Sustainable and traceable plant-based food manufacturer, The Single Origin Food Co (Sofco) has closed a US$1.1 million seed funding round. The company has developed a plant-based honey substitute launched via Sprouts Farmers Market. Now, the capital raised will be directed toward expanding the product’s rollout across other U.S. stores.
U.S.-based The Single Origin Food Company(Sofco) closed its seed funding round which was led by A’Z Angels. The Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm focuses on investing in experienced founders creating disruptive innovation.
Founded in 2015, Sofco is dedicated to providing ethically sourced products. It sets up long-term partnerships with farmers to engage in sustainable and ethical practices. Its portfolio includes products like rice, salt, and sugars sold in 3500+ supermarkets across the U.S.
Why is honey not sustainable?
During honey extraction, bees often lose their lives and this has a direct impact on the environment given that numbers of wild bee pollinators are dwindling around the world.
The U.S. National Agricultural Statistics highlighted honey bee decline with data showing a 60 percent reduction in 2008 to 2.4 million hives from the more than 6 million hives back in 1947.
If bees were to go extinct, it would have severe consequences on the planet. Several plants which are pollinated by these bees would die off, and so could other species dependent on bees. Their decline could also affect ecosystems and the food chain.
Read: World Bee Day: Why Vegans Avoid Honey & Other Important Facts About Nature’s Pollinators
Vegan honey as a solution
Sofco is looking to address this problem with its key product: Vegan Un-Honey. It is created without using any bees and instead incorporates natural plant-based ingredients fortified with organic flower pollen.
Launched in Sprouts Farmers Market across U.S., it is now looking to use the new capital to rollout across Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, and Safeway Albertsons stores.
“Our mission is to fix the food chain,” CEO of Sofco, Belal Elbana said in a statement. “Our Single Origin model of working collaboratively with our farming partners actively reduces greenhouse gas emissions, increases biodiversity, removes animal use from the food chain and provides full product traceability to our customers to ensure we deliver the highest quality, best value food to market.”
Our mission is to fix the food chain. Our Single Origin model of working collaboratively with our farming partners actively reduces greenhouse gas emissions, increases biodiversity, removes animal use from the food chain and provides full product traceability to our customersBelal Elbana, CEO of Sofco
Elbana added that the seed round will not only support its vegan honey product but help accelerate product development. “Our product road map includes the Vegan Un-Honey + (with added flower pollen), Nada (sugar-free) and Gold (Maple). Longer term we see enormous potential of further ‘Un’ plant-based natural products and + (plus) fortification using organic flower pollen and wild nutrition.”
Managing Partner of A’Z Angels, Amr Abdelaziz said that despite their portfolio primarily including technology companies, Sofco and its Vegan Un-Honey are set to disrupt the food industry with innovation at its core. “We are a strong believer in sustainability which is a key driver of innovation. The U.S. vegan food market is estimated to be worth US$24.3 billion by 2026. We see innovative high growth potential for Sofco and we’re excited to partner with them on this journey.”
Sofco’s Vegan Un-Honey won the 2021 Honey Product of the Year at the Mindful Awards. It is a program that honours companies that are creating ethical and planet-friendly products.
In the U.S. itself, another company MeliBio uses synthetic biology, precision fermentation, and plant science to make honey that replicates traditional honey. To advance its fermentation-based technology to produce vegan honey, it secured US$850,000 in its pre-seed round.
Lead image courtesy of The Single Origin Food Co.