Marubeni to Invest in KitchenTown Startup Incubator

SAN FRANCISCO — Marubeni, a leading Japanese trading company, and KitchenTown, a food start-up incubator based in San Mateo, have signed an investment agreement last month. Marubeni’s investment will support the growth of KitchenTown’s consulting, and incubation activities. Together, the companies intend to support Japanese startups entering the U.S. market and the growth of American startups expanding into Asia. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

“Startups drive the growth of the global economy as they break the mold of conventional wisdom and create new value,” said Takanori Koso, General Manager of Food Products Materials Dept. for Marubeni. “In order for these startups to achieve maximum impact, they need support to overcome hurdles in product development, commercialization, brand strategy and more. Incubators are a proven model to efficiently provide resources, expertise, and support to early-stage ventures. Our investment in KitchenTown will expand access to these services and reach even more food and foodtech companies in both the U.S. and Japan, in order to lead to positive food systems impacts.”

“Within the food industry, global challenges such as climate change, nutrition and health inequities are driving entrepreneurs to create a new generation of more sustainable, accessible, and healthy foods. Consumers are also increasingly aware of these issues and demanding responsible action from food companies,” adds Rusty Schwartz, CEO of KitchenTown. “With Marubeni’s investment, we will be better capitalized and positioned to enable innovators to make a difference.”

Founded in 2014, KitchenTown provides startups with the knowledge and resources needed to develop, commercialize, and launch a wide range of food and food tech ventures. In addition to specialized expertise and resources to support startups, KitchenTown also offers production space to entrepreneurs for R&D and small-scale manufacturing, including a newly opened San Francisco lab and pilot facility for commercialization of alternative proteins. In addition to supporting startups, KitchenTown also has a broad client base, including legacy companies that need innovation support as well as corporate venture groups seeking advice on food tech investment opportunities.

Marubeni Corporation is over 160 years old and one of Japan’s largest trading companies.  Active internationally in many sectors, including import/export, lifestyle, food, agri business, forest products, metals & mineral resources, energy, infrastructure, finance, leasing & real estate, construction, mobility and next generation business development.

KitchenTown and Marubeni first collaborated in 2021 to develop, commercialize, and launch a new product. The success of this project highlighted a strategic opportunity for more cooperation to support the growth of startups and food companies seeking to solve social issues through food tech.