Bangkok-based seafood processor Thai Union Group has launched a venture fund with an initial commitment of $30 million to invest in food-tech startups, according to its announcement.
The corporate venture capital firm will focus on three strategic areas under foodtech, namely, alternative protein, functional nutrition and value chain technology.
“As we move into the coming decade, we will increasingly cooperate with innovative startups in strategically interesting areas. This will complement our own activities as we are broadening our business beyond our traditional core,” said Thai Union CEO Thiraphong Chansiri.
The fund has made its maiden investment into alternative protein startup Flying Spark, whose technology enables easy and low-cost cultivation and processing of fruit fly larvae. Flying Spark produces 70 per cent protein powder, described as “an excellent source of amino acids”.
The startup had received a seed investment from Israeli foodtech incubator The Kitchen Hub, a programme by Israel’s second-largest food producer Strauss Group.
Thai Union has recently partnered with Thailand’s National Innovation Agency and Mahidol University to create Space F, Thailand’s first food-tech accelerator.
Having been in the market for over 40 years, Thai Union said its annual sales exceeded 133.3 billion baht ($4.1 billion). Since 2015, the company has been operating the Global Innovation Centre to do R&D on marine biotechnology, engineering, medicine, food science, and nutrition.
Thailand is home to a number of CVCs which are on the lookout for technologies disrupting traditional businesses. The prominent CVCs in the country include Siam Commercial Bank’s Digital Ventures, Kasikorn Bank’s Beacon VC, Sansiri’s Siri Ventures, Add Ventures by SCG and Dtac, among others.