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New Zealand Drinks Start-up Shortlisted For International FoodBytes! Pitch Program

FoodBytes! Pitch attracts hundreds of global applicants which are driving innovation and change in world food systems.

New Zealand - September 9, 2021 – New Zealand’s Ārepa – a company dedicated to supplying a plant-based supplement to support brain function – is among 12  Asia Pacific (APAC) startups shortlisted for Rabobank’s prestigious global food and agri discovery programme: 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 programme 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 programme 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.

Mr 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 per cent 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.

• 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.

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

About Rabobank F&A Innovation

Rabobank is a leading global food and agriculture bank providing sector expertise and tailored financial solutions to clients across the entire food value chain. Rabobank’s F&A Innovation team supports the bank’s global mission of Growing a Better World Together – helping to turn today’s promising ideas into impactful solutions for a sustainable food supply. Through the FoodBytes! food and agriculture innovation platform, Rabobank has built one of the most valuable networks for corporates, investors and startups pioneering sustainable ways to feed the planet.

FoodBytes! drives collaboration between startups, large food and ag companies and investors
through two complementary programs: FoodBytes! Pitch and FoodBytes! Pilot. Our approach to industry change: discovering and supporting startup innovation; and helping large food and ag companies embed and drive innovation across their organizations. To learn more, visit rel="noopener noreferrer" or follow FoodBytes! on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


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For media information, or interviews, please contact Nicola McConnell, Marvellous Marketing, or 027 218 8120.