Voyage Foods Closes $52M Series A+ Round After Notching Cargill Partnership

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Ethical pantry company Voyage Foods, famous for its cocoa-free chocolate and nut-free spreads, has secured $52M in a Series A+ funding round, weeks after signing a commercial deal with Cargill.

Voyage Foods, which says it makes the “most sustainable” chocolate on the market, has closed a sizeable Series A+ investment round totalling $52M. This includes the $22M the company had announced in January, taking its total raised to $94M.

The latest financing round was led by Level One Fund and Horizons Ventures, with SOSV, Nimble Partners and Collaborative Fund also participating. James Stewart, founding partner at Level One, said Voyage Foods had “set a new standard for commercialisation in the food tech space” by producing substitutes of essential ingredients that are both “extremely cost-competitive against, and more sustainable than” their conventional counterparts.

The funding announcement comes a month after the startup penned an exclusive commercial deal with agricultural giant Cargill, the largest privately held company in the US. The partnership will see the latter be a global B2B distributor for Voyage Foods’ allergen-free, climate-friendly ingredients for use in a variety of applications.

Voyage Foods will offer Cargill more stable pricing

voyage foods cargill
Courtesy: Voyage Foods

Voyage Foods had previously indicated that it would use the capital to scale up manufacturing and launch new products to the market. It’s already building a 300,000 sq ft facility in the midwest, and its collaboration with Cargill will only help accelerate that.

Anne Mertens-Hoyng, Cargill’s category director of chocolate confectionery and ice cream, told Bloomberg that Voyage Foods “offers more stable pricing and reliance on raw materials that are less subject to market volatility”. Chocolate prices have reached an all-time high (up by 250% over last year), with cocoa costing $10,000 per tonne in March.

Cargill is a major player in the confectionery business, with its portfolio including chocolate, coatings and fillings, starches and sweeteners, and oils and fats for bakery, ice cream and chocolate categories. But with access to Voyage Foods’ cocoa-free chocolates and nut-free peanut and hazelnut butters, these can now be complemented with a broader range of ingredient solutions that are vegan-friendly and free from nuts.

“Alternatives to cocoa-based products are a great accompaniment to the traditional chocolate solutions that Cargill offers its customers,” Inge Demeyere, European managing director of bakery, ice cream and chocolate confectionery at Cargill, said last month. “This partnership is just one of the many ways that we are future-proofing our portfolio and meeting consumer demands and market regulations when it comes to even more sustainable options.”

Cargill, which racked up $177B in revenue last year, has invested in a number of climate-friendly food companies, including ENOUGHUPSIDE FoodsAleph FarmsWildtypeCocuusBflike and Cubiq Foods. But it is one of America’s four largest meat producers, and has been linked to deforestation, pollution, climate change and exploitation “at a scale that dwarfs their closest competitors”, according to former US Congressman Henry Waxman, who called it “the worst company in the world” in 2019.

The conglomerate has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions in its North American beef supply chain by 30% by 2030, although this reduction would need to be considerably higher considering its climate footprint was once found to be greater than the entire nation of the Netherlands. Partnering with Voyage Foods will no doubt help its case a little.

“Voyage Foods has always been focused on solving human and environmental health challenges through food. The best way to accomplish this is by supplying the world’s food brands and manufacturers with our impactful ingredients,” Voyage Foods CEO Adam Maxwell said after signing the Cargill agreement, which will see products rolled out in Europe first.

Future-proofing climate-threatened ingredients

rudi's sandos
Courtesy: Voyage Foods

The cocoa-free chocolate world is heating up, with WNWN Food Labs (UK), ChoViva (Germany) and Foreverland (Italy) all working on such products. As is the beanless coffee space – something Voyage Foods also offers for its foodservice clients – with players like Atomo (US), Northern Wonder (Netherlands) and Prefer (Singapore).

These ingredients have a heavy impact on the planet, driving intensive deforestation, water use and greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change itself affects their production and yields, with a third of all cocoa trees in danger of going extinct by 2050, and the area suitable for growing coffee set to shrink in half by then.

Voyage Foods uses a proprietary technology to turn a base of grape seeds, sunflower protein, RSPO-certified palm oil and shea kernel oil into a chocolate-like compound product. An independent life-cycle assessment found that its non-dairy milk chocolate produces 84% fewer emissions compared to conventional options, while its semi-sweet chocolate reduces GHG emissions by 81%. Plus, these use 99% less water to produce.

In fact, if just 5% of the world switched to its cocoa-free chocolates, it would bring emissions savings equivalent to removing between 1.5 and 1.8 million cars annually, and save between 500,000 and 1.2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools’ worth of water.

“As the only company in the world with the validated ability to make these replicas at scale, Voyage’s newly announced partnership with Cargill makes these products available to the world’s major food companies as an immediate solution to fluctuating commodity prices and supply chain disruptions,” said Stewart.

Voyage Foods’ products are available at 1,400 retail locations, including at Walmart stores nationwide, and Maxwell said the company’s sales are increasing every month. And in March, Colorado-based Rudi’s Rocky Mountain Bakery announced it will launch PB&J sandwiches using its gluten-free bread and Voyage Foods’ peanut-free butter – a sustainable, allergen-friendly take on JM Smucker’s Uncrustables.


  • 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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