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Oritain secures $57M to scale platform which verifies the origins of food and drink products

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4 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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New Zealand-based company Oritain, which uses forensic and data science to confirm the true origins of food and drink products, has raised $57 million (£43.51 million) in a Series C round to help it expand into new countries and use its technology on new goods.

Over 100 customers worldwide use Oritain to verify where their goods have come from, including Nestlé’s Brazilian Nescafé brand for its coffee beans, and New Zealand’s The a2 Milk Company which produces dairy milk that is free from the A1 beta-casein protein (a protein sparking intolerance in some people). Oritain says its technology can also trace the origins of meat, honey, aquaculture, eggs, and horticulture goods.

The funding round was led by the growth-stage tech fund Highland Europe, and Long Ridge which led investment in Oritain’s Series B round. Jacob Bernstein, Principal at Highland Europe, will also join the company’s board.

Developed at the University of Otago in New Zealand, Oritain says its technology can identify whether a raw material has been sourced ethically and authentically. It does so by measuring the levels of chemical elements and isotopes in a product which indicate the soil composition, climate, and altitude of the environment it was grown in. This information is then taken from product samples to determine an item’s ‘Origin Fingerprint’.  

The fingerprints are added to industry-leading data banks of products which monitor global supply chains for goods like cocoa, vanilla, soy, coffee, and palm oil, and can be used as benchmarks for auditing products at any point in the supply chain. Once the Origin Fingerprint has been established for an item it cannot be changed – an issue faced by more traditional traceability methods, the company says.

As well as food product authenticity, the company says its technology enables companies to prove whether their goods were produced sustainably and meet ethical standards.

As Jacob Bernstein at Highland Europe explained in a statement: “Oritain’s forensic science can take a commodity sample and tell you precisely where in the world it comes from. Does this cocoa come from a deforested national park? Is this cotton from where my supplier says it is? Is this coffee truly Brazilian, as the label says?

“This groundbreaking technology is a dream solution for sourcing and sustainability leaders at the world’s largest brands who can finally get to grips with the authenticity of their supply chains. We are immensely proud to partner with the Oritain team to revolutionise origin verification.”

Oritain’s goal is to become the ‘most trusted company’ worldwide for identifying the true origins of raw materials, and enable more global supply chains to be fully traceable.

Commenting on the funding news, Grant Cochrane, Global CEO at Oritain, said: “Over the past 15 years, Oritain has pioneered groundbreaking forensic and data science to become the world’s most trusted verification partner to leading global brands and institutions, providing them with the insights they need to make the critical decisions on their supply chains.

“Our relentless focus on data, science, and process integrity has enabled us to become long-term partners with our clients to ensure the integrity of their supply chains, which is increasingly difficult to achieve in globalised and complex markets. We’re delighted to announce this new funding round, led by Highland Europe, to support our expansion plans as we reach new markets and industries.”

Being able to guarantee food products have been made with sustainable ingredients is becoming all the more important for companies. Earlier this month, Spanish chocolate processor Natra announced it had joined chocolate company Tony Chocolonely’s Open Chain, to ensure its brands have access to sustainably sourced cocoa. The initiative has been developed to ensure farmers are paid fairly and that no deforestation or illegal labour is used during the production of cocoa.

The company joins a growing list of Open Chain members, including manufacturers Baronie and Cémoi, retailers Albert Heijn and Aldi for their chocolate bars Delicata and Choco Changer, plus the brands JOKOLADE, Vly Foods, The Flower Farm, PLUS, KoRo Source, Ben & Jerry’s, Pleese, and Huel.

Joaquin Muñoz, Chief Sustainability Officer of Natra commented on the news in a statement: “At Natra, we are pleased to communicate our partnership with Tony’s Chocolonely, a B Corp chocolate company, like Natra, in our journey towards 100% sustainable chocolate. This exciting new partnership entails the possibility to offer the Tony’s Open Chain to our clients with premium cocoa beans from selected cooperatives in Ivory Coast and Ghana.”


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