Beyond Meat’s lead investor is looking for his next unicorn


Victor Friedberg, co-founder of the US$1.5 billion S2G Ventures fund and thought-leader in food and agriculture, is launching a new US$150 million fund, New Epoch Capital on 1 December 2023.

Friedberg, whose original investment firm, S2G Ventures, was the lead investor in the now-US$1.13 billion alternative protein company, Beyond Meat, says New Epoch Capital is investing into an emerging sector he calls “conscious consumer growth”.

“We are investing not just in brands, but the ingredients and materials, the enabling technologies, and modes of commerce that can scale them,” he says. That’s across industries like apparel, beauty and self care, health-tech and home and, of course, food.

While Friedberg is no longer part of S2G Ventures, he’s continued his investment into food and agriculture solutions. In 2018, he founded FoodShot Global, a non-profit consortium of venture funds, banks, corporations, universities and foundations that provides funding for moonshot-scale ideas that address some of the food system’s biggest challenges. So far, the platform has launched three FoodShots. He says one of the biggest successes of the platform has been showing that the collaborative model and integrated capital can catalyse the kind of innovation needed to create a sustainable food future.

“We’ve supported companies working on everything from the soil microbiome to digital livestock fencing to protein made from carbon dioxide,” he says.

“We believe huge advances in food and agriculture will come from APAC, and we want to help curate the networks and the funding that will drive those advances.”

– Victor Friedberg, founder of FoodShot and New Epoch Capital

“And our GroundBreakerPrize winners are building open-source decision support tools for farmers, breeding pulses and legumes with better nutrient bioavailability and digestibility, and creating models to better inform policy-makers on how to optimise for nutrition and land use. As a whole, the FoodShot Global portfolio is showing that it’s possible to make progress on some of the biggest challenges facing food systems around the world, if we work together and deploy all of the tools at our disposal.”

At the annual evokeAG conference in Adelaide this week, Friedberg also announced the first regional extension of FoodShot Global: FoodShot APAC, established in Australia as the starting point to the Asia-Pacific.

“The APAC region is going to be the locus of demand for our food system, being the source of the majority of global population growth but also home to a rapidly expanding middle-class consumer population,” he tells Forbes Australia.

“But perhaps even more importantly, we think the APAC region brings a set of attributes that make it ideally positioned to help drive a healthy, sustainable and equitable food future: the highest levels of biodiversity globally, strong cultures of innovation, climate and nutrition-conscious consumers, strong traditional food knowledge and practices and cutting-edge science. 

“We believe huge advances in food and agriculture will come from APAC, and we want to help curate the networks and the funding that will drive those advances.”

Looking ahead, Friedberg says nutritional security will drive significant innovation in areas like plant genetics, farming, formulation, manufacturing, marketing and distribution. He expects areas like functional ingredients, precision fermentation, food diagnostics and advanced manufacturing ,  bioinformatics, AI and machine learning to attract investment attention.

“You will start hearing more about — not just genomics — but other omics: proteomics, metabolomics, lipidomics,” he says.

“You will start hearing about food with nutritional blockers like anti-nutrients and free radicals. You will start caring not just about food’s nutritional level but its bioactivity level.”

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