Better Bite Ventures Invites APAC Food Tech Startups to Apply for Funding, with Focus on Climate-Threatened Crops

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Better Bite Ventures has opened up applications for the latest funding round of its First Bite scheme, which offers early-stage investments to food tech startups in the Asia-Pacific region. The new round will focus on crops that most threaten the region’s climate.

Singapore-based VC firm Better Bite Ventures is inviting Asia-Pacific (APAC) food tech startups to apply for the latest round of its First Bite funding scheme, focusing on tackling key areas of the food system affected by the climate crisis.

This edition of First Bite will be specifically focused on five categories: rice production, palm oil, cocoa and coffee, fertilisers, and food waste. Startups that are selected for the early-stage investment programme will receive between $50,000 and $150,000 to help get their projects off the ground.

A focus on climate-threatened food categories

apac food tech investment
Courtesy: Canva AI

“Our mission at Better Bite Ventures is to support entrepreneurs decarbonising the food system in Asia Pacific,” said Better Bite Ventures founding partner Michal Klar. “We have previously invested in startups addressing meat and dairy emissions. For this edition of First Bite, we have looked into what other products and categories contribute the most to the food and agriculture’s carbon footprint – through methane and other greenhouse gases as well as deforestation.”

It makes sense when you consider that 90% of the world’s palm oil trees – which are a major driver of deforestation – are located in the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia. In August 2019, Indonesian forests were engulfed by wildfires caused directly by palm plantation trees. One estimate suggests that tropical deforestation is responsible for nearly 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Research has found that extreme rainfall has reduced rice yields in China over the last 20 years, while in Vietnam, almost 250,000 acres of land in its rice bowl, the Mekong Delta, is being taken out of production, partly due to climate change. More than 90% of the world’s rice is grown in Asia, but higher global temperatures could shrink yields by 40% by the end of the century. In fact, some estimates suggest rice’s GHG emissions are nearly on par with the global aviation industry.

Coffee and cacao, meanwhile, have high carbon footprints, and face shortages as a result of climate change. Nitrogen-based fertilisers emit 700 million tonnes of CO2e each year, with Asia alone contributing to 400 million tonnes – but the nitrous oxide released after the gas’s exposure to soil is 300 times more potent at heating the planet than carbon.

Moreover, 17% of all food produced in southeast Asia goes to waste, but the massive population growth rates will push demand for food by 40% by 2050. This is a problem, considering about 19% of the population faces moderate to severe food insecurity in this region.

All this underscores the need for climate-friendly, futureproof solutions, which are the focus of Better Bite Venture’s latest First Bite round. The total financing amount is dependent mostly “on specific stage {idea, early R&D, etc.) and capital needs of the business”, said Klar.

What happens in the post-investment stage? “We are transparent with founders about what we can and what we cannot help with,” explained Klar. “For early-stage startups, one of the most important things is ability to raise follow on capital. We can support founders with advice on how to craft the story and access to our investor network.”

The APAC funding gap needs to be closed

prefer coffee
Courtesy: Prefer

Better Bite Ventures was launched in early 2022 by Klar and Simon Newstead as APAC’s first dedicated climate-centric food tech fund, with $15M in assets under management. It typically invests between $200,000 and $700,000 in pre-seed and seed rounds across the cultivated, precision fermentation and plant-based protein sectors.

So far, it has made investments in about 25 startups, including Aussie-American precision fermentation dairy maker Change Foods, New Zealand molecular farming startup Miruku, Indian plant-based meat brand Greenest, Indonesian plant-based giant Green Rebel, Australian mushroom meat maker Fable Food, Chinese alternative protein company CellX, and Singaporean alt-meat producer TiNDLE, beanless coffee startup Prefer and mycelium innovator 70/30 Food Tech.

To support technological innovation for a planet-friendly food system, it launched the First Bite initiative in late 2022, with a focus on APAC startups tackling food system challenges with innovative solutions. So far, this scheme has seen Better Bite Ventures invest in seven startups.

The companies involved in the inaugural edition of First Bite in April 2023 were Singaporean startups Allium Bio, which co-cultures microalgae and mycelium and turns them into functional ingredients like protein isolates, and Cultivaer, which is working on bioreactor-free tech to slash the costs and speed up the scalability of fermentation-derived protein, as well as New Zealand-based cauliflower ice cream brand EatKinda, and Indian cultivated meat startup Klevermeat.

In October, they were joined by Singapore’s Fattastic, which is developing a process to enhance the structure of vegan whole-cut meat, Australian player Pivot Eat, which engineers plant-based fats to improve the sensorial and functional attributes of meat and dairy analogues, and South Korean cultivated pet food startup Everything But. Klar said all these startups “have made some good R&D progress, and some of them already raised follow-on funding”.

A report by AgFunder in October revealed that agrifood tech startups in APAC received $6.5B in financing in 2022, a 58% drop from the year before. In fact, the region only received 21% of agrifood investments, with the rest of the world securing a combined $23.7B for this sector. “[This] funding gap is one of the biggest challenges,” said Klar. “APAC is responsible for 42% of all global food-agri climate emissions.”

He added: “Our check sizes are too small to directly help to close this gap. But what we can do is provide that very first catalytic capital to amazing founders, who will go on and raise more funding to build impactful, transformative companies.

Disclaimer: Green Queen founder and editor-in-chief Sonalie Figueiras is a Venture Partner at Better Bite Ventures.


  • Anay Mridul

    Anay is Green Queen's resident news reporter. Originally from India, he worked as a vegan food writer and editor in London, and is now travelling and reporting from across Asia. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, food tech, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford comma.

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