Last week our portfolio company, Benson Hill, announced that it will become publicly listed through a business combination with special purpose acquisition company Star Peak. We are thrilled to see Benson Hill achieve this exciting milestone which will accelerate their ability to unlock the natural genetic diversity of plants to create better tasting, more sustainable, healthier, and more affordable food choices.

Since our founding in 2012, we have developed our CropOS® technology platform to combine data science, plant science, and food science, a truly differentiating convergence of disciplines. As a result of this technology innovation and our go-to-market approach, we are now at the launch phase to deliver and help meet the explosive demand for plant-based ingredients that can displace processing steps, reduce additives, and serve as the ‘picks and shovels’ for the plant-based food revolution.

-Matt Crisp, Chief Executive Officer of Benson Hill



Merging Food Technology and an Innovative Plant-to-Plate Business Model

Benson Hill uses artificial intelligence (AI), data and a variety of breeding techniques to create innovative food and ingredient products. Starting with the seed and through an integrated business model, they work with partners and growers to bring products to market that meet consumer needs for food that is healthier, more sustainable, more affordable and better tasting.


Benson Hill’s proprietary CropOS® technology platform uses predictive analytics to simulate tens of millions of genetic outcomes for plants, referencing an ever-expanding and unmatched data library. The technology has the potential to shave years off the traditional crop breeding process, shortening the time to market, and decreasing development costs for new food and ingredient products. Benson Hill’s approach is tailored to meet consumer demand and link the interests of both growers and consumers, which has been a historical divide in the food system.


CropOS® simultaneously optimizes for quality traits such as nutrition and flavor profiles, as well as yield; improves sustainability through plant breeding innovations that can use fewer resources, including displacing the need for certain expensive water- and energy-intensive ingredient processing steps typically required to produce protein-rich ingredients used in plant-based meat alternatives; and increases access to healthier foods capable of delivering more nutrients that consumers are demanding, while offering cleaner labels for food companies and retailers.


Benson Hill deploys an innovative go-to-market approach that significantly reduces technological and product risk. An integrated supply chain ensures plant-to-plate traceability and preserves product identity needed to validate sustainability and product benefits to customers. This approach can help facilitate broad adoption through production partnerships and licensing agreements as customer and consumer demand increases.




Ingredients and Fresh Business Segments Delivering Innovative Products

Benson Hill operates two business segments, Ingredients and Fresh, which can leverage the Company’s AI-driven proprietary CropOS® technology platform and integrated production systems to deliver enhanced products.


The Ingredients segment is focused on enhancing soybean and yellow pea ingredients for the fast-growing plant-based protein market as well as pet food and animal feed inputs. In soy, Benson Hill is working with its partner growers to scale production of Ultra-High Protein (UHP) soybean varieties in 2021, which can reduce processing costs and water and energy usage. In yellow pea, the Company has developed a comprehensive genomic map that, in combination with its CropOS® platform, enables Benson Hill to accelerate its breeding program to develop uniquely differentiated varieties. Leveraging these capabilities, Benson Hill is working on a pipeline of products with the potential to significantly reduce off-flavors, increase protein content and ultimately displace the need for expensive, energy- and water-intensive processing steps typically required to produce protein ingredients used in plant-based meat alternatives.


The Fresh business segment is positioned to deliver differentiated fresh produce to meet consumer and grower demand by combining Benson Hill’s advanced technology capabilities with an extensive grower base, distribution network, and retail relationships of J&J Family of Farms, Inc., its integrated field produce subsidiary. With its powerful technology and valuable grower partnerships, the business segment is well-positioned in the years to come to develop and commercialize differentiated produce and “functional foods” with the potential to serve the growing food health convergence between the produce and pharmacy aisles.


Following the merger with Star Peak, the combined company will be named Benson Hill, Inc. and is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the new ticker symbol “BHIL”. Matt Crisp, Chief Executive Officer of Benson Hill, will lead the combined company. The transaction supports Benson Hill’s continued rapid growth in the forecasted $140 billion plant-based meat segment and broader $5 trillion agri-food industry.


Congratulations to the Benson Hill team on this exciting milestone in your journey.


At S2G, it's our mission to back trailblazing entrepreneurs who are working to build a healthier and more sustainable food system. Entrepreneurs are on the frontlines every day, working hard to innovate and bring new products to market that are making food healthier, more sustainable and more accessible. It’s our goal to support them in their journey and we look forward to continuing to support entrepreneurs that create better outcomes for human health and well-being. We invite you to learn about the innovative companies in our portfolio and hear their stories on our blog Seeding Change and podcast Where We Grow From Here.



Benson Hill Going Public in SPAC Merger

Benson Hill Going Public in SPAC Merger

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sanjeev Krishnan

Chief Investment Officer and Managing Director

Sanjeev is passionate about the role of innovation, entrepreneurship, markets and system investing as a theory of change. He has nearly 20 years of experience in sourcing, executing, managing and exiting venture and private equity investments, including a focus in agriculture and food companies. Sanjeev's portfolio work ranges from genetics, crop protection, soil health, digital/IOT, crop insurance, merchandising, indoor agriculture, novel flavor and ingredients, new protein development, unique processors and brands that will feed the changing consumer.

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