Kraft Heinz-backed fund Evolv Ventures has led the funding round for the US food-tech start-up, with existing investors Khosla Ventures and SOSV, among other investors
Photo as seen on Joywell website

Joywell Foods, the US food-tech start-up previously operating as Miraculex, has closed a $6.9 million Series A funding round led by Evolv Ventures, an investment fund backed by Kraft Heinz. The company is creating a new category of foods based on naturally sweet proteins sourced from berry fruits. Its flagship product is based on the taste modifier miraculin, a glycoprotein extracted from the miracle berry fruits, Synsepalum dulcificum.

The start-up argues that many people perceive sweet proteins as tasting more similar to sugar than the existing artificial and alternative substitutes.

“Our team is excited to bring sweet proteins to commercial scale with the support of our newest investor, Evolv Ventures,” said Karen Huh, Joywell Foods chief executive. “These funds bring us one step closer to our vision of eliminating the prevalence of sugar in our diet,” she added.

Existing investors Khosla Ventures and SOSV, which participated in Joywell Foods Seed round, have returned to support the company’s growth, alongside Alumni Ventures Group and other investors.

Combined with a previous seed round, this latest capital raise brings the company’s total funding to $13.2 million.

The start-up said the funding will enable the build-out of its proprietary technology platform, broaden its sweet protein portfolio and expand R&D operations. The company also plans to test a number of consumer offerings through direct-to-consumer and limited retail.

Joywell: New-to-market sugar alternative

Sweet proteins are known to be exponentially sweeter than sugar without the negative health implications associated with traditional sugar.

According to the University of California, San Francisco’s SugarScience team, the overconsumption of sugar is linked to metabolic syndrome, which includes diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.

They report that Americans consume on average 17 teaspoons of sugar a day or 57 pounds of added sugars annually.

“We believe in the sweet protein space and its application in consumer products,” said Steve Sanger, founder and partner of Evolv Ventures, and the newest board member at Joywell Foods.

“Joywell Foods is a thought leader in this area and is pioneering solutions that enable great taste and reduce mainstream sugar consumption. The company has the potential to make a big impact on the sweet protein space.”

The last 10 months have been pivotal for Joywell Foods. The company published a peer-reviewed toxicology study on the miraculin, the miracle berry protein, filed three provisional patent applications, and commercialised a first-to-market protein sweetened concept: the Pop Lolly. The product is a reduced sugar popsicle product made with miraculin as a sweetener.

Date published: 22 July 2020

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