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Food VC Peakbridge has new $187M fund to transform future of food, like lab-made cocoa | Prime Time News24


Local weather change is not only about eradicating carbon from the environment or making extra gasoline environment friendly vehicles. It’s additionally concerning the meals we eat.

That’s the main focus of PeakBridge, a worldwide fund supervisor within the agri-foodtech sector. It not too long ago closed on $187 million in capital commitments for its PeakBridge Progress Fund II to spend money on innovation in these areas. That brings the agency’s complete belongings underneath administration to over $250 million.

PeakBridge, based mostly in Luxembourg, is a member of the Edmond de Rothschild Non-public Fairness partnership. The agency was began by founding common companions Erich Sieber and Nadav Berger in 2020.

“We wish to be ‘the bridge’ serving to these entrepreneurs to get to the ‘peak,’” Berger instructed Prime Time News24. “We can also function a bridge between the previous meals business and the brand new know-how. We’ve additionally began to spend money on AI and meals, and now we’ve got no less than 5 firms utilizing AI.”

Local weather change is one focus for the agency, and the companions knew they couldn’t deal with the local weather problem with out addressing meals. Once they had been elevating the brand new fund, they’d no hassle convincing bigger institutional traders of the necessity.

The newest fund exceeded the $100 million goal measurement introduced in 2022. Progress Fund II was launched with participation from world meals and beverage firms, together with Grupo Bimbo, Royal Cosun and Arancia, and monetary establishments, together with Builder’s Initiative.

When it comes to returns, associate Nadim El Khazen instructed Prime Time News24 that PeakBridge’s funds are simply beginning to see early outcomes however these outcomes are promising.

Peakbridge intends to spend money on between 16 and 20 firms, at round $10 million in every firm. It has made eight investments thus far. These embrace firms like useful beverage startup Odyssey, animal-free dairy startup Standing Ovation and Vow, which has achieved some attention-grabbing cultured meat merchandise, together with extra unique meats.

“We began investing in 2020, so we’re at present engaged on the primary exits from our funds,” El Khazen stated. “In contrast to standard VC and software program or in biotech, it’s not one or two firms that return the fund a number of occasions. As an alternative, what we see in our portfolio is {that a} majority of firms would return, say, two to 5 occasions the funding.”

The investor provides that its portfolio has “much less failures” in comparison with the basic expectations of, say, a SaaS and software program fund. “The place we see our returns are: between two to 4 occasions per fund. That is the place our portfolios are buying and selling at this time.”

Among the many new meals merchandise that Sieber and Berger imagine may very well be actually world-changing is lab-made chocolate.

One among their investments from the fund is in Win-Win. Sieber defined it’s a cacao alternative that’s making the most of the massive spike in cacao costs. Although costs have come down a tad, the value of cacao per metric ton hit almost $11,800 earlier this 12 months as a result of heavy rains and illness affecting crops.

“One of many matters we take into consideration is local weather change, which can have increasingly disruptions in commodities,” Sieber stated. “We noticed it with espresso and vanilla. Proper now, cacao is at an all-time excessive, and we’re seeing an actual affect on the patron. Win-Win and three or 4 different firms try to supply one thing similar to cacao with the identical texture and shade naturally.”

Regardless of chocolate being a favourite snack, the cacao business is well-known for youngster labor and deforestation points. Some firms, like Ayana Bio, which works on excessive polyphenol cacao extracts, have pledged to speed up the manufacturing of cacao bioactives by means of mobile cultivation.

Different firms are additionally taking part in right here. Planet A Meals, which raised $15.4 million earlier in 2024 to proceed growing a sustainable different to cocoa. True Essences Meals secured $27.6 million in Collection B funding in late 2023 for its taste symmetry know-how, which makes use of dehydration as a way to seize taste, aroma, and diet. It’s making use of that to chocolate. Firms like California Cultured and Voyage Meals are making cocoa-free chocolate merchandise. Voyage simply raised $52 million final week.

“What’s attention-grabbing is that the large chocolate firms are, due to the value of cacao, changing it with sugar,” El Khazen stated. “Now even sugar has additionally fairly considerably elevated by way of costs as a commodity. There’s no approach round mainly making use of inflation to the product. That is why we predict utilizing solid-state fermentation is usually a good approach, and a sublime approach, to resolve for these predicaments.”

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