- BeeHero, a precision pollination startup that uses data analytics and artificial intelligence to improve crop yields, raised $42 million in a Series B funding round to increase its R&D capabilities. The round was led by Convent Capital and included General Mills’ 301 Inc. venture capital firm, ADM’s Cibus Capital, Rabobank and others.
- The company said its technology allows beekeepers and farmers to monitor remotely their hives and track crop development. These capabilities will allow farmers to make better decisions about which crops to grow to increase yields. As a result, the technology has the potential to help reduce food insecurity.
- Roughly 75% of food grown globally requires a pollinator, such as bees, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Food and beverage CPGs are taking an increased interest in pollination to improve crop yields, boost the reliability of procuring commodities and raise profits.
For reasons ranging from pesticides to parasites and climate change, pollinators are in decline, and global food production is poised to take a hit. This comes as U.S. honey consumption hit an all-time high in 2021, according to data from the USDA.
In recent years, leading food research groups have warned of the looming global threat that a declining bee population poses. Higher temperatures and excessive use of chemicals on crops have the potential to negatively impact yields of nutritious crops, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts, according to the FAO.
BeeHero is aiming to reverse the trend. The startup — which was founded in 2017 in Israel and is headquartered in California — has raised $64 million to date. The new funds from backers, such as General Mills and ADM, will increase BeeHero’s recognition among food and beverage CPGs, all of whom likely are looking for ways to make their supply chains more efficient.
Johnny Tran, managing director of General Mills’ 301 Inc., said in a statement that pollinators are an overlooked but crucial part of food production.
“As an industry, we need innovation in all parts of the value chain, and BeeHero is using data to reimagine the classically analogue connection between growers, beekeepers, and bees,” Tran said. “At 301 Inc, we exist to elevate founders who are building the food system of tomorrow.”
General Mills’ investment marks the first time the CPG giant has financed an agricultural or food technology startup through its VC arm. Most of 301 Inc.’s investments have been in food brands creating products in trendy categories such as plant-based meat.
The importance of saving bees is gaining momentum among CPGs given their crucial role in the food supply chain.
Bar maker Kind Healthy Snacks has pledged to source all of the almonds for its products from bee-friendly farms by 2025. And poultry maker Perdue Farm said in 2020 it was the first company to create a pollinator-friendly solar habitat, which it claimed increases yields of soybeans that it uses for chicken feed.