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New Zealand’s Ārepa, a company dedicated to supplying a plant-based supplement to support brain function, is among 12 APAC startups shortlisted for Rabobank’s global food and agri discovery program FoodBytes! Pitch 2021.

Auckland-based smart drink maker Ārepa has developed plant-based drinks, capsules and powder to support brain health and function and counts Coles Australia among its customers. Since it was established in 2018, Ārepa has undertaken significant research and development including a study by Auckland University academics. This small scale, short-term study found study participants significantly increased  cognitive function scores after one week taking  Ārepa’s key ingredients of blackcurrant, pine-bark and I-theanine (an amino acid found in black tea).

Ārepa is the only New Zealand company among an APAC FoodBytes! Pitch 2021 cohort recognised for outstanding innovation in the fields of sustainable supply chains, improved resource management and the next frontier of nutrition. The APAC cohort comprises entrepreneurial businesses from five countries, operating across the Consumer Food & Beverage (CPG), FoodTech and AgTech sectors.

FoodBytes! Pitch 2021 top 45 global startups will vie for selection in this year’s top 15, and the opportunity to participate in FoodBytes! livestreamed public pitch competition on Monday 8 to Wednesday 10 November, which will decide the ultimate winner in each of the three sectors.

Chamidu Karunathilake, Head of Innovation, Rabobank, says “Ārepa has the opportunity to engage with FoodBytes! and the Rabobank global network, with the potential to propel it through the next stages of its growth.”

If Ārepa is selected for the next stage of the program it could follow the success of New Zealand company Regen which pitched at FoodBytes! in 2017. Regen CEO Bridgit Hawkins said participating in Foodbytes! was ‘a transformative experience’.

“Foodbytes! was the most well-structured program and the most focused on helping me – as the founder and driver of a business – to be successful. There was considerable wraparound support, including workshops, coaching and mentorship, pitch refinement and advice on market opportunities, which was incredibly valuable. Not to mention the networks and introductions, including meetings with senior people at Rabobank and other sponsors. It’s usually very difficult to make those kinds of connections,” she said.

Karunathilake said FoodBytes! is committed to leading innovation in food and agriculture, and to “future-proofing our member businesses in competitive and challenging market conditions.

“We have strengthened our rigorous process for vetting and selecting entrepreneurs who participate in the FoodBytes! program, focusing this year on those with validated business models, a track record of commercial viability, collaborative mindsets, and a robust and diverse team to drive meaningful change,” he said.

APAC businesses represent 27 percent of this year’s FoodBytes! Pitch global top 45, and the 12 APAC finalists constitute a diverse range of voices, perspectives, and cultures, and include six female founded and/or led entrepreneurial businesses.

The shortlisted APAC innovators by sector are:

Consumer Food & Beverage (CPG)

  • Fable: (Australia) Plant-based meat alternative.
  • Ulu Hye: (Australia) Plant-based milks.
  • Your Food Collective: (Australia) Locally grown, ethically sourced groceries.
  • Ārepa: (New Zealand) Nootropic ‘brain food’ drinks.
  • Great Wrap: (Australia) Plant-based, compostable stretch wraps.

AgTech

  • AgriDigital: (Australia) Digitised platform streamlining the grain supply chain.
  • AgUnity: (Australia) Technologists integrating remote farming communities with global supply chains.
  • ThinkBio: (Australia) Biological products enabling growers to minimise synthetic fertilisers, and optimise yields.
  • Aqua Development: (South Korea) Sustainable indoor shrimp farming system.
  • TranspiratiONal-SBM: (Australia) Biodegradable polymer membrane maximising yields and minimising negative environmental impacts.

FoodTech

  • Agnext Technologies: (India) Digital platform providing instant, on-site assessment of food quality.
  • ProfilePrint: (Singapore) Artificial intelligence-powered food ingredient analysis software

 

Photo: Arepa founders Angus Brown (left) and Zac Robinson.

Glenn Baker

Professional writer/editor with 35-plus years experience - including radio copywriting, various television writing/production roles, and writing for business magazines. I have also co-owned a wholesale food distribution business.

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