TechCrunch. “We can also act as a bridge between the old food industry and the new technology. We have also started investing in AI and food, and now we have at least five companies that are using AI.

Climate change is a focus for the firm, and the partners knew they could not tackle the climate challenge without addressing food. When he was raising a new fund, he had no trouble convincing large institutional investors of the need.

The most recent fund exceeded its target size of $100 million. Announced in 2022.. Growth Fund II was launched with the participation of global food and beverage companies including Grupo Bimbo, Royal Cosun and Arancia and financial institutions including Builders Initiative.

In terms of returns, partner Nadeem Al Khazeen told TechCrunch that PeakBridge's funds are just starting to see early results but those results are promising.

Peakbridge plans to invest about $10 million in each of 16 to 20 companies. He has made eight investments so far. These include companies like Functional Beverage Startup. The OdysseyAnimal-free dairy startup Standing reception And The vowwhich has produced some interesting cultured meat products, including more exotic meats.

“We started investing in 2020, so we're currently working on an early exit from our funds,” Al Khaizin said. “Unlike traditional VC and software or biotech, it's not one or two companies that return funding multiple times. Instead, what we see in our portfolio is that most companies from investment to two It will return fivefold.

The investor added that its portfolio has “fewer failures” than classic SaaS and software fund expectations. “Where we see our returns are: between two to four times per fund. That's where our portfolios are trading today.

One of the new food products Seiber and Berger think is lab-made chocolate could really change the world.

One of his investments from the fund is in Win-Win. Saber explained that it is a substitute for cocoa that is taking advantage of the sharp rise in cocoa prices. Although prices have come down slightly. Cocoa price Due to heavy rains and diseases affecting the crops, the price reached about $11,800 per metric ton earlier this year.

“One of the topics we think about is climate change, which will cause more and more disruptions to commodities,” Seiber said. “We've seen it with coffee and vanilla. Right now, cocoa is at an all-time high, and we're seeing a real impact on consumers. Win-Win and three or four other companies naturally have the same texture and color. Trying to create something similar to Cocoa.

Despite chocolate being a favorite snack, the cocoa industry is famous for it. Taking labor from children And Deforestation Problems Some companies, such as Ayana Bio, work on high-polyphenol cocoa extracts. Promised Scaling up the production of cocoa bioactives by cellular cultivation.

Other companies are also playing here. Planet A Foods, which raised $15.4 million to continue developing a sustainable alternative to cocoa as early as 2024. True Essences Food Safe $27.6 million in Series B funding in late 2023 for its flavor synergistic technology, which uses dehydration as a technique to achieve flavor, aroma and nutrition. It's putting it on chocolate. Companies like California Cultured and Voyage Foods are making cocoa-free chocolate products. Travel bus Collected 52 million dollars Previous Week.

“Interestingly, the big chocolate companies are replacing cocoa with sugar because of the cost,” said Al-Khazine. “Now sugar as a commodity has gone up a lot in terms of prices. Basically there's no way to apply inflation to the product. That's why we think using solid-state fermentation to There can be a good way to solve problems, and a beautiful way.”

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