PeakBridge raises $187m for Growth Fund II, invests in protein, cocoa, dairy alternatives

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Getty Images - 	pcess609
Image Credit: Getty Images - pcess609

Related tags PeakBridge alternative proteins AI

This week, food tech venture capital (VC) firm PeakBridge closed its Growth Fund II after raising $187m – surpassing its target — and invested in meat, dairy, and cocoa alternatives as part of its second fund, Nadav Berger, the company’s founder and managing director, told FoodNavigator-USA

PeakBridge is a VC firm focused on early-stage growth companies across five key segments of the food and beverage industry: alternative proteins, ingredients innovation, nutrition and health, digital tools and sustainable farming. 

Grupo Bimbo, Royal Cosun, Arancia and Builder’s Initiatives invested in the Growth Fund II, which brought PeakBridge’s total assets to $250m. As part of the second fund, the firm invested in cell-cultivated meat company Vow, cocoa-free chocolate maker Win-Win and dairy alternative company Kern Tec. 

“Within such a complex global environment, the closing of this second early growth fund is further proof that our disciplined strategy is proving resilient and bearing fruit. For us, value creation is at the core of what we do. Our team brings to the table a rare mix of experience: Food-tech investment pioneers, veteran Agri-Food industry operators, scientists and financiers. Together with strong industry partnerships, we are positioned to confront those real-world problems,” Berger said in a press release. 

[Editor’s note: Interested in learning more about the manufacturing challenges facing the alternative-protein space? Then, join FoodNavigator-USA and ReThink at Future Food-Tech Alternative Proteins in Chicago, June 17-18. The event will feature discussions on scaling alt-protein production to developing strategies to increase product acceptance and adoption. Register today and check out the agenda here​.]

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‘I fear that we are in the stage of overshooting the correction’ 

Despite PeakBridge’s funding success, many food tech VC firms are struggling to raise second and third funds, as some investors shift their focus to other spaces, Berger admitted. “There is not enough dry powder out there,” he added. 

Investors might have pulled back from the food-tech space too much, as innovation is needed to address supply-chain challenges, Berger explained.  

"I fear that we are in the stage of overshooting the correction,” Berger said. “Eventually, we need to invest in food tech. We know that this is an impactful asset class that touches billions of people every.”

3 challenges persist in the alt-protein category: Price, taste, texture 

Despite years of innovation, the alternative protein market — one of PeakBridge’s core investment areas — struggles to recreate the taste and texture of animal-based meats, holding back the large industry, Berger said. 

The price of alternative meats remains too high for most consumers, creating another barrier, he added. 

“At the end, why should a person pay ... more money [for a plant-based burger] than for regular beef when it is trying to compete with regular beef? ... First and foremost, it is about price. It cannot be two times more expensive than regular meat.”

Cell-cultivated meat company Vow is taking a more cost-effective approach to create alternative proteins by finding cells that can be easily scaled up. Vow achieved the same regulatory milestones as Eat Just and Upside but with $56m in funding, compared to more than $850m and $600m, respectively, Vow co-founder and CEO George Peppou shared recently with FoodNaviagtor-USA.

Currently, Vow is only approved to sell its product in Singapore, while Eat Just and Upside have approval in Singapore as well as the US.

AI: ‘If we save money, we can make money’

Additionally, AI technologies serve as “predictability engines” that can solve many supply-chain and market challenges, Berger explained. PeakBridge has invested in several AI companies, including generative AI platform company Tastewise, food sustainability platform provider Delicious Data, and personalized health and wellness company InsideTrackers. 

Historically, new CPG products have a tough time in the market and approximately 90% fail within the first two years, Berger said. CPG brands can use AI to better predict what products will succeed, reducing money spent on expensive and lengthy development cycles, he noted. 

“If we save money, we can make money. Our value proposition with Tastewise ... is CPG brands are launching new products constantly, and they are failing constantly. Maybe by using AI, they can get the right insights to make better decisions and fail less.”

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