FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 attracts record number of applicants

New York / NY. (rba) Rabobank unveiled the 45 companies selected to participate in FoodBytes! Pitch 2020, its global food and ag startup discovery program that helps entrepreneurs scale their impact through mentorship and connections to corporate leaders and investors. Since originally launching in 2015 as a pitch competition, FoodBytes! has become a go-to network for food and agribusiness startups shaping the way we eat and produce food. FoodBytes! Pitch is part of the redesigned FoodBytes! innovation platform, which contributes solutions to food system challenges through collaboration between startups, large companies and investors.

For the first time, the FoodBytes! Pitch cohort features 45 startups pioneering breakthrough technologies and products – with 15 companies in each of three sectors: consumer food and beverage (CPG), food tech, and agtech. The selected companies stood out from nearly 340 applications based on their innovative solutions for a more sustainable food supply, including upcycled products to fight waste, alternative proteins, and regenerative agriculture technologies to reduce water use and carbon emissions.

«We redesigned Rabobank’s FoodBytes! food and ag innovation platform for one reason: to build a powerful engine for ongoing collaboration and innovation between food and agribusiness players who want to feed the world sustainably,» said Anne Greven, Head of F+A Innovation, Rabobank. «We know we can’t achieve this purpose alone, which is why we’ve convened a collective of influential corporate and investor members who share our vision. Standing out from a global field of applications, the 2020 FoodBytes! Pitch startups have set a new benchmark for BIPOC and gender representation and quality of innovation in the program’s five year history.»

The 2020 cohort is the most diverse yet: 31% of the FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 startups are BIPOC-founded or led, and woman-founded or led companies make up one-fifth of the Pitch class. The 45 selected startups hail from a total of 15 countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India, Israel, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland.

The 45 FoodBytes! Pitch innovators and trends by sector

Consumer Food + Beverage (CPG): Food and beverage products made with upcycled ingredients are a top trend among FoodBytes! 2020 CPG startups as food waste reduction continues to be a priority during the pandemic. The FoodBytes! 2020 CPG startups are also pioneering innovations including edible spoons to reduce plastic waste, a distilled spirit made from upcycled whey byproduct, and plant-based cheese and egg products.

Food Tech:Standout startups have developed technologies for cell-based meat production, natural coatings that extend produce shelf life, and sustainable, antimicrobial packaging made from crustacean shells to replace plastic. Food safety technologies, advanced nutrition products and online marketplaces also address relevant needs in the wake of Covid-19.

  • Cultured Meat + Fermented Protein: CellulaREvolution, Future Meat Technologies, NovoNutrients
  • Advanced Nutrition: Alchemy Foodtech, Envara Health
  • Produce Shelf-Life Extension: Lightning Water, PolyNatural
  • Food Safety + Traceability: InSight Labs, NanoGuard Technologies, ThisFish
  • Sustainable Packaging: Carapac, Mi Terro
  • Clean Food Colorant: michroma
  • Online Marketplace for Sustainable Groceries: Good Club
  • B2B Marketplace for Suppliers: Fieldcraft
AgTech: The selected startups have developed solutions that address soil and water sustainability, farm efficiency and labor needs. Their innovations include technology that transforms air pollution into fertilizer, animal feed that reduces methane emissions, a method of growing rice out of water and on-farm robotics to combat labor shortages and worker safety concerns.

Redesigned as an expanded virtual experience this year, FoodBytes! Pitch now offers far more than an industry pitch slam. All 45 startups will participate in two weeks of virtual mentorship programming and one-on-one meetings with corporate leaders and investors, in addition to pitching their solutions to Rabobank and 17 FoodBytes! Pitch corporate and investor members. Of this group, 15 finalists will be chosen to participate in FoodBytes!’ live-streamed pitch competition December 2 for a chance to win $10K and consultative prizes in each of three categories: CPG, food tech and agtech.

As part of the redesign, Rabobank launched corporate and investor membership to the FoodBytes! Pitch network to drive connections with startups, and provide insight into top innovations driving the industry forward. FoodBytes! Pitch members participated alongside Rabobank in the startup selection process and will be embedded in the mentorship programming and pitch judging.

FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 members are influential global food and ag companies, investors and service providers, including Presenting Partner ADM; corporate leaders Albaugh, Barilla’s Blu1877, Beta San Miguel, Dole, Fonterra, PepsiCo and Tate + Lyle; investors BFG Partners, Continental Grain Company, Germin8 Ventures and Rabobank Food and Agri Innovation Fund; and service providers DLL Group, Holland + Hart, Morrison + Foerster, Propeller Industries and TIG Brands.