SK Inc., the investment division of South Korean conglomerate SK Group, has formed a partnership to bring alternative-food products to Asia.
The investor in US-based firms Perfect Day and Nature’s Fynd said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean food firm SPC Samlip “to make joint investments and pursue business opportunities by introducing new food technologies, such as those from Perfect Day, into the Asia market”.
SK Inc. recently contributed to a US$350m investment round in Perfect Day, the Berkeley-based animal-free dairy start-up, and also invested $45m in the business in 2020. A spokesperson for SK Inc. confirmed it contributed $55m to Perfect Day’s Series D funding with co-investor STIC Investments, a South Korean private-equity firm.
Earlier this year, SK Inc. also participated in a $350m investment pool for Nature’s Fynd, the Chicago-based start-up making alternatives to meat and dairy products using microbial fermentation.
SPC Samlip, meanwhile, has a manufacturing and distribution partnership with Eat Just, the plant-based egg and cell-cultured meat firm in San Francisco.
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SK Inc. added it “plans to speed up its discovery of promising alternative-food and food-tech start-ups in China” through a KRW100bn (US$83.5m) fund the investor set up in July with Chinese food and beverage company Joyvio Group.
Joyvio is a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate Legend Holdings and owns assets in seafood, fruit and processed food.
SK Inc. said it had invested about $100m in “new food-focused” companies in the US, Europe and Asia in the past year. It plans to partner with SPC Samlip to “bring new food technologies from its US and European investments into Korea”.
SK Inc.’s spokesperson also clarified it has invested an undisclosed amount in The Meatless Farm, an alternative-protein business founded by Danish national Morten Toft Bech in 2016 and headquartered in the northern English city of Leeds.
In terms of the signed MoU, SK Inc. said it will “continue developing investment opportunities for global leading alternative-food companies, while SPC Samlip will conduct business feasibility based on its expertise in production, distribution and R&D”. It will make joint investments with the South Korean food firm.
“We will expand global business opportunities and strengthen our global presence as an ESG sustainable food investor,” Moohwan Kim, the executive vice president of SK Inc., said in a statement. “With our partnerships with SPC Samlip in Korea and Joyvio Group in China, SK will support global alternative-food companies’ growth in the Asian market.”
The details of the agreement between SK Inc. and SPC Samlip are still being determined, so distribution deals have not yet been set up, the spokesperson said.