BlueNalu secures $60m in funding for producing cell-based seafood

20 January | Financing

US-based food technology company BlueNalu has raised $60m in debt financing from new and existing investors for producing cell-based seafood.

The company is engaged in developing a variety of seafood products directly from fish cells. It will use the funding to complete its commercial pilot facility for manufacturing cell-based seafood, and to support plans for market launch later this year.

Rage Capital led the $60m convertible note financing, with other significant participants, including Agronomics, Lewis & Clark AgriFood, McWin, and Siddhi Capital. Other participating strategic investors include Radicle Growth, by way of the Radicle Protein Challenge by Syngenta, Rich Products Corporation, and Thai Union.

The convertible note financing also saw participation from AiiM Partners, Clear Current Capital, CPT Capital, Flat World Partners, KBW Ventures, Losa Group, OurCrowd, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and Stray Dog Ventures.

As part of deal, BlueNalu added four new observers to its board of directors, namely Steven Finn of Siddhi Capital, Jim Mellon of Agronomics, Larry Page of Lewis & Clark AgriFood, and Alex Ruimy of Rage Capital.

The capital raised by the company is said to be the largest financing to date in the global cell-based seafood industry. Going forward, BlueNalu plans to launch a wide range of cell-based seafood products from its pilot production facility in San Diego.

18 january | poultry

Hong Kong suspends poultry imports from UK, Germany, and South Korea

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department in Hong Kong has suspended the import of poultry meat and products from certain areas in the UK, Germany, and South Korea.

The move was made by the CFS after a notification was released by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs of Korea regarding outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza.

The outbreak was identified in Lisburn and Castlereagh District of Northern Ireland; Cuxhaven District in the State of Niedersachsen, Germany; and Namyangju-si, Anseong-si, and Pocheon-si in Gyeonggi-do Province, South Korea.

The outbreak was also discovered in other parts of South Korea, including Hongseong-gun of Chungcheongnam-do Province; Mungyeong-si of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province; and Goseong-gun of Gyeongsangnam-do Province.

CFS has instructed companies to immediately suspend the import of poultry meat and eggs from the above-mentioned areas to protect the health of Hong Kong citizens.

18 january | food safety

Nestlé recalls Pepperoni Hot Pockets over contamination fears

US-based Nestlé Prepared Foods Company has decided to recall nearly 762,615lb of not-ready-to-eat (NRTE) Pepperoni Hot Pockets products, as they may have been contaminated with hard plastic and pieces of glass.

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the frozen NRTE Pepperoni Hot Pockets were produced from 13-16 November 2020, with a 14-month shelf life.

The product subject to recall comprises 54oz carton packages containing 12 ‘Nestlé Hot Pockets Brand Sandwiches: Premium Pepperoni', which are made with pork, chicken, and beef pizza garlic buttery crust.

FSIS noted that the product was shipped to retail locations across the US.

The issue was identified by the company after it received four consumer complaints of extraneous material found in the Pepperoni Hot Pocket product.

Nestlé Prepared Foods also received one report of a minor oral injury, which was caused due to consumption of this product. The FSIS said it has not received any other reports of injury or illness from consumption of this product.

11 january | legislation

Canada and UK reach arrangement to trade organic food

The Canadian and UK Governments have reached an agreement that ensures continued market access for organic products between the two countries. The UK-Canada Organic Equivalence Arrangement (UKCOEA) agreement came into effect on 1 January.

The two countries have agreed to recognise each other’s organic production rules and control systems as equivalent under their respective rules.

The UKCOEA is part of the Canadian Government’s plan to eliminate trade barriers and increase consumer access to a variety of organic foods that meet the country’s organic standards.

The new arrangement will be applicable to agricultural and processed products of plant origin, as well as livestock and livestock products grown or produced in either of the two countries or that have been finally processed or packed within the UK or Canada.

Aquaculture organic products, except for seaweed products, are not included in the scope of the UKCOEA arrangement.

The new arrangement between the two nations is said to be based on the existing Canada – EU arrangement, which focuses on seamless market access for organic products between Canada and the UK.

8 JAnuary | processing

Packaged vegetables supplier Mann opens new facility in California

Packaged vegetable supplier Mann Packing has boosted its presence on the West Coast by opening a new facility in Gonzales, California, US.

The opening of the 130,000ft² facility is part of the company’s plan to grow business and expand its existing operations.

The fully automated facility features a full cold chain from the reception of raw material to delivery of the finished product to ensure freshness, as well as a 260ft-tall wind turbine to support sustainable processing, and separate processing and raw material areas.

The Gonzales facility is expected to support Mann’s plans of expanding its processing and produce goods such as slaws and gourmet vegetables.

6 january | poultry

India to cull poultry after outbreak of deadly avian influenza

India has reportedly started a large-scale culling of poultry to contain the outbreak of bird flu across its various states.

The outbreak of avian influenza has already killed scores of migratory birds, ducks, crows, and chickens in the country.

According to reports, the H5N1 and H5N8 strains of bird flu have been identified in the country, of which H5N8 is said to be an avian influenza subtype among poultry and wild birds.

According to India’s Union Health Ministry, no cases of bird flu have so far been detected in humans.

In brief

Italian firm Barilla acquires significant stake in UK’s Pasta Evangelists

Italian food company Barilla has strengthened its UK presence by acquiring a majority stake in Pasta Evangelists, a specialist in direct-to-consumer (D2C) fresh pasta and sauces.

Corbion divests frozen dough business to Frodo Baking Company

Dutch food ingredient firm Corbion has announced the divesture of its frozen dough business to Frodo Baking Company. According to the deal, Frodo Baking will retain the majority of employees of the acquired business and take over the operations with immediate effect.

ARYZTA to sell remaining stake in French frozen food company Picard

ARYZTA has reached an agreement with Lion Capital and Invest Group Zouari (IGZ) to divest its remaining 4.64% interest in the French frozen food company Picard for a €24m ($29.4m) consideration.

NPC agrees to sell restaurants to Wendy’s and Flynn Restaurant Group

The bankrupt Wendy’s and Pizza Hut franchisee NPC International has agreed to sell its restaurants to Flynn Restaurant Group and Wendy’s International in separate deals. The combined value of the two deals is approximately $801m.

Yum China rolls out initiatives to cut down plastic use

Yum China, the operator of several fast-casual brands, including KFC and Pizza Hut in China, has stepped up its effort for the reduction of plastic use across its brands in the country.

5 january | pork

China bans imports from pork plant in Brazil

The Chinese Government has reportedly suspended pork imports from a pork plant operated by Brazilian firm Aurora Alimentos over Covid-19 concerns.

Reuters reported that the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry confirmed that the Chinese customs authorities have imposed a ban on pork imports from the plant.

The ministry also said that China has ‘requested information about Covid-19 cases at the plant’.

The Brazilian Association of Animal Protein has announced its support to Aurora Alimentos and is providing information to the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry, which could help Chinese authorities to reverse the ban.

China recently increased checks on the food imports after its officials identified coronavirus on imported cold-chain products and packaging.

Chinese importers and traders have also urged factories to disinfect cargo before shipping.

5 january | M&A

Aleph Farms collaborates with Mitsubishi to sell lab-grown beef in Japan

Israel-based cultivated beef steaks producer Aleph Farms has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mitsubishi Corporation to sell lab-grown beef in Japan.

Under the MoU, the two companies will begin the groundwork to introduce lab-grown beef in the Japanese market, where demand for meat is said to be increasing.

According to the agreement, Aleph Farms will be providing its scalable manufacturing platform (BioFarm) for the cultivation of whole-muscle steaks. 

Mitsubishi will offer its expertise in biotechnology processes and branded food manufacturing, as well as local distribution channels in Japan.

With annual revenues of $140bn, Mitsubishi Corporation includes ten business groups and its food industry group covers food resources, fresh foods, consumer products, and food ingredients.

From the production and sourcing of raw materials to the manufacturing of finished food products, Mitsubishi is said to have been active in all aspects of the food supply chain.

In brief

AAK plans to build plant-based foods centre in Netherlands

Swedish vegetable oils and fats producer AAK has unveiled plans to build a new Plant-based Foods Global Center of Excellence within the company’s premises in Zaandijk, the Netherlands.

Arla Foods Ingredients to invest in dry blend lactose production capacity

Arla Foods Ingredients has announced that it is investing in its dry blend lactose production capacity to help infant formula manufacturers reduce their emissions by nearly 25%.

Chr Hansen launches bioprotection solution for fermented plant-based products

Global bioscience company Chr Hansen has expanded its FreshQ line with the addition of FreshQ DA culture to strengthen the fermentation of plant-based products.

Mother Raw secures funding to accelerate growth across North America

Canadian plant-based condiments brand Mother Raw has closed its Series A financing round to accelerate growth across the North American market.

Danish Crown to invest $321m to automate pork production

Denmark-based meat processing company Danish Crown will invest nearly kr2bn ($321.5m) in automating operations and improving its production capabilities.