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Product, Service & Design Innovation
15 Startups in Mars’ 1st ‘Unreasonable Food’ Cohort Poised to Future-Proof Food

Mars Snacking and Unreasonable Group will work with the selected rapid-growth ventures to scale their sustainable solutions in the first year.

Mars and Unreasonable Group have selected the inaugural cohort of Unreasonable Food™ startups — 15 purpose-led, growth-stage ventures chosen for their potential to drive impact at scale across the food value chain.

To identify the Unreasonable Food inaugural cohort, the selection committee reviewed a host of innovative and entrepreneurial disrupters in the food space, all focused on four distinct pillars:

  • Shaping the future of food

  • Improving farmer livelihoods

  • Transforming food supply chains and

  • Reimagining sustainable packaging.

The first Unreasonable Food cohort consists of startups headquartered across five continents, operating in nearly 40 countries around the globe. The ventures were chosen through a rigorous selection process based on factors including their problem statement and solution mindset, technology readiness and differentiation, funding and traction, potential impact, scalability and timeline to partner.

"We are excited to welcome these ventures to the Unreasonable Food family," said Daniel Epstein, CEO of Unreasonable Group — a Colorado-based, international company that supports a Fellowship for growth-stage entrepreneurs, channels exclusive deal-flow to investors, and partners with some of the world’s leading brands to ensure a more just future. "Their innovative solutions and commitment to creating a more regenerative, inclusive and equitable future of food align perfectly with our mission. We look forward to supporting their growth and connecting them with Mars to drive lasting mutual impact and value."

Mars recently unveiled its open-source climate-action plan — the Mars Net-Zero Roadmap — to accelerate global action toward achieving net-zero emissions, which includes a new target to cut carbon in half by 2030 across its full value chain. The Year 1 cohort includes ventures dedicated to helping jump-start this reduction in greenhouse gases and carbon emissions, while also providing innovations in more circular packaging for a more sustainable world.

The Year 1 Unreasonable Food cohort will participate in a comprehensive program that includes mentorship, access to resources and networks, and opportunities for collaboration with Mars and other industry leaders. The program aims to provide a catalytic effect on the growth and impact of these ventures towards the goal of more sustainable and resilient food system for all.

The Year 1 cohort is as follows:

  • Mootral and Sea Forest both produce potentially game-changing feed additives that greatly reduce climate-changing methane emissions from cattle. Sea Forest’s, made from red seaweed, can reduce cattle emissions by up to 90 percent; Mootral’s, made from ingredients such as organosulphurous compounds from garlic and natural plant flavonoids, reduces methane emissions from dairy cows by up to 30 percent while increasing milk yields.

  • On the soil-health front, Yard Stick provides a low-cost solution for directly measuring carbon in the soil, with 70-90 percent lower cost per acre compared to lab testing; Regrow Ag uses satellite imagery modeling to measure and reduce Scope 3 emissions in agriculture — helping companies cultivate resilience in their agricultural supply chains to combat climate change and grow profitability; and Nitricity produces zero-carbon nitrogen fertilizer with only air, water, and electricity. On the tech front, LandScan enables precision agriculture by providing a digital twin of the farm that provides targeted soil data to enable novel insights and decision support for crop and land management.

  • On the packaging front, Xampla and Loliware have developed scalable, plant-based material solutions poised to eliminate a host of problematic plastics: Xampla’s Morro range of biodegradable materials can replace a variety of conventional plastic films, coatings and microcapsules; while Loliware’s biodegradable and home-compostable resins — made from regenerative, carbon-capturing seaweed — can replace a host of single-use plastics.

  • Farmerline provides farming education, access to inputs, and traceability solutions to improve smallholder farmer incomes.

  • Absolute is a bioscience company developing diversified crop, decarbonization and bio-material solutions; and vertical-farming startup 80 Acres Farms uses 100 percent renewable energy and 95 percent less water to produce a similar quantity of produce and grow up to 300 times more food per square foot.

  • Rounding out the cohort are four innovators future-proofing food: MycoTechnology has developed a range of healthy, sustainable and high-quality food ingredients — from flavor clarifiers to fermented protein — through mushroom fermentation; Voyage Foods uses reverse engineering and molecular biology to recreate alternatives to popular foods — including Nut-Free Spreads, Cocoa-Free Chocolate & Bean-Free Coffee — using sustainable ingredients; String Bio’s proprietary technology converts methane into a single-cell protein that could provide carbon-negative alternatives for animal and human nutrition, as well as agricultural products; and just like it sounds, Air Protein and its landless protein farming create protein and other sustainable food ingredients — including meat and seafoodfrom air, using a carbon-negative Air FermentationTM process.

"At Mars Snacking, our purpose is inspiring moments of everyday happiness,” said Amanda Davies, Chief R&D, Procurement and Sustainability Officer for Mars Snacking. “We’re thrilled to deliver on that mission through Unreasonable Food in support of innovative ventures that have the potential to transform our food systems and contribute to Mars' sustainability goals."