PLANETARIANS Closes $750k Seed Round to Expand Applications from Upcycled Ingredients

March 18, 2019

Food ingredient startup PLANETARIANS has closed a $750,000 Seed round with participation from Barilla Group's BLU1877, Techstars, SOSV, The Yield Lab and group of angels.

PLANETARIANS is an ingredient tech company, upcycling byproducts, and solid food waste into high-protein, high-fiber ingredients that allow brands to create products that appeal to customers who want “better for you, better for the environment” foods. PLANETARIANS technology sterilizes, destroys anti-nutrients and functionalizes fiber in one step. The company’s functional protein flour made from upcycled defatted sunflower seeds has 3x the protein and 2x the fiber at the same cost of wheat flour.

“PLANETARIANS’ technology creates value for food processors who produce byproducts and for food companies who can use our ingredients to develop nutritious and sustainable products for consumers,” said Aleh Manchuliantsau, PLANETARIANS’ Founder & CEO. “Our technology allows food processors to sell byproducts that can now be transformed into a high protein, high fiber flour at a premium price, a powerful incentive to repurpose byproducts that would have otherwise been wasted or used as feed.”

High protein high fiber PLANETARIANS ingredients help food brands to convert bakery applications into a good source of protein. “With the help of BLU1877 we validated at Barilla’s R&D Pilot plant high protein pasta, bread, crackers” - adds Anastasia Tkacheva, PLANETARIANS’ Co-founder & CTO. “With Amadori we made flexitarian meatballs and ragu.”

The San Mateo, California-based company will use the funding to continue trials with customers and enlarge the range of product applications from already tested snacks, pasta, bakery and meat applications to noodles, breakfast products, dips, and purees.

In 2017, PLANETARIANS completed feasibility tests at the University of Minnesota and received an equity investment from TechStars Accelerator. Next year company released chips made from upcycled ingredients, that resulted in 69% month-to-month growth on Amazon, and showcased ingredients at IFT and SupplySide West. National Sunflower Association featured PLANETARIANS’ revolutionary technology in December 2018 issue of “The Sunflower” magazine.

PLANETARIANS was recently selected as one of 15 innovative startups shaping the future of food by FoodBytes! by Rabobank. PLANETARIANS will present its technology at FoodBytes! San Francisco March 28 -- where it will also sample its pasta created with Barilla and its flexitarian meatballs created with Amadori for investors, media and industry attendees.

“Five years ago we were a small team of food scientists, and sourcing new ingredients for our formulations we stumbled Sunflower defatted seeds - a by-product of vegetable oil extraction. What’s caught our attention - it had 35% protein but fed to animals. But isn’t it ridiculous to feed animals more protein than we get back from beef?! - recalls Aleh.

Initially driven by savings for our own product line, when we figured out the way how to upcycle those ingredients for human consumption, we decided to pivot our company to pass the savings we oversaw for ourselves to many other brands.

“When you upcycle what’s already grown - you don’t need to grow more crops, occupy more land, consume more water. Repurposing by-products you can help to fight the climate change. Making protein affordable you fight food insecurity for current and future generations” - says Michela Petronio, from BLU1877.

Aleh Manchuliantsau