June 16, 2015 / 5:05 PM / 3 years ago

France's Food Assembly benefits from European tech funding rush

FRANKFURT, June 16 (Reuters) - French online farmers’ market La Ruche qui dit Oui - branded as The Food Assembly in English - has won 8 million euros ($9 million) in funding as venture capital firms seek to enter Europe’s expanding “food tech” market.

The five-year-old company has been backed by investors including Felix Capital, the $120 million London-based European venture fund recently launched by Frederic Court, and Fred Wilson of New York-based Union Square Ventures.

La Ruche qui dit Oui, which links local farmers with consumers, faces competition in Europe from Bonativo, an online food marketplace set up in Berlin with $3 million in funding last year from e-commerce investor Rocket Internet, as well as decades-old local food-buying cooperatives.

CB Insights, a venture funding market research firm, estimates that food tech companies in the United States raised $1.07 billion in 2014. The category covers online food delivery, hi-tech alternative foods and restaurant technology firms.

In Germany, three of the top 10 venture-backed food tech financing in the first quarter of 2015 raised a total of $800 million, according to CB Insights.

Meanwhile, London-based food delivery firm Deliveroo took $25 million in funding from four venture capital firms: UK-based Accel Partners, Index Ventures and Hoxton Ventures and Hummingbird Ventures of Belgium.

Other investors in La Ruche qui dit Oui include social and environmental investment manager Quadia of Geneva, French private equity firm XAnge and a group of undisclosed angel investors.

The Paris-based company has 140,000 club members who order food online, then pick up purchases at weekly meetings with local farmers. It has 4,500 participating farmers and hosts 800 “food assemblies” in six European countries, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain, with the bulk of them - 728 - in France.

$1 = 0.8913 euros Reporting By Eric Auchard; Editing by Pravin Char

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