Rabobank, a global food and agribusiness bank, announced pivotal changes to its FoodBytes! innovation platform to drive greater sustainable innovation, collaboration for speed-to-market, and market responsiveness. Starting this year, FoodBytes!, Rabobank's discovery platform that champions cross-industry collaboration between the most promising startups, corporates and investors, will move beyond its annual pitch competition and expand to a continuous scouting model, with 15 startups selected to participate in programming every quarter.
Within the new model, FoodBytes! will also be streamlining the platform's sectors - agtech and food tech will now become the primary focus, while CPG startups will be encouraged to apply and participate if they have a defensible underlying technology or a novel supply chain innovation. The platform will also be introducing a new Beta digital hub that aims to continuously connect vetted startups with investors and corporate members in an effort to drive solution-based collaboration to improve future food systems.
"FoodBytes! has become a formidable force within a rapidly evolving food system," said Anne Greven, global head of F&A innovation and FoodBytes! at Rabobank. "As we continue to face new challenges from increased demand for food, changing consumer preference, and the need for sustainable food production, it only makes sense to refocus the way we operate in an effort to be even more effective in connecting food industry leaders and investors with deployable, impactful solutions for triple-bottom-line business growth."
For the first quarter of 2022, FoodBytes! will be scouting startups around the theme of Meeting New Consumer Demand, specifically within the following five categories: diversified ingredients, traceability and sustainability metrics, nutrition and immunity within functional foods, novel packaging and consumer wearables as nutritional guides.
While FoodBytes! has evolved through the years to meet industry demands, specifically shifting from an annual in-person pitch competition to an all-virtual offering in 2020, the brand's purpose has remained the same since its inception in 2015. As one of the industry's most valuable global networks, FoodBytes! helps startups validate and grow their businesses, and their impact, through global industry exposure, tailored mentorship sessions with major food and ag companies, and individualized strategic connections with investors. While beneficial for startups, FoodBytes! remains a trusted resource to both corporates and investors within the network - not only granting access to a vetted pipeline of innovation, but acting as the facilitator to curate peer-to-peer conversations to accelerate change. Like previous years, corporate members will be heavily involved in the scouting process - having the opportunity to review quarterly and participate in pitch review sessions to ultimately foster the right connections for their respective businesses.
FoodBytes! startups offer corporate and investor members readily deployable solutions to real-world business opportunities. For example, FoodBytes! member Hormel Foods recently announced a new collaborative relationship with FoodBytes! alum Pleese Foods, after the two were introduced through the platform. Pleese's meltable plant-based cheese has been an essential ingredient in Hormel's new plant-based line, Happy Little Plants.
Aligned with scouting efforts, FoodBytes! is also revealing the first in a quarterly series identifying the most pressing consumer food and agriculture sustainability demands - introducing FoodBytes! Industry First Look: Four Must-Act-On Sustainability Solutions for Companies in 2022. This report highlights timely issues facing the food and agriculture industry and provides actionable solutions for corporate and investor leadership.
Learn more and apply by February 28 for the Q1 program.