Entrepreneurs to watch: Rabobank unveils 15 finalists in 2020 FoodBytes! Pitch competition

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Rabobank FoodBytes! Entrepreneurship

Rabobank has announced the 15 finalists – food and ag entrepreneurs spanning everything from edible spoons to plant-based eggs - who will compete in its livestreamed FoodBytes! Pitch competition on December 2.

The 15 finalists - who hail from the US, Australia, India, Norway and Singapore - were whittled down from 45 shortlisted startups who attended virtual mentoring sessions last month on everything from deal structuring to legal, financing, recruitment, and go to market strategies.

Each then submitted a three-minute pre-recorded video for consideration, and Rabobank alongside this year’s corporate and investor members - including ADM, Dole, PepsiCo, Albaugh, Germin8 Ventures and BFG Partners - chose 15 finalists. 

The 15 will participate in a one-day mentorship bootcamp, followed by the livestreamed pitch competition on December 2​.  However, all 45 FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 startups​ will have virtual booths at the event, which allow for 1:1 video networking meetings with corporate leaders and investors.

On pitch day, a virtual panel of judges will select one winner in each vertical: CPG, food tech, and agtech, with each to receive a $10,000 prize and consulting services from FoodBytes! Pitch member companies.*

The 15 finalists are:

Consumer Food & Beverage (CPG)

  • Agricycle Global​(Wisconsin, USA): Supports a global network of rural female farmers by upcycling food loss into a portfolio of sustainable and ethical brands. Its first-to-market brand, Jali Fruit Co., offers wild-harvested tropical sun-dried fruits that are fully traceable from tree to shelf.
  • Evo Foods​ (Mumbai, India): A plant-based food co developing Asia's first plant-based liquid egg.
  • Planeteer​(California, USA): Maker of edible cutlery that stays firm in hot and cold foods. (Read more about the co in FoodNavigator-USA this month.)
  • Pleese Foods​ (New York, USA): Plant-based cheese made with white beans and potato proteins that melts on pizza.
  • Wheyward Spirit​(Oregon, USA): Producer of a sustainable farm-to-flask spirit that repurposes excess whey sourced from US dairies.

Food Tech:

  • Alchemy Foodtech ​(Singapore): Maker of a plant-based blend claimed to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, promote microbiome health and help moderate blood glucose levels.
  • Envara Health​ (Pennsylvania, USA): Maker of a structured lipid ingredient that increases nutrient absorption. 
  • Mi Terro​(California, USA): Biotech co that upcycles and re-engineers excess milk and dairy products into plastic-alternative and cotton-alternative fibers for the fashion, medical and packaging industries.
  • NanoGuard Technologies​ (Missouri, USA): High Voltage Cold Plasma (HVCP) processing technology that eliminates microbes, deactivates viruses and reduces pathogens on surfaces. HVCP also increases shelf life by decreasing fungal and bacterial colonies on foods.
  • NovoNutrients​(California, USA): ​Upcycles industrial carbon dioxide waste into food system ingredients. Their primary product is a feedstock for animals.


  • BPS Agriculture​(Texas, USA): Developer of aqueous-based agricultural products that improve nutrient delivery and enhance end-product performance resulting in more efficient and sustainable agricultural applications.
  • Farmforce​(Oslo, Norway): Developer of a mobile platform that digitizes the management of smallholder farming, granting visibility down to the field level.
  • Mazen Animal Health​ (Missouri, USA): Developer of orally-delivered animal vaccines that can be dosed with feed. 
  • ProAgni​(Lavington, Australia): Maker of antibiotic- and ionophore-free nutrition products for sheep and cattle that improve animal performance and contribute to ethical and sustainable animal production. On a mission to eliminate the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock production.
  • SWAN Systems​(Perth, Australia): A cloud-based precision irrigation and fertilizer platform that helps growers precisely schedule, monitor and optimize management of water, nutrients, and crop health.

Nearly half of the FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 finalists are BIPOC-led or co-led, and 60% are woman-led or co-led.  

For more information on FoodBytes! Pitch 2020, or to register to watch the virtual pitch competition, which is open to the public, click here.

*Pitch corporate members will also offer additional consulting to support winning startups, including:

  • ADM​: An hour of consulting services with a relevant ADM expert for the winners.
  • Holland & Hart​: A chat to talk through general company state and strategy for winners, plus for the CPG winner a chat about their packaging/claims/labels if needed.
  • TIG​:  Full scholarship to eTardigrade e-learning program for early-stage CPG brands for winner; 50% discount for 2nd place and 25% discount for 3rd place.
  • Propeller Industries:​ Three one-hour sessions on financial consulting per winner.
  • Morrison & Foerster:​ Five hours of office hours to provide high-level corporate and IP advice to the food tech and agtech winners.



In light of COVID-19, the FoodBytes! face-to-face networking events and pitch slams - which Rabobank has been running for five years in multiple cities – has transitioned to FoodBytes! Pitch,​ ​a startup discovery platform that gives corporate leaders and investors exposure to a larger group of startups, with opportunities for deeper interaction and networking throughout the year​.

Anne Greven, global head of food and ag innovation at Rabobank, said: “The FoodBytes! innovation platform has now expanded far beyond a pitch slam. We’re connecting emerging and established leaders who want to solve real problems like climate change, plastic waste and food insecurity.”

What makes a great pitch?

anne greven

A great pitch requires energy and passion, a well-thought out go to market strategy, an innovative and differentiated product or business model, some evidence of market validation and traction, and above all, a clearly articulated business case (why does the world need your product?), said Anne Greven, global head of food and ag innovation at Rabobank.

At the most basic level, Greven told FoodNavigator-USA, entrepreneurs need to identify up front the problem they are addressing, spell out what the market opportunity is (high-growth? high barrier to entry?), and explain why they are best-placed to solve it (a management team with the right experience, and a clear understanding of their costs and margin structures, competitors, and ability to scale). 

Rabobank is also looking at environmental factors, said Greven: "Is it sustainable, does it have a social impact?"

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