International Newcomers (Part II)

10 Top Start-ups: no mass production

The British start-up oddbox saves crooked vegetables from the bin. The company's vegetable crates are filled with seasonal products that do not meet the beauty requirements of the retail trade.
imago images / photothek
The British start-up oddbox saves crooked vegetables from the bin. The company's vegetable crates are filled with seasonal products that do not meet the beauty requirements of the retail trade.

The earth's population is growing, the climate is changing and water resources are becoming scarcer. Sustainable growth is therefore high on the agenda of food start-ups around the world. The editorial staff of the Lebensmittelzeitung (dfv Mediagroup) has put together ten exciting newcomers. We present the start-ups and their product innovations in three parts. Part II is about breakfast, unusual vegetables and peanut butter.

The breakfast magicians: Magic Spoon, USA

Magic Spoon is a food company that offers high-protein, low-carbohydrate and sugar-free cereals. The cereals are ketofriendly and gluten-free. The packaging and product design are highly "instagrammable". The aim is to make the breakfast cereals more nutritious and tasty. According to the founders, the challenge was to ensure that all the right nutrients are contained and yet the taste is still right. Since no sugar is used, it took a while to produce an adequate sweetener mixture from allulose, a natural sweetener found in figs and maple syrup. The company does not plan to extend production to other snacks, but is working on the development of new flavours for the breakfast product.

Magic Spoon is currently only available in the United States through online channels such as Shopify. Magic Spoon was created in 2019 by entrepreneurs Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz. The company raised USD 5.5 million in a first, seed investment phase in September last year under the leadership of investor Lightspeed Venture Partners. The current turnover is USD 2 million.

The vegetable suppliers Oddbox, Great Britain

Oddbox started with the vision to fight food waste and promote conscious consumption. The company operates a vegetable crate service and works with farmers to supply seasonal products that are in danger of spoiling. "Odd" means eccentric, not normal. Crooked asparagus, dented zucchini or shriveled apples - anything that doesn't make it onto the supermarket shelves and would be thrown away is sold through the odd box. Last year, growth of 400 percent was achieved, the demand for sustainable shopping is increasing, as is the awareness of food waste.

It currently supplies around 30,000 households in London and Brighton. 5 percent of the products are supplied to charitable institutions. Oddbox 2016 was founded in London by Emilie Vanpoperinghe and Deepak Ravindran. The British start-up was able to secure around EUR 3.2 million in capital from the Northern Venture Capital Trust in March this year and is now planning to expand in the UK.
Rethinking Food
What the next generation of food will look like is the topic of a Digital Conference of the dfv Conference Group at the end of September. Product innovations, food start-ups, alternative protein sources and personalised nutrition are among the topics. You can find more information here

The green space developers: iFarm, Finland

It all started in 2017 with a small experimental farm and five crops in Novosibirsk - and with the aim of growing fresh vegetables, berries and herbs in a fully automated, environmentally friendly and economical way. The iFarm Growtune platform can determine the weight of the plant, possible growth deviations or pathologies and build a system that improves the quality characteristics of the crops by its own efforts. In 2018 a larger experimental laboratory was added and in 2019 a number of vertical farms with iFarm technology were built in Russia. There are now more than 50 ongoing projects across countries.

The start-up expanded to Latvia, Lithuania and Finland, where it has its headquarters. At present, an independent module for the cultivation of green spaces in supermarkets is being developed. Expansion in Europe and the Middle East is planned, as well as entry into the American market.

iFarm was founded by the technical entrepreneur and angel investor Alexander Lyskovsky, Maxim Chizhov and Konstantin Ulianovals. In August of this year, around EUR 3.3 million in subsidies were raised under the leadership of Gagarin Capital. Other investors are Matrix Capital, Impulse VC, and several business angels.

Peanut enthusiasts: Fix & Fogg, New Zealand

Fix & Fogg started as a stand at a farmers' market in Wellington, where the founders sold homemade peanut butter in jars. They created their homemade peanut butter, gluten-free and palm oil-free, from the best and above all sustainable ingredients from the local area. In the beginning they produced 10 jars per week, in the meantime the team has grown to 30 employees and the daily production to 5.000 to 7.000 jars in different flavours, other nut butter varieties have been added.

Fix & Fogg supplies food retailers in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. This year, the company entered the lucrative US market and has its headquarters in Texas. The start-up nevertheless sees itself as a local company, the butter ingredients being sourced in New Mexico and Arizona. Fix & Fogg donates part of its production to numerous charities. To date, the Kiwi Start-up has grown organically and has no investors. The company was founded in Wellington in 2014 by the legal couple Andrea and Roman Jewell.

The German version of this text first appeared on Author: Doris Evans