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DealStreetAsia

Thai Union invests in Singapore and US foodtech startups

Seafood producer's venture fund focuses on alternative protein and value chain

Thai Union's venture fund focuses on three strategic areas -- alternative protein, functional nutrition and new technologies along the food value chain. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

HANOI -- Thailand-based seafood producer Thai Union will invest in the foodtech venture capital firm VisVires New Protein as well as three foodtech startups, from its $30 million corporate fund launched last year.

The Thai company said in a statement on Sept. 30 that the investment in Singapore-based VVNP would "deepen its network of identifying co-investment and collaborative opportunities in the global agrifood tech ecosystem".

VVNP is targeting $150 million for its own second fund, which was launched in 2019, according to its website, also revealing that it had more than 800 companies in the pipeline. The vehicle sealed its first close in June this year and completed a maiden transaction in Mushlabs' $10 million series A funding in August. Mushlabs is a Berlin-based company that uses fermentation to create meat-alternative products from edible mushrooms.

VVNP's $40 million first fund, which closed in 2016, has invested in seven startups so far, including France-based Ynsect, Nuritas in Ireland, Mitte in Germany, ViAqua in Israel, and Singapore-based Nutrition Innovation. The fund typically invests between $300,000 and $3 million in the seed to series C funding stages, according to its website.

As well as its investment in VVNP's fund, Thai Union will invest in three foodtech startups, including Singapore-based diabetes food outfit Alchemy Foodtech, U.S. insect tech and e-commerce company Manna Foods Co, and HydroNeo GmbH, an aquaculture technology company based in Germany and Thailand, according to the statement.

All three companies were part of the first cohort of SPACE-F, Thailand's first foodtech incubator and accelerator programme, Thai Union said. In September last year, Thai Union partnered with Mahidol University and Thailand's National Innovation Agency to launch SPACE-F.

"We are committed to open innovation as an important part of Thai Union's innovation strategy, complementing our in-house innovation efforts. Our venture capital investments in the foodtech space are an important part of this," commented Thiraphong Chansiri, president and chief executive of Thai Union.

He added that Thai Union would look to pursue collaborations wherever possible. "Investing into VisVires New Protein also opens a wider, global spectrum for opportunities and we're looking forward to developing a range of exciting opportunities with them," he said.

Thai Union's venture fund focuses on three strategic areas: alternative protein, functional nutrition and new technologies along the food value chain. The fund's first investment was Israeli alternative protein startup Flying Spark, which produces protein powders from fruit fly larvae.

For the original story from DealStreetAsia, click here.

DealStreetAsia is a financial news site based in Singapore that focuses on private equity, venture capital and corporate investment activity in Asia, especially Southeast Asia, India and greater China. Nikkei owns a majority stake in the company.

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