Zomato Acquires Runnr; Positions Itself To Compete In The Food Delivery Busines

In the crowded business of on-demand food delivery, global restaurant guide Zomato has acquired India’s food ordering platform Runnr, a bold move that took place over several months.

Runnr will have to scale up as Zomato plans to increase its capacity to be able to deliver throughout the whole of India and in the United Arab Emirates as well.

Zomato started out as a restaurant guide where food shops, diners, and other restaurants were rated by the public; while Runnr is a delivery service start-up resulting from the merger of RoadRunnr, a delivery service start-up, and TinyOwl, a food delivery service start-up. Individually, RoadRunnr raised $28 million while TinyOwl raised $27 million from venture capitals.

The Runnr acquisition has been brewing for several months, with the lengthy decision affected mainly by the different investors that funded parent apps RoadRunnr and TinyOwl. However, it was only a matter of time before Zomato took control and delivered on the money involved. Zomato was already working with Runnr for several months prior to the announcement of the bold move.

Another would’ve-been buyer of Runnr was UberEATS. The food delivery service subsidiary of Uber had Runnr at a valuation of $50 million. In contrast, Zomato’s valuation was only $40 million, however, Zomato was willing to pay $20 million.

Some Things Can’t Compare to Food Delivery

Food delivery is a big thing in India. Traditional pack lunches are not brought by office workers when they leave their homes in the morning. Instead, there is a food delivery system in place, where the hot food in their tin containers are picked up from the home a couple of hours before lunch time. These are brought to their rightful owner by passing it along from one collection point to another. This system has been in place in the country for many years. Although the food delivery services start-ups are not going to compete with the home food delivery system, the efficiency of the old system remains the standard for Indian food deliveries.

Food Delivery app on tablet.

In terms of business, Runnr has around 300,000 deliveries per month, which is about one-tenth that of Zomato. What Zomato plans to do is to scale up Runnr and take over their food delivery service.

The Zomato service model uses restaurant-owned vehicles for food deliveries. Restaurant personnel are used for food delivery during off peak hours, and during peak hours, they use Runnr and the Mumbai-based Grab to deliver its food. There will be a change in the model as it will now make use of Runnr scaling it up to compete with other food delivery services like Swiggy and FoodPanda.

After the acquisition, Runnr will still continue as an independent company wholly owned by Zomato. It will still be run by the same CEO, Mohit Kumar, and functioning as a full-service logistics company servicing a wide range of industries like pharmaceuticals, grocery and online shopping. This would allow Runnr to have a wider base of operations and not be dependent on the food industry. Runnr was also able to raise an additional $7 million after the acquisition was announced.

Runnr will have to scale up as Zomato plans to increase its capacity to be able to deliver throughout the whole of India and in the United Arab Emirates as well. It had previously scaled back its food services operations to 40 locations. With the new initiative from Zomato, it will be back to more food deliveries than ever before.

Zomato ran into problems of its own in the past. It was valued above $1 billion in 2015, before its valuation was halved by HSBC, and the company has undertaken some service cutbacks and staff layoffs. With the Runnr acquisition, Zomato now has a valuation of around $800 million and this bold move is expected to make their financials all red and juicy again.

Originally Published at: http://www.boldbusiness.com/digital/zomato-runnr-food-delivery/


Hacking Food Waste

Post-harvest losses worldwide are estimated at around one third of the actual food production. The estimates give 30% losses for cereals; 50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables; 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy; and 35% losses for fish. Such statistics always have bold impacts to the food industry, as well as its consumers.

The analytics from the tech solutions below can provide the kitchen an important insight on what foosd are moving fast, and what produce needs to be disposed of soonest.

These percentages have not changed much for decades, although the percentages of losses vary from country to country according to their level of economic development. For developing countries, the losses mainly occur during post-harvest and processing. With developed countries, the losses occur at retail and consumer levels.

With the earth’s population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, these food losses are alarming and companies worldwide have been developing solutions to address food losses.

From Harvest to Market

Studies have always focused on how to harvest properly, in a quick and orderly manner, where the produce is kept as fresh as it was on the tree. This has resulted in methods where produce are boxed at the field whenever possible. Still, these boxes have to reach the market or the commercial kitchen. There is still a lot of available improvements in the processes and in monitoring them from the farm until they reach the consumer.

Food waste

Some foods have to travel long distances via shipping containers to get to their destination. BluWrap is a tech solution which extends the fresh meat and fish shelf life by reducing oxygen inside shipping containers. It uses fuel cells and built-in sensors in maintaining a consistent ambient atmosphere throughout the transportation process. This extends the freshness and can also help to reach new markets.

Another solution is BT9 Xsense® which is a real-time chain management system that monitors food products from the producer to the store. Users can use the information to help maximize the product quality.

Edipeel has a different approach for post-harvest protection. Developed by Apeel Sciences, Edipeel comes from all-natural plant extracts processed by recycling agricultural by-products. It acts as a protective barrier against transpiration, oxidation, and microbes, for freshness that keeps food from spoilage longer.

Leafy Green Machine™, the food tech solution by Freight Farms, is not new but has a different take on food and farming. The technology assures 365 days of harvest per year even in different and challenging climate conditions. The Machine resides inside a shipping container, and includes a climate-controlled closed-system hydroponic farming. It also has the Farmhand Connect app which lets growers track the climate conditions inside the Machine. Humidity, temperature, carbon dioxide, plant nutrients, and pH levels are monitored and optimized for best efficiency, maximized production, and minimized waste products.

An alternative solution for conventional refrigeration is Wakati, which uses hydration in preserving food during transport. One liter of water per week with the help of solar energy, and the Wakati system keeps fresh produce hydrated. This allows farmers and other producers in warm climates to safely store their products on the farm as well as during transit.

Shelf-Life Monitoring and Storage Solutions

In developed countries, the biggest losses are in the retail and consumer levels. While there are several smart solutions for the home, these usually monitor the food inside the refrigerator and advise the consumer on what food are nearing spoilage. This is usually achieved with the use of a smart refrigerator. Shelf-life monitoring, as well as storage solutions, are also being placed on a large scale in supermarkets. The solutions do not require a smart appliance, as the containers and plastics are usually the solutions themselves.

One piece of technology new to the market makes use of a natural oxidation process for refrigerated products. Called Bluapple, this is an ethylene absorber for refrigerators. Ethylene is naturally occurring gas emitted by various fruits and vegetables. Limiting this chemical helps to prolong the shelf life of produce by up to three times longer.

Another storage solution for grains and seeds is from the International Rice Research Center, located in the Philippines. Called the Super Bag, it is a hermetically sealed storage which reduces oxygen level to 5 percent, and significantly reduces the number of live insects without the use of insecticides. The Super Bag is also capable of maintaining consistent grain moisture, increasing germination life for stored seeds, from 6 to 12 months. As a grain storage, Super Bag improves head rice recovery during the milling process.

VTT Technical Research Center has developed smart packaging which has wireless sensors that detect ethanol accumulation in food packaging. It has a live data feed on a particular food’s freshness and overall quality, which it transmits to customers via RFID tags. The smart packaging products improve food product shelf-life, improve food quality from packaging to the shelf, and reduce the food wastage all throughout the transport as well as the retail.

In the Kitchen

The kitchen is not only a place where food is prepared – this is also where the products have to be keep at their best. As such, food management is essential to the success of a commercial kitchen. In addition, food spoilage has to be kept at a minimum. Lastly, proper planning and forecasting is also important.

The analytics from the tech solutions below can provide the kitchen an important insight on what foosd are moving fast, and what produce needs to be disposed of soonest. If items cannot be sold in the store, there has to be a way to sell these at a loss, or for others to benefit. Giving food to non-profit organizations can help these organizations in feeding those who have less.

Originally Published at: http://www.boldbusiness.com/nutrition/hacking-food-waste/

Russia Becomes Food Superpower

During the height of the Cold War, the balance of power was arrived at by diplomacy of all kinds, including wheat. There were years when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) experienced shortages in wheat production, and the United States sold them their much needed grain. This was not acknowledged internally in the USSR, but it was a stabilizing trade.

The growth in the agricultural sector may still be egged on further with some improvements in the system. The current farm systems follow the old large farm collectives of the Soviet Union.

After the USSR’s demise, the division of the various Soviet Republics resulted in some disparities in resources. The Ukraine remained the leading wheat producer among the former Soviet Republics, while the southern republics became the leading oil producers. Russia itself has vast tracts of land producing both oil and wheat, leading the world in exporting the former.

Becoming a Food Superpower

In recent news, Russian agriculture has benefited from the warming trend. During the period from July 2016 to June 2017, Russia’s exports totaled 27.8 million metric tons of wheat. This is more than the total harvest of the European Union, and makes the country the leading exporter of grain. It is expected to export 31.5 million during the current marketing cycle, something that will create a bold impact in the global food market.

Besides wheat, Russia is also among the top exporters of other grains like corn, barley, and oats. However, they are not alone among the former Soviet Republics, as Kazakhstan and Ukraine are also big exporters of grain.

Russia’s increasing grain exports is a growing trend, along with those of Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The trend does not seem to be reversing any time soon. One reason for the increasing harvests is due to the effects of global change. Grain producing regions are expected to experience an increase in temperature of 1.8 degrees Celsius (35.24 deg. Fahrenheit) before 2030, and up to 3.9 deg. C (39.02 deg. F) by 2050. The temperature change is expected to be more significant in winter. Months of snow are becoming shorter in some regions, resulting in longer crop growing seasons and improved yields.

Under the former USSR, large tracts of land were farmed even if these were low yielding. A lot of resources were used to keep these lands productive. After the fall of the Soviet Union, these low-yield lands which required high resources were left fallow, with farmers looking at better return for their labor. Now that these lands can be more easily farmed, the returns are also better for the farmers. The harvest has grown with more land under cultivation.

Building More Roads to Transport Produce

With more land under cultivation, and the resulting bumper harvest, the next question is how and where to distribute the crops. The how is an ongoing problem to this day. As the growth in volume of harvest has put a strain on the infrastructure, it may take a while before this can be addressed as road improvement is under government jurisdiction.

Where the grain is being exported is another matter altogether. Grain consumption has been growing 2.8% annually from 2011 to 2016. This is expected to continue at a lower growth rate of 1.4% annually up to 2021.

The growth in the agricultural sector may still be egged on further with some improvements in the system. The current farm systems follow the old large farm collectives of the Soviet Union. These are now composed of a few dozen conglomerates which use Western technology to improve farming techniques and methods.

Russia has also begun to change land regulations to allow smaller private farms to till the soil. This is expected to further accelerate the increase in farm production, a bold action for the agricultural sector.

Originally Published at: http://www.boldbusiness.com/nutrition/russia-becomes-food-superpower/

Yellow Peas, Better Than Soy Milk And Other Milk Substitutes

Milk alternatives have been in development for years. For example, soy milk has been used as a dairy substitute and has been on the supermarket shelves for decades. The latest addition to the list of milk substitutes include almond milk and rice milk. However, a new bold idea may provide the biggest splash: milk from yellow peas – it is tastier, has better texture, and has high protein content.

They sampled different food proteins, until they came upon yellow peas. It is inexpensive, and the product does not have a strong flavor. The resulting milk substitute tastes a little like concentrated powdered milk, with a creamy texture.

The product of a startup called Ripple, yellow pea milk is being noticed fast by the dairy industry. The company has had $44 million funding from Google, Khosla Ventures, and other Silicon Valley venture capitalists. It launched in 2016, and since then has generated more than $20 million in revenue from 2.5 million 48-ounce bottles of milk from yellow pe

One advantage of the product is that it is inexpensive to grow yellow peas, and at the same time the product has a clean texture and taste. This is a step up, as many of the other alternatives have their own sets of disadvantages. For example, many would describe soy-based milk as having texture akin to chalk. In addition, soy is widely known for being genetically modified organism (GMO) food, meaning it has been artificially modified in a laboratory.

Another example is almond milk, which unfortunately does not have a high enough protein content, having only one-eighth the protein of dairy milk. It also requires a large volume of water to produce. Another popular option, rice milk, while pleasant tasting also suffers from low protein content.

Ripple, created by Adam Lowry and Neil Renninger, they wish to address some of the issues of these milk substitutes. With current estimates, land and irrigation water will be scarce commodities by 2050. This does not mean that the resources will no longer exist, only that the demand will far outstrip the supply by that time. Creating a milk substitute now would enable the production to scale up and result in lower prices in due time.

Glass of milk and yellow peas.

Lowry and Renninger are no newbies when it comes to startups. Lowry is a co-founder of Method, an eco-friendly cleaning line. Method was later sold to Belgian company Ecover in 2012 for $100 million. Renninger was formerly with Amyris Biotechnologies which was started with a grant from the Gates Foundation. It uses tech to create renewables. In addition, Renninger is an entrepreneur-in-residence in well-known venture capital firm, Khosla Ventures.

Eco-Friendly Ideals

The partners set out with a bold idea when they first started: to find a dairy alternative which would have a small carbon footprint. They noted that up to 20% of the world’s carbon emissions come from food production, of which 25% of that comes from dairy products. Latching onto milk products, the pair sought out a milk substitute which was pleasant tasting without being chalky in texture.

They noted that technology is helping create plant-based products as substitutes to traditional food choices. This has resulted in products like the Impossible Burger. The success in the venture to create a meatless meat product has motivated the company to look for alternatives for diary. They used technology to create what they term as really good dairy food alternative.

The pair started to experiment with protein extracted from plants other than soy, almonds and rice. They sampled different food proteins, until they came upon yellow peas. It is inexpensive, and the product does not have a strong flavor. The resulting milk substitute tastes a little like concentrated powdered milk, with a creamy texture.

The possibilities for yellow pea milk in various cuisines and beverages are endless!

Originally Published at: http://www.boldbusiness.com/nutrition/yellow-peas-better-soy-milk-milk-substitutes/

Entocycle Believes Insect Protein Is Key

Much has been said about the expected world population of 9.6 billion by 2050. To feed these many mouths with protein would be a tough task. There are now researches and startups trying to address the issue via unconventional and bold ideas. They have already putting out to the market various solutions for meat substitutes which are palatable and indistinct from traditional meat.

These flies come from eggs deposited by the female black soldier fly, with female flies lays more than a thousand eggs each at a time. From these about five percent are kept alive and isolated to produce the next generation of flies.

However, there are other problems at hand. These fake meats would still be sold beside traditional meat, and in this arena, Entocycle is making a dent with a surprising approach. They still use food and protein to feed animals, so Entocycle is developing a bold idea for it – an animal feed which is based on the larvae of black soldier flies.

The animal feed industry is estimated to be worth $150 billion. Feeds are usually made from various other plants or animals which have high nutritional value. For instance, feeds for cattle feedlots are usually made from soya. Because high quality grass can no longer compete with the cost of soya-based feeds, the sheer volume of cattle to feed with grass alone would require large areas of land which are no longer available.

The same issue is true for fishes. There was a time when tilapia was raised in fish ponds to serve as fish food for more expensive fish farmed varieties. Nowadays, tilapia has become one of the most important commercial fish varieties. In the future, feeding tilapia might also become a problem if this issue is left unaddressed.

Entocycle started out three years ago. Since then, it has met with some success in making black soldier fly larvae an acceptable protein farm feed. Recently, it was able to raise $1 million in grant money from the UK government, the European Commission, and from the European Space Agency.Black fly

Black soldier flies feed on a wide range of organic waste. These include industrial wastes from breweries, commercial kitchens, and almost every other kind of organic material. Since black soldier flies eat up almost anything, automated systems can easily monitor them.

Black soldier flies replicate themselves in large numbers. These flies come from eggs deposited by the female black soldier fly, with female flies lays more than a thousand eggs each at a time. From these about five percent are kept alive and isolated to produce the next generation of flies. 95% of the eggs become larvae and fed for a week before being harvested and converted to animal feed.

Since black soldier flies eat organic waste, this means that they can contribute to problems about food waste disposal. In addition, since these flies do not require any soil to farm, these can be cost-efficient in terms of actual farm footprints. They can also be used for other types of feeds, like those used for tuna and other fish pond animals.

Entocycle is yet to distribute a viable product. For now, part of their marketing plan is to market the fly-feeds to supermarkets in line with the news that the European Commission now allows feeding insect protein for feeding farmed fish. With the larvae-based protein, these farm-raised fishes do not have to depend on fish feeds. This bold idea is worth exploring and investing on in the name of food stability.

Originally Published at: http://www.boldbusiness.com/nutrition/entocycle-insect-protein/

Clean Meats: When Meat is No Longer a Viable Option

Clean meat is a product cultured from a plant base. This is a bold and innovative method of producing meat without raising livestock. For all intents and purposes, when clean meat is harvested, cooked and served, it looks, feels, and tastes like real meat from animals grown on a farm.

Good Food Institute is a leading research proponent on clean meat, as well as other plant-based alternatives for meat and other animal products. It works with scientists and investors in trying to achieve this end.

Clean meat sounds like science fiction. However, it does have its advantages. For one, it does not have the health issues associated with consuming live animals. In addition, plants contain far greater amounts of protein than animal flesh.

Clean meat also addresses growing concerns about GMOs, antibiotic resistance, and growth hormones. Additionally, high volume agriculture has resulted in decreasing the Earth’s biodiversity. Heirloom vegetables are examples of plant breeds that are no longer commercially planted due to their low resistance to disease and low yield. Today’s commercial vegetables and farm feeds are the product of cross-pollination, engineering, and breeding to create high volume products, to the detriment of heirloom breeds.

This is all the more true for livestock feeds, which have become very dependent on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It is hoped that getting clean meat and other plant-based meat to market will reduce the dependence on GMOs.

Going “Vegan” Isn’t So Bad

Other companies like Beyond Meats and Impossible Foods are turning plant products like soybeans, peas, and beets into meat. Currently, their products are mostly burgers but are expected to deliver more goods in the near future.

With these in mind, the world’s largest meat processing company, Tyson Foods has also been taking a long look at plant-based meat, as well as clean meat. It recently invested a substantial amount equivalent to 5% of equity on Beyond Meats.

The company also set aside a research fund for sustainable plant-based meat food production. This is a big vote of confidence in the viability of plant-based and clean meat, as well as giving a direction on where food technology will take us in terms of meat on the table.

Researchers have been touting the benefits of veganism to improve health and extend human lifespans. However, only a small percentage of the population is willing to forego the pleasure and satisfaction of consuming animal protein, no matter how many health benefits are listed down before them.

The bold concept of eating “meat that isn’t meat” could eventually convince them to think otherwise.

Originally Published at: http://www.boldbusiness.com/food-nutrition/clean-meats-meat-no-longer-viable-option/

Look for These Five Ingredients in the Best Dog Foods

Studies have shown that like people, dog health is dependent on their diet. There have been controversies during the past decade where dog food manufacturers recalled their products due to bad manufacturing practices. For every pet owner, choosing the best dog foods can be disorienting.

There are more than 3,000 different brands of dog food, and even listing the top 100 may not do justice to the dog. Each dog may have its own preference, however, the owner can choose which brand to buy. The basic composition, especially the ingredients and what labelling to avoid can serve as a guide to buying dog food.

Independent studies by consumer groups have shown that there are some things that an owner should pay particular attention to when choosing the best dog foods:

1. The main ingredient should be a whole protein.

The main ingredient on any label is usually the first one listed. This should be a whole protein ingredient like chicken, venison, fish, beef, duck, liver or eggs. Stay away from brands which mentioned unspecified proteins (e.g. “meat”, “meat meal” or “by-products”). Additionally, do not buy products which are labeled as having “rendered meat” or “dry rendered tankage.” These unspecified proteins could literally be anything including rats, roadkill, or even spoiled meat from the supermarket.

2. Whole grains like oats and quinoa are good for the dog’s diet.

Some dog foods contain unhealthy grain or fillers like corn, wheat soy and beet pulp. If the first ingredient listed is corn, that should be a red flag and you should stay away from that product.

3. Look for bonus healthy ingredients.

Dog food manufacturers, veterinarians and food formulators have only recently realized that adding micronutrients and fatty acids greatly contribute to a dog’s health. These include omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin. Dogs also need a healthy dose of Vitamins C and E.

4. Meaningful labels.

These include naming conventions which really mean something. “Certified organic,” for instance means exactly that: they have a certification to prove it. Going back to the example above, “rendered meat” may mean anything. In the same manner, stay away from dog food with ingredients coming from China or Thailand, or any other country where there are loose regulations.

5. Good fruits and vegetables.

Peas, sweet potatoes and carrots are good for dogs. On the other hand, dog foods with onions, garlic, grapes and avocados should be avoided. If these ingredients are not properly processed, it may still contain persin, a toxin which can be harmful to pets.

The above should be considered as basic considerations when buying dog food. There would be instances where the owner would choose between dry, wet, dehydrated, and raw food. The owner might even go to the extents of preparing a home made meal for the dog. These types of food have their own pros and cons. Dogs have different nutrient requirements from humans, and that not all dog food are created alike. Considering these and the above guide, the pet dog should be able to enjoy a healthy well-rounded diet.