Financing was co-led by Wheatsheaf and GV with broad participation from strategic and environmental, social and governance (ESG) focused investors across the food and agriculture value chain.
Benson Hill will use the funds to scale its commercial operations and its platform food innovation engine CropOS™ across multiple food and ingredients markets.
ST. LOUIS, MO – October 29, 2020 – Benson Hill has announced the close of a $150 million Series D funding round led by Wheatsheaf Group and GV (formerly Google Ventures). The company’s leading food innovation engine CropOS™ taps nature’s genetic diversity to develop and commercialize healthier and more sustainable food and ingredient options that benefit farmers, food companies of all kinds, and ultimately, consumers. This funding round will accelerate the food tech company’s efforts to deploy its platform technology, expand partner development across the supply chain, and scale product commercialization efforts.
The funding round attracted diverse investors recognizing the company’s strategic business model and potential to impact the health and well-being of people and the planet through advances in the food system. New and returning investors included Argonautic Ventures, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Emart, GS Group, Louis Dreyfus Company, iSelect Fund, Fall Line Capital, Mercury Fund, Prelude Ventures, Prolog Ventures, S2G Ventures, and additional strategic and family office investors.
Benson Hill leverages Cloud Biology®, a discipline combining the power of data science, machine learning and AI techniques with plant biology and genomics. CropOS™ is the platform that makes this discipline actionable, significantly accelerating the precision and speed of product development. Benson Hill’s technology platform and collaborations empower the creation of healthier and more sustainable feed, food and ingredient options that consumers are seeking, while also delivering strong crop performance that farmers demand.
“As a firm, we are focused on investing in innovation that delivers the right calories and nourishment for a growing global population in a less commodity-driven food system,” said Stephan Dolezalek, Executive Director at Wheatsheaf Group. “We feel the culture and partners propelling Benson Hill forward will have a significant impact on the health and sustainability challenges that burden our current food system in a way that benefits society and our environment.”
“We are excited to contribute to the scale-up of Benson Hill’s work to advance a sustainable future of food by realizing the value creation potential of technology-enabled innovation,” said Max Clegg, Head of Louis Dreyfus Company’s corporate venture capital program, LDC Innovations. “The power of genomics and genetic diversity is largely untapped, and we believe that the company’s technology and collaborative model unlocks efficiencies and new product differentiation for stakeholders across the value chain, from farmers to end-consumers.”
“The plant-based protein movement is global in scale,” said Hewie Kang, CEO of Emart, Shinsegae Group. “Benson Hill’s product innovations, particularly in the area of protein and nutrient density, are poised to help further accelerate the adoption of plant-based alternatives. Our investment reflects a strategic intent to help realize the vision of delivering a steady stream of more sustainable and healthy food options to a global consumer.”
With this new round of funding, Benson Hill will continue to advance Cloud Biology® and its innovation engine CropOS™, amplify partner development efforts, continue to recruit top talent, and propel the commercial launch of the first Ultra-High Protein soybean varieties in 2021, among other product launches. The company’s portfolio of high-quality soybean varieties delivers a full range of in-demand premium attributes, including better digestibility, heart-healthy omega fatty acids, and higher protein that serve the plant-based food, healthy oils, animal feed and aquaculture markets.
“As a society, we’re at a crossroads made more evident as the pandemic has revealed strengths and vulnerabilities in our food system,” said Matt Crisp, Benson Hill CEO. “Food choices that create enjoyment, make us stronger, and help preserve our environment need to be accessible to everyone, and the power of plant diversity and technology innovation can help fuel that evolution. We’re grateful for the growing coalition of investors, stakeholders, farmers and partners who recognize the urgency and opportunity of this moment to think collaboratively and modernize food production.”
About Benson Hill
Benson Hill moves food forward with Cloud Biology® and the CropOS™ platform, a leading food innovation engine that combines data science and machine learning with biology and genetics. Benson Hill empowers innovators to unlock nature’s genetic diversity from plant to plate, with the purpose of creating healthier, great-tasting food and ingredient options that are both widely accessible and sustainable. More information can be found at bensonhill.com or on Twitter at @bensonhillinc.
About Wheatsheaf Group
Wheatsheaf Group invests in food and agriculture businesses using capital and expertise with a far-sighted perspective to deliver lasting commercial and social benefit. With one of the largest and longest established investment teams in the sector, Wheatsheaf partners with its portfolio companies to create efficiencies in the production and distribution of food; developing innovative business models and technologies to deliver affordable, nutritious and safe food that sustains both human health and the health of the planet. Through deploying such business models and technologies commercially at scale, Wheatsheaf works to deliver enduring solutions to address one of modern society’s most pressing challenges – supplying healthy, nutritious food to meet the demands of a changing global population. Wheatsheaf Group is part of the Grosvenor Estate.
About Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC)
LDC is a leading merchant and processor of agricultural goods. Leveraging its global reach and extensive asset network to serve customers and consumers around the world, the company works to deliver the right products to the right location, at the right time – safely, responsibly and reliably. Its activities span the entire value chain from farm to fork, across a broad range of business lines (platforms). Since 1851, its portfolio has grown to include Grains & Oilseeds, Coffee, Cotton, Juice, Rice, Sugar, Freight and Global Markets. LDC helps to feed and clothe some 500 million people every year by originating, processing and transporting approximately 80 million tons of products. Structured as a matrix organization of six geographical regions and eight platforms, the company is active in over 100 countries and employs approximately 18,000 people globally.
Emart, a Korea-based company, is a multi-format retailer that includes Emart Hypermarkets, Emart Traders, a warehouse retail model, Shinsegae Food, which owns manufacturing facilities, food distribution channels, international restaurant and beverage franchises, Emart24 convenience stores, Emart Everyday small grocery stores, upscale mall complexes, Starbucks Korea, and SSG.COM (online mall). Its portfolio provides extensive consumer interactions, derived from monthly visits by half of the population of South Korea, and 20 million active members of its loyalty card. Apart from Korea, Emart also has retail footprints in Asia including Vietnam, Mongolia, Philippines and China. Emart, through its Global Sourcing division, operates several overseas offices, including Emart America Inc., a U.S.-based entity that introduces products for export/import on behalf of all Emart Affiliates. In the U.S., Emart operates premium grocery stores under the name of Bristol Farms, Metropolitan Market, New Seasons Market and others through its subsidiary Good Food Holdings. More information can be found at emartcompany.com.