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SK partners with Joyvio Group, eyes Chinese alternative food market

SK Inc. CEO Jang Dong-hyun (right) and Joyvio Group CEO Chen Shaopeng sign an agreement to form a 100 billion-won fund to invest in China’s alternative food market. (SK)
SK Inc. CEO Jang Dong-hyun (right) and Joyvio Group CEO Chen Shaopeng sign an agreement to form a 100 billion-won fund to invest in China’s alternative food market. (SK)


To make inroads into China’s fast growing alternative food market, SK said Monday it has joined Chinese food service company Joyvio Group to form a fund worth 100 billion won ($86.7 million).

According to the holding firm of South Korea’s third largest conglomerate SK Group, the envisioned Sustainable Food & Consumption Fund will invest in promising food tech companies that specialize in plant-based meat, fermentation and vertical farming.

SK will inject 18 billion won of the initial 100 billion won target, with the rest to be raised by Joyvio and other Chinese investors.

“SK Inc. and Joyvio Group also agreed to cooperate on global alternative protein companies’ advancement into the Chinese market,” an SK official said.

The deal follows a series of investments by SK in US alternative protein companies.

Last year, the Korean firm invested 54 billion won in San Francisco-based alternative protein firm Perfect Day, which invented the world’s first milk protein using protein genes extracted from cows in 2019. Perfect Day supplies its milk protein made without cows to premium ice cream brand Graeter’s.

In 2018, SK invested 29 billion won into Nature’s Fynd, which produces nutrition-rich alternative protein by fermenting a microbe found in the volcanic hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. The startup raised $350 million in Series C funding this month led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, with the participation of major global investors including Blackstone Strategic partners and Hillhouse Investment.

“SK Inc. will further invest in Meatless Farm, a UK-based alternative meat company making waves in Europe, to expand its plant-based meat business portfolio,” the company official said.

AgFunder, a US-based food tech venture capital firm, estimates that global investments into alternative food products increased from 130 billion won in 2016 to 2.6 trillion won in 2020.

By Kim Byung-wook (kbw@heraldcorp.com)
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