Tyson Foods, through its corporate venture subsidiary Tyson Ventures, has completed an investment in Tovala, a Chicago-based food start-up that makes smart countertop steam ovens with ready-to-cook meals.
The capital raised will be used to support Tovala’s growth, including adding staff across all departments, geographic expansion, and investment in new products, operations, technology and marketing.
Founded in 2015, Tovala secured funding for its multi-function countertop oven in 2016, which can bake, broil, convection heat or steam ready-prepared meals in minutes.
The company said that by combining an internet-connected steam oven with meals prepared by gourmet chefs, dinner is as easy as scanning a barcode. The gadget, which looks and functions in a similar way to microwave ovens, is accompanied by a chef-curated meal plan to offer consumers an array of convenient dishes.
Tovala-2Tyson Ventures joins a group of investors including Origin Ventures, the Pritzker Group, start-up incubator Y Combinator, Morningstar Inc founder Joe Mansueto, and restaurant entrepreneur Larry Levy in Tovala’s recently closed Series A round of funding.
Tyson Foods chief sustainability officer Justin Whitmore said: “Our venture capital fund was created to invest in promising entrepreneurs who are on the cutting edge of innovation in the food industry.
“Our investment in Tovala gives us another opportunity to explore new ways of meeting consumer demand and shape the future of food. We look forward to our collaboration.”
Tovala CEO David Rabie added: “Our mission is to make it easier for busy people to eat better at home. By controlling the experience end to end, including the hardware, software, and food, our customers benefit by not having to sacrifice convenience, health, or taste. We’re excited to work with Tyson Foods to explore bringing a wider variety of meals to our customers’ homes.”
Earlier this year, Tyson Ventures invested in food tech start-up Memphis Meats, a leader in cultured meat produced directly from animal cells, as it aims to provide new ways of meeting global demand for protein. Tyson has also invested in meat alternative brand Beyond Meat.
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