Vegan food technology: The Craftory and Bezos among US$30m investment round in NotCo
07 Mar 2019 --- Newly launched investment fund The Craftory has announced its first major investment, leading a US$30 million financing round in Chilean vegan food technology company NotCo. Jeff Bezos’ family office, Bezos Expeditions and existing investors Kaszek Ventures and IndieBio are also participating in the financing round.
NotCo is a food technology business that blends machine AI, and human taste to develop alternative, plant-based replacements for mayonnaise, milk, ice cream, meat and other animal-based products. But it’s not all about technology. NotCo’s team of chefs and specialists verify and authenticate each combination to make sure that every product is wholesome and tasty. For example, NotCo’s first product, Not Mayo, made from garbanzo beans, is currently flying off the shelves in 1,000 stores across Chile (retailers including WalMart, Cencosud, Tottus, and Unimarc stores).
Launched in 2015, NotCo’s “secret weapon” is Giuseppe, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform named after the Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo, which analyzes molecular structures to create unique food combinations derived only from plant-based ingredients.
The Craftory is a London and San Francisco-based fund launched in 2018, with a ploy to plow US$300 million into consumer goods brands that challenge the multinationals that currently dominate the sector. According to The Craftory, the investment will be used to fund new product development, like milk and ice cream, and support NotCo as the company branches out into new markets, including Mexico and the US later this year.
NotCo is the epitome of a mission-driven challenger brand and has the energy and capabilities to topple the traditional food production giants, according to Elio Leoni Sceti, Co-Founder and Chief Crafter at The Craftory.
“Their advanced thinking combines food tech, machine AI, and plant-based ingredients to create a sustainable non-animal protein source. We are thrilled to be working with Matías and the NotCo team as they transform the food production industry and give people a choice to consume environmentally-conscious products,” he says.
“The big picture is that the plant-based food industry is still relatively young compared to mainstream food products,” Sceti tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “So we are in the early stage of the innovation curve and we will see a lot of new formats and other innovation. For NotCo, the same is true, and perhaps even more so as NotCo is an innovator with its AI platform ‘Giuseppe,’ making them capable of recreating a variety of food types with only plant-based ingredients. They started on dairy but they will pursue other verticals as soon as the brand strength and consumers are ready for it.”
“There are many reasons which are all related to the increased awareness of the ‘consequences of irresponsible consumption.’ I’d think that climate change is the key one if we consider the positive impact that a broader and deeper consumption of plant-based food will have on the environment. But it is also vital to recognize the growing evidence that excessive consumption of red meat, or other animal protein, could impact our health,” Sceti notes.
The key thing is to understand that there can and must be no compromise for consumers, Sceti stresses. “As long as there are companies that, like NotCo, can recreate foods that taste just as good or better, and are plant-based, we believe plant-eating will keep growing. The evidence of both health information and environmental impact point clearly in that direction,” he muses.
The Craftory is convinced this investment represents “a real opportunity to encourage sustainable farming and turn down the volume on that giant methane trumpet, without sacrificing on flavor.”
“It is a great endorsement to have both The Craftory and Bezos Expeditions invest in our business as we continue to innovate and create enjoyable and sustainable alternative food products. Their expertise in both FMCG and technology will allow us to disrupt the food industry further and expand our offering to a global audience,” comments Matías Muchnick, Co-Founder and CEO at NotCo.
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