Oprah Gets Into Restaurant Biz, Walter Robb Joins S2G, Starbucks Bans Plastic Straws + More

Source: True Food Kitchen

 

Every week we track the business, tech and investment trends in CPG, retail, restaurants, agriculture, cooking and health, so you don’t have to. Here are some of this week’s top headlines.

Celebrities are making moves in the food world. Oprah invested in True Food Kitchen, a healthy restaurant chain backed by Dr. Andrew Weil. Meanwhile natural food rockstar Walter Robb has joined S2G Ventures as an Exec-In Residence.

Hello, unicorns! Luckin Coffee, a 9-month old coffee company, is giving starbucks a run for its money in China. The startup has already opened 525 outlets across China’s major cities  and it recently closed a $200 million funding round at a $1 billion valuation. POS startup, Toast, raised $115 million at a $1.4 billion valuation, meaning the startup has also gained unicorn status.

In other news, as companies left the Grocery Manufacturers Association last year,  the U.S. divisions of Danone, Mars, Nestle and Unilever have launched their own association. The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, they say, will advocate for progressive food policies.

Check out our weekly round-up of last week’s top food startup, tech and innovation news below or peruse the full newsletter here.

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1. Former Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb Joins S2G Ventures as Exec-in-ResidenceAgFunder

As an executive-in-residence, Robb will help S2G identify new investments and mentor portfolio entrepreneurs who are moving the food system toward sustainability and health.

 

2. True Food Kitchen, the Restaurant Chain Oprah Just Invested In, ExplainedEater

Oprah has invested an undisclosed amount in Phoenix-based True Food Kitchen, a healthy restaurant chain backed by Dr. Andrew Weil. She is also joining the board of directors.

 

3. A Startup Challenging Starbucks in China is Now Worth $1 BillionQuartz

Luckin Coffee has opened 525 outlets across China’s major cities in just 9 months since launching. The startup closed a $200 million funding round giving it a $1 billion valuation.

 

4. Toast Raises $115M at a $1.4B Valuation to Create a One-Stop Management Tool For RestaurantsTechCrunch

T. Rowe Price led the round of funding in the POS system, with participation from Tiger Global Management, Bessemer, Generation Investment Management, and Lead Edge Capital.

5. Starbucks Swears Off Single-Use Plastic Straws for 2020 Deadline – Bloomberg

The company plans to eliminate plastic straws from its more than 28k locations globally. Exchanging them for alternative-materials and recyclable strawless lids will allow the coffee giant to remove more than 1b plastic straws from its locations per year.

 

6. Venture Capital Investing in Food Accelerating – Food Business News

Since 2013, F&B startups have raised $9.5b across 2.1k deals globally. Consumer demand for healthy, sustainable and personalized options has helped spark a surge in venture capital firms, incubators and accelerators focused on food and beverage.

 

7. Costco Changes Up Food Court Menu, but the $1.50 Hot Dog Deal Remains – The Seattle Times

The retail giant is selling new menu items meant to appeal to more health-conscious shoppers, but there’s no sign its long-standing dog deal is going away.

8. GrubMarket Gobbles up $32M Led by GGV For Its Healthy Grocery Ordering and Delivery ServiceTechCrunch

The round of funding is a mixture of equity and debt led by GGV with participation from Fusion Fund, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Max Ventures,and others. The fund will be used to grow and make acquisitions ahead of its upcoming IPO.

 

9. Four of the World’s Largest Food Companies Have a New Plan For Fixing Food & Farm PolicyThe Washington Post

A year after the GMA began to implode, the U.S. divisions of Danone, Mars, Nestle and Unilever have launched their own association. The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, unveiled Thursday, says it will fight for progressive food policies — from conservation programs to prominent nutrition labels — that have long been eschewed by major food-makers.

 

10. Brava Hopes To Heat Up The ‘Smart Kitchen’ With a $995 OvenWired

The oven cooks uses infrared light, sensors, AI, and more to cook items faster than a conventional oven. The startup has also partnered with Chef’d to offer a food delivery service.

 

11. Following Farm Deal With General Mills, Midwestern BioAg Nabs $15MXconomy

The fertilizers, seed, and other biological product startups that it says can help farmers boost soil fertility, has raised capital from 3 private investors for product expansion with Genera Mills.

12. Farmers Business Network Invests in AgriSecure to Help Farmers Transition to OrganicAgFunder

The agribusiness marketplace and data platform has invested in AgriSecure, a Nebraskan startup that helps row crop farmers transition to organic farming.

 

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The post Oprah Gets Into Restaurant Biz, Walter Robb Joins S2G, Starbucks Bans Plastic Straws + More appeared first on Food+Tech Connect.

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