Fifteen startups changing the future of food selected for pitch competition and ongoing mentorship

CHICAGO (July 31, 2019)FoodBytes! by Rabobank, the next-generation, food and agriculture pitch competition-meets-mentoring platform, today has unveiled the 15 startups selected to participate in FoodBytes! Chicago, taking place September 19, for the first time in the Windy City at Revel Fulton Market.


These groundbreaking startups from across the consumer packaged goods (CPG), food tech and agriculture tech (AgTech) sectors have been chosen by an esteemed panel of scoring stakeholders to pitch their companies for a chance to land potential investments and business mentorship. Out of the pool of applicants, which spanned 18 countries with 30% from the Midwest and 15% from Illinois, many innovations centered on food as medicine, novel ingredients, and even healthy, sustainable pet food. A substantial 2/3rds of CPG applicants claim a functional benefit for their products.


The selected finalists represent some of the strongest innovations in these fields, with 25% working on sustainable agriculture, 20% revolutionizing food supply chains, and another 40% creating unique health foods and ingredients. Food and packaging waste is also a growing focus, with the number of FoodBytes! applicants overall in that sector having tripled in the last three years.


“The number of AgTech applicants focused on precision agriculture solutions is also on the rise, helping farmers optimize their resources and reduce input costs,” said Tina May, senior director of sustainability for Land O’Lakes Inc., and FoodBytes! Chicago judge. “Finding better and smarter ways to grow food is essential and it will be interesting to hear how the selected startups are revolutionizing the future of food and safeguarding the environment.”


The fifteen companies selected to present at FoodBytes! Chicago are:


Sustainable Consumer Foods (CPG):

  • Yolele Foods, Inc. (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – Producer of uniquely delicious and healthful regenerative ingredients that generate income for subsistence farmers in Africa.
  • Start Right Foods (Ballwin, Mo.) – Producer of on-the-go breakfasts offer delicious and nutritional, powerhouse meals that are quick and easy to prepare, such as Belgian Waffles & Waffle Sliders.
  • TeaSquares (Chicago) – Producer of delicious, superfood snacks are developed with nutritionists to help overcome the valleys of fatigue and provide immediate, sustained energy.
  • Tia Lupita® Foods (Tiburon, Calif.) – This Mexican-inspired food company uses simple, healthy and better-for-you ingredients without sacrificing taste for products like hot sauces, cactus chips and tortillas.
  • Shameless Pets (Chicago) – Producer of nutritional, upcycled treats that reduce the environmental impact of pet food production.


Food Tech:

  • The Better Meat Co. (Sacramento, Calif.) – Producer of plant-based protein formulas for major meat users so they can add more nutrition to their ground meat products to enhance taste and sustainability.
  • Evigence Sensors (US and Israel) – Developer of Visual Freshness Sensors that help reduce food waste and enhance food safety and quality worldwide.
  • Higher Steaks (London) – Producer of pork cell-based meat using cellular technology to address some of the most pressing global issues, while also creating cost-effective, scalable manufacture solutions for more complex meat products.
  • Journey Foods, Inc. (Chicago) – Provider of an AI-powered software platform that supports smarter data services and product management for the $3 trillion packaged foods market.
  • Spira, Inc. (Los Angeles) – Creator of functional ingredients from spirulina microalgae as a replacement for petroleum and animal compounds found in the foods we eat, working with sustainable farmers worldwide to also help developing communities and heal the planet.



  • Agremo (Belgrade, Serbia) – Provider of a cloud-based and AI-powered, innovative and intuitive agriculture sensing and imagery analysis software platform for growers, agronomists, and drone professionals with a mission to help agricultural professionals achieve higher and more sustainable outputs.
  • Capro-X, Inc. (Ithaca, N.Y.) – Developer of a sustainable biotechnology, founded with the goal of increasing the sustainability of the dairy industry. Using the WheyAway system, Capro-X focuses on turning the problematic acid whey byproduct from Greek yogurt into chemicals that are direct alternatives to chemicals sourced from unsustainable palm oil.
  • Cytophage Technologies, Inc. (Winnipeg, Manitoba) – Developer of synthetic bacteriophage products to prevent and treat bacterial infections in livestock as a new tool to meet new regulatory requirements while cutting down on the need for daily antibiotics that can lead to antimicrobial resistance in humans.
  • LocalCoho (Auburn, N.Y.) – Producer of sustainable, traceable and fresh, Coho salmon through land-based Recirculating Aquaculture (RAS). LocalCoho uses MxCell® RAS technology to create one of the most energy-efficient close-contained designs in the world.
  • SeedLinked (Viroqua, Wisc.) – Provider of a web platform that uses crowd-sourced data and advanced analytics to enable plant breeders, seed sellers, farmers and gardeners to choose, acquire, breed and sell place-adapted, specialty seeds, and to bring transparency, innovation and efficiency to the seed system.


The judging panel, which includes executives from leading global food and agricultural companies, will select the top pitch companies for the CPG Award and the Food and AgTech Award. The People’s Choice Award will be voted on by the audience of investors, startups, industry leaders and media on Thursday, September 19.


Winners will receive the opportunity to pitch and network with hundreds of C-level executives at Rabobank’s Annual Food & Agriculture Summit in New York City in December 2019. They will also receive valuable business consultation services, including legal consultation, go-to-market advice and recruiting assistance from some of the FoodBytes! sponsors.


FoodBytes! Chicago is supported by presenting sponsor ADM along with official sponsors Printpack, Polsinelli, Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN and FoodSpace®, and supporting sponsors Agropur Cooperative, Germin8 Ventures, Creative Alignments, the Intertwine Group, and Boulder Food Group. Rabobank also welcomes JBS USA, a leading global food company, DLL, a global finance partner, and The Food Foundry, a Chicago-based accelerator reimagining the food industry, to the FoodBytes! family.


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About FoodBytes! by Rabobank:

Rabobank, a premier global food and agribusiness bank, first launched FoodBytes! in San Francisco in 2015 as part of its Banking for Food (B4F) strategy. Rabobank believes that sustainability and innovation are critical in promoting a thriving food and agricultural industry that will feed the increasing global population, expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. Since launching in 2015, 265 startups have pitched on the FoodBytes! stage, 2,000 startups have applied from 90+ countries and more than 4,700 people have attended events in North America, Europe and Australia. Rabobank is a leading global food and agriculture bank, providing sector expertise, strategic counsel and tailored financial solutions to clients across the entire food value chain.


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Want to see these rising startups pitch onstage, network with industry corporates and investors, and see what’s happening on the cutting-edge of sustainability? Grab your tickets to FoodBytes! Chicago ASAP.