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January 29, 2020

Cooks Venture gets more funding to develop regenerative agriculture

Cooks Venture, a US-based agri-tech firm focused on regenerative agriculture, has received a new round of funding. 

By Dean Best

Cooks Venture, a US-based agri-tech firm focused on regenerative agriculture, has received US$4m in funding from food manufacturer Golden West Food Group.

The investment builds on the $12m recently raised from “secured financing,” according to a statement, which said the new funding will be used to expand distribution to retailers and wholesalers. At the same time, Cooks Venture has announced the appointment of Ankur Agrawal as finance chief.

San Francisco-based Cooks Venture was founded by Matthew Wadiak, the former chief operating officer of US-based meal-kit firm Blue Apron. The business “is establishing regenerative agriculture systems through a combination of crop science, animal breeding and husbandry, and long-term data monitoring”, the statement explained.

Regenerative agriculture is described as an alternative method of farming and animal raising using photosynthesis and soil microbiology to draw down greenhouse gases into the soil, and is hence regarded as being environmentally-friendly.

Cooks Venture breeds slow-growth chickens called heirloom or heritage chickens, which are claimed to be more healthy and have better livelihoods than conventional birds. They are bred on an 800-acre farm, hatchery and breeding facility in Northwest Arkansas.

The company said it has a “long-term strategic partnership” with Golden West Food, which supplies retail, foodservice and private label across a portfolio that features meat, sausages, burgers, pizza, sauces and dips.

Josh Solovy, the president of Golden West Food, said: “Consumers are always looking for a wider variety of ethically-sourced meats, and we like to be at the forefront of what’s new and innovative in the market. We align with Cooks Venture’s philosophy that better animal husbandry yields higher quality, great tasting and better-for-you foods. That’s why we invested in Cooks Venture and believe they, in short time, will be a market leader for pasture-raised, heirloom and heritage bred, regenerative poultry in the US.” 

Meanwhile, new CFO Agrawal has a career in finance and corporate development and has previously worked at beverages giant PepsiCo. He met Wadiak when both were employed at Blue Apron. Agrawal will “lead the company’s sustainable growth, building new investor partnerships and establishing core processes”. 

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