SB'24 San Diego is open for registration. Register early and save!

Product, Service & Design Innovation
Chipotle, FoodBytes! Unveil Newest Classes of Food, Ag Innovators

Two startup accelerators highlight the latest startup solutions poised to disrupt our food system for good.

FoodBytes! SF to showcase alternative protein, byproduct upcycling, supply chain technology

FoodBytes! by Rabobank, a global pitch competition and networking platform for innovative food, food tech and agtech entrepreneurs, has unveiled the 15 startups selected for FoodBytes! San Francisco 2019. These innovators will showcase their technologies and products on March 28 at Terra Gallery — and participate in a mentorship immersion that provides insights and lasting connections to scale their impact on the way we eat, source and produce food.

New this year, startups selected based on rigorous criteria will compete in FoodBytes’ live pitch competition for a chance to win honors in three categories: food and agriculture technology, consumer packaged goods and people’s choice

“The Bay Area is at the forefront of sustainable food and agriculture innovation, which is why FoodBytes! launched here in 2015, and why we’re excited to host our 15th edition where it all started,” said Nina Meijers, startup relationship manager for Rabobank’s Food & Agriculture Innovation Team. “The startups competing at FoodBytes! SF are pioneering new solutions to real problems in our food system. We’re thrilled to connect them to the Rabobank network and support them at FoodBytes! and beyond.”

The 15 FoodBytes! SF 2019 startups — down from 20, last year — are:

Food Tech:

  • SnapDNA (Mountain View, Calif.) – the industry’s fastest food safety pathogen test for E. coli, salmonella and listeria. Its technology eliminates the need to culture bacteria prior to analysis, making it possible to test food samples in the field and secure analysis in just over an hour.

  • Planetarians (Palo Alto, Calif.) – upcycles byproducts and solid food waste into high-protein, high-fiber ingredients. Using a process that emits 99 percent fewer CO2 gases and requires no additional land or water, its functional protein flour from upcycled, defatted seeds has 2x the protein and fiber at the same cost of wheat flour.

  • Bond Pets (Nederland, Colo.) – maker of dog and cat foods sourced from real animal protein, without the animal. The company produces high-quality animal proteins through fermentation — without the environmental impact of conventionally raised meat.

  • Corumat (Pomona, Calif.) – maker of packaging that is 100 percent plant based, compostable, insulating and up to 30 percent lower in cost than traditional technologies. Corumat’s bioplastics generate 60 percent less CO2 during production than the plastics traditionally used to make red party cups.

  • Zymtronix (Ithaca, N.Y.) – stabilizes and delivers enzymes to enable cost-effective and sustainable ways of manufacturing ingredients. In agricultural applications, stabilizes and delivers biocidal enzymes to create sustainable processes for crop protection.


  • Osmo Systems (Oakland, Calif.) – developer of the Osmobot, an aquaculture water-quality sensor that allows shrimp and fish farmers to continuously monitor their ponds online — decreasing mortalities and improving feeding conversion at a fraction of the cost of legacy monitoring systems.

  • Hargol FoodTech (Misgav, Israel) – operates the world’s first commercial grasshopper farm using proprietary technology for efficient, large-scale farming of grasshoppers. Its grasshopper protein products offer one of nature’s most efficient and sustainable protein sources.

  • Healthy Cow (Toronto, Canada) – develops products to help dairy farmers reduce their reliance on antibiotics and hormones. Its first product, ProPreg, offers a bovine intravaginal probiotic that supports a healthy vaginal microbiome in dairy cows.

  • Bushel (Fargo, N.D.) – the grain industry’s first software platform and app that allows grain elevators and cooperatives to digitally connect with their growers and deliver near real-time information that informs better business decisions.

  • CropIn Technology Solutions (Bengaluru, India) – provides SaaS solutions to agribusinesses globally that enable agri-ecosystem stakeholders, including farmers, to adopt digital strategy and decision-making tools across their operations to maximize value per acre.

Sustainable Consumer Foods (CPG):

  • Toast Ale (New York, N.Y.) – started in 2017 in the UK, Toast Ale is now fighting food waste in the US, by brewing craft beer from unsold bread from local bakeries that would have otherwise been wasted. Toast donates all profits to Feedback, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing food waste.

  • GEM (Los Angeles, Calif.) – maker of the first real-food multivitamin, built for women by women. Made from 13 algae- and plant-based ingredients, GEM is the first FDA-regulated daily vitamin that provides more vitamins and minerals women need for everyday wellbeing.

  • Shaka Tea(Hilo, Hawaii) – supports regenerative agriculture and economic development while offering the first line of Hawaiian-grown, no sugar-added, herbal iced teas brewed with māmaki, an antioxidant powerhouse only found and grown in the Hawaiian Islands.

  • The Worthy Company (Chicago, Ill.) – creators of the Worthy Blendie Bowl, a plant-based superfood snack. Handcrafted recipes combine fruits, vegetables, legumes and chia in a spoonable “blendie” that delivers high-protein, high-fiber nutrition on the go.

  • Taali (Wilmington, Del.) – maker of snacks made from popped water lily seeds and non-GMO, whole and natural ingredients. Taali aims to introduce healthier new grains into the US snack market to reduce reliance on potato, corn, wheat and extruded foods.

“As a mentor for nine editions of FoodBytes!, I can say with confidence that FoodBytes! is an unmatched barometer for innovation in the food and ag industries,” said FoodBytes! SF judge Bob Bloom, global account director for presenting sponsor ADM. “For ADM, it’s a valuable opportunity to preview the future of food and connect directly with entrepreneurs who are as passionate as we are about developing new ingredients, technologies and products that have sustainability and purpose built into their DNA.”

Prizes for Winning Startups:

  • The opportunity to pitch and network with hundreds of C-level food and agriculture (F&A) executives at Rabobank’s Annual Food & Agriculture Summit in New York City in December 2019. 

  • Valuable business consultation services, including:

    • Legal consultation from food and ag law firm Polsinelli

    • Go-to-market consultation from The Intertwine Group

    • Recruiting consultation from Creative Alignments

    • An innovation day with ADM’s food and beverage product advisors

    • Access to Rabobank research reports

Chipotle’s first class of ‘Aluminaries’ poised to create the ‘Future of Food with Integrity’


Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced the first class of the Chipotle Aluminaries Project, a seven-month-long accelerator program sponsored by the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation in partnership with Uncharted, both nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. The Chipotle Aluminaries Project is part of the company's larger efforts to invest in the future of food with integrity, and will drive positive change in the food industry by offering eight growth-stage ventures the resources needed to grow and make a positive impact at scale.

Each venture will receive mentorship and direct coaching from world-renowned industry leaders, participate in a boot camp, and be powered by free Chipotle food as they take their businesses to the next level.

"Since our founding, Chipotle has been committed to cultivating a better world, and we believe the best way to lead the future of food is to inspire others to come along with us on the journey and be a force for good in our industry," said CEO Brian Niccol. "The eight selected companies represent the best and brightest of what's next in the food industry, and we can't wait to help them reach their full potential with the launch of the Chipotle Aluminaries Project."

The selected ventures touch all areas of the food landscape including alternative farming and growing systems; farming and agriculture technology; food waste and recovery; and plant and alternative products:

  • Agvoice: AgVoice is the simplest way to help farmers measure good stewardship practices by using a mobile voice-interaction service that integrates with existing record-keeping apps. The service enables easy tracking of plant and animal production – at the source – to help assess positive environmental and sustainability impact.

  • American Ostrich Farms: A vertically integrated producer of a better red meat, American Ostrich Farms strives to increase awareness of the resource intensity of food so consumers can make enlightened, healthy choices for themselves and the planet. Ostrich tastes like a delicious, lean filet mignon, but leaves a fraction of the environmental footprint – compared to beef, ostrich uses a third of the fresh water, one fiftieth of the land and emits less than one tenth of the GHGs per pound produced.

  • Asarasi: Asarasi produces a sustainable and renewable water that is harvested from the byproducts of maple trees, offering an environmentally friendly, organic plant-based alternative to bottled water sourcing.

  • Grubtubs: GrubTubs is positioned to be the nationwide solution for food waste. Its product currently allows restaurants, hotels and large cafeterias to drastically reduce what they send to landfills, helping to positively impact the environment. In addition, GrubTubs turns the food waste into insect-based animal feed, which helps farmers significantly lower food costs.

  • Impactvision: ImpactVision uses hyperspectral imaging to help food businesses deliver consistent product quality, generate premium products and prevent supply chain waste.

  • Novolyze**: **Novolyze develops innovative technologies to help the food industry manufacture safer food, while ensuring strong compliance with international food safety and quality standards. Its innovative approach to food safety relies on the utilization of cutting-edge microbiology solutions, combined with the latest developments in digital, internet of things and machine learning.

  • Rex Animal Health: Rex Animal Health provides machine learning for a safer and more sustainable food supply. Using data to improve livestock health, the venture is working to reduce the 20 percent waste in animal protein production.

  • Sophie's Kitchen: Sophie's Kitchen Plant-Based Seafood creates sustainable, plant-based seafood alternatives using innovative ingredients and patent-pending technology.

In March, the entrepreneurs will participate in a five-day, in-person boot camp in Newport Beach, Calif., where they will create their plans for scale and receive direct coaching from Chipotle executives and industry leaders including chef Richard Blais and entrepreneur Kimbal Musk.

"At Chipotle, we feel we have a responsibility and opportunity to forge a path to a more sustainable food future," said Caitlin Leibert, director of sustainability at Chipotle. "Changing the food landscape is bigger than just Chipotle and the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, and while we are proud of our efforts, we can't do it alone. Together, with these ventures and the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, we know we can make a real impact."

The startups will have regular, one-on-one meetings with their mentors and three to four advisors committed to a minimum of six months of mentorship.