The Texas-based company has developed a proprietary platform to launch fully-sustainable, vegan, algae-based nutritional products at scale
Qualitas Health, operating as iwi, has secured $10 million in a funding round led by foodtech venture capital fund PeakBridge VC, Malta, alongside Arancia Group, a privately- owned Mexican food ingredient/food service conglomerate. Minrav, the company’s largest investor, and additional private investors also participated in the round. Qualitas attracted investors at a $73 million post-money valuation.
Additional convertible notes held by Minrav Holdings, Sasa, Trucent and other single investors are converted to equity.
Miguel Calatayud, chief executive of Qualitas Health, said: “This investment will be instrumental to accelerating growth in 2021 as iwi advances to the industrial pilot stage of our unique plant-based protein, start the regulatory process, and conduct additional clinical studies.” Calatayud claimed that commercialization is scheduled for 2022.
The investment will accelerate customer acquisition. Funds will also be used to deepen its strong clinical science and intellectual property. Qualitas also seek to accelerate its expansion into additional geographies.
iwi is producing high absorption polar lipid EPA omega-3 from algae, marketing products direct-to-consumer and to retailers in the US market.
It disrupted the algae-farming paradigm by growing its distinctive microscopic algae in cultivation pond systems the size of football stadiums built on non-arable land in the pristine deserts of New Mexico and Texas.
Yoni Glickman, chairman of Qualitas, said: “PeakBridge, together with our additional new investors, brings decades of knowledge, expertise, and food industry networking, and Arancia is an industry leader with a long heritage of operational excellence and innovation. They also add significant value to our company. We warmly welcome our new partners and look forward to executing our ambitious plans together.”
Qualitas Health: Nutrition from the nature
Calatayud said iwi experienced significant growth in 2020 with online sales, and strong sales growth is forecast to continue in 2021.
The company claims that its process relies on saltwater, with the sun as the main source of energy, placing zero strain on the natural ecosystem. This allows iwi to cleanly cultivate immense amounts of the ancient sea vegetable nannochrolopsis.
Nannochrolopsis is a genus of algae comprising six known species. It’s one of the few plants that contains all of the essential amino acids – the building blocks of proteins. It also boasts vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and essential fatty acids, especially omega-3.
The process reflects the company’s desire to bring sustainable nutritious food solutions to feed the growing global population.
Qualitas Health currently produces proprietary, clinically proven, high-absorption omega-3. It markets 15 supplement SKUs under the iwi brand in the US, including soft gels and functional gummies. iwi has built a strong direct-to-consumer platform (DTC), and has an additional presence in more than 5,000 US retailer outlets.
“Qualitas ticks all the boxes for meeting our investment criteria,” said Nadav Berger, co-founder and managing partner of PeakBridge. “It has strong intellectual property, proven scaling capabilities, and tremendous sustainability impact – all of which give iwi a unique edge within the plant-based nutrition industry. We welcome Qualitas and its new and existing investors to the PeakBridge family.”
Date published: 11 January 2021