Future Food-Tech summit to bring experts together virtually next month

Next month, C-Suite food brand executives, investors and entrepreneurs from all four corners of the globe will come together for the virtual Future Food-Tech summit to radically rethink our food system in a post-COVID 19 world. As momentum builds for a truly game-changing gathering, senior leaders from Danone, Mars, Unilever, Compass Group, Cargill, Tyson Ventures and The Kraft Heinz Company are all set to join. Watch live as they discuss business-critical issues affecting the future of our industry as we emerge from the pandemic crisis. You’ll be able to connect directly with all these thought leaders through our cutting-edge virtual event platform. Arrange 1-1 video meetings, join roundtables and schedule networking with the high-profile delegation of senior business leaders from around the world, united in their commitment to building resilience through technology and partnership. Food & Drink International is pleased to be a marketing partner for Future Food-Tech. Save 10% with our discount code FD10 – save your place.

Biodesign start-up raises $91m to expand Ingredients-as-a-Service platform

A California-based biodesign start-up has raised more than $91 million to expand its global Ingredients-as-a-Service platform. According to Geltor, the $91.3 million Series B financing aims to meet accelerating demand from global consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies for sustainable, functional, and 100% animal-free ingredients. The round was led by future protein pioneer CPT Capital, with significant commitment from WTT Investment, as well as including new and returning investors. The Series B brings the total funding raised for Geltor to $116.3M to date. Since being established in 2015, the firm has proven its biodesign technology for large and growing global CPG segments including cosmetics & personal care, nutraceuticals, and the food & beverage industries. Its success across global CPG segments reflects consumers’ increasing preference for ethical products, as more brands face backlash for using animal ingredients and contributing to the growing threat of climate change. Over the past year, global demand for collagen grew by 25% and Geltor saw sales surge for its first products, animal-free collagens like HumaColl21 and Collume. Despite African Swine Fever and COVID-19 disrupting industrial supply chains, Geltor was able to scale its fermentation-based technology platform up 100X and produced hundreds of new proteins to help customers seamlessly turn an idea into a highly effective ingredient quickly and with minimal risk. “Our goal is to make it ridiculously easy for iconic brands to build sustainable products. This next stage of growth will allow Geltor to meet the moment our world is facing, as businesses recognize the urgent need to transition to a sustainable protein supply chain,” said Geltor CEO and co-founder Alex Lorestani. “We’re grateful to have investors who see Geltor as an index of this important shift to a system powered by fermentation and plant-based platforms like ours. “As a scientist, I’m convinced that the highest-impact action I can take to support human and planetary health is making our Ingredients-as-a-Service platform better every single day.” Noting Geltor’s position of strength from the emerging consumer biotechnology sector, Chief Financial Officer Sachin Kelkar said: “Since its founding, Geltor has focused on developing an industrial strength Ingredients-as-a-Service™ platform based on the fundamental principles of functionality, breadth, scale, and speed to meet the pace of customer innovation in multiple end markets. We’re excited to leverage our strong balance sheet and investor base to scale business and manufacturing operations around the core platform to meet global protein demands for decades to come.”

Food maker secures finance as it expands into vegan market

A Welsh food producer has secured a seven-figure finance package to expand its product development activity as it moves into the vegan market. The financing from HSBC UK will also see Abergavenny Fine Foods to reinvest in new equipment and systems as it looks to improve and automate its processes. “We started talks with HSBC UK late last year when we realised our existing funding structure wasn’t fit for a business that had grown 80% since 2016,” said Melanie Bowman, Managing Director of Abergavenny Fine Foods. “We were keen to find a long-term strategic banking partner that could provide funding to futureproof the business and that could grow and change as we did, and HSBC UK felt like the perfect fit. “Our relationship director, Sian Williams really took the time to get to know our business and our complex finance requirements, which will help us remain competitive for our customers.” Warren Lewis, Head of Corporate Banking, Wales, HSBC UK, added:  “Abergavenny Fine Foods has ambitious plans to grow to a £40 million business in the next two to three years, which its previous funding structure wouldn’t have allowed. “Our new facility is flexible and gives the team support and freedom while they take the next steps in their exciting journey.”

Kite Packaging donates thousands to charities

Kite Packaging has donated £9,000 to a range of charities across its regional bases. The employee-owned business has seven Regional Distribution Centres located around the UK, an environmental business and a B2B ecommerce website both based in the Midlands. Each year they individually nominate a charity of their choice to donate £1,000 to and support throughout the year. The charities that have received a £1,000 donation from Kite for 2020 are: Zoë’s Place: A baby hospice providing palliative, respite and end-of-life care to babies and infants LOROS Hospice: Providing free, high-quality, compassionate care and support to terminally ill adult patients, their family, and carers Rotherham Rise: Providing help and support for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual exploitation Children with Cancer UK: Leading national children’s charity dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer Anxious Minds: Support for mental health across the North East Family Food Bank: Helping support families and reduce the impact of child poverty Macmillan Cancer Support: From the moment of diagnosis, through treatment and beyond, they are right there with you, offering emotional, physical, and financial support Age UK: Helping older people when they need them the most SMASH: Helping young people who are not thriving to improve their levels of well-being

Alpro adds new oat-based yoghurt to Big Pot range

Alpro has added an oat-based yoghurt alternative to its Big Pot range in the UK. The plant-based brand said that its new Absolutely Oat yoghurt is naturally low in fat and sugars and provides a source of fibre and natural cultures. “Oat drinks are now a firm favourite amongst consumers, with oat on track to become the number one ingredient in plant-based drinks by the end of 2020,” said David Jiscoot, Marketing Director for Alpro UK & Ireland. “Naturally, this means that there’s a huge opportunity to mirror this success in the yogurt aisle and, as the clear and consistent category leader, Alpro is uniquely placed to make this happen. “As well as being rich in fibre, Alpro Absolutely Oat is made from 100% European oats, so we are confident it will appeal to people looking for new ways to enjoy healthy, sustainable oat-based products in their diets. It’s the ideal choice for a delicious, nutritious breakfast – or to enjoy as a snack in the afternoon.” The new yogurt has launched in Tesco stores across the UK.

High-tech UK food manufacturing campus secures £12m

The UK Government has agreed to provide £12m in funding to help launch a revolutionary high-tech food manufacturing campus in Derby. The new £300m high-tech food manufacturing and distribution campus in the city, is to be developed and operated by SmartParc on 140 acres. The company’s approach would bring food producers together to cluster knowledge and investment – reducing food waste, lowering carbon outputs and increasing UK food security. The campus would include a shared energy plant, designed to reduce energy consumption by 30 per cent, and would harness the latest technology to improve production and efficiency, lowering costs by 20 per cent. It will embrace the latest scientific developments, such as vertical farming – where crops are grown indoors in stacked layers, mitigating the vagaries of the weather and eliminating the need for pesticides. A central distribution facility will allow manufacturers to consolidate both raw materials and finished goods, improving efficiency and lowering food miles. As well as creating up to 4,500 direct jobs, the project would generate further employment in the supply chain and throughout the local region. Work will start in the first quarter of 2021 and a planned opening, with initial occupancy, will take place later that year. Full project realisation is expected by 2024. SmartParc Chief Executive Jackie Wild said she was delighted to be able to develop the project in Derby. “SmartParc is part of a £300m investment to put Derby city and the UK at the heart of the future of sustainable food manufacturing globally. “The planned SmartParc campus will combine world-class food production facilities with shared utilities, amenities and services to provide a highly sustainable, low-cost production base for food manufacturers and new ways to reach end customers while reducing food miles and food waste. “It will also act as a community hub, with a new food innovation centre and skills facility and planned partnerships with local charities, schools and universities to reconnect people with the food they eat. “We are delighted to receive Government backing for our ambition and look forward to working with Derby City Council, local universities, businesses and communities to share our vision and deliver up to 4,500 new jobs in the area over the coming years,” she said.

Finsbury’s foodservice arm boosts doughball production capacity

Finsbury Food Group’s foodservice arm has invested more than £1 million in a new doughball production plant at its Manchester site. The new plant is expected to increase the site’s capacity by 30%. The investment was also used to increase freezer capacity. As well as bolstering capacity, the Group said that the changes will reduce downtime and product wastage. “With much of Kara’s customer base closing during the lockdown, the past few months have been a challenging period both for Kara and the Finsbury Food Group,” said Jon Cooper, Business Unit Director at Finsbury Food Group. “It did, however, provide us with the perfect time to completely install and commission the new plant. “This new installation protects and significantly increases our manufacturing capacity and importantly brings about less manual handling. We have already seen improved product quality and consistency.” He added: “This investment has come at an important time. Doughballs have been identified as an increasingly important range within our product portfolio. “We know that many foodservice operators and wholesalers are looking at menu shrinkage and switching to ingredients that offer multi-use. “Our doughballs are sufficiently versatile to be used across all day parts and in a cross-section of dishes and cuisine types.”

Sonoco acquires sustainable paper can solutions producer

Sonoco has acquired Can Packaging, a privately owned France-based designer and manufacturer of sustainable paper packaging and related manufacturing equipment, for $41.7 million. Can Packaging operates two paper can manufacturing facilities in France along with a research and development centre where it designs and builds patented packaging machines and sealing equipment. The company, which is projected to produce sales of approximately €23 million or $27 million in 2020, provides sustainable paperboard packaging to a number of large consumer food brands distributed across Europe. “This strategic acquisition provides us many new innovations, including patented technology to produce a recyclable, high performance all-paper package, that can be made round, square, rectangular, oval, oblong or triangular,” said Howard Coker, President and CEO of Sonoco. “These innovations will complement our global Rigid Paperboard Container franchise and add to our EnviroSense sustainable packaging portfolio.” Sean Cairns, Division Vice President and General Manager of Sonoco’s European Consumer Products Division, said: “Adding Can Packaging’s innovation center, intellectual property and proprietary manufacturing capabilities will allow Sonoco to leverage and enhance our strong material science and engineering capabilities to develop more recyclable, mono-material paper packaging solutions that will have a wide range of food barrier properties for our customers in Europe. “We also see using Can Packaging’s unique, low-cost machine technology to expand our consumer products offering into growth markets.” Cairns added that Sireix will remain as a consultant to Sonoco and his son, Guillaume, who leads technology and engineering for Can Packaging, will remain as an innovation leader of the Company’s European Consumer Products Division.

Freeze dried food producer invests £1.5m in tech

European Freeze Dry has invested more than £1.5 million in its manufacturing sites in the UK and Denmark following a growth in sales for its ingredients and ready-made meals. A third cookpot has now been installed in the freeze-dried food producer’s manufacturing facility at Preston, Lancashire, in addition to a new rotary packer, increasing production levels at the UK facility. At Kirke Hyllinge in Denmark, a new freeze dryer has been added to the manufacturing capacity to help meet higher demand. The new investment will allow European Freeze Dry to continue to meet growing demand for nutritious long-life ingredients, commission drying services and ready meals. “We’ve been experiencing unprecedented demand for our ingredients. With meals having a shelf life of up to 25 years in tins and seven years in pouches, our freeze dried options lend themselves to crises such as the pandemic,” said Diana Morris, Country Manager for European Freeze Dry. “We’ve seen a dramatic rise in demand from the public and private sector as well as individual consumers who want tasty food which offers a longer shelf life, reduced waste and a lighter product for storage and transport. “Freeze dried food lends itself to extreme situations in all kinds of circumstances from sustaining nutrition in remote locations to preparing for an extended period indoors. We are responding to different demands and resourcing our operations to satisfy existing and new customers in the public and private sectors.”

Dawn Meats takes full control of Dunbia business

Dawn Meats is taking full control of the Dunbia business that was jointly established in 2017, following the merger of their combined operations. The business in the UK will continue to trade under the Dunbia brand and the same management team, offering customers regionally sourced solutions for both beef and lamb from 12 processing facilities across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The move follows the announcement of Jim Dobson’s retirement. Mr Dobson co-founded Dunbia with his brother Jack in 1976, and together they grew Dunbia into one of Northern Ireland’s largest private companies exporting to 36 countries. “Combining our operations in the UK has been a strategic success based on a strong cultural fit between two family owned businesses that shared a deep connection to farming and an ethos centred on quality and sustainability,” said Niall Browne, CEO of Dawn Meats. “Jim is a legend within our industry and we are proud to maintain the traditions and name he created as we continue to serve our UK customers and farmer suppliers. Mr Dobson added: “The creation of the joint venture with Dawn Meats ensured the business would continue to grow as a leading quality meat supplier in the UK market. “I want to thank all the team that has worked on the integration and feel confident that they are well-placed to build on all our past achievements together.” Dawn’s combined businesses in the UK and Ireland now process approximately 1 million cattle and 3 million sheep annually, employing over 7,000 staff, and working with over 30,000 farmer suppliers. The 2017 deal between Dawn Meats and Dunbia also saw Dawn Meats acquire Dunbia’s Republic of Ireland operations, resulting in a total of 10 Dawn Meats facilities.