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Business briefs – Mondelēz – Lactalis – Organic Valley – Barry Callebaut – Meatable

Business headlines
Who said business is boring? Food & Beverage Insider has the 411 on key industry moves affecting innovation and product development.

Mondelēz acquires performance nutrition company Grenade

Mondelēz International is acquiring a significant majority interest in Grenade, a leading U.K. performance nutrition pioneer in the fast-growing high-protein bar segment. The transaction expands Mondelēz’ snack portfolio into the wellness sector and provides a strong platform within the high-protein and performance nutrition segments.

Grenade is one of the category leaders in high-protein bars, and its Carb Killa has been the best-selling product in the segment since 2016 with a growing presence in the U.K. and availability across other regions including North America and Asia-Pacific. Over the years, Grenade has broadened its consumer base and launched new products including high-protein, low-sugar bars and has innovated into new adjacencies including shakes, spreads and cookies.

Mondelēz International plans to operate Grenade separately to nurture its entrepreneurial spirit and maintain the authenticity of the brand, while providing resources, support and international scale to help accelerate growth. The current senior leadership, including founder Alan Barratt, will continue to run the business from its headquarters in the U.K. and will retain a minority equity interest in the company. The deal is expected to close by the end of March. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Lactalis enters talks to buy Leerdammer from Bel

Lactalis Group has entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire Bel Group’s Royal Bel Leerdammer NL, Bel Italia, Bel Deutschland, the Leerdammer brand and all related rights plus Bel Shostka Ukraine.

Sicopa, a wholly-owned Bel subsidiary, will transfer assets to Lactalis in return for 1,591,472 Bel shares (23.16% equity stake) held by Lactalis. Following the transaction, Lactalis will hold a 0.90% stake in Bel.

Lactalis Group Chairman Emmanuel Besnier said: “This deal gives us an opening into the Dutch cheese market and production in Holland via three manufacturing plants. The transfer to us of Bel’s Italian, German and Ukrainian sales subsidiaries will boost our facilities in these countries benefiting both Leerdammer and other Bel product sales on these markets.”

In keeping with its strategic priorities, Lactalis will support Leerdammer’s growth by giving it the group’s global scale and facilities. Lactalis plans to ramp up its innovations catalogue, grow its branding and move into new high-growth world regions. This deal will bolster the group’s European roots, specifically in Italy and Germany, and offers good prospects for development in markets where Lactalis already has a significant presence. This includes Ukraine, where Lactalis has had a business for 25 years.

Organic Valley launches national clean energy fund for its farmers

Organic Valley is partnering with Clean Energy Credit Union to launch the Powering the Good Loan Fund to provide the best loan terms for farmers seeking to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels with renewable energy and efficiencies. The program is first of its kind for both cooperatives, pioneering a unique clean energy loan fund for more than 1,700 farmers across the country.

To accelerate energy improvements, Organic Valley and Clean Energy CU will roll out a $1 million fund with plans to expand. As the nation’s largest organic, farmer-owned cooperative, Organic Valley pulls carbon out of the air through regenerative practices like rotational grazing, while also working to reduce carbon emitted wherever possible.

“Organic Valley leads on renewable energy. We have been 100% renewable powered in our owned facilities since 2019, and now we are going a step further,” said Bob Kirchoff, CEO, Organic Valley. "We are focused on a whole systems approach to renewable energy, and I'm excited to debut this energy loan fund. From the farm to the shelf, I see renewable energy playing a bigger role in organic food. We are providing farmers a means to reduce their energy costs and become more self-sufficient and sustainable. Farmers who participate in this loan fund contribute to a healthy, regenerative future for the next generation.”

Loans supplied to Organic Valley farmers through Clean Energy CU will be used for:

  • Solar electric systems to offset farm energy consumption.
  • Farm energy efficiency improvements such as plate coolers, VFDs, LED lighting, insulation, ventilation and more.
  • Geothermal systems and ground-source heat pumps for farm heating and cooling.

Barry Callebaut joins Seekewa’s agro revolution

Barry Callebaut is working with award-winning startup Seekewa on a pilot project to increase and diversify the incomes of farmers on the Cocoa Horizons program.

Developed by brothers Serge and Fred Zamblé, Seekewa is an innovative digital community platform that allows people and organizations to support small farming projects. Their unique farm-to-table model combines refundable e-vouchers and crowdfunding to improve the lives of small farmers in rural Africa. Connected by participation in MassChallenge—a worldwide accelerator for high-impact startups creating meaningful change—Barry Callebaut is collaborating with Seekewa to build a brighter future for Cocoa Horizons’ farmers.

Seekewa’s platform allows consumers to provide farmers with interest-free microloans. In return, they receive priority access and special discounts on the food produced. The Seekewa team facilitates and oversees the process to make sure everybody wins. Farmers’ incomes are improved, and consumers get healthy, fresh food straight from source at competitive prices.

For their joint pilot project, the Cocoa Horizons’ program is providing funding and a pool of beneficiary farmers along with business mentorship and advice. While Seekewa is using its technology and expertise to manage the projects from start to finish and secure a market for the crops produced by the Cocoa Horizons farmers in Côte d’Ivoire.

The aim of the pilot is to test the Seekewa model, with the potential to be scaled-up to as many Cocoa Horizons farmers as possible in different countries. It is hoped the positive outcomes will empower Cocoa Horizons’ farmers and their communities, assure better use of allocated funds as well as strengthen their loyalty and commitment to the program.

Meatable raises $47 million to expand, scale portfolio

Cultivated meat startup Meatable has secured US$47 million in its Series A funding round, bringing the Dutch company’s total funding to $60 million. Meatable will use the new funds to advance small-scale production at the Biotech Campus in Delft and diversify its product portfolio with beef.

The consortium consists of Rick Klausner, M.D., Section 32; Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D.; DSM Venturing; and existing investors such as BlueYard Capital, Agronomics, Humboldt and Taavet Hinrikus. The consortium believes the positive impact cultivated meat may have on climate change, see the trillion-dollar potential of the cultivated meat marketplace, and are betting on Meatable to solve the industry’s scalability and speed-to-market challenges with its patented opti-ox technology.

“We are committed to joining Meatable in its mission to address the world’s most pressing challenges,” said Klausner, former director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute and former executive director of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We see a smart startup that has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. They have a great team and game-changing technology that can address the challenges around the global food insecurity issues our planet is facing. They have all the right ingredients to become the leading choice for sustainably and efficiently produced meat.”

Meatable’s proprietary platform technology enables a fundamentally more cost effective and scalable production process. It replicates the natural process of fat and muscle growth, in proportions that emulate traditional cuts of meat. When fully developed, the entire process is expected to take only weeks to produce meat. Meatable’s mission to produce cultivated meat without animal slaughter will produce fewer GHG emissions and significantly land and water usage.

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