3 Nordic Investors Views on the Future of Food

I pulled together three of the top investors in food and ag from the Nordics for a fast-paced, spirit conversation on how they view and are investing in the future of food. We have Marika King from PINC representing corporate venture capital, Lauri Reuter from the Nordic FoodTech VC looking at the bridge between science and entrepreneurship, and Gustaf Brandberg from the family office of Gullspånge Invest Re:Food, which has an evergreen strucutre. I’ve done individual episodes with each of these investors diving into their backstory and investment thesis. Find those in the show links below. This conversation was recorded at Sweden FoodTech’s Big Meet.

Episode Transcript 

Gullspång Re:Food Gustaf Brandberg on investing patient capital in the food system

Building a food company and transitioning to more sustainable agriculture takes time and requires more patient capital with a long-term view. Re:food is part of Gullspång Invest, a Swedish family office that operates with an evergreen structure. This means that they can invest for the long term without posing time constraints. Located in Stockholm and San Francisco,  Re:Food invested early in some of the most successful food companies that have come out of the Nordics so far like Oatly and Nick’s. The firm focuses on investing across four themes: alternative proteins & fats, regenerative farming, sustainable supply chains, and healthy diets. In this episode, Re:Food’s Co-Founder Gustaf Brandberg shares the company’s investment thesis, background, and vision for the future food system. 

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Aquaporin on using nature's genius to solve the water crisis

Water is key because we cannot live without it. We needed to nurture and water our crops and to manufacture all kinds of different things. In today’s episode, we explore the future of water as it relates to agriculture and life on Earth. My guest is Peter Holme Jensen, who is the Chief Innovation Officer of Aquaporin. They have developed an innovative technology to treat and filter water on an industrial scale. The design is based on how our bodies naturally filter water through something called an aquaporin protein. In this episode, we dive into Aquaporin’s approach to innovation and how they have built a business based on biomimicry or the science of applying nature’s genius to solve human problems. We also get into the science behind Aquaporin’s technology, why watter matters, and the company’s startup story since it was founded in 2005.

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Nordic Wasabi grows in the greenhouses of Iceland

Real wasabi is rare and expensive. It requires a specific temperature and a constant stream of fresh water to grow, which has isolated it to the mountains of Japan. That was until Nordic Wasabi came along. They’re growing wasabi in Iceland using the country’s natural geothermal energy and freshwater. In today’s episode, we tell Nordic Wasabi’s startup story. We cover everything you could want to know about real wasabi, the amazing possibilities that come with greenhouses, and the challenges of being the first company in Iceland to try and export vegetables.

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Bård Jervan on why tourism needs food

Bård Jervan is a Senior Partner at Mimir. He was deeply involved in writing and developing the new Norwegian national Tourism Strategy for 2030. A cornerstone of the report is centered around food in tourism and how it connects to economic development. It’s also a way to preserve culture, protect natural resources, and trace history. Today, we dive into what sustainable tourism is, why the context of a meal matters, the best places to visit in Norway, why seafood is a major opportunity, and the Nordics as a gastronomic destination. 

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Puris's CEO Tyler Lorenzen on the power of peas

Based in Minnesota, Puris is the largest producer of pea protein in North America supplying the likes of Beyond Meat. Fast Company named them the most innovative food company in 2021 for their end-to-end solution to food production. To speak about the company’s philosophy, history, business model, and future, my guest today is CEO Tyler Lorenzen who runs the company alongside his sister Nicole Atchinson.

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Lakrids by Bülow's Founder on creating an iconic brand

If you’ve been to the Nordics, odds are you’ve tried licorice. In today’s episode, we dive into the story of the luxury licorice and chocolate company Lakrids by Bülow. Johan Bülow started cooking licorice in his mom’s kitchen on the Danish island of Bornholm in 2007. Fast forward to today and they’ve become an iconic brand with sales in 35 countries and counting. Their mission: to make the world love licorice. This episode traces the evolution of the company, diving into valuable lessons around food entrepreneurship, branding, and sales.

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The Miracle of Hemp on the Island of Bornholm

Signe Anker is the Co-Founder of Bornholmerhampen. She and her partner were some of the first people in Denmark to start growing hemp again. Today, they hand harvest it to produce teas, flours, oils, and cosmetics on the beautiful Danish island of Bornholm. In this episode, we explore why it’s considered a miracle crop, how it’s making a comeback, and the roots of its bad reputation.

As a listener of the podcast, get 20% off all Bornholmerhampen products using the code NORDICFOODTECH at checkout.

Episode Transcript

This episode was first published on October 16, 2020

The Story of Denmark's Billion Kroner Investment Into Plant-based

In October 2021, the Danish government announced that it was allocating 1 billion kroner or 168 million euro to ramp up plant-based food production. This is one of the largest investments into plant-based by any country to date. Join me and Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl, the Secretary General of The Vegetarian Society of Denmark, as we discuss the details of the agreement and what it means for the future. It’s not just about politics, it’s also about culture, history, and relationships.

  • 9:30 The history and cultural significance of vegetarianism 
  • 19:00 How the Vegetarian Society of Denmark got started
  • 42:00 Details of the agreement
  • 56:00 Tips for other countries looking to do something similar

Chromologics' CEO Gerit Tolberg on natural vs artificial food colorants

There is a big trend in the food and cosmetic industry to move away from artificial colors and flavors, replacing them with natural ingredients. Gerit Tolborg is the CEO of Chromologics. Gerit describes herself as an accidental entrepreneur. Through her research at the Danish Technical University, she stumbled upon a way to naturally produce a red colorant using fungi and fermentation. Listen in as we discuss the business of artificial and natural ingredients, what it takes to build an R&D heavy startup, and the journey of becoming an entrepreneur when you never thought that was in the cards.

  • 2:09 Why companies are moving away from artificial colors
  • 9:40 Producing colors through precision fermentation
  • 16:00 How Chromologics started
  • 23:00 Building an R&D heavy startup 
  • 41:00 Challenges of being a female CEO

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