Rethink Food Newsletter September 2023

Spotlight: AI and the Food System

It’s hard these days to read about any industry where the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not discussed. At Rethink Food, we have been focused on AI-enabled companies since inception, and now they make up a significant percentage of our portfolio.

For example:

  • Brightseed uses its advanced AI engine called “Forager” to discover phytonutrients in plants, which are then linked to established positive metabolic health outcomes.
  • Motif Foodworks leverages its exclusive relationship with Ginkgo Bioworks to identify micro-organisms that produce desired proteins in a fraction of the time of conventional methods.
  • Gro Intelligence harnesses the power of its advanced AI engine to deliver insightful analytics across agriculture, climate, and the economy.
  • Planet FWD uses AI to analyze the largest food ingredient database in the U.S., calculate greenhouse gas emissions at an SKU level for consumer companies, and recommend actionable and scalable ways to reduce them.

Despite these advancements, we believe we are only in the early stages of the significant innovation AI-enabled technology will bring to our food systems. Here are some of the ways we think AI may show up in the food industry:

  1. Personalized Nutrition – AI can analyze individual dietary habits, health data, and genetic information to provide personalized nutrition recommendations. By understanding each person’s unique nutritional needs and preferences, AI-powered apps and services can suggest personalized meal plans and recipes that cater to specific health goals, allergies, and taste preferences.
  2. Food Product Development – AI can accelerate the process of food product development by analyzing consumer preferences, market trends, and ingredient interactions. AI algorithms can suggest novel combinations of ingredients and optimize recipes for taste, nutrition, and cost-effectiveness, leading to the creation of innovative and appealing food products.
  3. Smart Food Packaging – AI can be used to develop intelligent food packaging that monitors and communicates real-time information about the product’s freshness and safety. Smart labels and sensors integrated into packaging can detect spoilage, temperature changes, and contaminants, helping consumers make informed decisions about their food purchases.
  4. Enhanced Food Safety – AI-powered systems can continuously monitor and analyze data from various points in the food supply chain to identify potential safety risks. By detecting anomalies or patterns indicative of contamination or spoilage, AI can help prevent foodborne illnesses and improve overall food safety standards.
  5. Supply Chain Optimization – AI can optimize the food supply chain by analyzing data related to transportation, storage, and demand forecasting. This can lead to more efficient inventory management, reduced food waste, and better coordination between suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers.
  6. Automation in Food Processing – AI-driven robots and automation systems can streamline food processing operations, increasing production efficiency, and consistency. Robots can handle repetitive tasks, such as sorting, slicing, and packaging, freeing up human workers to focus on more complex and creative aspects of food production.
  7. Sustainable Agriculture – AI can play a crucial role in promoting sustainable agricultural practices. By analyzing environmental data, weather patterns, and soil conditions, AI can optimize resource usage, reduce water consumption, and minimize the use of pesticides and fertilizers, leading to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly food production process.
  8. Restaurant Management and Customer Service – AI-powered tools can assist in managing restaurant operations, including reservation systems, table turnover optimization, and inventory management. AI chatbots and virtual assistants can enhance customer service by providing quick responses to inquiries, handling orders, and suggesting personalized menu options.
  9. Food Waste Reduction – AI can help tackle the global food waste problem by predicting and managing inventory levels, enabling businesses to optimize their food production and distribution processes. Additionally, AI-driven apps can facilitate food donations and redistribute surplus food to those in need.


Overall, AI’s potential for driving innovation in FoodTech is vast and diverse, touching every aspect of the food industry from production and processing to distribution and consumption.

By harnessing the power of AI, the food industry can create a more efficient, sustainable, and personalized food ecosystem that caters to the needs and preferences of individuals and contributes to a healthier and more sustainable future.

We will continue to review opportunities with significant AI enablement, and we are particularly interested in companies with proprietary data sets that lead to novel insights and breakthroughs.

Investment Highlights

At Rethink Food, we continue to develop a robust pipeline of companies that we believe will have a transformative effect on our food system and our environment, all while tapping into what we believe are large and profitable markets.

We are excited to announce our latest investment in Kernel, whose Series A close was reported by The New York Times’ DealBook. Kernel is a revolutionary food concept that is reinventing restaurant service and operations by leveraging software and robotics to offer an array of plant-based dishes to consumer.

Founded by legendary entrepreneur, business leader, and Chipotle founder, Steve Ells, Kernel seeks to redefine the category of fast-casual dining in a way that fundamentally rethinks of labor, technology, real estate, and menu. Its efficient and convenient operating model paired with its healthy, high-quality, and eco-friendly options is designed to fit the lives of today’s consumers.

Kernel’s cutting-edge approach to help revolutionize the fast-food landscape with sustainable, fresh food aligns seamlessly with our mission, and Steve’s vision, experience and passion for sustainable choices.

Kernel will open its first location in New York City this fall and aims to operate 15 locations within two years. We look forward to supporting the company’s growth and impact alongside a terrific group of likeminded investors.

Portfolio Companies in the News

Brightseed announces the formation of a ‘Bioactive Coalition’ to promote bioactive compounds [1].
Brightseed, a pioneer in biosciences and AI, unveiled the formation of a ‘Bioactive Coalition’ to promote education and advocacy of science-backed bioactive compounds among food and health sectors, consumers, and policymakers. Brightseed hosted a symposium at Nutrition 2023, the American Society for Nutrition’s (ASN) annual conference, with the Coalition members, nutrition industry experts, and government leaders to begin discussions around adopting bioactive compounds into U.S. dietary guidelines. Blue Diamond, the world’s leading almond marketer and processor, also announced its partnership with Brightseed to explore the untapped health benefits of nonpareil California almonds.


Gro Intelligence has announced several partnerships and developments to address major climate and agriculture issues impacting our world today. Gro partnered with Kepos Capital to launch the Gro-Kepos Carbon Barometer, which uses a combination of public databases and government sources to track the effectiveness of carbon emission policies for over 25 countries. Gro Founder and CEO, Sara Menker, spoke with TIME about the tool and the broader patterns they’re seeing in a heating planet. Gro also introduced two new indicators to its Climate Risk Assessment Suite for water stress and wildfires and worked with DTN to create the Gro Supply Location Monitor, a cloud-based app that provides grain marketers and buyers county-level insights amidst today’s volatile markets.


The Motif FoodWorks team showcasing their plant-based products at the NRA show [2].
Motif FoodWorks has been busy showcasing its plant-based products on the stage, taking the floor as a first-time exhibitor at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) show and participating in Flavor ForaysandNational Restaurant Association’s 23rd Annual Championship BBQ and Cookoff. Motif served consumers various dishes incorporating its Motif PorkWorksTM and Motif BeefWorksTM products, including Chef Chloe’s famous chili.


Omeat Founder, Ali Khademhosseini, is busy in the lab prepping for commercialization [3].
After years of development, Omeat emerged from stealth mode in June, announcing its novel approach to cultivated meat production to media and launching its website and social media pages. Founded by top tissue biologist, Ali Khademhosseini, and developed at the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation, Omeat has invented a process that uses regenerative factors extracted humanely from cow plasma to create growth media, with intentions to economically scale sustainable meat production. The company is actively working to increase plasma yield and lower collection costs while preparing to launch a pilot plan in Thousand Oaks, CA, with successful 200L production runs completed by their Bioprocess Manufacturing Team.


Planet FWD Founder, Julia Collins, named to Newsweeks list of tech innovators helping to save the planet [4].
Planet FWD Founder, Julia Collins, was named to Newsweeks list of “13 Tech Innovators Helping to Save the Planet” alongside other exceptional entrepreneurs for her efforts to help brands reduce carbon emissions. Planet FWD has worked with over 50 brands thus far, including Clif Bar, Blue Apron, and Just Salad, and its customer base continues to grow. In fact, leading supplement brand, Ritual, recently reported how Planet FWD’s assessments are helping the company double down on its efforts to reduce its already-small carbon footprint.


The Latest from the Rethink Food Team

The past few months has included some exciting milestones and speaking opportunities for the Rethink Food team. Here are some highlights:

Rethink Food proudly joined the 80+ other firms who have committed to supporting a rapid, global transition to net zero emissions through the Venture Climate Alliance.


Rini Greenfield, Founding Managing Partner of Rethink Food, spoke to our mission, portfolio, and impact in an interview with Opportunity Miami on Food Tech and the Future of Food sharing, “Together, we’re bringing that incredible operating expertise and supporting this next generation of entrepreneurs in food that are trying to redesign the system, which is in desperate need of being redesigned.”

Rini also took a seat on the stage at the Milken Institute Global Conference and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Resilient Solutions Summit where she shared insights on investing in food to address climate change and community resilience.

Brad Jakeman, Rethink Food Founding Managing Partner, joined a group of thought leaders at the LUMA Partners Digital Media Summit to discuss reducing carbon emissions to be more sustainable in digital. Coinciding with his work at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Brad spoke on the role of ESG and brand marketing at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.


Upcoming Events

The team has a busy next couple of months filled with conferences and speaking opportunities! Make sure to connect with Rini and Brad at the following events:



[3] LinkedIn, Ali Khademhosseini.


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