Rabobank today revealed the 15 food and agriculture startup finalists who will advance to present at the FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 virtual competition. The finalists were chosen as top innovators from the cohort of 45 startups participating in FoodBytes! Pitch 2020, Rabobank’s global food and agriculture startup discovery program.
FoodBytes! Pitch helps entrepreneurs scale their impact through mentorship and connections to corporate leaders and investors, who in turn gain access to a vetted pipeline of startups aligned with their innovation goals. The Dec. 2 virtual event will offer food and agriculture industry leaders exposure to startup technologies and products with potential to shape the future of food.
New this year, Rabobank redesigned the FoodBytes! Pitch program with a membership model to directly engage large food and agriculture companies and investors who are committed to industry collaboration as the path to feeding the world sustainably. For the first time, 17 influential corporate and investor members, including ADM, Albaugh, Barilla’s Blu1877, BFG Partners, Dole and PepsiCo, joined Rabobank in the selection and mentorship of FoodBytes! Pitch startups and finalists.
“In five short years, FoodBytes! has become one of the most valuable networks for startups who are pioneering sustainable ways to feed the planet, but we can’t stop there if we want to drive change at a global scale,” said Anne Greven, head of food and agriculture innovation at Rabobank. “That’s why we redesigned FoodBytes! Pitch this year to include some of the world’s largest food and agriculture companies who want to work alongside startups to build a sustainable food system. The FoodBytes! innovation platform has now expanded far beyond a pitch slam. We’re connecting emerging and established leaders who want to solve real problems like climate change, plastic waste and food insecurity.”
The 15 companies advancing to the final round have been selected from an original field of nearly 340 applications based on their innovative solutions to major food system challenges. The consumer food and beverage (CPG) finalists are pioneering sustainable innovations including edible cutlery, upcycled snacks and spirits, plant-based cheese for pizza and India’s first plant-based liquid egg product.
The food technology startups are bringing new solutions to food safety and wellness issues exacerbated by COVID-19, creating plastic-alternative packaging using upcycled milk and developing new air protein technology that uses CO2 to produce animal feed. Agriculture technology finalists are engineering products and technologies that improve soil health and reduce water usage, promote animal health without antibiotics and support farmers in digitizing their supply chains.
Nearly half of the FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 finalists (47%) are BIPOC-led or co-led, and 60% are woman-led or co-led. The startups represent a total of five countries, including the United States, Australia, India, Norway and Singapore.
The 15 FoodBytes! Pitch finalists presenting their innovations at the virtual event, by sector, are:
Consumer food and beverage (CPG)
● Agricycle Global (Milwaukee, Wisconsin): Supports a global network of rural female farmers by upcycling food loss into a portfolio of sustainable and ethical brands. Its first-to-market brand, Jali Fruit Co., offers wild-harvested tropical sun-dried fruits that are fully traceable from tree to shelf.
● Evo Foods (Mumbai, India): A clean protein company that's recreating the most popular foods with plants, starting with Asia's first plant-based liquid egg replica.
● Planeteer (Milpitas, California): Maker of edible cutlery. Planeteer's first product is an all-natural, vegan, protein-rich and compostable spoon that stays firm in hot and cold foods.
● Pleese Foods (New York, New York): A plant-based cheese that melts perfectly on pizza. Pleese is allergen-free and crafted from natural ingredients, like white beans and potato proteins, delivering an authentic cheese-like experience without any dairy.
● Wheyward Spirit (Portland, Oregon): Producer of a sustainable farm-to-flask spirit that repurposes excess whey sourced directly from U.S. dairies.
● Alchemy Foodtech (Singapore): Maker of a plant-based power blend that slows down the digestion of carbohydrates. This technology promotes microbiome health and helps moderate blood glucose levels for users with conditions like diabetes.
● Envara Health (Wayne, Pennsylvania): Maker of a structured lipid ingredient that increases nutrient absorption. The plant-based powder enables the absorption of healthy long chain fats, calories and precision nutrients without the need for digestion.
● Mi Terro (City of Industry, California): First biotechnology company that upcycles and re-engineers excess milk and dairy products into plastic-alternative and cotton-alternative fibers for the fashion, medical and packaging industries.
● NanoGuard Technologies (St. Louis, Missouri): High Voltage Cold Plasma (HVCP) processing technology that eliminates microbes, deactivates viruses and reduces pathogens on surfaces to decrease disease transmission risks and improve food safety. HVCP also increases shelf life by decreasing fungal and bacterial colonies on foods.
● NovoNutrients (Sunnyvale, California): Upcycles industrial carbon dioxide waste into food system ingredients. Their primary product is a feedstock for animals.
● BPS Agriculture (Southlake, Texas): Developer of a suite of aqueous-based agricultural products that improve nutrient delivery and enhance end-product performance resulting in more efficient and sustainable agricultural applications.
● Farmforce (Oslo, Norway): Developer of a mobile platform that digitizes the management of smallholder farming. Farmforce replaces existing paper-based processes to help farmers secure sustainable sourcing, granting visibility down to the field level for a fully traceable supply chain.
● Mazen Animal Health (St. Joseph, Missouri): Developer of orally-delivered animal vaccines that can be dosed with feed. Mazen aims to stop zoonotic diseases at the source, with vaccines that can be shipped to farms at room temperature in less than 24 hours and fed to animals to protect the food supply and increase productivity.
● ProAgni (Lavington, Australia): Maker of antibiotic- and ionophore-free nutrition products for sheep and cattle that improve animal performance and contribute to ethical and sustainable animal production. The company seeks to eliminate the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock production, reduce emissions, and maintain producer profitability.
● SWAN Systems (Perth, Australia): A cloud-based precision irrigation and fertilizer platform that helps growers precisely schedule, monitor and optimize management of water, nutrients, and crop health to improve economic and environmental outcomes.
The 15 finalists advancing to the final stage of the FoodBytes! Pitch program will participate in a one-day mentorship bootcamp, followed by the livestreamed public pitch competition. Additionally, finalists will gain valuable exposure to more than 300 of Rabobank’s corporate food and agribusiness clients who will attend the virtual competition as part of Rabobank’s annual Food and Agribusiness Summit. All 45 FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 startups will have virtual booths at the event, which allow for one-on-one video networking meetings with corporate leaders and investors.
The competition will culminate in the naming of three FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 winners that represent the most promising company in each sector: CPG, food technology and agriculture technology. Each winner will receive $10,000 to support their business growth, as well as consulting services from FoodBytes! Pitch member companies.