FINCA Ventures backs Kenyan food processor NatureLock to avail more healthy instant food options

KENYA – NatureLock, a newly formed food processing company in Kenya has received an undisclosed amount of investment from FINCA Ventures, to bolster its operations.

NatureLock, has designed a unique preservation method that blends natural starches and fibers to dehydrate fruits and vegetables, protecting the finished product from spoilage, retain nutrients and taste, and increase its shelf life.

Its first product, StewsDay, is an instant green grams stew designed for the low-income mass-market urban consumer, prepared in under three minutes by simply adding boiling water, and it is ready to eat.

Enriched with fiber and daily essential nutrients like natural vitamins, minerals, and proteins, Nature Lock is making available nutritious and affordable food to the masses.

The technology used allows the company to avail additive-free products which have a prolonged shelf life of about two years.

The investment from FINCA Ventures will enable the company to design and avail more healthy alternatives of easy-to-prepare products, while decreasing the preparation time for local favourites.

Currently the Kenyan instant food market comprises of a wide range of breakfast cereals, noodles, porridge, hot beverage products, soups among others, with limited presence of pulses and vegetables.

To this end, NatureLock is set to tap in the instant food market with its unique offerings.

Further promoting food security, Naturelock sources 70 percent of its inputs from surplus or ready-to-expire produce to reduce food losses experienced by farmers, with the plan to bring this to 100 percent as they scale and build out their supplier network.

To avoid disrupting the market, the company works with aggregators, like Farm to Feed, that are specifically buying food waste from farmers at less than market / farm gate price – instances in which farmers would otherwise throw their product away.

“As NatureLock expands their product offering and geographic scope, we are excited to find synergies among our other agriculture portfolio companies to continue to reduce market inefficiencies,” states FINCA Ventures.

NatureLock also plans to build out decentralized collection and processing centers on mid-size farms, comprised of cold storage, wet processing, and dehydration.

In addition to equipping smallholder farmer networks with dehydration units to preserve their surplus and ripe produce and sell the products directly to NatureLock.

This will help to further eliminate food loss that occurs during transport from farm to processing facility and increase income opportunities at the farm level.

According to FINCA, global food loss and waste is estimated at one-third of food produced, causing economic losses of US$940 billion per year.

It consumes a quarter of water used by agriculture and accounts for eight percent of global greenhouse gases emission.

“FINCA Ventures believes that NatureLock’s unique preservation method has the potential to become an effective solution to fighting the major post-harvest losses experienced by smallholder farmers across sub-Saharan Africa while enabling access to affordable, nutritious foods for mass market consumers.

“We can’t wait to feast our eyes on what future products Naturelock has on the menu for Kenyans and beyond!” the investor concluded.

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