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Food tech Voyage Foods raises $36M Series A

Illustration of a chocolate bar with an image of grapes stamped on it.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Food tech company Voyage Foods raised a $36 million Series A round co-led by UBS O'Connor and Level One Fund, the company's CEO and founder Adam Maxwell told Axios.

  • The startup previously raised $6 million and has a pre-money valuation of $85 million, he added.

Why it's important: The food technology company is pioneering a new approach for creating sustainable food alternatives by taking a widely available, environmentally-friendly raw ingredient and turning it into a popular food item.

  • That's a different tact than the plant-based approach, which takes ingredients such as gelatins and emulsifiers and recombines them, or lab-grown meat, which can be expensive to produce, Maxwell claims.

Details: Proceeds will be used to scale manufacturing, research and development, sales and marketing.

  • This round is likely to satiate the company for the next 12-to-18 months.

Between the lines: Voyage Foods isn't just solving the problem of sustainability, according to Maxwell, it's also ensuring that affordable versions of certain food items will be available for future generations.

  • Cacao plants, for example, will be under pressure due to climate change and more vulnerable to disease as a result.
  • Coffee and chocolate use large amounts of natural resources, namely water, and in some cases rely on child labor.
  • "We can sell a chocolate bar at basically the same price as a Hershey bar and still make positive margins," he said of the company's approach.

Of note: The CEO got the idea for Voyage Foods while working at Endless West, where he helped create (on a molecular level) whiskeys without the barrel aging process, and wines that didn't come from grapes.

What's next: The company's first product will be a peanut butter spread that doesn't come from peanuts, which will be launched in a month.

  • The next product will be coffee, which is produced from rice hulls and will launch in Q3, followed by chocolate in Q4, which will be unveiled in partnership with a large European confectioner.
  • Voyage can transform grape seeds into chocolate.

The bottom line: It's about "decoupling food from the source material by making chocolate without the cow or coffee without the arabica beans," Maxwell said.

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