Blue Apron co-founder raises $10M to breed a superior chicken

31 Jul 2020

For decades the American poultry breeding business has been dominated by Cobb and Aviagen. However, Cook Ventures, a new breeder focused on slow-growth, heirloom chickens, may give its two major competitors a run for their money.

Cook Ventures, which is owned by Matthew Wadiak, the co-founder and former chief operating officer of Blue Apron, raised $10 million in a series A funding round led by SJF Ventures and Cultivian Sandbox. Additional participation came from Larry Schwartz and John Roulac, the executive producer of the upcoming documentary on regenerative agriculture, Kiss the Ground. The funding will be used to expand the commercialization of the company’s chickens on a national scale as well as strengthen its regenerative crop management program. The company already provides its birds to markets in California, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Seattle, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Northeast, according to TechCrunch.

Blue Apron co-founder raises $10M to breed a superior chicken

In addition to the funding, Cook Ventures announced a partnership with Food In Depth (FoodID), a company that strives to provide transparency and accountability for food safety claims. According to FoodID’s co-founder Bill Niman, “They are the first company in the United States with a fully verified claim that their meat is truly antibiotic-free."

Wadiak’s chicken farm is seeking to upend standard practices in broiler chicken breeding, and it is an effort that is 10 years in the making. The Blue Apron co-founder purchased the vertically integrated chicken producer with its independent genetics operations that focus on selective breeding rather than genetic engineering for an undisclosed amount in 2018. Since then, he has worked to bring heritage breeds with improved taste and stronger resilience to illness, climates and diet diversity to the world.

Currently, 99% of the chicken consumed in the United States comes from either Tyson-owned Cobb and privately held Aviagen. These multibillion-dollar companies dominate the $28 billion market, according to Forbes. However, this dominance comes from price rather than flavor as the breeds sold by these genetics companies are known to be tasteless and are prone to woody textures.

Alan Kelley, managing director at SJF Ventures, said in a statement that the taste of the Cooks Ventures breeds prompted the VC investment. "Seeing Cooks Venture's chickens exhibit unusually healthy, vibrant attributes at one of the company's farms was a powerful moment for us. It helped us to understand why consumers rave about the flavor of Cooks Venture's chickens and why a pasture-raised environment is a fitting place for these unique birds to roam and grow," he said.

Cooks Ventures is an independent genetics operation that approaches breeding from a traditional standpoint rather than genetic modification in order to improve animal welfare for birds and create a strong natural pathogenic resistance for food systems. These heritage breeds also participate in regenerative agriculture efforts.

Related news

Study: 2% of Brazil’s soybean farms are responsible for 62% of deforestation

Study: 2% of Brazil’s soybean farms are responsible for 62% of deforestation

29 Jul 2020

A new study published in the Journal of Science found that 20% of soy and 17% of beef imports into European from Brazil may be contaminated with illegal deforestation. Although a substantial figure, this deforestation is linked to a small number of far...

Read more 
Two plant-based investment arms are created and invest in ice cream

Two plant-based investment arms are created and invest in ice cream

28 Jul 2020

Two plant-based startups have migrated into the ranks of venture capitalists. Perfect Day recently created The Urgent Company in order to develop CPG products from its animal-free dairy proteins, and Jason Karp, the co-founder of Hu snacks started Huma...

Read more 
Eradication may not be the future of the palm oil industry

Eradication may not be the future of the palm oil industry

17 Jun 2020

Environmental advocates have been calling for a reevaluation of the palm oil industry for years. While some like the European Palm Oil Alliance are calling for companies to perform mandatory due diligence of their palm oil sourcing, others are calling ...

Read more 
Tyson publishes sustainability report showing progress toward plant-based sustainability

Tyson publishes sustainability report showing progress toward plant-based sustainability

11 Jun 2020

Tyson Foods released its 2019 sustainability report entitled “Grow – Deliver – Sustain” where the company outlines its progress across its five focus areas of food, animal welfare, environment, workplace and communities.

Read more 
Apeel Sciences on track to save 20 million pieces of fruit from food waste

Apeel Sciences on track to save 20 million pieces of fruit from food waste

9 Jun 2020

At the end of May, Apeel Sciences raised $250 million dollars in new financing, bringing the startup’s total funding to more than $1 billion. This infusion of funds will be put toward the company’s mission of food waste prevention, an area in which it ...

Read more 
Malaysian firm develops package-less packaging

Malaysian firm develops package-less packaging

26 May 2020

A group of Malaysian Ph.D. students won the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Save our Seas global engineering challenge with their new bagless approach to food packaging called the PICAS block. The competition is hosted in partnership wi...

Read more 
Hong Kong compostable food packaging startup lands $6 million funding round

Hong Kong compostable food packaging startup lands $6 million funding round

18 May 2020

Hong Kong startup Ecoinno received US$6 million in Series A funding from the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund to help stand up its manufacturing facilities as well as increase its overall production of its biodegradable packaging. This is the startup’s secon...

Read more 
COVID-19: Zomato delivery app shows body temperature of drivers in India

COVID-19: Zomato delivery app shows body temperature of drivers in India

27 Apr 2020

In an effort to further increase the safety of those ordering take out, Zomato introduced a temperature tracking feature on its delivery app in India. The feature was released the week of April 13 and covered 50% of the application’s delivery partners ...

Read more 
Catered foodservice meals in the UK to have 20% less meat

Catered foodservice meals in the UK to have 20% less meat

24 Apr 2020

Public sector caterers serving schools, universities, hospitals and care homes have pledged to reduce the amount of meat served on their menus by 20%. There is simultaneously a focus on reducing overall red meat offerings.

Read more 
Scientists discover enzyme, breaks down 90% of PET polymers in hours

Scientists discover enzyme, breaks down 90% of PET polymers in hours

21 Apr 2020

PET plastic can now be broken down into food-grade materials within 10 hours due to a discovery by scientists at industrial chemical firm Carbios. This discovery will transition into industrial-scale trials in 2021 with the help of Carbios’ partnership...

Read more