Category: Future Foods

  • coffee alternative
    5 Mins Read

    Now available for commercial partners, Californian ethical pantry startup Voyage Foods’ beanless coffee is 40% cheaper than conventional options.

    Voyage Foods has begun offering its bean-free coffee to cafés, restaurants and CPG brands, tackling an industry marred by climate change and supply chain volatility.

    Made from a blend of roasted chickpeas, rice hulls, natural flavours and caffeine from green tea, the beanless coffee comes in ground, liquid, concentrate and instant formats (the liquid versions are filter-style). And based on order quantity, it’s up to 40% cheaper than conventional coffee, offering manufacturers stable prices and better margins.

    The ingredient list is shorter than most other beanless coffee offerings on the market. “The secret sauce is how the ingredients are handled to make them taste the way coffee should taste,” Adam Maxwell, CEO and founder of Voyage Foods, told Green Queen.

    “We used the traditional process of coffee roasting as our starting point. Our production looks remarkably similar to that,” he added.

    ‘Triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit’

    voyage foods coffee
    Courtesy: Voyage Foods

    Voyage Foods’ bean-free coffee goes through the same roasting and grinding processes as any other coffee. “From the roast and ground product, all the downstream processes are [at] parity with what is traditionally done to make a concentrate, instant, or ready-to-drink [offering].”

    Commercial partners can choose caffeinated formats (with as much caffeine as cold brew) as well as decaf, alongside two different roast profiles. The medium-roast coffee has tasting notes of malt and caramelised sugar with low bitterness and medium acidity, while the dark-roast version has hints of smoke and dark cocoa with medium bitterness and low acidity.

    It comes at a time when the future of coffee as a commodity is under jeopardy. Climate change has threatened the existence of 60% of the world’s wild coffee species. Meanwhile, arabica – the most popular coffee species – could go extinct by 2080.

    Extreme weather events have diminished the amount of farmland suitable for growing arabica, which could be halved by 2050. And scientists are warning that increasingly frequent climate hazards will mean lower crop yields and skyrocketing prices for coffee.

    In New York, arabica futures have gone up 34% since the start of the year, reaching $5,556 per tonne last week. This hike is happening globally, with prices unlikely to drop until mid-2025, according to Italian industry giant Lavazza. In the UK alone, a bag of coffee could set you back 20-25% over the next year.

    So offering an option that’s 40% cheaper would be highly attractive to many manufacturers and foodservice operators. “Given the current dynamics of the coffee market, food and beverage suppliers are uneasy about supply-chain volatility as well as fulfilling their triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit,” said Maxwell.

    But he was clear that specialty coffee drinkers aren’t the target audience. These consumers make up 20% of the market, with the majority of people drinking commodity coffee across the globe. “There will always be a place for premium, fair-trade, single-origin coffee, and that’s not our target – we intend to make the biggest possible impact, and we’ll do that by supplying an eco-friendlier, ethically made alternative to commodity coffee,” he stated.

    Voyage Foods has no retail plans for beanless coffee

    beanless coffee
    Courtesy: Voyage Foods

    Coffee production itself also has a giant climate footprint. It is among the most carbon-intensive foods, with only dark chocolate and red meats like beef, lamb and mutton emitting more greenhouse gases per kg.

    When it comes to emissions per 1,000 kcal, coffee tops the list. Additionally, producing a single cup of the beverage uses up 140 litres of water. To determine the environmental potential, Voyage Foods will soon conduct a life-cycle assessment for its beanless coffee.

    This has pushed startups as well as industry giants to innovate with future-facing varieties and alternatives. Like Voyage Foods, AtomoPrefer, Minus and Northern Wonder are making beanless coffee. Startups like Pluri and Stem are working on cell-based versions, while Amaterra is leveraging molecular biology and crop genetics to develop perennial coffee varieties.

    In the same vein as the latter, Starbucks – which buys 3% of the world’s coffee – has created six new arabica varietals that are said to be climate-resilient, offering them to farmers for free trials. And just last week, Nestlé, the world’s largest CPG brand, developed a high-yielding variety resistant to crop leaf rust, a fungal disease that can decimate entire coffee crops.

    New varieties aside, a major criticism of beanless coffee is the potential impact on farmers. After all, 80% of all coffee is grown by smallholder farmers, and 125 million people are dependent on the industry for their livelihoods.

    “Voyage has never been focused on replacing any food commodity and we see our bean-free coffee products as additive to traditional coffee products. As there are issues in growing supply simultaneously with growing demand, we see ourselves helping buffer out the market and stabilising it,” Maxwell said.

    He added that the company has always been determined to deliver the largest impact, which is why it chose to focus on helping foodservice operators and CPG brands deliver on their sustainability, cost and margin goals. “We’re evaluating partnership opportunities carefully and cautiously. Our team is always actively vetting new B2B and foodservice opportunities,” he said. “While you never know, we currently do not have plans to enter the bean-free coffee space in retail.”

    Beanless coffee is Voyage Foods’ fourth core product line, complementing its cocoa-free chocolate,nut-free peanut butter and hazelnut spread (akin to a vegan Nutella, minus the hazelnuts or chocolate). The startup secured $52M in a Series A+ round in May, taking its total investment to $94M. And as a marker of its success, it has a commercial deal with food giant Cargill, which is now its exclusive B2B distributor internationally.

    The post Voyage Foods Debuts Beanless Coffee for Cafés and Brands, and It’s 40% Cheaper appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • lab grown meat for pets
    6 Mins Read

    Friends & Family Pet Food Co. has partnered with cultivated seafood company Umami Bioworks to roll out treats and supplements for cats.

    It’s a big week for cultivated pet food.

    On Wednesday, London-based startup Meatly announced it had received regulatory approval to sell its cultivated chicken for pets in the UK, the first company to receive the greenlight anywhere in Europe.

    The same day, in the US, a new alternative protein brand for cats and dogs has come on the horizon, and is hoping to bring cultivated seafood for pets to market next year.

    San Francisco’s Friends & Family Pet Food Co. has partnered with Singaporean cultivated seafood producer Umami Bioworks to launch cat treats in both geographies by early 2025.

    Part of ProVeg International’s 12th incubator, the pet food startup is the brainchild of CEO Joshua Errett – former VP at Cult Food Science – pet industry veteran COO Jonny Cruz, and veterinarian and chief science officer Sarah Dodd.

    “Friends & Family is a brand for cultivated meat and fish, precision fermentation and any sustainable ingredient that can replace animal proteins,” says Errett, who is also the former co-founder of cultivated pet food startup BioCraft Pet Nutrition (previously Because Animals).

    “We partner with top-tier startups and scientists making animal-free ingredients, and give them a path to market using our proprietary pet food platform,” he adds. “Umami Bioworks is our first and most important partnership, and we have some other big names in the pipeline.”

    He continues: “My team and I have each been in the pet food space for a decade or more, so we have manufacturing, distribution and retail relationships in place. We have plans for treats, supplements and complete and balanced foods for both dogs and cats.”

    “I have perhaps a childlike view that there are only two kinds of animals. Friends – wolves, sea bass, porcupines, pigs, giraffes, squirrels, and all the other wild and farmed animals – and family – the beloved animals that live with me, my cats,” Errett explains. “I want them both to live to their full potential. That’s the entire point of our company.”

    Cultivated cat treats to contain white fish

    cultivated meat pets
    Courtesy: Friends & Family Pet Food Co.

    The cat treats will be packaged as bars and in bags, and contain a white fish blend “similar to the fish meal that’s in commercial caught-fish pet foods today”, according to Errett.

    “We are developing two white fish species,” says Mihir Pershad, founder and CEO of Umami Bioworks, which recently merged with fellow Singaporean cultivated seafood player Shiok Meats.

    “Both species have strong existing consumer awareness and market appeal. The rest of the formulation is a proprietary blend developed by Josh and his team to deliver excellent nutrition, health, and flavour.”

    Errett says Friends & Family prefers minimally processed foods. “A huge problem in pet food, from my personal perspective, is high-heat extrusion, which produces kibble,” he notes. “For nutritional reasons, I don’t believe it should be a cat or dog’s everyday diet. So we will avoid that.”

    Umami Bioworks, which recently established partnerships in India too, is currently scaling up its cultivated fish production in Malaysia, and establishing a pilot line at another site. “Our capacity is in the tens of kgs, but we are rapidly working towards ton-scale capacity for our pilot line,” says Pershad.

    Friends & Family, which is now raising capital, enters a market that has seen major advancements recently. Both Meatly and BioCraft Pet Nutrition have slashed the costs of their innovations by reimagining culture media.

    Czech startup Bene Meat Technologies, meanwhile, was the first cultivated meat startup to be listed on the EU’s feed register (which is different from regulatory approval for consumption), and showcased its product at the Interzoo trade fair in Nuremberg in May.

    Regulatory clearance expected by end of 2024

    umami bioworks
    Courtesy: Friends & Family Pet Food Co.

    Like most pet food, these cat treats won’t be 100% cultivated meat, instead being combined with plant-based ingredients and high-value microalgae. They’re said to contain all essential nutrients. “Few, if any, pet food companies will reveal how much meat is in their products. I think most consumers would be shocked at the actual meat inclusion in commercial pet food,” claims Errett.

    “We’re building in public and transparency is a pillar for us, so I don’t mind saying we’re aiming for 25-30% cultivated fish inclusion. On the launch of this treat, it will be up to 10%, depending on regulations we’re working through.”

    Speaking of which, Errett and Parshad both confirm that the startups are in talks with regulators in both the US and Singapore, which were – before this year – the only two countries where cultivated meat was cleared for sale.

    “Both Umami and Friends & Family are working hard to secure our first approval before the end of 2024,” says Pershad. “Given the advanced stage of our discussions and our dossier preparation, we are confident in our Q1 2025 timeline for launch.”

    Errett adds: We’ll have production spaces in both the US and southeast Asia, to service the San Francisco Bay Area and Singapore. Our capacity will be limited at launch, much like other cultivated meat production. We’ll be able to feed a lot of pets in our limited markets at launch, and then scale over time.”

    An ‘antidote for the slowdown in alternative proteins’

    friends and family pet food co
    Friends & Family Pet Food Co. founders Joshua Errett, Dr Sarah Dodd and Jonny Cruz | Courtesy: Friends & Family Pet Food Co.

    Errett has been in the alternative protein industry for a while. In 2016, he co-founded BioCraft Pet Nutrition with CEO Shannon Falconer. Then, he founded vegan dog treats brand Noochies, which was acquired by Cult Food Science, where he served as a VP until December 2023.

    “Obviously, I’m a big believer in that brand,” Errett says of Noochies. “I’m still on all the Noochies packaging and site as its founder, and I consult with Cult weekly on pet food matters. But I am not involved with the day-to-day operations, or in any other way.”

    Asked why he left Cult, he explains: “I am an entrepreneur at heart. I learned that over years [of] working in banking, government and venture capital – and over a few different startups in the pet space. I’ve worked with my co-founders Jonny Cruz and Dr Sarah Dodd for years, formulating successful products together over a couple [of] different companies now. So it made sense that we start our own venture.”

    When Errett was at Cult Food Science, the company had partnered with Umami Bioworks to co-launch Marina Cat, a cultivated cat food brand. Friends & Family is a separate entity, and Errett confirms he is no longer involved in Marina Cat.

    “Our solution will be, I think, the antidote for the slowdown in alternative proteins – we take cultivated and precision fermentation ingredients out of the lab and make commercially viable, profitable products for today’s pet food market,” he explains. “Our partners can get early revenue and product-market fit as they scale to become world-changing ingredient companies. The motto is [to] get to the consumer as fast as possible.” 

    The post Friends & Family Pet Food Co. to Debut Cultivated Fish Treats for Cats with Umami Bioworks appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • mycorena bankruptcy
    6 Mins Read

    Swedish mycoprotein startup Mycorena has filed for bankruptcy following fundraising difficulties, but a consortium of its investors is aiming to reinstate the company, says its founder and CEO Ramkumar Nair.

    On Saturday, Mycorena announced that it has filed for bankruptcy, citing “significant financial challenges”. The decision followed the mycoprotein producer’s unsuccessful attempts to raise capital for its Series B round, and came a month after it discontinued plans for a commercial-scale factory.

    Mycorena, which sells fungi-based proteins and fats to food manufacturers, has been facing financial challenges for the last two years. “Our team has explored every possible avenue to save this pioneering company,” chairman Tore Sveälv after appointing law firm Advokatfirman Lindahl KB as trustee to administer the bankruptcy process.

    However, all hope is not lost, as the company believes renewed investment can revive the brand. To do so, some of Mycorena’s former shareholders are now building a new consortium, and their ambition is to buy back the bankruptcy estate and reinstate the company’s operations, giving it a “fresh restart”, co-founder and CEO Ramkumar Nair tells Green Queen.

    “We are also glad to see that many new investors also see a great opportunity to join that consortium now, with the possibility of them onboarding a fresh start for Mycorena, leveraging on all the value and learnings we have had for the past years,” adds Nair, who founded the company in 2017 based on his PhD research project.

    Raising capital is a ‘catch-22’

    mycorena funding
    Courtesy: Mycorena

    To date, Mycorena has raised over €35M in equity funding, including what was at the time the largest Series A for a Nordic alternative protein startup. It currently operates a demonstration facility in Gothenburg, opened in 2021 and built on the success of Promyc, its flagship mycoprotein ingredient.

    “Over the past 20 months, we have been actively fundraising to finalise our large-scale factory project, says Nair. “However, the investor appetite for large-scale capital-expenditure-driven projects within [the] alternative protein space has significantly diminished over the past few years.”

    He calls fundraising in the current environment a “big catch-22”. “Investors would like to see strong binding offtake agreements before they sign up on a large capital expenditure project, whereas the partner companies that we were working with are reluctant to sign offtake contracts without seeing strong production capabilities,” he explains. “We tried to solve it for the last two years without any success.”

    Nair adds: “Additionally, the slower-than-expected growth of the alternative protein market in Europe has compounded our challenges. Most of our partner companies have also decelerated their growth plans, further impacting our scale-up activities.”

    It was with these hurdles that Mycorena decided to cancel its scale-up project and refocus on its demo facility, where it could produce and sell in small-scale volumes. “Despite this pivot, the accumulated challenges of the past two years have left us with limited options,” he says.

    “Although it was emotionally a difficult decision to make for all of us, filing for bankruptcy was the most viable path forward for the company, allowing it to make a clean restart.”

    Market penetration and geopolitical developments are major issues

    fungi protein
    Courtesy: Mycorena

    The macroeconomic landscape for food tech has been dour over the past couple of yours. In 2023, investment in food tech startups declined by 61%, while alternative proteins took a 44% hit.

    But fermentation-based players have been a bright spark this year, attracting nearly four times more capital than plant-based startups, and 18 times more than cultivated meat companies in the first quarter. And this is before you factor in mycelium producer Meati’s $100M Series C round, which was the largest alternative protein investment since its own Series B round in 2022.

    However, experts say there’ll be more disappointments before a more permanent turnaround. “We are in a phase of consolidation and correction that isn’t over yet,” Albrecht Wolfmeyer, director of ProVeg Incubator, told Green Queen in April. “Given that venture capital is so scarce, fundraising and due diligence processes are taking extremely long, and especially lead investors are so hard to find, we expect to see more businesses going down.”

    Indeed, several businesses have ceased operations in the last 12 months, including Nowadays, New Wave Foods, Ordinary Seafood, SciFi Foods and Sunfed Meats.

    “Whether we accept or not, the plant-based segment [has been] facing significant challenges during the last few years. Investors are also well aware of that,” says Nair. “A key factor is the decline in market penetration, which has not met the expectations and predictions.

    “Additionally, the overall funding climate has changed dramatically in recent years. Investors are generally reluctant to fund companies that do not present profitable ongoing business operations.”

    He adds that geopolitical developments – such as the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas wars – have affected both large and small food companies: “Many of these businesses had previously mapped out strategies for growth and expansion, particularly within the plant-based sector. However, in response to current global uncertainties, they are now redirecting their focus towards core operations in order to safeguard their sales and profit margins.”

    The Mycorena founder feels the “hype” around plant-based led many investors to become cautious, causing a withdrawal of support and increased scepticism among large institutional investors as well.

    “But we strongly believe that there is ample capital for the right companies pursuing the right approach within the plant-based segment. We have already seen interest among investors for our pivoted business plan, which we will further explore with a fresh start in the coming months ahead,” explains Nair.

    Mycoprotein – and Mycorena – here to stay

    Courtesy: Mycorena

    Despite the doom and gloom, globally, plant-based meat and dairy actually experienced minor growth, with retail sales up from $28M in 2022 to $29M in 2023. And Europe, meanwhile, saw investments rise for the second consecutive year, comprising over half of all capital invested in the plant-based sector internationally.

    “We are seeing a lot of exciting innovation in the ecosystem and also growing consumer and corporate interest in markets like Germany. This and parts of next year will be tough, then we’ll see more light at the end of the tunnel,” said Wolfmeyer.

    Examples of this already exist. Meatless FarmVBitesTattooed Chef and Plant & Bean all came close to the brink, but were rescued or revived shortly after. Mycorena is hoping for something similar.

    The Swedish startup recently pivoted from a B2B model to a B2B2C approach, after seeing partners pull the brakes on their growth activities, and consequently facing a longer timeline to market entry.

    “We aim to go a step further by focusing on the private label and the foodservice market, rather than relying completely on our partners to create market launches,” Nair says of the new approach. “We also possess vast knowledge in product development and making final consumer products, which can be well-utilised in the revised plan.”

    Asked about what this means for Mycorena’s employees and executive team, he says: “We possess substantial intellectual assets and know-how within our company, and we consider our team to be a cornerstone of our value. As we are now making efforts to restart, our goal is to retain the founders and all employees and continue Mycorena’s envisioned journey under new ownership.”

    Nair believes the mycoprotein segment is here to stay. Indeed, despite even Quorn – the largest mycoprotein producer – facing financial challenges, it is rejigging things by entering the blended meat space. Scottish-Dutch recently closed a €40M Series C round, while Finland’s Enifer received €24M to open a commercial-scale facility. And in the US, The Better Meat Co obtained a ‘no further questions’ letter from the Food and Drug Administration just last week.

    “We have created quite significant value in the industry over the last seven years that Mycorena has been in operation,” says Nair. “We are confident that Mycorena has a place in the industry moving forward as well. We are glad to see that some of our shareholders and investors also share this belief.”

    The post Mycorena CEO on Filing for Bankruptcy: ‘It’s the Most Viable Path for A Clean Restart’ appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • animal free casein
    4 Mins Read

    US cheese giant Leprino Foods has signed an exclusive licensing agreement to commercialise the precision-fermented casein produced by Dutch startup Foodtive Group.

    Leprino Foods, the world’s largest mozzarella manufacturer, has partnered with Dutch food tech startup Fooditive Group to commercialise the latter’s animal-free casein.

    The deal will see Leprino Foods get exclusive worldwide rights to produce and sell Fooditive’s precision-fermented dairy protein for use in cheese, as well as a non-exclusive global licence for other food applications, including beverages, yoghurts, desserts, creamers, snack bars, and sports nutrition products.

    Leprino Foods supplies 85% of the pizza market’s cheese. If you’ve ever dined at Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Little Ceasars or Papa John’s, you’ve eaten its cheese. The Colorado-based company is also a leading supplier of lactose, whey protein, micellar casein and sweet whey – but this marks its first move into alternative dairy.

    “This agreement with Fooditive highlights our ability to innovate and adapt swiftly to emerging trends and technologies. By incorporating precision fermentation alongside our conventional dairy production, we will explore how this non-animal casein derived from fermentation will add to our product portfolio,” said Leprino Foods president Mike Durkin.

    Fooditive capable of making all four casein proteins

    precision fermentation casein
    Courtesy: Fooditive Group

    Founded in 2022, Fooditive is among a number of startups working on animal-free casein, whether that’s through plant-based ingredients, precision fermentation or molecular farming. New CultureChange Foods, Fermify, Zero Cow FactoryStanding Ovation, Alpine BioFinally Foods, NewMoo and Pureture are all innovating in this space.

    It uses proprietary E. coli strains to make casein through precision fermentation, with a process that promises high productivity and yield.

    Casein proteins – which make up 80% of the protein content found in milk – are considered the “holy grail” of milk protein structure. They’re responsible for emulsification, preventing water and fat from separating and giving cheeses their melty and stretchy properties. The ingredient can be used to make superior non-dairy products like cheese, milk and yoghurt analogues, as well as protein shakes.

    There are four types of casein proteins in milk. These fold into a spherical structure known as a micelle – here, they’re suspended in a highly hydrated solution and bound together with minerals like calcium. While most animal-free casein producers focus on one of these bovine proteins, Fooditive’s tech can produce all four.

    Doing so is “crucial to replicate the functional and nutritional properties found in traditional dairy casein, ensuring our products deliver the same high quality and performance that consumers and manufacturers expect”, Fooditive CEO Moayad Abushokhedim told AgFunderNews.

    “This collaboration not only underscores our commitment to sustainability and showcases the incredible potential of our precision fermentation technology but also our commitment to partnerships,” he said.

    Leprino Foods joins other big brands betting on precision fermentation

    leprino foods fooditive
    Courtesy: Leprino Foods

    Since Fooditive’s casein is produced via precision fermentation, it will need to pass regulatory barriers before it can sell any products using the protein. So far, only New Culture has obtained self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe) in the US.

    Abushokhedim confirmed that Fooditive planned to submit a self-determined GRAS dossier to the US Food and Drug Administration in Q4 this year.

    “This innovation not only can enhance our range, but also holds the promise of reducing the environmental footprint across the supply chain, all while maintaining the highest standards of product functionality, quality, taste and texture,” said Leprino Foods’ Durkin.

    “Our intent is to produce animal-free casein in volumes that exceed hundreds of thousands of tons over the coming years. We will begin to scale up in the tens of thousands of tons in the coming year and expand as the market demand dictates at one of our US plant locations,” he told AgFunderNews

    More and more food companies are recognising the need for planet-friendly alternatives to dairy. Nestlé, the world’s largest food business, debuted its Orgain protein powder made from precision-fermented whey in February. The same month, fellow CPG giant Unilever teamed up with category leader Perfect Day to use its animal-free whey in a lactose-free ice cream for its Breyers brand.

    An independent life-cycle assessment (LCA) by Standing Ovation suggests that animal-free casein generates up to 94% fewer greenhouse gas emissions (although the LCA was done at pilot scale, and an industrial-scale analysis would provide a more rounded picture).

    The post The World’s Largest Mozzarella Producer Bags Global Rights for Fooditive’s Animal-Free Casein appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • precision fermentation egg
    5 Mins Read

    Finnish startup Onego Bio has received a further €14M in investment to advance production of its precision-fermented egg protein, ahead of US regulatory approval in the coming months.

    Three months after raising $40M in its Series A round, Finnish precision fermentation player Onego Bio has brought in another €14M ($15.2M) to scale up production and fuel its EU plans.

    The latest capital injection comes from the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) Accelerator Programme and additional Series A investors, taking the total raised by the startup to $70.8M.

    It comes as Onego Bio gears up for a North American launch, expecting to achieve self-determined Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status for its Bioalbumen protein in the US this year, with a ‘no further questions’ letter from the US Food and Drug Administration anticipated in 2025.

    The EIC financing will also be used to drive its launch strategy in the EU, where it plans to submit a dossier for novel food approval to the European Food Safety Authority. Eventualy, it aims to enter the South American and Asian markets as well.

    EU novel food regulation ‘lags behind’

    onego bio egg
    Courtesy: Onego Bio

    Onego Bio was one of 68 companies that attracted investment from the EIC scheme. A total of 969 startups had initially submitted proposals, 347 of which were interviewed by juries of investors and entrepreneurs. Of the selected companies, only 21% were women-led – but one of these is Onego Bio.

    It is helmed by Maija Itkonen, who founded the startup with CTO Christopher Landowski in 2022 after spinning off from the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland. “The new funding and immense support from our investors demonstrates their confidence in our vision and the potential of innovations like Bioalbumen to build a more sustainable system,” Itkonen said.

    “It also shows that the EU recognises precision fermentation as a solution to address sustainability issues and enhance food security in Europe and worldwide,” the CEO added.

    The EIC Accelerator Programme chooses to invest in startups or SMEs with high-impact products, services and business models that can viably be scaled up, and create new or disrupt existing markets in Europe and beyond. In its 2024 Work Programme, it pledged to invest €50M in precision fermentation and algae-based startups, recognising their potential to improve sustainability, resilience and efficiency in the region’s food supply.

    “However, to remain competitive and fully capture the potential of exceptional European research and innovation, the regulatory approval process must be accelerated, as the EU currently lags behind other regions in this area,” noted Itkonen.

    No precision-fermented or cultivated meat product has received the greenlight under the EU’s stringent novel foods regulation, whose complexity and timescale are exacerbated by the fact that it has 27 member states. Some of them – like Italy, France and now Hungary – are trying to derail the progress of alternative proteins.

    An example of headway comes from the UK. Even though it left the EU years ago, it has still continued to follow the bloc’s framework for novel foods. But this year, the Food Standards Agency has proposed overhauling the process to accelerate approval and innovation. And just yesterday, the UK became the first European country to greenlight the sale of cultivated meat, albeit this was for pet food.

    Onego Bio building its own manufacturing unit

    eu precision fermentation
    Courtesy: Onego Bio

    While plant-based egg analogues are more commonplace, only a handful of companies are innovating with eggs through precision fermentation. California’s The Every Co has received three ‘no questions’ letters from the FDA and partnered with a host of brands for applications ranging from beverage mixes to meat analogues. Germany’s Formo, meanwhile, is set to launch a precision-fermented egg alternative (which isn’t bioidentical) later this year.

    Onego Bio’s egg proteins come from the Trichoderma reesei strain, creating a nature-identical version of ovalbumin (which makes up 54% of the protein found in egg whites). It introduces the genetic blueprint of ovalbumin to the fungi cells through a scientific database that acts like a library, which enables them to produce egg proteins instead of their own.

    The microbes feed on sugar in a process similar to beer brewing, and depending on the stage of the production process, they’re either starved with little food or allowed to “gorge on glucose”. This is because once these fungi are fed plenty of glucose and then starved of it, they start sweating proteins.

    The resulting Bioalbumin is then placed into a fermentation tank with water and fungal biomass. The latter is separated to procure a liquid containing the egg protein, which is then dried into a powder.

    This protein is nutritionally complete with all essential amino acids, and boasts the highest possible protein digestibility score (90g of protein per 100g of egg white). It can be used in products like baked goods, confectionery, snacks, sauces, pasta, meat analogues and more. Plus, it has a fraction of the climate cost, needing 95% less land and producing 90% fewer emissions than conventional eggs.

    With egg prices regularly fluctuating due to an unstable supply chain, innovations like Onego Bio’s are crucial for a resilient food system. Currently, it is producing the Bioalbumen with co-manufacturers and finalising plans for its own manufacturing unit.

    “A single Onego full-scale manufacturing unit will boast a two-million-litre fermentation capacity, effectively delivering the protein equivalent produced by six million laying hens,” the company said, adding that its “highly productive and scalable” tech will enable it to offer competitive pricing to chicken eggs.

    The post Onego Bio Bags €14M in EU Accelerator & Additional Series A Funding for Animal-Free Egg Protein appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • lab grown meat approved
    8 Mins Read

    London-based Meatly is now allowed to sell its cultivated meat for pets in the UK, marking Europe’s first approval for these proteins, and the world’s first for pet food.

    Meatly has become the first company to be approved to sell cultivated meat in Europe, after UK regulators gave the green light to the startup earlier this month.

    Following the decision by the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) on July 2, Meatly can supply its cultivated chicken to dog food manufacturers, marking the first time a cultivated pet food product is cleared for sale anywhere in the world.

    It signals the end of Meatly’s 18-month-long consultation process with government bodies in the UK, which joins Singapore, the US and Israel as the fourth country to approve cultivated meat.

    The startup plans to launch the first samples of its dog food before the end of the year, beyond which, it will focus on reducing costs. Having secured £3.6M in investment to date, Meatly is now targeting a Series A round, which will help it scale up production to reach industrial volumes in the next three years.

    “We’re currently conducting product development and conducting feeding trials on dogs,” Meatly CEO Owen Ensor told Green Queen. “We’re primarily focused on wet pet food for now.”

    “Meatly’s regulatory approval is a landmark event for the industry,” said Jim Mellon, founder of Agronomics, an investor in Meatly. “Through its technological innovation and close work with governing authorities, Meatly is helping prove that we can succeed in commercialising cultivated products for pets across the UK.”

    “The UK is a world leader in developing cultivated meat and the approval of a cultivated pet food is an important milestone. It underscores the potential for new innovation to help reduce the negative impacts of intensive animal agriculture,” said Linus Pardoe, UK policy manager for alternative protein think tank the Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe.

    Meatly to focus on driving down costs

    meatly cultivated meat
    Courtesy: Meatly

    Meatly’s approval comes after assessments from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the APHA. These government agencies ensured that it complied with all necessary regulations, with the startup’s technology passing the APHA’s rigorous inspection process.

    The company has also registered as a feed business operator, and its production facility has been approved by Defra and APHA to produce and handle cultivated chicken.

    In addition, it has prepared a comprehensive safety dossier and conducted extensive testing to demonstrate that cultivated chicken is safe and healthy for pets, and contains no GMOs, antibiotics, harmful pathogens, heavy metals and other impurities.

    The regulatory approval follows Meatly’s breakthrough in slashing the costs involved with making its cultivated chicken. Culture media, a mix of nutrients that facilitate the growth of animal cells, account for the majority of the production costs. But in May, the startup developed a protein-free version that brought down the price tag from hundreds of pounds to just £1 ($1.25).

    “Protein-free media in biopharma is not kind of new, but in cultivated meat is,” Helder Cruz, Meatly’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, told Green Queen in an interview earlier this month. “And it depends also on the type of cells on the species – some are a bit more challenging than others.”

    He added that Meatly’s objective had always been to ensure that its processes are “realisable, cost-effective, and food-safe”. The chicken costs in the “double figures” in pounds sterling per kg,

    “Currently, we’d price our pet food within the premium market, but we’re aiming to reduce this cost as we scale and develop our product,” Ensor told Green Queen. “One advantage of pet food is that mainstream pet foods are all combinations of meat and other ingredients, so we’re able to further reduce costs here by mixing the meat with other healthy plant-based ingredients.”

    First cultivated chicken product will be hybrid meat

    meatly lab grown meat
    Courtesy: Meatly

    While Meatly had previously floated cat food as its first product, it pivoted to dog food in recent months. It has already shipped some of its chicken to pet food manufacturers, who can run their own nutrition tests and try different formulations.

    Ensor previously revealed to Green Queen that the company had partnered with “one of the UK’s leading dog food brands” for its first launch. Pressed on this, he said: “We’ll be announcing that after the feeding trials are conducted, but we’re actively working with several leading pet food manufacturers.”

    But as he alluded to above, this won’t be 100% cultivated dog food. Instead, Meatly will be taking the hybrid meat approach, which involves combining cultivated cells with plant-based ingredients. This helps keep costs low and makes more sense with its current rate of production.

    “What you find typically in pet foods, the meat content… depending on the brand, is typically in that 20-30% window. We’ll probably start slightly lower just because of limited supply,” Ensor has previously explained.

    Asked how much of the cultivated meat would make it into the finished products, he said: “The final product will be decided by pet food manufacturers who will sell to. Most pet food on the market are combinations of meat and other plant-based ingredients, to create nutritionally balanced, complete pet food. Products made with Meatly Chicken will be similar.”

    Even at lower inclusion rates, the chicken has a great palatability impact, according to the co-founder. “I’ve fed it to my cats several times and they love it! We’re now conducting comprehensive feeding trials on dogs as well and will be sharing the results once complete,” he siad.

    One thing is certain: whenever Meatly’s products do come to market, they’ll roll out at Pets At Home, the UK’s leading pet retailer. It invested in the alternative protein startup’s last fundraising round, and represents the “pinnacle” for pet food companies, according to Ensor.

    Brits are receptive to cultivated meat for pets

    meatly pet food
    Courtesy: Meatly

    Pet ownership is increasing, but so is the carbon footprint attached to feeding our furry friends. While experts disagree over the true emissions stemming from pet food, one study suggests that 20% of all meta produced is used for pet food.

    What is undisputed is that meat is the most carbon-intensive food group on Earth, making up 60% of the food system’s emissions (twice more than what’s generated by plant-based foods). In the UK, pets eat more per year than the entire population under 18, and labradors – the most popular pet dogs in the country – consume 70 million kg of meat annually, nearly 60% more than their owners.

    The fact that Meatly is focusing on wet food is crucial, given that wet food can emit up to seven times more CO2e than dry pet food. Meanwhile, growing livestock and their feed take up 85% of the UK’s farmland. Meatly’s cultivated chicken, on the other hand, has been found to use up to 64% less land and 28% less water to produce.

    And it seems that both farmers and consumers are becoming warmer to the idea of cultivated meat. Reserach by the Royal Agricultural University has found that farmers do recognise the potential benefits of these novel foods. And a 2022 study suggested that even if only a third of Brits would try cultivated meat themselves, nearly half (47%) would feed it to their pets.

    The main concern that came out of the latter research was nutrition. “We’ve done a lot of nutritional analysis, safety analysis on the product,” Ensor said. “It shows us a very similar nutritional profile to chicken breast and has all of the essential amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and vitamins that cats and dogs need to thrive.”

    Third approval for cultivated meat in 2024

    lab grown meat uk
    Courtesy: Meatly

    Meatly’s approval is a major breakthrough in Europe. For years, the UK has been following the EU’s novel food regulations, even after Brexit. The EU’s complicated framework – partly due to the sheer number of member states – has meant progress on approvals has been non-existent.

    The FSA has been attempting to break away from the EU legislation and overhaul the UK’s regulatory process to gain a competitive advantage. Currently, companies face up to 36 months of waiting before they get the go-ahead. But there are concerns that the newly elected Labour government could jeopardise the proposals due to the initial costs involved.

    “I think we’re still waiting for a clear perspective from the Labour government. Alternative proteins and biotechnology would seem to fit very well, however, with their push for a sustainable, innovative economy,” said Ensor.

    For its part, the FSA said it “welcomes innovations by the animal feed sector” for using alternative proteins like cultivated meat in a safe manner. “The safety of such products, including pet food which is regulated as an animal feed, remains paramount and the FSA closely monitors any new product coming on to the market,” James Cooper, deputy director of food policy at the department, told the Financial Times.

    This is the third regulatory approval for cultivated meat globally in 2024. The year began with Israel’s clearance of local cultivated beef producer Aleph Farms, with Australia’s Vow obtaining the go-ahead three months later in Singapore (it is currently under consideration in Australia and New Zealand as well).

    Singapore – which was the first country to allow cultivated meat to be sold in 2020 – is also assessing dossiers from Dutch cultivated pork startup Meatly, and French cultivated chicken maker Vital Meat. These followed the US’s clearance of Upside Foods and Good Meat’s cultivated chicken products in June 2023.

    Aleph Farms and Vital Meat have also filed applications in the UK, but given that their products are made for human consumption, the process is more complex and time-intensive. “If we’re to realise the full potential benefits of cultivated meat – from enhancing food security to supporting the expansion of regenerative farming – the government must invest in the research and infrastructure needed to make it delicious, affordable and accessible for people across the UK,” said GFI Europe’s Pardoe.

    And while some governments – like Italy and the US states of Florida and Alabama – have banned cultivated meat, others have made advancements. South Korea is now accepting applications after developing a framework earlier this year, for example, while India is establishing guidance for approvals as well.

    The post With UK Greenlight, Meatly’s Pet Food Becomes First Cultivated Meat to Be Approved in Europe appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • project eaden
    12 Mins Read

    Project Eaden co-founder Jan Wilmking on why fibre-spinning technology can solve plant-based meat’s woes, the startup’s investment plans, and when it will come to market.

    On the German morning show ZDF Morgenmagazin in 2017, Jamie Oliver declared Jörg Förstera, owner of Berlin butchery Kumpel & Keule, the best butcher in the country.

    It was a stamp that echoed what many in the public felt as well. Kumpel & Keule prides itself on quality, noting that “only the best belongs in a good sausage”.

    So when someone like Förstera endorses a plant-based meat product, it’s worth paying attention. After all, the only way animal-free meat producers will have an impact is by appealing to meat-eaters – and the people who sell and cook it for them.

    “For me, the meats from Project Eaden are the first alternatives that get extremely close to the taste profile of animal meat,” says Förstera. “Really impressive.”

    The German startup – founded in 2022 by Dr David Schmelzeisen, Hubertus Bessau, and Jan Wilmking – first made global headlines last year, when it came out of stealth to announce an oversubscribed €10.1M seed round, featuring EU food and climate VC stalwarts including Creandum, Atlantic Food Labs, Shio Capital and Mudcake.

    Food tech social media was filled with photos of what is considered to be the holy grail of plant-based meat: whole-cut steak. The image of the company’s steak fillet (see below) made the rounds online, where commentators wondered if the photo was doctored. It was not.

    project eaden
    The company’s original steak loin from their 2023 launch announcement | Courtesy: Project Eaden

    In less than two years, the company has successfully used its technology to create a wide range of whole cuts including sausages, pork loin, and beef steaks, “a full meat range for everyday life” as the company puts it. But also, ham.

    Ham: the other plant-based holy grail

    As with steak, ham and deli meats are for some another holy grail of the meat alternative market, particularly for Europeans. Until recently, there have been almost no contenders for true ham lovers.

    Last year, French plant-based meat startup La Vie debuted two cooked ham products (emulsified soy) to well-deserved fanfare and a small handful of US startups like Prime Roots (fermented koji base) and Unreal Deli offer American-style deli cuts but, unlike plant-based burgers and chicken nuggets, there is plenty of room for a new player like Project Eaden to disrupt the ham case.

    For meat-eaters, taste and texture remain a major stumbling block when it comes to whole-cut meat analogues. Project Eaden says it is solving for both. The company says its tech results in “realistic optics and a realistic, heterogeneous chew experience.”

    Fibre-spun meat attracts industry veterans

    spinning fiber
    Courtesy: Project Eaden

    So what makes Project Eaden’s meats “really impressive” to people like Förstera? To make the novel food, the startup leverages ancient textile technology. In Egypt, spindles were used to turn flax fibre into yarn. In 1665, the idea of producing synthetic threads through the spinning wheel was first floated. It was the 1930s that birthed the first spinning of fully synthetic fibre in the form of nylon and polyester.

    Fibre-spinning changed the face of the fashion industry, and Project Eaden hopes to use the same technology to transform the food system.

    The fibres produced by Project Eaden’s highly scalable tech can be designed to meet technical requirements like elasticity, water-binding ability and strength. Plant proteins are bundled into strands, and then unfolded in a solution to create a homogenous liquid. This is spun to form ultra-thin fibres, which get integrated into a compound to replicate the collagen-based connective tissues found in animals.

    “Our technology essentially uses two main types of fibres to make delicious meat-like products,” explains Wilmking, the company’s managing director. “First, we use strong and thin fibres for connective tissue, which don’t stick together much, but help make the meat structure and bite experience feel real. Then, a large part of our product is made from a cheaper, juicier fibre that sticks together just enough to hold meat juice in small spaces, making it taste tender and yummy, like real meat.”

    The technology has excited industry executives like Godo Röben, former managing director of German meat and plant-based giant Rügenwalder Mühle (Wilmking refers to Röben as the godfather of Germany’s plant-based industry). “When I heard about the idea for the first time, I thought: that can work. And I invested early in the seed round at a time when frankly, their prototypes were still very, very rough,” he tells Green Queen.

    Röben came on as an advisor to the startup, galvanised by Project Eaden’s “team, tech and traction”. “I could see from early on that retailers, B2B and foodservice clients will want Project Eaden’s products,” he says.

    Plant-based meat is a crowded space, but for Röben, this startup stands out because it’s “very fast and very professional at the same time.”

    Triple threat: a founding team with commercial experience, tech expertise and food industry knowledge

    project eaden
    Courtesy: Project Eaden

    “The quality bar is really high. The pace is high. And finally, the products deliver taste and texture unseen in the market,” Röben says.

    This isn’t the founding team’s first rodeo. Where plenty of food tech startups boast a technical founder, many lack founding teams with operational commercial experience, or a food industry background, Project Eaden’s founders each bring multiple careers worth of expertise.

    After a stint at McKinsey and Harvard, Wilmking cut his teeth working for Rocket Internet’s Zalando, rising to be a senior VP. As anyone who has worked for the famed Samwar brothers knows, there is no better business school than running a Rocket company.

    Bessau is a food industry insider, having co-founded cereal startup MyMuesli in 2007 and built it up to a multi-EU-country brand employing over 850 people.

    Rounding out the team is Dr Schmelzeisen, who holds PhD in textile engineering focused on textile welding and production tech for smart textiles. He has previously supported research into smart textiles at RWTH Aachen University and developed electronic sensor systems to integrate into textiles at ETH Zurich.

    Rounding out the team is Schmelzeisen, who holds PhD in textile engineering focused on textile welding and production tech for smart textiles. He has previously supported research into smart textiles at RWTH Aachen University and developed electronic sensor systems to integrate into textiles at ETH Zurich. Schmelzeisen is also a passionate and experienced hobby chef, which is how he first saw the connection between textile fibres and meat fibres.

    Project Eaden is keeping things affordable

    fiber spinning technology
    Courtesy: Project Eaden

    Project Eaden suggests that its meats, however tech-forward, offer a much-needed solution to plant-based’s affordability problems. As the company explains: “Our technology platform is textile tech, which has been optimised for massive scale, low cost and low CAPEX for decades.”

    According to Schmelzeisen, wet and rotary spinning processes are usually very expensive and can lead to slick fibres that don’t connect with each other. He says Project Eaden has solved this issue. “We have developed a new way of spinning proteins, which is cheap to run and creates meaty fibres. We still use wet spinning, but only selectively.”

    This allows it to keep costs low. “Our tech has the benefit of being cheap to run, and cheap and fast to scale up in terms of equipment,” he says. “Our roots in the world of textile technology and mechanical engineering have paid off, as this angle has unlocked both low capital expenditure and cost of goods, especially low process cost and a high degree of automation.”

    Massachuessets-based Tender Foods is another startup making fibre-spun meat analogues, likening its production process to spinning cotton candy. The company has raised a total of $23M since it launched in 2020, closing an $11M Series A round last month led by Rhapsody Venture Partners and Lowercarbon Capital, and it inked a deal with meat-free QSR chain Clover Food Lab to feature its fried chicken and pork as bowl toppings.

    How does Project Eaden’s tech differ? Schmelzeisen says that where others are using a single-fibre approach, “we follow a multi-material approach: meat is muscle, and muscle is organic fibre compounds, made of different fibre types.”

    The multi-fibre tech allows the team to replicate the mouthfeel of different types of meat that they say has not been achieved to date: “We replicate this logic and combine different fibre types to create the sensations of meat. Muscle fibres, connective tissue, adipose tissue. All made from plants, designed to match mechanical properties of meat fibres.”

    To safeguard its IP, the company already has three patents pending, all of which are “focused on fibre spinning and fibre compound creation (i.e. meat creation), covering key aspects of process and end products”.

    Project Eaden is developing its own, bespoke flavours

    Courtesy: Project Eaden

    So that’s the texture stuff. But in order to truly capture the market, companies need to address flavour, which has become the most important purchase driver for meat analogues.

    For Project Eaden, the USP is “little to no off-taste”, according to Wilmking. “One thing that has a massive impact on flavour is the spinning process, which leads to a significant reduction of undesirable plant taste notes, aka off-taste,” he says.

    “So our spinning process, rather than the exact selection of input materials, helps to generate a nearly blank canvas in terms of taste, which we can [project] our flavours on. No need for maskers, no need for massive seasonings.”

    He adds that the company has been working with large flavour houses and developing its own reactive flavours, rather than opting for a pre-made blend. “This has really changed the game, and has created deeper, more complex meatiness and more realistic roasting aroma,” Wilmking says. “The combination of a blank flavour canvas with hardly any off-taste – and truly meaty taste notes on top – makes the products extremely tasty, without being too extreme or intense.”

    The base ingredient for all its meat products is wheat protein, complemented with fava bean and/or pea protein. “We use blends of proteins depending on fibre and meat type,” he says.

    “Generally, wheat protein can be sourced locally in high quality and provides a great base texture. But it is way too elastic on its own. Hence, we blend it with other protein types, which are great at holding water and releasing it when chewed (juicy mouthfeel), or which add brittleness and roughness for a realistic chew.”

    Cooked ham will be the first retail product

    vegan deli meat
    Courtesy: Project Eaden

    The technology also allows the startup to create a wide range of cuts, from Serrano and cooked ham, bratwurst, and bacon to chicken breast, pastrami, and beef and pork flank steaks. “From the start, one of our goals has been to build a highly versatile production platform,” he says. “One base process, one set of input materials, a large variety of end products – all created very efficiently in terms of COGS and with low CAPEX.”

    He adds: “Today, we can see that it works. The portfolio of possible products ranges from pork and beef to chicken. And we’ve developed products for cold and warm applications on the same fibre tech platform.”

    The cooked hams will come to market first. Wilmking explains it’s a product he and Schmelzeisen grew up with as a staple in their fridges. “We tested hams last summer and our early prototypes hit home with the team instantly,” he says. “Since then, we tested it with friends, family, and finally retailers and food service professionals and it got better and better. Now, we feel it’s ready for the ‘real stage’, called retail shelves. And it’s a pretty large market in and by itself, like nearly all segments in the world of meat.”

    Project Eaden says its meats can add a fibrous texture to mycelium-based or cultivated versions (the latter being an example of hybrid meat). Would it be tempted to look into the evolving blended meat space (a mix of conventional meat with plant-based or fermented ingredients), which has attracted industry giants like Nestlé and Quorn?

    “Slaughtered animal meat integrated with our meat is not on our agenda,” states Wilmking. “What we have explored and continue to do so is to collaborate with lab-grown meat and precision fermentation startups to test [the] integration of their materials into our meat technology.

    “We can add texture to their materials, which by nature have no fibrous texture yet. We focus on plant-based now, however, given the ongoing regulatory challenges. So this is a longer-term exploration and initiative for us.”

    An increasingly greater hurdle for consumers when it comes to plant-based is health and nutrition. But the numbers for Project Eaden are encouraging. Its cooked ham, for example, has 21g of protein, while the flank steaks boast 28g, both on par or higher than their conventional counterparts. Plus, the plant-based versions contain the all-important fibre, and zero cholesterol.

    The company is raising a Series A ahead of a 2025 launch

    project eaden meat
    Courtesy: Project Eaden

    Unlike many others in the industry, Project Eaden is opting for a retail-first approach and has secured a listing with a leading supermarket chain in the Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH) region. The first products are slated for a launch in early 2025.

    “It’s the fastest route to market for us. We have listings in DACH and can reach millions of people, with full control over product and brand experience,” says Wilmking. “We believe it creates everyday relevance fast and will open doors for B2B in a later stage.”

    He notes that the feedback from retailers has been “very positive”: “The meatiness and real-like look and taste are really interesting across products, which is why they are not only interested in one product but a range from the start.”

    As he alluded to, Project Eaden will enter B2B eventually. “One super interesting channel could be to feature our products as ingredients in convenience meals, which also touch the lives of many people every day, especially those of busy professionals and families,” he says. “From frozen ready meals to frozen pizza, meat is still a massive part of them and we see a big opportunity for partnerships.”

    So far, the company has secured more than €12M in funding, with an additional €2M in public grants to add to their seed last year. “We are currently raising a Series A to scale up and service retail demand,” reveals Wilmking.

    Raising capital is tough work in the current VC environment. Financing for plant-based companies fell by 24% in 2023, reaching $908M. And in the first quarter of 2024, the sector attracted just $58M. That coincided with faltering sales in some markets.

    “There are only [a] few products consumers really love. It’s a ‘bestseller’ market rather than an even distribution of success,” suggests Röben. “I believe there is a lot of room to consolidate the current offer and substitute ‘so-so products’ with really good ones.”

    He continues: “That’s good for consumers because overall quality and value for money will improve, and it’s good for retailers because repeat buys and rotation in the plant-based alternative shelves will increase.”

    While some decry the plant-based market stagnation in geographies like the US, in Germany, the ecosystem is thriving, according to Röben, who tells Green Queen the vegan market has actually grown in the DACH region. In Germany alone, plant-based meat production was up by 17% last year, according to federal data. “The little slowdown we saw after the pandemic is over,” he says. “The market is hungry for better products that finally hold what they promise.”

    As early as next year, then, you could be eating ham made the same as the clothes you’re wearing.

    The post Project Eaden: ‘The First Meat Alternative to Get So Close To Animal Meat’ appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • plantega stockeld dreamery
    5 Mins Read

    In our weekly column, we round up the latest news and developments in the alternative protein and sustainable food industry. This week, Future Food Quick Bites covers Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream tour, a cultivated seafood grant, and a trio of updates from India.

    New products and launches

    Unilever-owned ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s is promoting its revamped vegan lineup (now with oat milk) with a Dreamy Non-Dairy Tour. The brand is touring seven US cities, showcasing all 19 flavours through a dreamscape experience.

    ben and jerry's non dairy
    Courtesy: Ben & Jerry’s

    Pea milk producer Ripple Foods has introduced a range of protein shakes for kids. Called Shake Ups, they come in chocolate and vanilla flavours, boast 13g of protein and 3g of fibre per 8oz bottle, and are available on its website and Amazon.

    In more alt-dairy news, New York’s vegan bodega chain Plantega has partnered with Swedish vegan cheesemaker Stockeld Dreamery to add its fermented Cheddar slices on 18 menu items, including breakfast sandwiches, burritos, chopped cheese, and Philly cheesesteak.

    In the UK, The Coconut Collab has rolled out Protein Yog, a coconut yoghurt packed with 10g of soy and almond protein, as well as Yog & Granola, an on-the-go snack featuring granola clusters.

    coconut collab protein yoghurt
    Courtesy: The Coconut Collab

    Nordic dairy giant Arla has announced it will launch a barista version of its Jörd oat milk in the UK this month, which has been developed in collaboration with coffee professionals.

    Vegan confectioner Catherine’s Originals has debuted sharing formats of its plant-based chocolate, with its Selection Tin containing 81 chocolates and Selection Box comprising 31 in nine flavours.

    In Italy, KFC has debuted meatless versions of its Classic Veggie sandwich, Twister Veggie wrap, and Tender Crispy meals. But these contain milk and egg derivatives, so they’re not vegan.

    Indian vegetarian restaurant chain Spice Grill Flame has introduced a new vegan menu at select locations. It’s divided into two categories, Vegan (based on whole foods) and 100% Plant-Based Protein (addressing India’s protein problem).

    Courtesy: Plantaway

    Fellow Indian company Plantaway has launched vegan sausage and pepperoni SKUs containing 22g and 16g of protein per serving, respectively, weeks after it rolled out a chicken fillet.

    Also in India, P A Footwear has partnered with the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology to develop Vegan Virya, a biodegradable leather alternative made from 95% plant-based materials (mainly sugarcane), including 60% agri-waste content.

    Back in the US, botanical drinks maker Jubi Brands has unveiled a three-strong range of plant-based shots at several retailers in the Tri-State Area, targeting focus, energy and relaxation.

    Meanwhile, mycelium meat producer Mush Foods continues to make waves with its 50Cut solution for blended meat. It has now partnered with luxury meat purveyor Dufour Gourmet, which is using its mushroom root meat in a bratwurst, breakfast sausage, Italian-style sausage, and chicken sausage.

    dufour gourmet 50cut
    Courtesy: Dufour Gourmet

    And in New York City, Neat‘s Nolita location has launched a Hot Honey Sando with Mellody‘s bee-free honey.

    Finance developments

    Sweden’s Veg of Lund has now rebranded to Dug Foodtech, reflecting the name of its brand of potato milks.

    Agrifood funding dropped by 12.5% year-on-year in the first half of 2024, according to data from AgFunder. But Innovative Food, a category mostly comprised of alternative proteins, was one of the strongest segments, garnering $828M in investments.

    the very food co
    Courtesy: The Very Food Co

    Speaking of which, French plant-based startup The Very Food Co – which makes vegan analogues like aquafaba and butter – has secured €850,000 in a funding round, taking total investment past €1M.

    In similar news, Spain’s Vanetta Food, producer of seitan and soy-based meat, has raised €400,000 in its latest financing round.

    future food quick bites
    Courtesy: University of Waterloo

    Two students at Canada’s University of Waterloo have received over $700,000 in grants from the Good Food Institute, Mitacs and New Harvest to scale their AI-led research into developing cultivated seafood.

    Company and event updates

    At UK tempeh startup Better Nature, co-founder Elin Roberts has moved from the role of chief marketing officer to co-CEO, sharing responsibilities with fellow co-founder Christopher Kong.

    better nature tempeh
    Courtesy: Better Nature

    In its new impact report, Spanish plant-based meat startup Heura has announced that it reduced emissions by 23% per kg across its product lines between 2021 and 2023. It will soon bring out the fourth iteration of its packaging, which will cut transportation emissions by 31.5%.

    South Korean cultivated meat ingredients producer Simple Planet‘s CEO Dominic Jeong has been named chairman of the Bio Future Food Industry Association under the Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization.

    Industry association Cellular Agriculture Europe has seen its membership expand by 150%, welcoming 12 new members in Q3, including Mewery (Czech Republic), BrunoCell (Italy), Re:meat (Sweden), and Cell4Food (Portugal), among others.

    california cultured
    Courtesy: California Cultured

    Finally, Israeli cell-based chocolate maker California Cultured will be present at the 2024 World Confectionery Conference, with business development lead Alex Shandrovsky joining its lineup of speakers in Brussels on September 12.

    Check out last week’s Future Food Quick Bites.

    The post Future Food Quick Bites: Ben & Jerry’s Tour, Kids’ Protein Shakes & Blended Sausages appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • nestle climate resilient coffee
    4 Mins Read

    Nestlé has unveiled a new high-yielding arabica coffee variety in Brazil, which is resistant to the impacts of climate change.

    In its bid to make the global coffee supply chain more resilient, Nestlé has developed a new arabica variety that has a high yield and is thus linked to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

    Called Star 4, the new variety has been developed by the CPG giant’s agricultural science team via traditional breeding methods in Brazil, the top producer of coffee globally.

    It was selected for its resilience to coffee leaf rust, a fungal disease that decimates crops, has previously caused an epidemic that strained the global supply, and is worsening with climate change. The arabica variety is said to possess the “characteristic taste of Brazilian coffee”.

    “We are proud to make another important step towards resilient coffee supply chains, ensuring that consumers can continue to enjoy great coffee in the future,” said Jeroen Dijkman, head of Nestlé’s Institute of Agricultural Sciences.

    Why Nestlé developed a climate-resilient coffee variety

    It may be the second-most consumed drink in the world (after water), but coffee is in trouble.

    Arabica makes up 70% of the world’s coffee supply, but the climate crisis has pushed it to the brink. It is now a species that could become extinct in the next 60 years. And it’s not just arabica – 60% of the world’s coffee species are under threat.

    Meanwhile, the area suitable for growing arabica – roughly forming a ‘belt’ between the tropics – is shrinking, and could be cut in half by 2050. Further research has revealed that due to climate hazards becoming more frequent thanks to extreme weather, coffee crops will suffer from lower yields and skyrocketing prices.

    We’re already seeing the effects of this. Arabica futures have gone up 34% since the start of the year in New York, reaching $5,556 per tonne last week. This is a trend being seen across the globe, and supply chain pressures mean prices are unlikely to drop until mid-2025, according to Italian industry giant Lavazza – in the UK alone, a bag of coffee could cost you 20-25% over the next year.

    Nestlé’s innovation is essential, especially since it is the world’s largest CPG coffee brand, capturing 22% of the retail market. Nespresso, Nescafé and Nescafé Dolce Gusto all fall under its coffee portfolio. Nestlé also owns Blue Bottle Coffee and has exclusive distribution rights for Starbucks’ Coffee at Home range.

    “The new variety is characterised by its larger bean size and coffee leaf rust resistance,” said Dijkman. “Our field trials have demonstrated that, using similar inputs, the yields of Star 4 are substantially higher than the two most used Brazilian local varieties, which reduces its carbon footprint.”

    Nestlé said its development of locally relevant solutions like Star 4 contributes to its Agriculture Framework, which promotes sustainable farming and responsible sourcing. Under its Nescafé Plan 2030, it plans to cut its coffee production emissions in half and source at least 50% of the crop through regenerative agriculture.

    New innovations hope to tackle coffee’s climate problem

    nestle coffee climate change
    Courtesy: Nestlé

    The company attributed the new variety’s lower emissions to the greater yield potential, enhanced plant productivity, and improved farming methods.

    “Optimising cultivation practices remains vital as they are the primary factor contributing to the environmental impact of a cup of coffee,” said Marcelo Burity, head of green coffee development at Nestlé.

    It’s not just that climate change is making things worse for coffee – the crop itself is troublesome to the planet. Coffee is amongst the highest-emitting foods in the world, topped only by dark chocolate and red meats like beef, lamb and mutton. When it comes to emissions per 1,000 kcal, coffee is top of the list. Moreover, it takes 140 litres of water to produce and transport beans enough for a single cup of joe.

    A number of startups – like Voyage Foods, Atomo and Prefer – are hoping to tackle this with food tech, making beanless coffee by fermenting and processing agricultural sidestreams and other ingredients in a way that replicates the flavour of coffee beans. Others are working on cell-based versions, while some are also using molecular biology and crop genetics to develop perennial varieties of coffee.

    Nestlé isn’t alone in these efforts either. Starbucks, which buys 3% of all coffee and has similar emissions reduction plans, last year announced the creation of six climate-resilient arabica varietals. It’s providing these breeds to farmers and suppliers for free trials.

    “Climate change is an issue. We’re all aware of it, and we have to face it. It’s something that’s very dear and near to Starbucks’ heart,” Elliot Bentzen, director of trade and traffic at Starbucks, told Green Queen earlier this year. “We’re going to have to change the way we do things… I’m positive about the future that we have the technology, resources, engineers, agronomists and researchers to do the work to make sure we have coffee in the future.”

    Like Starbucks, Nestlé is conducting trials for its novel coffee variety, and has tested it in São Paulo and Minas Gerais. It has further registered Star 4 as an arabica variety in Brazil, in partnership with local foundation Procafé. But it will likely take several years before this is distributed to farmers, and whether Nestlé views the crop as having scale-up potential to meet its requirements remains to be seen.

    But it’s a start, and a critical one at that. In addition, the Swiss conglomerate has previously developed Roubi 1 and Roubi 2, two robusta varieties being rolled out in Mexico.

    The post Star 4: Nestlé Develops High-Yielding Coffee Variety to Take On Climate Change appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • lab grown meat farmers
    7 Mins Read

    Farmers have always been pitted against cultivated meat, but a new report suggests that despite concerns, they recognise the opportunities presented by these proteins.

    When Italy, Florida and Alabama announced their respective bans on cultivated meat over the last eight months, the dominant rhetoric was that of protecting farmers and the cattle industry. Florida governor Ron DeSantis was very on-the-nose about it, standing behind a banner reading ‘Save Our Beef’ when signing the bill.

    But critics quickly called out such moves as “protectionist” policies that served “entrenched interests”. They also pointed out the hypocritical nature of the farmer-friendly messaging used to justify the bans.

    “This legislation has always been about one thing – helping one industry, Big Ag, avoid accountability and competition,” Tom Rossmeissl, head of global marketing at Eat Just, one of only two companies approved to sell cultivated meat in the US, told Green Queen after Florida’s ban became official. “Today, these multinational corporations and their lobbyists won.”

    While you could argue that this response is expected from a company with interests in this novel food sector, what would you say if you found out that farmers – the very people these legislators claim to want to protect – themselves exhibited a similar concern?

    In the UK, at least, farmers seem to be more worried about social issues brought on by cultivated meat – like Big Food controlling the market or the knock-on effects on rural communities – than its impact on the bottom line. And when pitted against changing weather patterns and global commodity markets, the threat of competition from cultivated meat feels like a “slow burn” to them.

    This is according to research led by the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), which discussed cultivated meat with 80 farmers and nine farms to explore how they’d need to adapt their businesses in a future with cultivated meat.

    Backed by the Transforming UK Food Systems’s Strategic Priorities Fund (under the government body UK Research and Innovation), the takeaway was a potential win for the alternative protein industry, suggesting that farmers could help the sector grow and lower its environmental impact – and vice-versa.

    “They certainly had a lot of concerns, but were also mostly willing to engage in discussion about potential opportunities,” acknowledged study lead Tom MacMillan, who is the Elizabeth Creak Chair in rural policy and strategy at the RAU.

    “The message from our research is not [that] farmers are unconcerned, but that this doesn’t have to be a polarised debate, and there is potential for cultured meat businesses, farmers and other stakeholders to find synergies and shape the direction of this technology together,” he told Green Queen.

    What are farmers’ biggest concerns about cultivated meat?

    how will lab-grown meat affect farmers
    Courtesy: Royal Agricultural University

    Most of the farmers RAU spoke to reacted first as customers instead of producers, echoing public concerns over whether cultivated meat is safe, natural and healthy, who is in control, and who really benefits from it.

    But looking at it through a business lens, there were several worries. The industry’s future is shrouded in uncertainty, with farmers raising questions about cost competitiveness, quality and timeline to market launch, as well as whether it is meant to compete with processed or premium meats, or supplement meat-eating.

    British farmers further expressed apprehension about the unreliability of data on the technical viability, economics, and climate and health impacts of cultivated meat, calling for impartial, more transparent information. There were also concerns about the unintended effects on their business or the local community, and the overall impact of these foods.

    Some called cultivated meat an unrealistic proposition, citing a lack of attention on the supply chain and on how the “assumed effects on diets or land use” would be realised practically. Others echoed the rhetoric of lawmakers questioning the authenticity and naturalness of these meats, calling it “Frankenstein food”.

    Additionally, a common concern related to the beneficiaries of cultivated meat. Does this really support farmers and the public, or just line the pockets of Big Food companies? The fear was that this could intensify the industrialisation and ‘Americanisation’ of food production.

    “I do wonder if [with] the production of more… cultured protein, there are going to be much larger companies that are going to… be pushing for this and they will own the intellectual property, they will own the rights to that, they will own the formulations, and that’s something which reinforces a sort of a hegemonic position,” one farmer said.

    “The farmers who spoke to us were most concerned about the wider social implications – for example, corporate concentration in food systems, health, and food culture,” said MacMillan. “However, they also highlighted potential unintended consequences that were thrown into relief by their direct experiences of food production.”

    How cultivated meat could open up opportunities for farmers

    “The nine UK farmers we spoke to in most detail had misgivings about cultured meat, but also faced other bigger challenges or felt fairly resilient, so the technology was not seen as a major business risk by most,” recalled MacMillan. “Several were interested in potential opportunities.”

    These are wide-ranging, from supplying inputs and valorising waste streams to building supply chain relationships and harnessing private investment.

    For example, farms can supply animal cells as well as food-grade ingredients (like glucose, amino acids and growth factors) for cultivated meat production. And they could do so by repurposing existing crops – such as feed wheat for glucose, rapeseed oil meal for amino acids, and plant extracts for 3D scaffolds – or incorporating new ones into rotation.

    Even slaughterhouse byproducts like blood, hooves and horns contain elements that can be used as growth factors and media. This is an important consideration given that “hardly anyone” the RAU spoke to said they’d give up caring for their livestock altogether and make cultivated meat their sole business.

    Embracing cultivated meat gives farmers a chance to review their agreements with intermediaries and overhaul the unfair distribution of power found in dairy and poultry supply chains. Plus, they can develop farmer cooperatives to supply ingredients, and even use private investment to produce cultivated meat. On-farm production could present options for direct sale and open up new markets and supply chains.

    “The potential opportunities depended heavily on the type and location of a farm and its current business,” explained MacMillan. “Crop and fruit farmers were interested in new markets supplying raw materials. Some livestock farmers saw [the] potential to have higher-value, lower-volume sales, or to repurpose buildings or renewable energy for on-farm cultured meat production.”

    The nine farms in focus were asked what they think their businesses would be like in 10 years if they continued business as usual, and if they incorporated cultivated meat. Across metrics like income, jobs, production, waste, biodiversity and climate, most had similar responses to both scenarios – and with cultivated meat, some aspects could be improved upon.

    It’s significant because it means farmers don’t think cultivated meat would necessarily make things worse in the longer term. MacMillan, however, cautioned against viewing this pragmatism as a suggestion that farmers think cultivated meat would play a “substantial positive role” in maintaining or improving their businesses. “It is more that some [are] curious, and all have bigger worries,” he stated.

    Building common ground with farmers and cultivated meat companies

    cultivated meat farmers
    Courtesy: RESPECTfarms

    The RAU highlights the importance of moving away from the polarised debate around cultivated meat to find common ground between the industry and farmers.

    There are multiple ways to do this. Much of the polarisation is fuelled by hype and sweeping statements about a radical shift in eating patterns and farming practices, but producers would appreciate a more nuanced conversation that acknowledges uncertainty and champions farm innovation.

    Both sides have accused the other of making biased claims for or against cultivated meat using favourable studies. But if research were commissioned by groups including both agricultural and alternative protein organisations, it can breed more trust. Plus, using an ‘all or nothing’ approach can often paint farmers as the enemy, so it’s vital to explore synergies between cultivated meat and farmers.

    The report suggests joint research and innovation can help bridge this gap. This would entail looking into waste valorisation, developing fairer supply chains for cultivated meat, and trialling decentralised production on farms – akin to what RESPECTfarms is doing in the Netherlands.

    Some farmers were keen to engage further with cultivated meat producers, so developing mechanisms for dialogue is key. RAU is working with the UK Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub) to build a platform to connect farmers with businesses and researchers, and will create a neutral guide to cultivated meat for farmers.

    Moreover, investors are urged to require companies to commit to a ‘just transition’ for farmers within their ESG commitments, while startups are encouraged to engage farmers in their governance. “The main thing at this point is to make sure farmers are engaged in helping figure that out on an ongoing basis, so that’s something we recommend to companies and investors working in this space,” outlined MacMillan.

    “Moving beyond the polarised debate we’ve seen in some countries over recent years could provide a ‘win-win’ – not only benefitting the cultivated meat sector but farmers themselves,” said Linus Pardoe, head of UK policy at the Good Food Institute Europe. “I welcome the report’s call for companies to find meaningful ways of engaging and collaborating with farmers, while remaining sensitive to the uncertainties some farmers have about cultivated meat.”

    The post UK Farmers Recognise Potential Benefits of Cultivated Meat, Shows Government-Funded Report appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • the better meat co gras
    5 Mins Read

    Californian food tech startup The Better Meat Co has received a ‘no further questions’ letter from the US FDA, certifying its Rhiza mycoprotein as safe to use in meat products and dairy analogues.

    Two years after applying for FDA approval, The Better Meat Co has received a ‘no further questions’ letter from the US food safety authority, meaning its mycoprotein now has GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status.

    It marks the first FDA letter to cover a mycoprotein strain outside of the Fusarium genus (which is used by both Quorn and Enough Foods, both of whom have been granted the letter).

    According to The Better Meat Co’s GRAS notice, its fungi strain (Neurospora crassa) has an extensive history of use in food globally. It has been used to produce oncom, a traditional fermented Indonesian produced from byproducts like soy pulp (or okara), as well as in fermented okara in China’s Gannan district.

    Additionally, the strain is part of the starter mass used to make a Brazilian fermented alcoholic drink called tiquira, and is one of the organisms present in Roquefort cheese when produced in traditional southern French cheesemaking methods.

    Simultaneously, The Better Meat Co’s Rhiza mycoprotein was evaluated as a meat enhancer by the USDA, which classed it as suitable and safe for inclusion in blended meat products.

    Rhiza mycoprotein can be used in meat, seafood and dairy analogues

    rhiza mycoprotein
    Courtesy: The Better Meat Co

    The Better Meat Co’s mycoprotein had already obtained self-affirmed GRAS status, which enabled it to supply Rhiza (produced at its Sacramento plant) to restaurants in North California for animal-free steaks, carne asada, and foie gras.

    Self-affirmed GRAS certification doesn’t legally require FDA review. Companies only need to conduct a safety approval by a scientific panel, which can include both internal and external experts. This can be done without disclosing safety data publicly, helping maintain confidentiality around IP.

    It’s an easier, cheaper and faster way to commercialise. But it does mean companies are making their own safety assessments independently from the FDA (while complying with its requirements). This is why many choose to go through the GRAS notification process. A much more rigorous process, it requires the submission of a host of comments, including positive and negative reviews of ingredients.

    If approved, the FDA sends the ‘no further questions’ letter, deeming the ingredient safe for sale. This is seen as a more transparent process with publicly available data and breeds both market and consumer confidence.

    The mycoprotein can be used to make beef, pork, chicken and seafood analogues at levels ranging from 30-90%, as well as dairy alternatives like milk, cheese, coffee creamers, yoghurt and ice creams at a maximum inclusion rate of 15%.

    Plus, it can be used as a meat extender as part of blended meat applications (which combine conventional meat with plant-based or fermentation-derived ingredients). The GRAS notification suggests that companies can substitute meat with 10-50% of Rhiza.

    Blended meats are having a moment right now, with legacy butchers and even global food giants entering the space. The Better Meat Co won’t be the first company to offer mycoprotein for blended meat, with UK market leader Quorn supplying it to foodservice and hospital caterers in the UK this year.

    However, The Better Meat Co has a better pedigree than most others when it comes to blended meat. Its legacy plant protein has been part of Perdue Farms’ Chicken Plus line since 2019. Now available in over 7,000 stores, it has proved to be one of the longest-standing and most successful examples of blended meat to date.

    The Better Meat Co looks to scale up

    the better meat co
    Courtesy: The Better Meat Co

    The FDA’s ‘no further questions’ letter comes shortly after The Better Meat Co slashed the production costs for its mycoprotein. When produced at scale, it will now cost the same as commodity beef, even if no further R&D advancements are made.

    This advancement followed the end of the startup’s bitter legal dispute with fellow mycelium meat company Meati, which has been ongoing since December 2021. The Better Meat Co had sued Meati for undermining its IP and attempting to “bully” a less-funded rival. Meati, which also employs submerged fermentation tech, responded by accusing the former of stealing its IP.

    The dispute stemmed from the fact that when The Better Meat Co was granted a patent for its tech, the inventor was listed as Augustus H Pattillo, who had previously spent a year working on a Department of Energy fellowship at Chicago’s Argonne National Laboratory, at the same time Meati (then called Emergy and working on renewable batteries) was doing work at the agency too.

    But a judge in California’s Eastern District ruled largely in favour of The Better Meat Co last month, reprimanding Meati for using “sandbagging” tactics and “shenanigans”, including serving The Better Meat Co with nearly 3,000 pages of documents the night before a hearing on May 17. Meati said it supported its inventorship claims, but the judge argued that the company’s counsel offered “no credible explanation” of why it didn’t provide such materials sooner.

    The legal battle hindered The Better Meat Co’s ability to fundraise, having secured only $27M in investment (compared to Meati’s $365M). And without raising capital, it has been unable to scale up production to meet commercial-scale demand for its mycoprotein.

    But those efforts will be in full force now, with The Better Meat Co having signed multiple letters of intent and offtake agreements iwth major CPG brands in both the US and Asia. It has also been working with Hormel Foods and Maple Leaf Foods to develop meat analogues.

    These companies would have been encouraged by Rhiza’s nutritional credentials – based on its dry mass, it contains 30g of fibre and around 45g of protein per 100g, with a protein digestibility score of 0.87-0.96 (close to casein, beef and eggs).

    The Better Meat Co describes its mycoprotein as having a “firm meat-like texture and mouthfeel”, with its filamentous nature setting it apart from plant-based meats made from soy, wheat or pea protein. “The product is not a protein isolate, but a whole biomass ingredient; accordingly, it offers a wider range of nutrients in addition to merely protein and retains the native whole food matrix,” its notice states.

    The post The Better Meat Co Receives FDA GRAS Approval Letter for Rhiza Mycoprotein appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • alternative protein report
    9 Mins Read

    Many have drawn parallels between alternative proteins and electric vehicles, but their disruption of conventional industries is far from the same. So how can the former learn from the latter?

    “Elon Musk says they would have failed twice, if not for long-term low-interest government loans. There is no solar industry, there is no EV industry, there is no biopharma industry, if not for governments helping the companies that can’t qualify for standard bank loans, giving them long-term low-interest loans.”

    That was Bruce Friedrich, president of alternative protein think tank the Good Food Institute (GFI), speaking at the cellular agriculture innovation day at Tufts University in January. He was comparing cultivated meat to the electric vehicles (EV) industry. “If the government gets the industry started, then the private sector can take over, just like electric vehicles,” he stated.

    Friedrich’s statement has been echoed by many experts and stakeholders in the future food industry. And you can see why. Both are hoping to decarbonise highly polluting sectors – fossil fuels are the worst offenders, agriculture is second on that list.

    EVs tackle a road transport industry that generates around 10% of global emissions. Alternative proteins go even further, aiming to displace an animal agriculture sector that produces between 11-20% of all emissions. But the disparity between the two sector’s impact to date is stark.

    Between 2012 and 2023, the sales share of EVs went from 0.2% to 18%. But plant-based meat, which began its current wave around a decade ago too, still only accounts for 0.9% of the entire meat market (plant-based milks, at 14.5%, fare better).

    alternative protein electric vehicles
    Courtesy: Boston Consulting Group

    People were apprehensive about both technologies in the beginning, but only EVs lit up investors’ eyes. The sector received $106B in private sector capital from 2017-23 – that’s more than the GDP of many countries, and over eight times what the alternative proteins sector got in the same period ($13B).

    The trend is similar across public investment too. In 2022, EVs received $40B in direct purchase subsidies, but governments only pumped $635M into the novel protein sector.

    Change is needed, and fast. “Alternative proteins are one of the most effective technologies we have to reduce the environmental costs of our food systems. Unfortunately, this area is not moving at the speed necessary to combat climate change, and is far behind advances in the energy sector,” says Hannah Ritchie, deputy editor of Our World in Data.

    So what lessons can alternative protein companies take from their EV counterparts? It’s a question explored by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), GFI, and Synthesis Capital in a new report. Here’s what it suggests.

    Price parity is paramount

    alt protein electric vehicles
    Courtesy: Boston Consulting Group

    EV manufacturers have used the capital to make better and cheaper models – the cost of lithium-ion batteries was slashed by 67% from 2015 levels in just six years. Alternative proteins have a huge gap to fill here.

    Cultivated meat is still years away from being cost-effective, but even with plant-based meat, the product that comes closest to its animal counterpart is beef. Still, plant-based beef is 20% more expensive, according to GFI. Overall, vegan meat analogues cost consumers 77% more on average, while plant-based milks have a 104% markup.

    Granted, EVs are a high-cost investment usually made once every few years. In contrast, people have “hundreds of opportunities each year” to choose their preferred food at supermarkets and restaurants. But what EV makers have done well is to sell sustainability as an “and” instead of “or”, by making their cars competitive on cost, range and models.

    plant based price parity
    Courtesy: GFI

    The novel protein industry needs to do the same. Companies need to appeal not just on the sustainability front, but also speak to people’s core food needs. It means prioritising taste and texture just as much as price and convenience. “The goal is to make alternative proteins a choice rather than a compromise. This way, sustainability becomes a sweetener, not a sacrifice,” the report argues.

    This is exactly what initiatives like the Bezos Earth Fund are trying to tackle. It has committed $1B to the future of food, $100M of which is going to three alternative protein research centres, two of which are already live in the US and the UK.

    Andy Jarvis, the fund’s food programme director, told Green Queen earlier this month: “You’ll have no sustainability impact, unless the price and the taste are on parity – that’s an absolute necessity… What we need is something that is going to be attractive as a value proposition to carnivores. For that, it needs to cost the same or less, then it needs to taste just as good or better. That’s the bottom line.”

    Just like successful EV companies have delivered great cars with unique-to-them features, low ownership costs, and advanced software and safety tech, alternative protein producers will need to close the taste and price gap, and then “out-innovate existing food companies”.

    Technology will help, giving this sector a competitive advantage over animal-derived meat – think products with enhanced nutrition or functional ingredients. Companies can bring flavours unavailable to consumers at present, and personalise products to address allergies, health conditions and other dietary needs.

    Governments need to back alternative proteins more

    plant based meat electric vehicles
    Courtesy: Boston Consulting Group

    Public sector support has been crucial to the rise of new technologies like clean energy and EVs. The report points to a four-stage framework adopted by governments, which includes setting ambitious targets, stimulating supply, driving demand, and addressing scale-up challenges.

    Take the EU, for example. Its Fit for 55 standards mandate a 55% emissions reduction from cars by 2030 (from 1990 levels), and that new models need to be zero-emission by 2035. Governments have created some goals for alternative proteins, but the authors say much larger commitments are needed.

    One instance of such ambitious target-setting comes from Denmark, which recently approved the world’s first carbon tax on agriculture. It will cost the average farmer about $100 a year for each cow. And while this directly addresses livestock emissions only, the country last year also became the first to adopt a national action plan to promote plant-based foods.

    denmark carbon tax
    Courtesy: Kravcs/Getty Images/Green Queen

    Then there’s China’s stricter emissions standards and dual-credit policy, which financially rewarded carmakers that met their EV quotas. In contrast, government investment into alternative proteins has been modest, though much of the $180M allocated for R&D in 2022 went to publicly accessible research grants. Funding open-access research that helps producers can enable them to scale up.

    Also in China, lawmakers offered purchase credits and streamlined licenced plate registration for EVs during Covid-19 to drive demand. Governments can do the same with cultivated meat through regulations that help bring novel proteins to market.

    “As the industry grows and applications for market approval increase, governments must be prepared to evaluate alternative products quickly,” the report states. Additionally, most research focuses on taste, texture and price, but more work is needed to address other concerns, including health and variety.

    In the US, the EV industry received $7.5B of public capital in 2022 to build more charging stations. In a similar vein, governments can help alternative protein startups build more labs and add capacity, which will keep countries competitive in the food system transition.

    Public and private investment must increase

    plant based funding
    Courtesy: GFI

    “The success of electric vehicles shows how fast public and private investment can catalyze green innovation. Forward-thinking governments and food companies now have the opportunity to replicate that success for alternative proteins,” said Lewis Bollard, programme director for Open Philanthropy.

    VC funding for alternative proteins was down by 44% last year, and even the $635M that governments invested in 2022 is a fraction of what the industry really needs. BCG analysis has previously suggested that nearly $30B and $11B billion are required just to build the critical bioreactors and extrusion capacity, respectively, to produce sausage links, patties, and other products affordably.

    “Just as EV makers needed to invest heavily in tooling, software development, and emerging battery technologies to succeed, alternative protein companies require funding to continue researching new food technologies, including cell cultures and precision fermentation,” the report reads.

    Alternative protein companies need support across the value chain, helping them identify, develop and build industrial-scale manufacturing processes and facilities for texturising, extruding, and 3D-printing proteins.

    electric vehicles plant based
    Courtesy: Boston Consulting Group

    Businesses themselves need to invest in the full spectrum of activities, from early research and infrastructure support to ingredient sourcing and consumer sales, to cut costs, overcome bottlenecks and increase access to their foods.

    Looking to China once more, its government doubled down on credits and tax breaks between 2009 and 2022 to become the global EV leader. Such investments can attract private funding, and a dual public-private approach also builds market confidence.

    State-backed research institutes could collaborate with alternative protein startups on R&D projects, or more public-private partnerships could fund infrastructure to support production and distribution.

    What’s next for alternative proteins?

    The alternative protein sector has had its fair share of criticism over the last two years. Parts of the media have blasted it, and some legislators have restricted progress by putting bans on product labelling and cultivated meat altogether.

    “It is worth noting that the field has seen more technological advancements and cost reductions than most other disruptive technologies over the same duration of time,” counters Viknish Krishnan-Kutty, founder and CEO of Singapore-based Cellivate Technologies.

    The report asks governments to build supportive policies that leverage the four-step framework, help companies fund R&D, secure raw materials, and build infrastructure – all of this will help move the affordability needle.

    VCs must channel their dollars across the entire value chain and encourage companies to devote sufficient resources to R&D to cut the gap with conventional proteins.

    If you’re an existing food company, innovating early can help you get a competitive advantage, allowing you to set industry standards and reset consumer expectations. And as for alternative protein startups, launch products that deliver “excellent taste, desirable texture, competitive prices, and utmost convenience”.

    lab grown meat evs
    Courtesy: Upside Foods

    The report suggests that replacing half of our meat and dairy consumption with alternative proteins can cut five gigatons of CO2e annually, the equivalent of taking half of all gas-fuelled cars off the road.

    Emma Ignaszewski, senior associate director of industry intelligence and initiatives at GFI, and one of the report’s authors, sums up the EV-alternative protein relationship best. “Electric vehicles are a powerful climate solution that doesn’t require consumers to make significant behavioural changes. They simply offer a more sustainable swap-in for gas-powered cars,” she says.

    “Alternative proteins offer a strikingly similar promise: enjoy your burger, but produced with far lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional meat,” she adds. “Competing on these drivers of consumer choice is the blueprint for alternative proteins to help decarbonise the food sector, just as electric vehicles can help decarbonise the transportation sector.”

    The post How Alternative Protein Companies Can Learn From the EV Industry appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • co2 protein
    4 Mins Read

    US alternative protein startup NovoNutrients has raised $18M in a Series A funding round ahead of opening its pilot facility, with a renewed focus on humans and pets.

    The $18M Series A round was led by Australia’s Woodside Energy and China’s CM Venture Capital, as reported by TechCrunch. It brings all-time investment into NovoNutrients to $27M.

    The Californian startup uses microbial fermentation to turn carbon dioxide and hydrogen into protein. While it was initially targeting livestock and fish feed, the company has since added human nutrition to its scope of work as well. And now, it’s moving into the pet space too.

    Pilot facility will serve as testbed for gas protein tech

    Courtesy: NovoNutrients

    Founded in 2017, NovoNutrients uses tailored microbial strains and feeds them on waste streams with different gas mixes. While it can use synthetic biology to improve the microorganisms’ stability and efficient for some products, for more natural offerings, it uses evolution instead.

    “Our most relevant strain development is actually the fact that we are able to tailor the strains through natural, non-GMO means to the specific mixed gases that will be available at a particular partner site,” co-founder and CEO David Tze told TechCrunch.

    NovoNutrients is among a number of gas fermentation companies, including Finland’s Solar Foods, California-based Air Protein, and Dutch startup Farmless.

    But unlike these players, NovoNutrients isn’t using a big tank akin to those found in breweries. It instead relies on thinner looped cylinders, which lowers the amount of energy needed to mix the gases.

    Operating a B2B model, NovoNutrients is currently building a pilot plant in the Bay Area, which will use much of the same equipment as a commercial-scale facility in the future. This would make it an important testing ground for its designs and microbial strains.

    Expanding on the business model, Tze explained that the company’s financial plan relies on selling microbes as well as licences to build, operate and maintain the facilities. “We would also do marketing and business development for the products,” he added.

    Tze believes the pilot facility can produce the data needed to convince investors that a commercial-scale fermenter is worth their money, with the goal of following a “capital-light” approach.

    NovoNutrients taps into expanding pet food space

    novonutrients protein
    Courtesy: David Tze/LinkedIn

    NovoNutrients has been in discussions with pet food manufacturers over the last year, opening up a new potential market for the startup.

    “In part, this has been a reaction to the widespread, decreased confidence and interest in alternative proteins for people,” said Tze. “On the other hand, it’s that the pet food sector has been faster to recognise the benefits of alternative protein.”

    A five-country survey of 2,500 pet owners this year found that 80% of respondents factor in sustainability when choosing food for their pets, and over half considering plant-based proteins for their climate credentials.

    “There are parts of the market where there’s a significant willingness to pay for ingredients including, but not limited to, hypoallergenic,” added Tze.

    Alternative pet food has been making the waves recently, whether it’s in the form of positive health studies, funding rounds or regulatory progress. For example, UK startup Meatly is expecting to put its cultivated chicken for cats on shelves imminently.

    “Everyone kind of wants to move to a more sustainable food system. Everyone wants healthy food for themselves and their pets. And I think the trends in alternative proteins – and cultivated meat in particular – fit with that perfectly,” Meatly CEO Owen Ensor told Green Queen in a recent interview.

    Touching upon the challenges of the alternative pet food sector, The Pack co-founder and CEO Damien Clarkson suggested that the investment decline in the plant-based sector has “made accessing capital for the vast majority of plant-based pet food startups more challenging”. “This is despite all the big pet food companies having a huge commitment to sustainability and a diversification of protein sources,” he told Green Queen.

    Explaining how players in this space can succeed, he added: “Alt-protein pet food companies need to operate more like pet food businesses, and less like challenger plant-based startup brands.”

    The post NovoNutrients Closes $18M Series A to Make Protein from CO2 for People & Pets appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • vegan shrimp
    6 Mins Read

    Food tech investor Big Idea Ventures has launched a new vegan seafood company that utilises intellectual property from New Wave Foods, which shut down last year.

    Big Idea Ventures (BIV) has incorporated Bayou Best Foods, a new plant-based seafood company that uses IP from the now-defunct New Wave Foods.

    The eighth investment out of BIV’s Generation Food Rural Partners (GFRP) Fund, Bayou Bets aims to commercialise the IP with an initial focus on shrimp (slated for a market launch by the end of the year). It plans to extend into other categories in the future as well.

    BIV has appointed former Conagra, Perdue Farms and Beyond Meat exec Kelli Wilson as the company’s CEO. “Bayou Best is positioned to be a leader in animal-free seafood manufacturing and distribution, with a strong focus on delivering an eating experience that mimics, in taste and texture, animal-based seafood items,” she said.

    Why New Wave Foods ceased operations

    new wave foods
    Courtesy: New Wave Foods

    In November, San Francisco-based New Wave Foods entered into a voluntary assignment for the benefit of the creditors (ABC), an alternative to formal bankruptcy proceedings that involves transferring assets from a debtor to a trust to liquidate them and distribute the proceeds. In effect, the company was “indebted to various creditors” and “unable to pay its debts in full”.

    The startup had rolled out its vegan shrimp in US foodservice through a partnership with Dot Foods in 2021, months after closing an $18M Series A fundraiser. “Although we were gaining momentum in 2023 and had secured a major customer for 2024 sales, we couldn’t outrun industry headwinds,” co-founder and CEO Michelle Wolf told AgFunderNews at the time.

    Speaking to the publication now, BIV chief investment officer Tom Mastrobuoni said there wasn’t “any one thing” to blame for New Wave Foods’ collapse, but rather “a confluence of events”.

    “I think we’ve learned a ton of lessons, which is why we’re bringing in someone with Kelli’s experience to run Bayou Best Foods. At the end of the day, you’re still running a food company, not a tech company that makes food,” he said.

    The acquired IP includes “formulations and specific production techniques”, but not any production facilities. To support its market entry, Bayou Best Foods will use co-packers to manufacture its vegan shrimp. “We’re working very closely with BIV partners on innovation and pilot trials and then we will scale up with contract manufacturers,” Wilson told AgFunderNews.

    She added: “We’re not using expensive technologies such as twin-screw extrusion; we’re using simple blending and heating and forming followed by freezing and packaging for ready-to-heat products. New Wave’s latest iteration was using mung bean protein [combined with seaweed extracts], but we’re looking at other high-quality protein sources.”

    A sea of problems

    thailand shrimp farming
    Courtesy: The Environmental Justice Foundation

    In a statement, Wilson outlined the Bayou Best Foods’ mission to “provide a product that can replace shrimp in any traditional menu or dish”, and cater to consumers with seafood allergies and those who are cutting back on shrimp due to health concerns.

    A survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) this year found that 66% of seafood consumers prioritise nutrition and health, with frequent eaters showing an even higher inclination (78%). But ill health effects from shrimp farming have been under the spotlight, thanks to a combination of overcrowded aquaculture systems, overuse of disinfectants and high susceptibility to diseases stemming from monocultures.

    Microplastic pollution, toxic chemical runoff, antibiotic and pesticide use, sea lice, mercury, and overfishing are among a host of issues that are leading to the collapse of global fisheries. Crustaceans like shrimp, meanwhile, account for 22% of the total carbon emissions from fishing, despite making up just 6% of all the tonnage landed.

    The species has been vastly affected by climate change too, suffering from population declines, with spawning population only an eighth of what it was in 1908. There has been a collapse in Atlantic shrimp numbers too, thanks to ocean warming. And in the Gulf of Mexico, pink shrimp stand to lose 70% of their habitats by the end of the century.

    Meanwhile, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing of shrimp and prawns amounted to potential economic losses of about $47M annually between 2015 and 2021. In fact, 26.4% of all shrimp fishing activities were potentially illegal and unregulated between 2016 and 2021.

    A large global survey by the Marine Stewardship Council recently revealed that 30% of consumers have been eating less seafood in the last two years, with almost half (48%) concerned about overfishing and 35% worried about climate change impacts. More than 80% of people have changed their dietary habits in this period, with 43% doing so for sustainability reasons – it highlights the need for more sustainable alternatives to animal proteins like shrimp.

    Bayou Best Foods to license IP as well

    bayou best foods
    Bayou Best Foods CEO Kelli Wilson | Courtesy: Summit Art Creations/New Wave Foods

    Mastrobuoni said Bayou Best Foods is primarily focused on foodservice since that’s where the majority of seafood is consumed in the US, “mainly because consumers are afraid of it and don’t really know how to cook it”, and “chefs understand how to work with it”.

    “We’re also going to develop a portfolio of products across different species as we want to build a platform company that can leverage multiple technologies in this space, so we’ll also be looking to license IP being developed in universities we’re working with,” he added. “Single-product companies are interesting science projects, but they are not good companies. Companies need differentiated revenue.”

    Speaking of revenue, the plant-based meat and seafood industry saw retail sales drop by 12% in 2023, while prices also increased by 9% (compared to a 3% rise for conventional meat and seafood). And within the plant-based analogue world, vegan seafood only makes up 1% of the market share.

    “Despite challenging times for the category, there is no denying that we are in a climate emergency and that our oceans are in peril,” Marissa Bronfman, founder of alternative seafood association Future Ocean Foods, told Green Queen in February. “We must ensure that the international venture community continues to fund alternative seafood across plant-based, fermentation and cultivated, if we are to protect our oceans and feed 10 billion people by 2050.”

    Bayou Best Foods joins a number of other players developing or selling plant-based shrimp, including HAPPIEE! (Singapore), Vegan Zeastar (the Netherlands), Plant-Based Seafood Co., Aqua Cultured Foods (both US), Boldly Foods (Australia), Thai Union (Thailand), and Steakholder Foods (Israel).

    “There are significant environmental, human rights, and fraud issues in the seafood industry. Bayou Best’s products align with the growing demand for sustainable protein options, driven by consumer concerns about seafood sustainability and a desire for animal-free alternatives,” said Emily Linett, director of strategic partnerships of the GFRP Fund.

    GFRP is an inception-stage agrifood venture fund backed by members of the Farm Credit System, which partners with leading universities to launch new companies based on IP, brings strategic support from inception, and provides seed-stage and follow-on capital. Its portfolio startups include microbial tech company PlantSustain, cultivated meat solutions developer Nexture Bio, and sustainable active ingredient maker BioCloak, among others.

    “This investment furthers GFRP’s mission of launching innovative companies while creating living wage jobs in rural communities,” said Linett.

    The post Bayou Best Foods: Big Idea Ventures Launches Vegan Seafood Company, Acquires IP From New Wave Foods appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • lab grown meat gel
    4 Mins Read

    A team of researchers in South Korea have developed a gelatin-based scaffold that replicates the flavour and aroma effects of the Maillard reaction in cultivated meat.

    What if you put Jell-O in your steak?

    It may sound like a radical idea, but scientists have found that gels can make meat taste better – cultivated meat, that is.

    Researchers from Yonsei University in Seoul have created a gelatin-based hydrogel to form a functional scaffold that can recreate the flavours and aromas generated during the Maillard reaction.

    Named after French chemist Louis Camille Maillard, this is a chemical reaction that occurs between amino acids and reducing sugars to create a compound that gives browned food its unique flavours when heated between 140°C and 165°C.

    In the paper published in the Nature journal, the scientists argue that while previous versions of cultivated meat have recreated the appearance and texture of conventional meat, taste has so far been overlooked. “Flavor is the most important thing to make cultured meat be accepted as real,” lead author Milae Lee told CNN.

    Leveraging flavour compounds that ‘switch on’ when heated

    cultivated meat scaffold
    Courtesy: Jinkee Hong/Yonsei University

    The researchers managed to simulate the Maillard reaction by adding what they call “switchable flavour compounds” (or SFCs) into a 3D, temperature-controlled gel to form a scaffold. These compounds (comprising a flavour group and two binding groups) remain stable while the cells are cultivated, and release meaty aromas and flavours when cooked.

    Scaffolds are 3D structures that allow animal cells to differentiate and mature, forming what Lee called the “basic composition” of cultivated meat products.

    “Many researchers have been digging away to develop various bio-scaffolds that can afford livestock cells to produce 3D structured cultured meat,” co-author Jinkee Hong told BBC Science Focus.

    But most of these efforts focused on biological requirements instead of taste and texture, the elements consumers care about, according to Hong. “Because the final tissue… should be recognised as food, we believe technologies to regulate these organoleptic properties of cultured tissues should be studied.”

    The aroma chemicals in the pink-coloured gel “switch on” when cooked for five minutes at 150°C, releasing “grilled beef flavours” akin to the ones found after the Maillard reaction.

    And although the research was centred on adding meaty and savoury notes, the SFCs can be adapted to create different flavour profiles, such as the fattiness of a juicy rib-eye steak. The scientists tested three compounds and said they produced flavours replicating roasted meat, coffee, roasted nuts, onions and potatoes. “We can diversify and customise the flavour compounds released from the SFC,” Hong told New Scientist.

    “All the properties and characteristics of the product can be engineered according to needs,” Lee explained. “For example, if the consumers want the meat to have high protein but zero fat, cultured meat can be engineered to have these properties.”

    The researchers also plan to work towards an almost entirely animal-free process by replacing the gelatin (typically made from the bones, cartilage and skins of cattle, pigs and fish) used in the hydrogel.

    Potential to apply the research on food-safe substances

    yonsei university lab grown meat
    Courtesy: Jinkee Hong/Yonsei University

    Since the research focused on the science behind cultivated meat – rather than ways to commercialise it – the scientists used non-food-grade substances. It’s also why they used an electronic nose (e-nose) that mimics humans’ nosing system to test and compare the aromas of cultivated meat.

    “Because the materials and culture medium are not approved as edible materials, we cannot ensure the safety of it,” said Hong. “However, we think that our strategy can also be applied to conventional edible materials, which would be safer than the materials used in this study.”

    “Of course, it is not 100% identical to the conventional meat, but it has a meaty flavour and texture,” explained Lee. “But we believe that we can decrease this gap in the future by developing bio-scaffolds that can embody more meaty properties.”

    But Hong noted that there’s still a long way to go before such technologies can be commercialised, pointing to the industry’s scalability and cost challenges. Experts suggest that manufacturers have reduced cultivated meat’s cost by 99% in the last decade, but it would still take until at least 2030 for these proteins to reach price parity with conventional beef, chicken, pork, etc.

    “There are many researchers developing scaffolds for cultured meat production, but there is still a long way to go to achieve cultured meat that 100% replicates conventional meat,” Hong said.

    Lee added: “We believe that we can make significant contributions to the development of cultured meat, which can eventually benefit the global society.”

    This isn’t Yonsei University’s only research into novel ways to support the progress of these novel foods. In February, Hong, Lee and their colleagues created a hybrid variety of rice that contained cultivated beef and cow fat cells, and was coated with fish gelatin.

    Similar research comes from the Beijing Academy of Food Sciences’ China Meat Research Centre, whose team incorporated cultivated chicken and pork cells into grain varieties to produce rice dishes that release aromas of both meat and rice.

    The post Researchers Use Gelatin to Recreate Maillard Reaction for Tastier Cultivated Meat appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • aldi crownless pineapple
    6 Mins Read

    In our weekly column, we round up the latest news and developments in the alternative protein and sustainable food industry. This week, Future Food Quick Bites covers Aldi’s zero-waste pineapples, a Charli XCX-inspired marketing drive, and an open letter to Florida’s policymakers.

    New products and launches

    In its bid to cut food waste, German discount retailer Aldi is trialling a crownless pineapple in the UK’s Midlands, Yorkshire and North East. The crowns will be used to cultivate next year’s crop or converted into animal feed, saving around 1,4000 tonnes of food manually if rolled out across all stores nationwide.

    charli xcx brat
    Courtesy: Field Roast

    US plant-based meat brand Field Roast has kicked off a new marketing campaign inspired by Charli XCX‘s new album Brat. The company posted a photo of its sausages in a wrapper modelled after the album cover, asking the singer if this is what she meant when she said it’s a brat summer.

    Mycelium meat maker Mush Foods, whose 50Cut innovation is used in blended meat applications, has partnered with New York-based fast-casual chain Fieldtrip for the latter’s new Jerk Meatball Bowl. It combines the mushroom root meat with ground turkey, served over a bed of rice, alongside vegetables and coconut yoghurt.

    Californian vegan seafood producer ProFillet has created a prototype of a whole-cut plant-based whitefish that is on par with the nutritional credentials of its conventional counterpart.

    whole cut vegan fish
    Courtesy: Doug McNish/LinkedIn

    Following a successful launch in Europe last year, global food giant Bunge has released its BeLeaf PlantBetter butter for food manufacturers and bakers in North America. The spread is made from coconut oil, cocoa butter, rapeseed oil and lecithins.

    Meanwhile, dairy-free artisanal cheesemaker Climax Foodsblue cheese is now available online grocer Good Eggs.

    Also in the alt-dairy sector, US startup Credo Foods has introduced what it claims is the world’s first oat milk spray cheese, which is available on its website (and soon at HEB and Wegmans) in Cheddar and Smoky flavours.

    vegan pizza spain
    Courtesy: Väcka/Ditaly

    Spanish vegan cheese producer Väcka, meanwhile, has teamed up with local pizzeria chain Ditaly for its new La Gazpacha pizza, which uses the former’s melon seed Mözza and nut-based Fraïs with Basil offerings.

    In Japan, Misola Foods has launched what it calls the country’s first oat milk, which is suitable for both adults and children, given it matches conventional dairy on calcium (110mg per 100g). It comes in 196g cartons made from recyclable paper, with no straws included. A 24-pack costs ¥5,400 ($33.50).

    Fellow Japanese company Spiber – fresh from a $65M fundraise – has inked supply chain partnerships and project deals with Italian mills Marzotto, RD Gruppo Florence, and Filatura Papi Fabio to make materials from its fermentation-derived Brewed Protein.

    the moonbeam co
    Courtesy: The Moonbeam Co.

    And Singaporean upcycled food startup The Moonbeam Co. has rolled out Kopi Siew Dai Chocolate Chip Cookies made from spent coffee grounds exclusively at the Changi Airport‘s SATS Premier Lounge.

    Finance and company updates

    The Illinois Fermentation and Agriculture Biomanufacturing (iFAB) Tech Hub, which uses precision fermentation to turn corn and soy into high-value products, has secured a $51M Phase 2 implementation grant via the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. It follows the $680M it received from public and private entities upon its establishment in March.

    Denmark’s KMC, which makes potato-based food ingredients, has inaugurated a $14.5M, 5,000 sq m innovation centre to supply ingredients for plant-based foods.

    future food quick bites
    Courtesy: MATR Foods

    Fellow Danish company Novo Holdings, the holding company that owns Ozempic and Wegovy maker Novo Nordisk, has made an initial investment in Dutch fungi-based meat company MATR Foods to support its scale-up efforts.

    Speaking of Dutch meat analogue makers, there’s change at the helm at The Vegetarian Butcher, with CEO Hugo Verkuil taking a sabbatical. Global commercial director Rutger Rozendaal has been promoted to the top job at the Unilever-owned company.

    the vegetarian butcher
    Courtesy: The Vegetarian Butcher

    British entrepreneur Heather Mills, who owns VBites, has acquired plant-based marketplace Alternative Stores, which lists a multitude of vegan products and supports family businesses in launching their own brands.

    In more acquisition news, Ahimsa Companies – which recently acquired Wicked Kitchen, the parent company of Good Catch Foods – has bought a plant-based production facility from Gathered Foods, the former owner of Good Catch Foods.

    Pulse protein manufacturer Australian Plant Proteins has gone into voluntary administration, with local organisation Food Frontier suggesting that this is a result of a lack of government support for plant proteins, as opposed to an individual company’s failure.

    Policy and research developments

    Boston-based biotech startup Foray Bioscience, which uses plant cell cultures to make ‘plantless plants’, has closed a $3M seed funding round led by Australia’s ReGen Ventures to expand its predictive platform for plant cell diversity, develop new products, and expand its team.

    Germany’s federal court of justice, the Bundesgerichtshof, has ruled that confectionery company Katjes can’t call its fruit gummies ‘climate neutral’. The greenwashing ruling is expected to have a wider impact on food labelling and advertising, with businesses not allowed to use such terms without explaining why.

    katjes fruit gummies
    Courtesy: Katjes

    The Vegan Society of Aotearoa and the NZ Vegetarian Society have jointly petitioned the New Zealand government to implement more stringent labelling regulations to prevent confusion stemming from the use of terms like ‘plant-based’ and ‘less dairy’ on products that contain animal ingredients.

    How can cultivated meat become more sustainable? The answer may lie in using microalgae as a culture medium to provide glucose, instead of grains like corn and wheat, according to researchers at Tokyo Women’s Medical University‘s Institute of Advanced Biomedical Engineering and Science.

    Austria is doubling down on its anti-cultivated-meat stance, railing against the innovation using a study commissioned by the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry in the Carinthia region finding that 90% of respondents don’t want to eat these proteins, and 82% would support a ban.

    lab grown meat austria
    Courtesy: Alexander Tengg/Kleine Zeitung

    Ahead of the Olympic Games in Paris later this month, welfare group Animal Equality has launched a petition calling for foie gras to be removed from the menu, which has gained over 42,000 signatures. At this year’s event, 60% of food is set to be meat-free.

    Finally, with Florida having officially banned cultivated meat last week, Canadian cellular agriculture investor Cult Food Science has written an open letter to the state’s leaders, stating that the “harmful” move relies on “misinformation and trying to slant the public discourse in a negative way”.

    Check out last week’s Future Food Quick Bites.

    The post Future Food Quick Bites: Crownless Pineapples, Spent Coffee Cookies & A Brat Summer appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • nestle blended meat
    4 Mins Read

    Nestlé has introduced Maggi Rindecarne, a plant-based meat product meant to be blended with conventional beef, in Chile.

    The blended meat category continues to expand, with the world’s largest food company now jumping onto the trend with a plant-based ‘meat extender’.

    Launched under its Maggi brand, Nestlé’s new innovation is called Rindecarne, and is essentially seasoned soy protein that comes in minced form to pair with animal-derived meat.

    Unlike other blended meat products – which lead with taste credentials – Nestlé’s pitch for this offering is affordability. This is outlined by the fact that this meat extender is currently available in Chile, where the wealth gap has been a major contributor to social inequality for years.

    Turning two servings into four

    maggi rindecarne
    Courtesy: Nestlé

    The Maggie Rindecarne has a base of soy protein, soy and wheat flours, and sodium glutamate, with natural flavours and other taste agents like garlic, beetroot, paprika, sugar, pepper, salt, and citric acid. It also has canola oil and natural caramel colouring.

    Nestlé says the mix of soy and spices allows for a seamless blend of Rindecarne with minced beef in a range of dishes, doubling the amount of servings “at an affordable price”. This message has headlined its marketing around the product too, with social media posts showing how the blended meat can turn two burger patties and two bowls of spaghetti Bolognese into four each.

    But while it is doubling down on the affordability aspect, Nestlé isn’t ignoring the importance of taste and health either, noting how a dish prepared with Maggi Rindecarne “retains its nutritional value without compromising on taste”.

    Each serving has 5.2g of protein and only 0.4g of fat (with a minimal amount being saturated). The product is described as “versatile and customisable”, and can be used in a range of dishes like burgers, kebabs, meatballs, pastel de choclo and German meat pies, as well as meat toppers and fillings in lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese, and tacos.

    “Our team of experts and chefs developed a tailored solution which brings an equivalent amount of protein in an affordable way to consumers in Latin America,” said Swen Rabe, head of Nestlé’s Product and Technology Center for Food.

    As Rindecarne is a dried product, it needs to be reconstituted by soaking in water for 15 minutes, and then being added to ground beef. “Our innovation ensures the familiar taste and texture of mincemeat, is shelf-stable and easy to use,” added Rabe.

    This isn’t Nestlé’s first innovation that combines plant and animal proteins. In 2022, it piloted a shelf-stable plant protein blend to complement egg dishes in Latin America. And last year, the company developed a blended milk beverage with dairy and soy milk for Central and West Africa.

    Blended meat gathers steam

    nestle hybrid meat
    Courtesy: Nestlé

    Nestlé’s decision to introduce blended meat in Chile is a shrewd one. The country’s citizens are reducing their animal intake, mainly due to health and cost concerns.

    An Ipsos survey in collaboration with local organisation Fundación Veg (formerly Vegetarianos Hoy) found that 75% of Chileans reduced their consumption of red meat last year. Among those who were cutting back on animal products, 31% cited health reasons and 14% blamed high prices.

    The importance of the latter has grown over the last few years, with 14% of respondents who haven’t reduced their animal intake saying they’d consider doing so because of their cost, a six-point increase from 2021.

    Another poll by the two organisations found that 73% of Chileans would eat plant-based products if they are equal to or better than their animal counterparts on the nutrition front. Likewise, 72% would buy vegan analogues that have similar or lower prices.

    Blended meat is being touted as a game-changer for meat reduction efforts. A sensory analysis published last month showed that most plant-based products don’t satisfy omnivores, but the only product that came within one point in average liking of a conventional burger was the Both Burger by 50/50 Foods, which blends beef with an equal amount of vegetables.

    The Both Burger’s success can be underlined by the fact that it is now available in Disneyland. It’s among a host of companies offering blended meat: Phil’s Finest has been doing well ever since it found success on Shark Tank (as Misfit Foods), and Mush Foods’ mycelium-based 50Cut is now part of a blended burger by meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda. Perdue Farms’ Chicken Plus range, which combines chicken with The Better Meat Co‘s mycelium meat, has been one of the most successful stories in the space.

    The category’s potential has attracted plant-based companies too. Australia’s Harvest B launched its blended meat lineup in April, while UK meat-free market leader Quorn announced last month that it will offer its mycoprotein to foodservice and hospital caterers across the country for use in blended pork and beef dishes.

    “Once upon a time, we were effectively competing with the meat industry – only making products that were alternatives to theirs, and encouraging people to switch,” Quorn CEO Marco Bertacca told Green Queen. “We now find ourselves collaborating to offer less-meat options to consumers who are looking to reduce meat consumption, but not eat vegetarian or vegan meals.”

    He added: “This represents the majority of people, and so it is a massive opportunity to decarbonise part of the food system and improve public health.”

    The post Nestlé Enters Blended Meat Space with Soy-Based ‘Meat Extender’ appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • redefine meat flank steak
    4 Mins Read

    Redefine Meat has released its 3D-printed vegan flank steak in retail stores in the UK and Switzerland, with the Netherlands soon to follow.

    Israeli food tech startup Redefine Meat has brought its 3D-printed flank steak to retail locations in Europe, starting with the UK and Switzerland.

    It follows a successful foodservice rollout in over nine countries, with the plant-based meat now available at Ocado in the UK and Coop in Switzerland. People in the Netherlands will also be able to buy the flank steak shortly in Jumbo, Albert Heijn and Crisp, while Germany and Italy are set to adopt it too.

    “We’ve expanded our Redefine Meat offering to Ocado customers by launching the first premium-quality plant-based steak in the Ocado range,” said Zee Ahmad, senior buyer of frozen food at Ocado. “We’ve been pleased with the performance since the launch in late 2023 and are really happy with the glowing shopper reviews.”

    A patented process to deliver superior taste and texture

    3d printed meat
    Courtesy: Redefine Meat/Green Queen

    One of Redefine Meat’s flagship products, the whole-cut beef flank steak is positioned as a premium, chef-led product that the brand claims has won plaudits from both industry professionals and consumers of all dietary preferences.

    It is part of the Rehovot-based startup’s ‘new-meat’ range, a moniker it uses to differentiate the average plant-based meat from its more high-end version. Launched in 2021, the products are now available in more than 4,000 foodservice locations across Europe, as well as in British, Swiss, French and Dutch retail.

    The Redefine Meat Flank Steak is made from a base of wheat, soy and potato protein, complemented by soy and wheat flours, rapeseed oil, cornstarch, natural flavourings, maltodextrin, barley malt, salt, and colourings.

    The company employs a patented additive manufacturing process – more commonly known as 3D printing – at its factory in the Netherlands. The technology gives it a meatier flavour and lends the fibrous texture so devoured by meat-eaters.

    It has termed the process ‘Plant-Based Tissue Engineering’, a nod to how it disintegrates textured vegetable protein (TVP) into fibres and blends them with a dough made from soy or pea protein isolates. “This approach allows the projection of the meat-like texture of TVP, but in a flexible manner, and in a scalable manner,” the startup explained in a white paper released earlier this year.

    “The muscle component is reassembled to mimic the anisotropic fibrous structure of beef, while the fat component is engineered through lipid encapsulation within a hydrocolloid matrix,” it added.

    Doing so plays into consumer demand for better taste and texture in plant-based meat. The steak has been endorsed by leading chefs like Marco Pierre-White and Ron Blaauw, while a 10-country survey last year found that taste is the most important aspect of vegan analogues for 53% of Europeans. Globally, the texture of plant-based meat is as important as their conventional counterparts for 75% of consumers, but only about 60% are actually satisfied with it.

    Alleviating health and climate concerns

    redefine meat
    Courtesy: Redefine Meat

    Redefine Meat’s steak also speaks to a growing consciousness around health and nutrition. A survey released this week shows that while a pleasurable sensory experience is the top driver of food choices in Europe (chosen by 87% of respondents), health isn’t too far behind (81%). This is the main reason behind Europeans eating less meat too.

    The 3D-printed steak is packed with 25g of protein per serving (100g), has 3g of fibre and zero cholesterol. It has a Nutri-Score rating of A, something that is important to many European shoppers. And as plant-based meats go, it also has a relatively clean label.

    Plus, there’s the environmental benefit. Over 80% of global consumers say they’ve changed their diet in the last two years, with 43% doing so because of climate concerns. The most common change was a cutback in red meat intake, reported by 39% of people.

    Beef is the most polluting food on the planet. But a life-cycle assessment has shown that Redefine Meat’s steak consumes up to 96% less water, uses 98% less use, and emits 91% fewer emissions than a conventional burger.

    “When we founded Redefine Meat six years ago, we had a bold and seemingly impossible target of launching a premium-quality steak for mass consumers to buy and cook at home,” said Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, co-founder and CEO of the company.

    “Having focused much of our journey to date on refining our products to meet the quality standards of the highest echelons of the culinary world, we’re proud to bring the fruits of this labour directly to consumers through our best-in-class retail partners,” he added.

    The retail debut for the flank steak comes months after the company brought its products to 650 new restaurants during Veganuary across Europe, as part of an accelerated expansion drive. Last month, it introduced its lamb kofta mix, pulled beef, pulled pork, burgers, beef mince and bratwurst in German retail via e-tailer Velivery.

    The post New Meat: Redefine Meat Debuts 3D-Printed Flank Steak in European Retail appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • oatly ef pro cycling
    6 Mins Read

    In our weekly column, we round up the latest news and developments in the alternative protein and sustainable food industry. This week, Future Food Quick Bites covers 7Up’s new vegan sauces, a bunch of plant-based milk facilities, and layoffs at Ginkgo Bioworks.

    New products and launches

    Soft-drink brand 7Up has introduced a three-strong lineup of vegan BBQ sauces in the UK: a Zesty Mayo, a Zesty Hot Sauce, and a Tangy Salad Dressing. The limited-edition range is only available at several pop-up locations across the country.

    7up bbq sauce
    Courtesy: 7Up

    UK natural foods company Kallø has added three organic tomato-based dips to its portfolio in lentil, olive and spicy variants, which are available on Ocado for £3 per 135g jar,

    Indonesian plant-based meat leader Green Rebel has launched Korean BBQ slices in its home market, as well as Malaysia. The frozen product contains zero trans fat, and is made from a base of soy and wheat protein.

    Indian vegan startup Plantaway has unveiled a chicken fillet SKU made with pea protein. It boasts 19g of protein per pack of two, and is available on its e-store and Swiggy and Zomato in select cities for ₹399 ($4.78).

    plantaway chicken
    Courtesy: Plantaway

    In the US, Crafty Counter has launched its vegan Deviled WunderEggs at Whole Foods locations nationwide. Each pack comes with a ready-to-mix filling sachet made with Fabalish Foods‘ aquafaba mayo.

    In Healdsburg, California, chefs Kyle Connaughton and Daniel Humm of three-Michelin-starred restaurants SingleThread and Eleven Madison Park, respectively, will host a 10-course, fully plant-based dinner featuring local produce. Reservations start at an eye-popping $486 per person.

    Oatly has inked a multi-year sponsorship deal with US cycling team EF Pro Cycling, which will see the oat milk giant become the Official Performance Partner of the women’s and men’s teams, as well as the title sponsor of the former (which will be known as EF-Oatly-Cannondale). The training camps of the team – which is currently at the Tour de France – will now be called Oatly Performance Camps.

    violife creamy block
    Courtesy: Violife

    Meanwhile, vegan cheese giant Violife has released what it says is Canada’s first dairy-free cream cheese block. The Creamy Block is available at retailers nationwide, including Save-On-Foods and Longo’s, and will continue to be rolled out at select Loblaws banner stores.

    Chilean food tech startup NotCo has introduced a line of vegan protein shakes in Brazil, with flavours including banana pancakes with cinnamon, strawberry with dates, as well as chocolate, coffee caramel, and vanilla with coconut.

    And in Europe, Slovenian whole-cut plant-based meat maker Juicy Marbles has secured a foodservice listing with MTNV in Germany for a revamped version of its controversial ribs (which feature edible bones).

    Finance and company updates

    Two years after announcing the move, Lactalis – the world’s largest dairy company – has reopened a former dairy manufacturing plant in Sudbury, Canada as a plant-based milk factory for its new brand Enjoy.

    enjoy plant based milk
    Courtesy: Enjoy

    SunOpta – the food supplier behind plant-based milk dairy brands Dream, Sown and West Life – has invested $26M in a new oat milk facility in Modesto, California. The second-largest expansion in company history, it will allow SunOpta to increase the production of oat milk bases for milk, yoghurts and ice creams by 60%.

    In more manufacturing news, New Zealand oat milk maker Otis has opened a purpose-built facility in East Auckland, allowing the company to finally move production locally after five years of operations in Sweden.

    Following a 37 million kroner ($5.3M) grant – which includes state funding – Danish food company Palsgaard is seeking partners to participate in its Plant-based Ingredients for Egg Replacers (PIER) project to develop vegan alternatives to fresh and dried egg ingredients, in partnership with Aarhus University and R&D firm Nexus.

    plant based news
    Courtesy: Palsgaard

    The UC Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET) has received a two-year grant worth $800,000 from Open Philanthropy, which will support programmes under its Alternative Meats Lab, where student researchers will explore sustainable food solutions.

    NASDAQ-listed synthetic biology firm Ginkgo Bioworks – the parent company of Motif Foodworks – has initiated a round of layoffs, with 35% of its workforce expected to be let go by June 2025. The move is expected to cost the company $12M, and it further plans to consolidate its facilities.

    Speaking of public listings, Canada’s Above Food is now trading on the NASDAQ following a merger with Bite Acquisition Corp, days after it acquired Spanish plant-based meat brand Brotalia (trading as Foody’s).

    future food quick bites
    Courtesy: Sant’Anna School

    In Italy, the Sant’Anna School and its Institute of Plant Sciences will contribute to an ongoing two-year-long project funded by the Ministry of University and Research-European Union to boost the production of plant proteins like beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.

    In Singapore, Cellivate Technologies – a startup making cell-based solutions for cultivated meat, leather and cosmetics – nabbed the biggest investment on Channel News Asia‘s reality show The Big Spark, with S$4.15M ($3.05M) in potential funding from five VCs.

    Policy and research developments

    A judge in Oklahoma has ruled that the Plant Based Foods Association has no standing to challenge a vegan meat labelling law, stating that the organisation failed to show that its members – including Tofurky – face a credible prosecution threat, because the Meat Consumer Protection Act only applies to those who sell meat.

    Meanwhile, following a change in consumption taxes this April, plant-based milk sales declined by 7% in the Netherlands. The new law increased the VAT on milk alternatives, but not conventional milk, which meant the former has become 12 cents more expensive, while the latter is now four cents cheaper.

    milk tax
    Graphic by Green Queen

    Also in the Netherlands, two more supermarkets – SPAR and Picnic – have joined animal rights organisation Wakker Dier‘s pledge to have half of all proteins sold be plant-based by 2025, with the share increasing to 60% by the end of the decade.

    A YouGov survey on behalf of the Good Food Institute Europe has revealed that 68% of Italians believe plant-based companies should be able to use meat-related terms on product packaging. It follows Italy’s announcement that it was reconsidering its labelling ban, which was imposed alongside its cultivated meat ban in November.

    Finally, after all the brouhaha about plant-based meat, UPFs and heart health recently, a new review has found that when directly compared to animal-based meat, vegan analogues consistently lower cardiovascular disease risks.

    Check out last week’s Future Food Quick Bites.

    The post Future Food Quick Bites: 7Up Sauces, Plant Milk Factories & Heart Health appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • oatly carbon footprint label
    4 Mins Read

    Swedish oat milk giant Oatly set up a soft-serve truck next to a legacy ice cream event hosted on Capital Hill to raise awareness about Big Dairy’s role in the climate crisis.

    As Americans walked up to Capitol Hill for some free ice cream last month, an unexpected van was parked across the street, ready to spoil the party.

    Dubbed the Dairy Deprogramming Zone, the yellow truck belonged to Oatly, serving as an alternative to the International Dairy Foods Association’s (IDFA) 40th annual Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party in Washington, DC (June 12).

    Marked with statistics about Oatly’s climate credentials, the truck was dishing out Oatly’s plant-based soft-serve and offering “delicious liberation from dairy propaganda” during what was the National Dairy Month.

    “We showed up on Capitol Hill to expose the decades-long influence by Big Dairy on our government and, in turn, the American people,” said Pearson Croney-Clark, public affairs manager for the oat milk giant. “The negative impacts of the dairy industry on our climate are significant and can’t be ignored.”

    oatly ice cream
    Courtesy: Jess Rapfogel

    Fighting the dairy checkoff

    Oatly’s move was a direct response to the National Dairy Checkoff programme, an industry-funded initiative that charges dairy farmers levies that go towards promotional efforts, research and nutrition education related to dairy products.

    Between 2016 and 2022, the programme spent $1.6B on marketing, shaping public perceptions of dairy’s environmental impact, and at times overshadowing scientific facts that call for reduced dairy consumption to meet our climate targets.

    The bright yellow truck was populated with facts that underlined the climate footprint of the dairy industry, noting how producing a gallon of milk in the US requires 144 gallons of water – 93% of this water is used to grow feed for cattle. In comparison, Oatly’s Original oat milk needs 80% less water to produce in the US, and has a 49% lower climate impact.

    The truck stood out against the backdrop of the IDFA’s event, topped with a large ice cream cone wrapped in a hypnosis-like label to depict “brainwashing” on the part of the dairy sector. Doubling down on this, the truck featured the phrase “deprogramming while you wait”, with ice cream cups labelled “Look! Another free-thinker trying dairy-free.”

    capitol hill ice cream party
    Courtesy: Jess Rapfogel

    “Moving away from meat and dairy is one of the easiest ways Americans can lower their climate footprints, but because the dairy lobby is not transparent about the impacts of their products, many people don’t understand the true role that the industry plays in our climate crisis,” said Croney-Clark.

    Matthew Glover, co-founder of Veganuary and British plant-based company Vegan Food Group, has previously revealed that he’s working on a checkoff programme for the vegan industry with Indy Kaur, founder of vegan consultancy firm Plant Futures, which will take “best practices from the meat and dairy industry”.

    “We are looking to level up with this, consolidate funding and create a campaign which can fairly compete and give consumers a reason to choose to eat plants and not animals,” he told Green Queen in February.

    Oatly calls for dairy carbon footprints

    Oatly – a brand known for its bold, unconventional marketing – has been stepping up its efforts to tackle greenwashing and carbon transparency.

    Livestock accounts for 31% of the US’s methane emissions, thanks largely to beef and dairy cattle. “Science clearly shows that to achieve the greenhouse gas reduction targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement and President Biden’s commitment to the Global Methane Pledge, consumption of industrially produced meat and dairy must decline,” Croney-Clark said.

    Last year, it made a big splash after calling on the UK dairy industry to introduce mandatory carbon labelling on product packaging. To support the effort, it offered free ad space to dairy producers in the UK, challenging them to display their carbon footprint next to Oatly’s on a billboard.

    The Capital Hill ice cream stunt was an extension of that, marking the oat milk maker’s intention international ambitions with this campaign. “We put our climate footprint number right on the front of our packaging, and we’re calling on dairy companies as well as all other food companies to do the same. This would allow Americans to make educated and informed decisions about the impact of their food choices.,” said Croney-Clark.

    dairy checkoff
    Courtesy: Jess Rapfogel

    “We must shift our food system now to protect the health of our planet and everyone on it. Through our Dairy Deprogramming effort today and our call for climate labelling on food packaging, we’re working to give Americans the transparency they deserve.”

    Fellow oat milk brand Minor Figures (based in London), similarly launched a Dairy Disloyalty campaign in six US cities, encouraging coffee drinkers to switch to plant-based milk in participating cafés, rewarding them with bowling shirts and one grand prize in the form of a customised La Marzocco espresso machine.

    North America makes up 34% of Oatly’s revenue, which was up by 9.7% year-over-year in the ambient section in Q1 this year (chilled sales also rose by 1.5%) in this region. This was thanks in part to Oatly’s new Super Basic and Unsweetened oat milk SKUs, a four-strong line of coffee creamers, as well as a partnership with Minor League Baseball.

    The post Dairy Deprogramming: Oatly Crashes Big Dairy’s Ice Cream Party on Capitol Hill appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • florida bans lab grown meat
    5 Mins Read

    In three days, selling cultivated meat will be a felony in Florida – to celebrate food freedom, though, Upside Foods served its chicken at a pre-ban party in Miami.

    On Thursday evening, at a rooftop in Miami, Upside Foods served customers some forbidden chicken.

    Forbidden, that is, from Monday, July 1, when Florida’s ban on cultivated meat comes into effect. Announced in May by the liberal-elite-hating mayor Ron DeSantis, the law will make a second-degree misdemeanour to manufacture, transport, commercialise or sell cultivated meat.

    “Take your fake lab-grown meat elsewhere. We’re not doing that in the state of Florida,” said DeSantis.

    But just to show Floridians what their state is forcing them to miss out on, Upside Foods took its meat straight to its capital. The pre-ban event featured recipes from Miami chef, restauranteur and TV personality Mika Leon, with drinks from mixologist Gio Gutierrez.

    florida banning lab grown meat
    Courtesy: Upside Foods

    The tasting was free of charge, which Upside Foods said was the first time cultivated meat has been offered to the public at no cost. This was deliberate. “We wanted to give as many people as possible the opportunity to taste cultivated meat in Florida before it’s banned,” the company’s COO, Amy Chen, told Green Queen.

    The first-come, first-served event fed cultivated chicken to around 100 people, giving them the last “taste of freedom” before these novel proteins are officially prohibited in the state.

    “The goal of this pop-up event is to provide Floridians with the opportunity to taste cultivated meat before it’s banned,” said Chen. “What’s more, we strongly believe that cultivated meat is an important part of our food future in Miami, Florida, and beyond. This event aims to celebrate and advocate for food freedom, innovation, and Florida’s potential to contribute to a growing industry and help shape the future of food.”

    The menu at Florida’s pre-ban party

    So how did Upside Foods present its chicken? Leon cooked up tostadas with the chicken made a la Plancha con Sazón, topping a corn tostada and accompanying avocado, chipotle crema, beet sprouts, and fresh lime zest.

    “Chef Mika leans heavily into her Cuban roots and Miami culinary favourites to create beautiful, delicious, seasonal dishes and honour Caribbean traditions,” said Chen. “For our event, she used that lens to create a variety of vegetarian offerings in addition to her UPSIDE Chicken Tostada with house-made Sazón, avocado, and crema.”

    Additionally, her restaurant Caje Caliente also catered some dishes. “Having had the opportunity to work with UPSIDE’s cultivated chicken, I can attest that their products are delicious,” said Leon.

    “From appearance to aroma and taste, their products provide the same experience you’d expect from chicken. As a chef, I love the idea of preserving the foods we love while using innovation to figure out ways to create a better future of food,” she added.

    What’s next for Upside Foods?

    florida lab grown meat ban
    Courtesy: UPSIDE Foods/Canva AI/Green Queen

    The event was co-hosted by the Brick and Timber Collective, a leading real estate company with properties in Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles. “The state’s ban on cultivated meat is short-sighted and damaging to its tech ecosystem,” said Jesse Feldman, a partner at the firm.

    “This policy not only affects cultivated meat but also stifles progress in biotech, life sciences, and other innovative industries that can thrive here. Opposing such policies is crucial to protect Florida and Miami as vibrant tech hubs,” he added.

    Upside Foods co-founder and CEO Uma Valeti agreed. “This law disregards food safety experts, limits consumer choice, and stifles American innovation. It’s a setback for progress, job creation, and Florida’s potential in a new industry,” he said. “We believe in a future where everyone has access to delicious food options, and this event is our way of showcasing what’s possible.”

    lab grown chicken meat
    Courtesy: Upside Foods

    A host of other states are deliberating restrictions on cultivated meat, from Arizona, Texas and Tennessee in the south, to Nebraska in the midwest and Wisconsin in the Great Lakes. Chen noted that any legislation that “discriminates against cultivated meat” is “disappointing”, whether it’s a ban, defamatory labelling (calling it ‘lab-grown meat’, for example), or research limitations.

    “We hope that the Florida legislature will revisit and reverse this legislation in their next session. Either way, these bans are unconstitutional, and we’re confident that the courts will ultimately restore food freedom for Floridians,” she said.

    A week after DeSantis signed the bill in Florida, Alabama followed through with its own ban, threatening $500 in fines and up to three months in jail if you manufacture, sell or distribute cultivated meat. This will take effect on October 1. Asked if Upside Foods intends to host a similar public tasting in Alabama, Chen said: “Nothing is planned at the moment.”

    Apart from the legislative mess, cultivated meat has also had its fair share of financial challenges, following a steep 75% dip in investment, reaching $226M in 2023. As of Q1 2024, startups in the space have only raised $12M. Upside Foods itself decided to pause construction on the commercial-scale facility it announced in September, laying off some employees to double investment in its existing pilot plant instead.

    “The next chapter for us is focused on scale and commercialisation,” Chen said. Hinting at the future, she added: “We’re looking forward to bringing our next-generation products to market, pending regulatory clearance, and are excited that more consumers will have the chance to experience the future of food.”

    The post Here’s What Upside Foods Served at the Pre-Ban Cultivated Meat Party in Florida appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • quorn blended meat
    7 Mins Read

    Quorn Foods is entering the blended meat category as part of foodservice and hospital offerings – its CEO Marco Bertacca explains why the mycoprotein giant is doing so.

    British meat-free leader Quorn Foods’ mycoprotein will be mixed with conventional meat as part of a new line of blended meat products for foodservice operators, including at the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) hospitals.

    The supplier will provide its fungi-based protein to catering companies, which will combine it with beef and pork to develop staples like burgers and sausages. As part of Quorn’s evolution from a business that sought to “help a few people eat no meat” to one that “helps everyone eat less meat”, the blended meat products will be available before the end of the year.

    As first reported by the Grocer, neither the finished products nor the menus will feature the Quorn brand name, instead containing a reference to the use of mycoprotein. The Monde Nissin-owned alternative protein giant’s involvement ends at the supply stage.

    Blended meat has been around for a while, and its popularity has risen sharply over the last 12 months, with a host of startups coming up with their own products or providing plant- or fungi-based ingredients to established players in the meat industry.

    However, this marks a major shift in the space: Quorn is a legacy brand and the market leader in the UK’s meatless category, but its sales – like the wider industry – have been suffering. To diversify and rejuvenate its offerings, the company launched its Marlow Ingredients division last year to supply mycoprotein to makers of meat and dairy analogues.

    Now, it is taking a step further with the blended meat move, aiming straight for the UK’s burgeoning flexitarian population, which accounts for between 14-25% of the total. “If we can bring new people on the meat reduction journey with us, no matter which way they join, then that is only a good thing for the health of people and the planet,” Quorn CEO Marco Bertacca tells Green Queen.

    “To create the change the planet needs, we have to find new ways to reduce meat consumption,” he adds, noting that the new blended meat products are “about providing solutions for everyone”.

    Quorn’s blended meat holds multi-pronged benefits for the NHS

    nhs vegan
    Courtesy: Department of Health and Social Care

    Bertacca argues that the reduction in meat and dairy isn’t happening fast enough, or with enough scale. The UK’s Climate Change Committee says animal consumption needs to be cut by 20% by 2030, although activists are urging as much as a 70% decline.

    “Our mycoprotein can help solve two global problems – climate change and human obesity,” he says, suggesting that blended meat is just one example of Quorn’s updated mandate. The idea is to replace 100% core meat items on the menu with the mycoprotein blends.

    “We are still in the development stages of our catering partnerships, but we are working with one of the largest catering companies in the world and their production partners, and the opportunity will see us feed millions of consumers every day with these options,” says Bertacca.

    A major example is the NHS, the UK’s biggest employer, and one that feeds thousands of patients every day. “The multiple benefits this will deliver: fewer carbon emissions going into the atmosphere, as well as less saturated fat, less cholesterol, and more fibre going into their patients’ and employees’ diets,” he explains. “It is vital that we offer the right choices to patients and staff within a healthcare setting, serving great, nutritious food.”

    One modelling study shows that a ‘plant-based by default’ approach could save the NHS £74M annually, with significant household savings too if patients are supported in making dietary shifts. Similar research by the Office of Health Economics estimated that if England were to adopt a completely plant-based diet, the NHS would see a net benefit of up to £18.8B a year.

    Targeting flexitarians and contending with the climate

    blended meat study
    Courtesy: Nectar

    A sensory analysis published earlier this week showed that most plant-based products don’t satisfy omnivores (or flexitarians), except for chicken nuggets. But the only product that came within one point in average liking of a conventional burger was the Both Burger by 50/50 Foods, which blends beef with an equal amount of vegetables.

    “Taste is a primary purchase driver for all food products. If blended meats can offer better taste profiles for omnivores today, they have a significant role to play in the protein transition,” Caroline Cotto, director of Nectar – which carried out the research – told Green Queen.

    “Once upon a time, we were effectively competing with the meat industry – only making products that were alternatives to theirs, and encouraging people to switch. Of course, we still offer these products, but as human knowledge has evolved, businesses are evolving, including ours,” says Quorn’s Bertacca.

    “We now find ourselves collaborating to offer less-meat options to consumers who are looking to reduce meat consumption, but not eat vegetarian or vegan meals. This represents the majority of people, and so it is a massive opportunity to decarbonise part of the food system and improve public health,” he adds.

    Blended meats can have a sizeable impact on emissions reduction. Research shows that replacing just half of our meat consumption with plant-based can lower agricultural and land use emissions by 31%, and effectively halt deforestation. Australian startup Harvest B, which unveiled its blended meat lineup in April, says its products have a 46% lower carbon footprint than conventional meat.

    Quorn says its mycoprotein generates 55 times fewer emisisons than beef, and 13 times fewer than pork. “Serving food to millions of people every day means the scale of the opportunity is huge. This will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of their menus, and so help them achieve their climate targets,” states Bertacca.

    “The potential is huge for our customers. We are supporting them by providing Quorn to create lower environmental impact menus than they currently serve.”

    Taste credentials could help blended meat – and alternative proteins

    quorn sales
    Courtesy: Quorn

    Earlier attempts – like Tyson Foods’ Raised & Rooted or Aldi’s BBQ Flexitarian Burger – failed to put blended meat on the map. There were multiple reasons behind this: the labelling was all wrong, the taste wasn’t satisfactory enough, and the timing just wasn’t right.

    Recent innovations are looking more promising. 50/50 Foods’ Both Burger is now on the menu at Disneyland, Phil’s Finest has been progressing well for years, after finding success on Shark Tank (under its former name Misfit Foods), and Mush Foods’ mycelium-based 50Cut is now part of a blended burger developed by meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda.

    One of the most successful products in this space is Perdue Farms’ Chicken Plus range, which combines chicken with The Better Meat Co‘s mycelium meat. “When you look at Perdue’s offering, it talks about getting kids to eat veggies without having to sneak it in. They are clear on their target market – parents who are dying to figure out how to get their kids to eat vegetables – state a clear value proposition, and stay true to the format and offering their target market wants and needs,” Steve Molino, principal at Florida VC firm Clear Current Capital, told Green Queen last year.

    Even McDonald’s chicken nuggets technically fall under the blended meat category. “Assuming that blended companies can create products that taste good, it will simply come down to traditional food business fundamentals,” Molino added.

    This is what Bertacca alludes to as well. “There have been attempts to make products like burgers and sausages with a blend of meat and plant-based ingredients like soya and pea protein, but the products have not delivered,” he says. “The partners we are working with tell us that Quorn is by far the best meat alternative for this application, because of our unique mycoprotein and its meat-like texture.”

    Alternative proteins have had it tough in the last couple of years, with a downturn in investment, a decline in sales, and an uptick in misinformation. Could blended meat renew enthusiasm for the category, and push more people to eat less meat, and eventually more plant-based? That would certainly be Quorn’s goal.

    “Yes, the category, like many others, has seen a slowdown, but we must not forget that comes against the backdrop of many consecutive years of incredible growth in meat-free eating,” Bertacca points out.

    “Now is the time to start talking about the solutions we can achieve together as an industry, rather than focusing on the challenges.”

    The post Quorn CEO on Blended Meat: ‘It Doesn’t Matter How People Join the Meat Reduction Journey’ appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • michelin precision fermentation
    5 Mins Read

    French dairy giant Danone is part of a consortium that aims to scale up precision fermentation via a new open platform – in an interview, the company explains its thinking behind the move.

    Danone aims to ramp up its innovation cycle and drive down its emissions with the new Biotech Open Platform it announced earlier this month, the company tells Green Queen.

    Established in partnership with tyre manufacturer Michelin (yes, that one), local investment bank Crédit Agricole and US startup DMC Biotechnologies, the initiative looks to scale up fermentation technologies – particularly precision fermentation – to create bio-sourced materials and ingredients for multiple industries.

    Housed at the Parc Cataroux Center for Sustainable Materials in Clermont-Ferrand (an accelerator supported by Michelin), the project has been infused with €16M ($17.1M) in its first phase. The Biotech Open Platform is also backed by public and private institutions like the University of Clermont Auvergne, biotech startup Greentech, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and the Clermont Auvergne Métropole.

    “For more than 100 years, Danone has been pioneering and leveraging ferments and fermentation technology to bring nutrition and taste to our product categories,” a Danone spokesperson says.

    “By joining forces with top industry experts across categories, connecting with the food startup ecosystem as well as the academic world, we will be able to accelerate our innovation and decarbonisation projects, and drive competitive advantage with precision fermentation,” they add.

    Precision fermentation will ‘continue to grow’

    danone precision fermentation
    Courtesy: Danone

    The Biotech Open Platform will enable the scale-up of precision-fermented products and processes already tested in the library, with plans to install an initial demo-scale production line (including a fermenter and purification equipment) by next year.

    More equipment – and a second production line – will be introduced in the following years, which will allow the project to meet the scale-up needs of the founding companies and open it up to others in the industrial biomanufacturing sector.

    “This open platform will start with a first pilot line and pending capacity demand or new needs in this field, there will be options to increase the capacity and equipment,” says the Danone representative. “Precision fermentation will bring new sources of proteins and ingredients to consumers seeking nutritious and tasty products with limited environmental impact.”

    plant based investment
    Courtesy: GFI

    The maker of fermentation-based brands and products like Activia, Actimel, Alpro, Oikos, Silk and YoPro, Danone made €27.6B ($29.5B) in sales last year. During the same period, sales of alternative proteins have fluctuated, as has investment. But while fermentation companies raised $515M (much less than the $907M brought in by plant-based startups), things are looking different this year.

    By the first quarter of 2024, fermentation-derived protein startups had already raised $228M, dwarfing plant-based investments ($58M). And this is before you include later rounds like Meati’s $100M Series C, Onega Bio’s $40M Series A, and Enifer’s $16M Series B. In Europe, too, fermentation companies witnessed a 12-fold increase in financing since 2020 to reach $76M last year.

    So for a giant like Danone to bank on precision fermentation is a sign of the technology’s potential. “Precision fermentation has been used for decades in the pharmaceutical industry and it’s now transitioning to numerous fields of application such as food, feed, and cosmetics,” the company says. “Thanks to its efficiency and positive environmental impact, the technology will only continue to grow in the future.”

    No alt-meat on the cards, but project not limited to dairy either

    precision fermentation
    Courtesy: Imagindairy

    With one of the largest ferment libraries in the world, with 4,000 strains identified, Danone has a pedigree in fermentation like few others. It has previously also invested in Israeli precision fermentation dairy startup Imagindairy.

    The Biotech Open Platform is currently focused on industrial or ‘white biotechnology’. “White biotechnologies encompass a wide range of industries, such as the food and chemical industries, that produce raw materials used in many sectors such as materials, agri-food and agronomy,” the company’s spokesperson explains.

    They add that the partnership with Michelin, DMC Biotechnologies and Crédit Agricole was established through close connections between the companies, which share the same mindset and are looking to explore biotech solutions that can lower their environmental impact, encourage biosourcing, and enable sustainable development.

    Danone, with a 2050 net-zero plan, has long been an ESG leader – it’s one of the only top food companies to have its climate goals approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), has a methane reduction target in line with the Global Methane Pledge, and has been highlighted as an example of good practice in the sector by investor network FAIRR.

    danone climate transition plan
    Courtesy: InfluenceMap

    The company is also positively engaged in key EU climate policies. Speaking of policy, its home country has exhibited a hardline stance on alternative proteins, with plans to ban cultivated meat and a (now-suspended) plant-based labelling ban. After the far-right gains in the EU elections, which led to France declaring a national snap election, fears that these policies will be softened remain unabated.

    Danone’s spokesperson wouldn’t be drawn into France’s position on alternative proteins, but is happy to discuss what the precision fermentation project would entail. They confirmed that there were no plans to use it for meat analogues. But the goal is also “wider than dairy proteins, and can be applied to other food ingredients such as amino acids, vitamins, fibres, enzymes, and various other nutrients”.

    “As a pioneer in fermentation technologies for food, we, at Danone, are bringing our experience in this field and we are convinced that we need to be part of this journey regarding all the innovations coming in the biotechnological field and the biosourcing of ingredients,” the representative adds.

    The post Why Danone Bet on Precision Fermentation & ‘White Biotech’ for the Future of Food appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • uma valeti ted talk
    5 Mins Read

    In our weekly column, we round up the latest news and developments in the alternative protein and sustainable food industry. This week, Future Food Quick Bites covers Little Spoon’s partnership with Oatly, a spate of government investments into alternative proteins, and a Ted Talk about cultivated meat.

    New products and launches

    US vegan startup Brooklyn Delhi, which makes vegan Indian pantry staples, has debuted at Whole Foods nationwide with four of its products: sweet potato coconut dal, red bean rajma masala, black bean butter masala, and chickpea tikka masala.

    brooklyn delhi
    Courtesy: Brooklyn Delhi

    New York startup Blackbird Foods has released has expanded its range of vegan wings with two new flavours – tangy and smoky Texas BBQ and sweet and spicy Thai Chili.

    Also based in New York, kids nutrition brand Little Spoon has unveiled two limited-edition smoothies in partnership with Oatly. The Apple Cinnamon Swirl and Peach Berry Bliss flavours will debut on June 25 on the former’s website.

    Califia Farms has launched Complete Kids, a multi-ingredient milk for children featuring 8g of protein per serving from peas, chickpeas and fava beans. It’s available at Target for $5.99.

    In more alt-dairy news, Elmhurst 1925 has rolled out a line of cashew creamers, which it describes as an industry-first. Available in sweet cream, cinnamon churro, caramel brûlée and unsweetened flavours, they can be used for coffee as well as cooking applications, and are available on its website and at Sprouts.

    elmhurst cashew creamer
    Courtesy: Elmhurst 1925

    UK vegan artisanal cheese brand Julienne Bruno has launched into Ocado’s flash delivery service Zoom, shortly after its Superstraccia won Gold at the Free From Food awards.

    On July 2, US vegan restaurant chain Plant Powered Fast Food will launch a limited-edition American BBQ rib sandwich, The Ribby, across its 10 locations. It features a jackfruit meat patty, BBQ sauce, onions and pickles.

    Germany’s Endori has announced that its vegan Chicken Natural product has now been permanently added to the menu of Italian restaurant chain L’Osteria. It means customers can choose to use the pea protein and broad bean chicken as a topping across its 170 restaurants in nine countries.

    Fellow German company Rügenwalder Mühle has reformulated its vegan Mühlen Salami, and updated the recipes of its entire salami range to remove methylcellulose.

    plant based news
    Courtesy: Made With Plants

    And Australian vegan startup Made With Plants has expanded distribution for its plant-based bacon, chicken, ham, and grated mozzarella into more than 500 Coles stores nationwide.

    Policy and finance developments

    Canadian economic cluster Protein Industries Canada has announced a new project to optimise and use locally grown pea and fava bean protein ingredients, in partnership with Lovingly Made Flour Mills, TMRW Foods and Dutton Farms.

    The government of Brussels has awarded a €400,000 ($429,000) subsidy to Maastricht-based plant protein producer Dutch Structuring Technologies, which will use the capital to quintuple production capacity to 1,000 kg per hour.

    The Israeli Innovation Authority has invested nearly 1.5M shekels (about $400,000) into microalgae protein maker Brevel, which will support its R&D efforts on its next product, functional lipids for food applications.

    algae protein powder
    Courtesy: Brevel

    Another microalgae tech company, France’s Fermentalg, has raised €12.8M ($13.7M) to accelerate sales of its natural colourants and omega-3 ingredients and development of its alternative protein and lipid products., with European precision fermentation leader HuvePharma becoming a reference shareholder.

    In more precision fermentation news, Singapore’s National Research Foundation has awarded a $14.8M grant to the city-state’s Illinois Advanced Research Center, an affiliate centre of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the US, to develop a Centre for Precision Fermentation and Sustainability.

    South African biotech startup Immobazyme has secured R24.5M ($1.35M) to scale up its production capacity for precision-fermented proteins.

    UK vegan company Allplants has raised £1.8M ($2.3M) and launched its frozen meals into foodservice through a partnership with leading wholesaler Bidfood.

    In Australia, member of parliament Lisa Baker has released a new report recommending the Western Australia government create a working group for food systems transformation, with a focus on supporting alternative proteins through investment, policies and regulation.

    algae oil
    Courtesy: Algae Cooking Club

    Over in the US, five months since launch, Algae Cooking Club has slashed the price of its algal cooking oil by 20%. It has made its way into over 150 retail stores and experienced sales growth of 50% month-over-month.

    Research and manufacturing updates

    Cultivated steaks, burgers, tuna and lobsters could replace Sunday roasts and fish and chips on British plates by 2054, according to research by FixOurFood and the University of York for UK grocer The Co-op‘s Responsible Retailing Report.

    French extrusion specialist Clextral has introduced a patented Galaxy Texturisation Technology for plant protein extrusion, which can produce softer, more flexible textures for whole-cut meat analogues.

    future food quick bites
    Courtesy: Clextral

    Sproudz is new innovation hub established in Bern, Switzerland, which offers startups space and facilities for rent to develop plant-based products. Vegan companies BakeryBakery and Outlawz Food – which helped develop the concept – are already on board.

    The Good Food Institute India has released the fourth report in its series of guides for alternative protein companies to navigate the country’s regulatory landscape. This edition focuses on the labelling and display requirements for pre-packaged foods.

    Finally, is cultivated meat the future of food? That’s the question Upside Foods co-founder Uma Valeti explores in his Ted Talk for the Ted Countdown 2024 Dilemma Series.

    Check out last week’s Future Food Quick Bites.

    The post Future Food Quick Bites: Oatly for Kids, State Investments & Ted Talks appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • omnivore apple tv
    7 Mins Read

    Apple TV+ has announced Omnivore, an eight-part docuseries on the convergence of food and climate change created by the owner of the world’s best restaurant.

    Crop failures, escalating prices, endangered trees – the effects of climate change are being keenly felt in the food industry, and this is before you even account for the fact that nearly a third of all food produced goes to waste.

    While awareness about the impact of fossil fuels is high, for various reasons – whether that’s misinformation, cognitive dissonance or a lack of media coverage – agriculture often gets lost in the climate conversation. But we can’t afford to ignore an industry that produces a third of all human-caused emissions, especially when you consider what climate change is doing to it.

    Exploring this issue is Omnivore, the new docuseries created and narrated by René Redzepi, one of the world’s greatest chefs and co-owner of what is widely considered the best restaurant on Earth. While Noma will close its doors in Copenhagen later this year, the brand will continue to live on, and the show will further cement Redzepi’s influence over the food system and the restaurant industry.

    Premiering on Apple TV+ on July 19, Omnivore is 2024’s most highly anticipated new food series. In it, Redzepi explores eight ingredients – one for each episode – that have “shaped societies, cultures, beliefs, and the course of human history”, how they’re being affected by the climate crisis, and the local efforts that conserve and protect the food supply.

    “Omnivore is a decade-long dream that has finally come to life,” said Redzepi. “This show is a testament to what makes food truly extraordinary: the ingredients, the people, the stories, the pure magic of cooking. Omnivore is not just a culinary programme; it is a journey into the soul of food culture and its vibrant community.”

    Omnivore to explore climate change impact on eight ingredients

    food documentaries 2024
    Cary Joji Fukunaga and René Redzepi | Courtesy: Apple

    Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the documentary sees Redzepi and various contributors travel across the world – including Denmark, Serbia, Thailand, Spain, Japan, Djibouti, Peru, South Korea, France, Colombia, India, Bali, Rwanda and Mexico – to celebrate what the show’s producers have labelled “eight of the world’s most essential ingredients”: bananas, chillies, coffee, corn, pork, rice, salt and tuna.

    “Through the lens of eight unique ingredients, we traverse our delicious planet and meet the diverse people who inhabit it. We have travelled across five continents, uncovering countless stories along the way. This journey has reinforced an undeniable truth: food is everything,” Redzepi said.

    While he narrates the series, the Noma chef only makes brief onscreen appearances. He began working on Omnivore during the pandemic, enlisting Matt Goulding – executive producer of Anthony Bourdain: Explore Parts Unknown – as co-creator. The goal is to educate audiences about climate and food without “being like this angry schoolteacher”, as Redzepi put it to The Hollywood Reporter.

    “Food is one of the easiest ways to actually create or be part of a change, through how you eat and through the choices you make when you’re at the grocery store,” he said. “If I’m to be told one more time what I can and can’t do with this ultra sense of urgency that if you don’t change your entire life over tomorrow, then you are doing something wrong – we wanted to let the audience choose themselves.”

    Expanding on this, he explained that viewers aren’t receptive to information if you’re “shouting in people’s faces”. “Perhaps it doesn’t enter in the same way as if you open up the conversation and tell them in a beautiful way that: ‘Here’s a monsoon, and we need to take care of the monsoon; the monsoon is important to us,’” he said, referring to the episode about rice, where the series covers the Asian monsoons that fuel rice production and feed half the world.

    Redzepi on restaurants’ responsibility over climate change

    rene redzepi omnivore
    Courtesy: René Redzepi/Instagram

    Climate change impacts restaurants in a number of ways. Seasonal ingredients are no longer seasonal, ingredient costs are on the up, and food quality is threatened thanks to supply chain disruptions. All of this has ripple effects on increasingly climate-conscious diners, and the job security of hospitality employees.

    Restauranteurs “typically sit in between the outward-facing world and then agriculture”, said Redzepi. He has long been a vocal advocate for sustainability in the fine dining industry. “Chefs have a new opportunity – and perhaps even an obligation – to inform the public about what is good to eat, and why,” he wrote in the Guardian back in 2011.

    “But we ourselves need to learn much more about issues that are critical to our world: culinary history, native flora, the relationship between food and food supply systems, sustainability and the social significance of how we eat. There is no conflict between a better meal and a better world.”

    This philosophy has been reflected in his work. Noma prides itself on using natural and sustainably sourced ingredients. The Danish restaurant earned its third Michelin star in 2021, but it didn’t stop there – it also received the Michelin Green Star for its climate credentials.

    “Sustainable practices have long served as a guiding light for our creativity, but it’s not just about the way we source ingredients or minimise our carbon footprint; it is also about establishing the best work environment possible for the well-being of our employees,” Redzepi is quoted as saying on the Michelin website.

    “People in the food world, in the restaurant world, they actually have a huge opportunity to just be the megaphone for these flavours, these ways of eating, and can help push things to the better. And I also have to say that ultimately, changing people’s minds on what to eat will only happen through deliciousness – that is the change factor, in my opinion,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

    Take spinach, for instance – if the iron-rich green can be prepared in a way where he doesn’t feel like they’re missing steak, “I’ll eat spinach four nights a week and once in a while I’ll eat a steak, as opposed to perhaps eating meat-based dinners all the time”, he said. “And restaurants, they’re, of course, at the centre point of that, because their superpowers are flavour and putting people together.”

    Hollywood is becoming more climate-conscious

    The Apple TV+ series may be called Omnivore, but Redzepi knows the importance of reducing our meat consumption – producing meat releases twice as many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as plant-based food.

    “Eating more greens is the future, there is no way around it, but how then to eat meat and what type of meat – that also becomes important to understand,” he said. “But there’s no doubt that eating more plants is a part of a better world.”

    He expressed hope – only half-jokingly – that “every single foodie on earth will watch Omnivore so that we can continue this” for more seasons. “I think the show will make people think deeper about the choices they make and the food they eat and just perhaps appreciate more food in general,” he said.

    Hollywood is finally beginning to reckon with climate change, which is also the theme of The Hollywood Reporter’s latest issue. Between 2013 and 2022, less than 10% of the top 250 movies on IMDb passed the Climate Reality Check, a “Bechdel-Wallace Test for a world on fire” developed by climate story consultancy Good Energy and Colby College’s Buck Lab for Climate and Environment.

    Eligible movies must be set on Earth either in the present or near future, and are assessed on two basic stipulations: climate change exists, and a character knows it. The representation of the crisis doubled in the latter part of the decade-long period, a result of climate change becoming “more obvious, pervasive, and destructive”, and more people being “alarmed about the situation”, Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, co-creator of the test.

    hollywood climate change
    Courtesy: Good Energy/Colby College

    Streaming services have performed better on the Climate Reality Check than other studios, with 16.7% of titles on Apple TV+, Netflix and Amazon Prime passing the test (albeit with a much smaller sample size). Meanwhile, films that went straight to streaming were nearly twice as likely to include climate change in their stories, and more likely to have climate-aware characters too.

    This is Apple TV+’s first food-focused original, and will come a month after season three of FX’s The Bear is released today. “Food is never just food. That is one of our key ground philosophies when we explore everything here,” Redzepi said.

    “Food is the most important thing on earth, and let people think about that. It might not be to them because they might be interested in other things that are to them most important, but changing food is changing the world and is also changing health.”

    The post Omnivore: The New Apple TV+ Docuseries Exploring the Impact of Climate Change on Food appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • imperial centre for sustainable protein
    6 Mins Read

    A month after it unveiled the first Center for Sustainable Protein in North Carolina, the Bezos Earth Fund has opened its second alternative protein hub at Imperial College London.

    The Bezos Earth Fund is making good on its alternative protein promise, opening the second of its Centers for Sustainable Protein, this time outside the US.

    Housed at Imperial College London, the hub spans seven academic departments at the university, and is infused with a $30M investment over five years.

    The Center for Sustainable Protein in London will advance research into precision fermentation, cultivated meat, bioprocessing and automation, nutrition, and AI and machine learning. This intelligence will be deployed towards innovative, evidence-based solutions through the commercialisation of alternative protein products that are not just planet-friendly, but also nutritious, delicious, and affordable.

    It comes less than a month after the Earth Fund set up its first such centre at North Carolina State University, also through a five-year, $30M grant. It’s part of the fund’s $1B Future of Food Program, which involved the initial $60M investment in the alternative protein hubs – this has now been extended to $100M. Andy Jarvis, director of the fund’s Future of Food Program, revealed to Green Queen that a third centre will be opened in southeast Asia.

    bezos earth fund imperial college
    Courtesy: Yau Ming Low/iStock

    Imperial Center for Sustainable Protein to use engineering biology

    Animal agriculture accounts for up to 20% of global emissions, and meat production alone is responsible for releasing twice as many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as plant-based foods. And despite taking up 77% of all agricultural land, the livestock industry only supplies only 18% of the world’s calories and 37% of its protein.

    The Bezos Earth Fund highlights this disparity to explain how humans need to increasingly adopt alternative proteins, given the world will have 10 billion of us by 2050. It mentions the rise of plant-based foods, the progress made by the fermentation sector, and the potential of cultivated meat as examples of promising solutions.

    “Food security is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity,” said Hugh Brady, president of Imperial College London. “For a sustainable future, we need to ensure that people across the world can be fed adequately and nutritiously with minimal impact on biodiversity, climate and our wider natural environment.”

    But the widespread adoption of these proteins is dependent on quality and cost improvements, as well as a more efficient use of energy. The Bezos Earth Fund argues that to aid the protein transformation, other components need to be produced more sustainably and efficiently too, such as fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and compounds responsible for flavour, aroma and colour.

    To do so, it is championing engineering biology, which applies engineering concepts to design, build and produce cells and products. The Center for Sustainable Protein will use a mix of rational and AI-guided engineering strategies with automation at biofoundries – where cells are turned into mini-factories to produce useful products – to scale up new bio-based processes.

    “Later is dangerously too late if we’re to think about growing our world’s protein sources,” said Jarvis. “Imperial College London has led pioneering efforts in the field of engineering biology, perfectly positioning the university to advance sustainable protein options that will satisfy the growing global masses.”

    bezos center for sustainable protein
    Courtesy: Imperial College London

    Collaborating with multiple institutes globally

    The European alternative protein centre at Imperial College will have three spokes in the UK, and three abroad, with more than 76 international partners to advance research, innovation and commercialisation.

    The UK spokes are grouped under members of the Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub at UCL and Aberystwyth University; the Food Centre at Reading University; and the Growing Kent & Medway consortium involving the National Institute of Agricultural Botany and the Universities of Kent and Greenwich.

    Meanwhile, the international spokes pokes are hosted by the Technical University of Denmark (Biosustain), Tufts University (Centre for Cellular Agriculture), and the National University of Singapore.

    “Imperial has the leading-edge research, innovation, partnerships and convening power to advance global food systems,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. He pointed to the expanding population to implore it is “time to rethink” how we grow and eat food. “This work will help ensure that our future includes more protein options – and that they taste great, are nutritious and come at low cost.”

    The Imperial College protein centre will also encapsulate other institutes and facilities to translate discoveries into real-world applications and educate the next generation of bioengineers. These include the Centre for Synthetic Biology, SybiCITE, and the Centre for Translational Nutrition & Food Research, which has partnerships with Nestlé, Unilever, Quorn and Waitrose, among others.

    “The Center’s ethos is that bioengineered solutions can – and should – be both planet and people-positive. Imperial is uniquely positioned to harness the potential of engineering biology to accelerate the alt-protein revolution and transform global food systems,” said Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro from the department of bioengineering at Imperial College, who is the director of the new Center for Sustainable Proteins.

    Alternative proteins could ‘define the future’

    The Bezos Earth Fund was launched in 2020 through a $10B grant by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, one of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Last year, the fund committed $1B towards a transformation of the food system. The first investment came during COP28 in December, allocating $57M in food-related grants to tackle the threats of climate change and biodiversity loss and preserve food security.

    It was in March that the fund’s vice-chair Lauren Sánchez (who is engaged to Bezos), announced the intention to set up the alternative protein centres. “We need to invent our way out of climate change. And we’re going to do it,” she told an audience at the the Aspen Ideas: Climate conference in Miami.

    The idea is to host the hubs in universities “at the cutting edge of science and technology related to sustainable protein”, according to Jarvis. These institutes are creating breakthrough research to make alternative portions cheaper, tastier and healthier.

    “They should be responding to industry needs, solving emerging problems, and investing in game-changing new ideas which have transformational potential to bring about step changes for the sector. And the best bit is that should all be open-access – the knowledge generated can be used by anyone to ensure broad impact,” he said.

    bezos earth fund alternative proteins
    Courtesy: Bezos Earth Fund

    The North Carolina State University centre, for example, will advance the research, creation, and commercialisation of new technologies, provide training for the emerging industry workforce, and gauge consumers’ protein preferences.

    Jarvis said a third centre will announced in a few weeks. “The Bezos Earth Fund’s Future of Food Program is working to transform food and agricultural systems to feed a growing population without degrading the planet,” he stated. “With this kind of firm R&D foundation in place, I believe sustainable protein will be set to properly play [its] part in the future of food. It might even come to define that future.”

    Imperial College was at the centre of controversy earlier this month, when a study conducted by its researchers on ultra-processed foods mislabelled plant-based meats as unhealthy.

    The post Bezos Earth Fund Opens Alternative Protein Hub at London’s Imperial College appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • nectar insights
    8 Mins Read

    Most plant-based meats underperform on the taste front for omnivores, and blended meat could be a potential game-changer, detailed sensory analysis has found.

    Vegan meat analogues need to be spicier, smokier, sweeter, darker, juicer, and bolder to sway omnivores away from conventional burgers, sausages, bacon and other meat products, according to the results from sensory testing by Nectar, a new initiative focused on taste-based protein transition.

    Its inaugural Taste of the Industry report is based on insights from 1,150 American meat-eaters who participated in sensory panels evaluating 15 taste attributes for 54 plant-based meat products across five categories between June and August last year.

    These were burgers, hot dogs, bacon, chicken tenders, and chicken nuggets, and Nectar found that while some leading plant-based products are ready for mainstream adoption, most brands fell short.

    Each product was tested against an animal-based benchmark – and nuggets were the only category where plant-based versions outperformed their conventional counterparts. Impossible Foods, MorningStar Farms, Quorn, Rebellyous Foods and Simulate were the top taste performers here.

    “By championing great-tasting products, empowering brands and consumers with data-driven insights, and fostering partnerships across the industry, Nectar’s launch heralds a new era of innovation and collaboration in the alternative protein space,” said Max Elder, managing director of non-profit Food Systems Innovation, which established Nectar last month.

    The burger opportunity

    plant based meat study
    Courtesy: Nectar

    While burgers are perhaps the most popular plant-based category in terms of the number of options on the market, there’s a big satisfaction gap here. After evaluating nine vegan and blended (a mix of conventional meat and plant-based ingredients) commercially available burgers, the researchers found that 78% of omnivores rated conventional burgers as ‘somewhat like’, ‘like’ or ‘like very much’, versus just 37% for the average plant-based burger.

    The leading vegan burger performed slightly better across these metrics (55%), but it was clear that the average plant-based options can improve. “The biggest opportunity for plant-based burger brands is to develop bolder flavour profiles,” says Caroline Cotto, director of Nectar. “The most significant differences in consumer preference between plant-based and animal burgers were in flavour rather than texture or appearance.”

    She adds: “Consumers also want plant-based burgers to be ‘meatier’ (spicier, smokier, saltier, sweeter, darker, and juicier), with 45% of participants finding plant-based burgers as not meaty enough. ‘Meatiness’ had a larger impact on overall liking than any other trait.”

    Blended meat could be a key pathway to plant-based

    blended meat study
    Courtesy: Nectar

    One of the most striking findings was the impression of blended meat products. The leading product in this category – 50/50 Foods’ Both burger – outperformed the plant-based leader, and was the only patty that performed within one point in average liking of the conventional burger.

    The blended burger made from 50% beef and 50% vegetables was rated as ‘somewhat like’, ‘like’ or ‘like very much’ by 69% of consumers, while the leading vegan patty was liked by 55%. That said, blended products are still closer in liking to plant-based burgers than animal-derived beef patties.

    “Omnivores preferred the appearance and flavour of the blended burger. Survey respondents found the best-performing plant-based burger lacked the desired levels of spiciness, smokiness, sweetness, and saltiness compared to the blended burger,” says Cotto. “Taste is a primary purchase driver for all food products. If blended meats can offer better taste profiles for omnivores today, they have a significant role to play in the protein transition.”

    She adds that the blended burger’s success has prompted Nectar to initiate “the world’s largest public sensory analysis of blended meats”. Testing around 40 products across eight formats, the research will explore the optimal plant-animal ratio, the best plant-based ingredients, the best channels to promote the category, and potentially better names. It will be out this autumn.

    Plant-based nuggets are at parity

    vegan chicken nuggets
    Courtesy: Nectar

    Chicken nuggets are the most disliked of all animal products analysed, with more than a quarter of omnivores (27%) disliking the conventional versions. Plant-based products have successfully disrupted this space, with both the average vegan nugget and market leaders performing better than animal-derived nuggets.

    While 53% of omnivores liked conventional chicken nuggets, 70% were satisfied with the leading vegan nugget. In fact, 54% liked the average plant-based nugget as well. Flavour is key here, though for product development teams, meatiness and consistency should be top of mind.

    “While we can’t reveal the best-performing nugget brand, we can share that the top performers within one point of the animal-based benchmark included Impossible, MorningStar Farms, Quorn, Rebellyous Foods, and Simulate (in alphabetical order),” reveals Cotto.

    “These products stood out for their superior flavour, which was most central to overall liking. Generally, breaded and fried plant-based meat categories receive higher ratings than non-breaded and fried categories,” she explains.

    “Omnivores appreciate the flavour of plant-based nuggets but see room for improvement in meatiness and consistency. Brands should enhance juiciness [and] saltiness, and address mildness to ensure their products outperform all animal nuggets, not just the benchmark used in the study.”

    Hot dogs: a white space for leading brands

    food system innovations
    Courtesy: Nectar

    There’s a lot of room for improvement for vegan hot dogs, which represent the least-liked plant-based meat category in the Taste of the Industry report. Only 22% of meat-eaters liked the market-leading animal-free hot dog, compared to 55-75% for the rest of the products (chicken tenders were the most liked). In comparison, 92% said they liked conventional hot dogs (and 19% liked the average plant-based offering).

    The gap existed across all sensory attributes, representing major opportunities across flavour, texture and appearance. But there is a caveat, according to Cotto. “The hot dog category has evolved significantly since last fall. Brands like Impossible, Oscar Mayer and others have introduced hot dog products that were not part of this study,” she says.

    “To emerge as category leaders, brands should aim for bolder flavours (meatier, juicier, sweeter, spicier, smokier) while avoiding overcorrection – being too salty, for example, has a greater negative impact on overall liking than being not salty enough,” adds Cotto.

    Meanwhile, vegan bacon could also do with improvements. Although Hooray Foods’ rice- and pea-based version actually came within one point of average liking with animal-derived bacon, the company ceased operations within a month after the taste tests were concluded.

    “Plant-based bacon struggles with appearance, consistency, and flavour,” states Cotto. “To surpass animal bacon in taste, brands should focus on enhancing meatiness, making the product less mild, and increasing crispiness. Currently, plant-based bacon is often considered too soft and chewy, while animal bacon is seen as too crispy.”

    The health-nutrition disparity

    blended meat
    Courtesy: Nectar

    The research further explored omnivores’ broader sentiments about plant-based foods, with 84% agreeing that eating more vegan meals reduces animal farming (only 5% disagreed with this statement). Similarly, 77% believe plant-based products are better for the environment, though 16% are unsure about this – previous research has shown that Americans fail to associate eating meat with climate change.

    Health, meanwhile, has been the major buzzword around plant-based meat recently. It’s a factor that has become increasingly important for consumers, and something that has made leading brands change the way they market their products. Based on Nectar’s research, you can see why: while 80% of omnivores believe plant-based products are better for their health, only 55% find them to be more nutritious.

    Cotto has an inkling as to why that is (although this hasn’t been tested). “Consumers think about health in terms of [a] holistic diet (i.e. plant-based diet is healthy) and… consumers think about nutrition at a product level,” she says. “Our takeaway from this is that plant-based meat companies should focus on broader health positioning when marketing their products and lean into messaging that shows plant-based products are part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.”

    The takeaways for product developers

    plant based meat survey
    Courtesy: Impossible Foods

    The report shows how there are several major hurdles for plant-based meat to overcome. “Nectar believes there isn’t a single primary barrier for the plant-based meat category, but rather a variety of market, channel, and consumer needs. We also believe great taste is essential for mainstream adoption of plant-based meats,” says Cotto.

    “Our Taste of the Industry 2024 indicates that while the average satisfaction with plant-based meat is low, some leading products perform well, showing the potential for improving taste profiles across the board,” she adds.

    The progress being made by companies can already be seen with the example of the hot dogs. Since completing the trial in August, Impossible Foods and Oscar Mayer have both unveiled vegan versions, as Cotto mentions above. The first step in propelling the taste of plant-based meats to the next level is having robust, category-level data to guide technological development,” she says.

    “While Nectar is technologically agnostic, we focus on identifying sensory gaps between plant-based products and their animal-based analogues, then share that data with stakeholders to drive sensory innovation,” she adds, outlining new flavour and texture innovations as “particularly exciting”.

    Nectar’s aim is to provide pre-competitive support for product development. “Our initial research indicates a positive outlook for the protein transition: while the average plant-based product may not yet be widely liked, leading products are appealing to a significant portion of the market,” reiterates Cotto.

    “This suggests that with further R&D investments, taste profiles can be improved across the board. Plant-based brands should not hesitate to develop bolder taste profiles to close the taste gap with animal-based products.”

    The post Most Plant-Based Products Fall Short of Meat-Eaters’ Taste Expectations, Finds Analysis appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • revyve egg replacer
    4 Mins Read

    Dutch alternative protein startup Revyve is launching a powdered egg substitute made from spent brewer’s yeast to enhance plant-based meat formulations.

    Revyve will debut its latest microbial protein innovation at next month’s IFT First Expo in Chicago (July 14-17), using upcycled brewer’s yeast (a beer industry byproduct) to make an egg replacer.

    The ingredient boasts the same binding and emulsification qualities eggs possess, but aims to remove the supply chain volatility, animal abuse, price fluctuations, and allergy risks associated with conventional eggs.

    The non-GMO vegan egg substitute comes in a powdered format, and like the rest of Revyve’s ingredients, it’s labelled as “yeast protein”. The product is intended as a clean-label alternative to E-numbers – artificial additives as well as naturally occurring substances added to CPG products for textural functionality, such as methylcellulose – for use in plant-based foods like meat analogues.

    But for any product to replace eggs effectively, it needs to compete on costs. Revyve says its egg replacer is at price parity with chicken eggs, thanks to its patented tech. “We reap the typical functionality benefits of microbial and fermented protein, but by working with yeast – which is widely available as a co-product – we don’t use any fermentation,” CEO Cedric Verstraeten tells Green Queen. “This way we can minimise capex requirements and production costs.”

    Giving burgers their shape, sizzle and colour

    egg substitute
    Courtesy: Alessa Joseph

    Revyve relies on what is virtually an endless supply of yeast (given the vast amount of beer produced annually), and this eschews the need to grow any of its own biomass.

    “First, we wash the yeast with an optimised set of operations, to make sure we remove all beer and brewing-related off-notes,” explains Verstraeten. “Then we use our proprietary gentle process to micro-mill the yeast and separate the valuable protein and fibre to optimise firming, gelling and foaming capabilities.”

    Co-founder and CTO Edgar Suarez Garcia suggests that the company’s USP lies in this “unique combination of functional proteins and fibres”. “Manufacturers appreciate that when paired with other ingredients, Revyve can eliminate the need for methylcellulose, which has numerous functional and labelling downsides,” he says.

    “We have taken yeast functionality to the next level. Products manufactured with Revyve single-ingredient yeast proteins take on true-to-form textures. Revyve offers exceptional heat-set gelling, binding and emulsification,” he adds.

    Reserach has highlighted the importance of texture and mouthfeel for meat analogues. A 2022 survey by certification body V-Label found that the texture of plant-based meats is as important as their conventional counterparts for 75% of consumers, but only about 60% were actually satisfied with the former.

    “When burger producers ask how Revyve performs, we explain that it behaves like egg whites,” says Suarez Garcia. “When cooked in a patty mixture, Revyve becomes firm yet springy, forming a binding network around the other ingredients.”

    He continues: “Burgers retain water and oil at hot and cold temperatures; they brown and sizzle on the grill and hold their shape when flipped and sandwiched in a bun.”

    Verstraeten suggests that Revyve’s egg replacer will appeal to manufacturers looking for nutritious, affordable alternatives to eggs to up their products’ eco credentials, and those on the hunt for clean-label replacements to chemical additives for texturising.

    Revyve’s egg replacer stands out from ‘low-functioning’ plant proteins

    Courtesy: Revyve

    There are already a ton of plant-based egg replacement powders on the market, but Verstraeten believes Revyve’s use of yeast protein – which enables it to offer the same functionality as eggs – sets it apart. “Plant proteins typically have low functionality, so plant-based egg replacers usually require a mix of ingredients and additives to mimic the functionality. By working with yeast protein, we can achieve this with a single ingredient,” he explains.

    Some of Revyve’s customers have already launched products using its ingredient in the burger segment, but the egg substitute can be used for foods beyond patties too. “Our high-performance product can be used in a versatile range of applications including nuggets, dairy products and baked goods,” says Verstraeten.

    The startup is now working on CPG products with its egg replacer in the sauces, appetisers and bakery segments, which are slated for launch in the second part of the year.

    While there are multiple products from independent producers on the market already, scaling up its production will allow Revyve to support large manufacturers as well. “We have demonstrated our process at industrial scale, and are currently building a large-scale commercial production, which will start up later this year,” reveals the CEO.

    The facility is its key priority over the next 12 months, with the aim of “making Revyve a key ingredient across the food industry”. Concurrently, the company is also raising capital for its next scale-up milestone, which “will expand our capacity further and allow us to reach positive cashflows”. Last month, it secured €8M in new financing to support its growth.

    A number of businesses are making proteins from spent brewer’s yeast. Germany’s ProteinDistillery uses biomass fermentation to turn the beer byproduct into egg-white-like ingredient Prew:tein, and France’s Yeasty has discovered a way to remove the bitterness from brewer’s yeast, producing a flour for alternative protein, pet food, and nutrition products.

    Meanwhile, Belgian beverage giant AB InBev – the world’s largest beer manufacturer and parent company of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Michelob – is also developing alternative proteins from spent brewer’s grain.

    The post Revyve Debuts Egg Replacer from Upcycled Brewer’s Yeast for Better Plant-Based Meat appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • plant based decline
    4 Mins Read

    Andre Menezes, founder and former CEO of plant-based meat maker Tindle Foods, explores the vegan industry’s rollercoaster period post-pandemic, and where it’s headed next.

    In the world of startups and innovation, few sectors have seen as much fervour and enthusiasm as the plant-based food industry did between 2018 and 2022. What started as a movement to utilise food technology to craft alternatives to animal-based products quickly became a beacon of hope for sustainability, health, and profitability. However, as we look back at the trajectory of this industry, it’s evident that the journey has been far from straightforward.

    The initial challenge faced by pioneers in this space was developing the technology to replicate the attributes consumers seek in animal products. While early iterations of plant-based offerings fell short, the landscape rapidly evolved, with companies investing millions to refine products like ground beef, burger patties, and nuggets to near-indistinguishable levels from their animal counterparts. This technological leap paved the way for what seemed like an inevitable march toward dominance in a trillion-dollar market.

    As companies geared up for scale, investors poured in capital, and the industry experienced exponential growth. However, amidst the excitement and optimism, a surprising stagnation emerged. Despite projections of continued exponential growth, the numbers began to plateau. Demand, which once seemed insatiable, showed signs of tapering off after a stellar 2020.

    tindle foods
    Courtesy: Andre Menezes

    The sentiment shift in 2022 was seismic. Interest rates rose, sales figures stalled, and industry giants struggled to meet expectations. What was once hailed as the future of food suddenly faced headwinds from critics, misinformation campaigns, and attacks from established incumbents. The narrative around plant-based meat shifted, and what was once seen as revolutionary technology became labelled as a passing fad.

    Yet, amidst the gloom, there are lessons to be learned and opportunities to be seized. One thing that’s become clear in hindsight is that consumer adoption is more nuanced than initially presumed. While sustainability and animal welfare resonate with a segment of the population, it’s not enough to sustain the exponential growth envisioned by investors.

    What led to the plant-based downturn

    The crux of the matter lies in the very foundation of the industry’s rise. It wasn’t driven by an inherent, sustained demand from consumers but rather by a surge in awareness and curiosity. While this initial spark led to a bump in trial purchases, it failed to establish a solid foundation of ongoing demand.

    Crucially, the sector neglected to ask a fundamental question: are consumers genuinely motivated to reduce meat consumption when making purchasing decisions? The reality is that only a small segment of the population—comprising vegans, vegetarians, sustainability advocates, and health-conscious individuals—actively seeks meat alternatives. This segment, however passionate, is insufficient to sustain the massive growth anticipated by investors and industry stakeholders.

    plant based meat healthy
    Courtesy: Dig Insights

    Health emerged as a significant driver behind the adoption of plant-based diets. Concerns over cholesterol levels and the perceived health risks associated with red meat prompted many to explore plant-based alternatives. But this very emphasis on health also made the industry vulnerable to attack.

    Enterprises, threatened by the burgeoning plant-based movement, launched aggressive campaigns questioning the health benefits of plant-based products. From scrutinizing ingredients to casting doubt on manufacturing processes, these efforts sought to undermine the perceived health advantages of plant-based alternatives.

    The convergence of these factors – lack of sustained demand, limited consumer motivation beyond a niche segment, and targeted attacks on health claims – contributed to the industry’s downturn. As interest rates rose, sales figures stagnated, and industry titans struggled to meet expectations, the narrative around plant-based meat shifted dramatically.

    The opportunities for founders and investors

    beyond meat cookbook
    Courtesy: Beyond Meat

    The downturn of 2023 served as a stark reality check, prompting companies to reassess their strategies and investors to reevaluate their portfolios. Yet, amidst the challenges lies an opportunity for introspection and adaptation. By focusing on addressing genuine consumer needs, fortifying health claims, and cultivating sustainable demand, the plant-based food industry can chart a course toward resilience and resurgence.

    The path forward requires a sober reassessment of strategies and a focus on fundamentals. Consolidation is inevitable, and profitable players with at least $100M in annual revenue are the ones best positioned to survive (and even benefit) from the status quo. In this dire context, retaining talent will become increasingly difficult as talents will increasingly become anxious about the prospects of the industry and subsequently their potential gains.

    Ultimately, the success of the plant-based food industry is not just a matter of profit but a necessity for the health of our planet. As we confront the challenges ahead, it’s imperative that founders, investors, and industry leaders collaborate to ensure the longevity and viability of this vital sector. Only then can we realize the full potential of plant-based foods as a sustainable and ethical alternative for the future.

    The post Former Tindle CEO: What I’ve Learned About the Plant-Based Industry’s Rise, Fall & Future appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.

  • foodlabs food for climate report
    6 Mins Read

    Climate-focused food tech companies in Europe raised $2B last year, making up 58% of global investment in the sector and surpassing the US for the first time.

    European food tech startups focused on climate change solutions attracted $2B in investments last year, overtaking the US for the first time. Despite a global downturn in VC funding, funding in this sector matched the levels of 2022, when European companies raised $2.1B.

    This is according to the annual Food for Climate report by early-stage VC firm FoodLabs and investment database Dealroom, which assessed over 1,200 climate-centric food startups across 40 segments to explore the state of the sustainable food & agtech ecosystem in Europe. The analysis suggests that European food tech companies made up 58% of global funding in the industry, much higher than the US (around 36%).

    europe climate food tech funding
    Courtesy: FoodLabs/Dealroom

    The agtech sector made up $1B of this sum, thanks in large part to increased interest in sustainable fertilisers – Atlas Agro alone raised $325M for its renewable fertilisers. Regenerative agriculture startups secured $581M overall, focusing on climate-resilient crops and microbial solutions.

    “To address some of Europe’s most pressing challenges, we urgently need to finance and support innovative food solutions that help us adapt to a changing climate and mitigate its effects, while securing our food supply,” said Christophe F Maire, founding partner at FoodLabs.

    Fermentation startups and alt-cocoa on the up in Europe

    In 2023, European alternative protein startups raised $365M, led by plant-based companies. However, the real stars of the analysis were fermentation startups, which experienced a 12-fold increase since 2020 to reach $76M in investments last year.

    And this year, fermented protein players have raised at least $12M, becoming the third most-funded segment in Europe’s alternative protein sector, ahead of plant-based startups. Specifically, mycelium protein has really taken off in 2024.

    alternative protein funding europe
    Courtesy: FoodLabs/Dealroom

    Maire expects fermentation startups to continue to remain dominant for the next two to three years. “Driven by the growing maturity of the space, many startups are turning to grownups and raising growth rounds for commercialisation at Series B stage and beyond,” he told Green Queen. “We also see products that are inherently superior to plant-based approaches in terms of taste and texture, and are close to price parity.”

    Meanwhile, meat analogues are by far the most attractive protein segment for investors, making up over 70% of investments in Europe last year. Their supremacy is expected to continue this year, with a projected share of 56%. Alternative dairy startups, however, have witnessed a sharp decline, going from 60% of the sector’s capital injections in 2020 to a forecast of less than 1% for 2024.

    These figures have been impacted by the rise in egg substitutes (projected to make up nearly 30% of alternative protein funding this year) and alternative fats and oils (13%). Startups tackling the cocoa and coffee industries also gained a lot of ground, in response to surging prices and climate concerns.

    dealroom climate tech
    Courtesy: FoodLabs/Dealroom

    Alternative cocoa players received $69M in 2023 (doubling the capital from the year before). “The space has been overlooked, but is gaining prominence for three key reasons,” Maire said. These include the environmental impact (dark chocolate is the second most polluting food group, mainly due to land use); ethical considerations (given the incidence of child labour in the value chain); and price fluctuations (cocoa prices reached an all-time high this year).

    “We believe that the emerging bioeconomy and scientific breakthroughs have the potential to solve some of the biggest food and climate issues,” said Patrick Noller, general partner at FoodLabs. “Many companies are pioneering efficient, cost-effective, and eco-friendly proteins and alternative ingredients through precision fermentation, biomass fermentation, molecular farming, and cell culture.”

    France leads investments, but removing regulatory barriers is key

    Apart from alternative proteins, European food waste startups attracted $138M in funding last year, a 20% increase on 2022. Meanwhile, sustainable packaging companies received $70M (a 46% year-on-year hike), and biomaterial producers raised $41M (a 238% increase).

    Overall, the climate-focused food tech sector was the second-best performing category across European industries in 2023, representing just a 2% decline in investments, behind only the energy industry (which saw a 16% hike). On average, the continent witnessed a 37% drop in VC financing.

    europe climate food tech investment
    Courtesy: FoodLabs/Dealroom

    The UK leads the way as a climate-food tech hub, home to 18% of the sector’s startups in Europe. This is followed by the Netherlands (14%), and France and Germany (12% each). However, French companies received the most capital ($416M), and that’s after a 29% dip from 2022. Switzerland ($354M) and the UK ($239M) were next on the list, with impressive gains made by the former, as well as countries like Belgium, Norway and Iceland.

    In terms of who is putting the money in, the EU-backed European Innovation Council Fund has been the most active pre-seed investor since 2016, making 33 investments in the climate-centric food tech space. This is closely followed by the Blue Horizon Corporation (30) and state-owned bank Bpifrance (26). Likewise, Belgium’s Astanor Ventures (18) and France’s Demeter Partners (17) are the top investors when it comes to Series A+ rounds.

    But in spite of the positives of 2023, projections for 2024 suggest a return to pre-pandemic levels ($1.1B), with the US expected to overtake Europe again. This is primarily due to the absence of mega-rounds like Atlas Agro’s. “The global venture [capital] industry is still in transition after the outlier years of 2020-21, a shift in monetary policy and higher interest rates,” said Maire. “We don’t expect global investment to increase in 2024, but we do expect a return to baseline.”

    dealroom foodtech
    Courtesy: FoodLabs/Dealroom

    Startups will also have to contend with a reshuffled EU parliament, with the far-right’s rise raising fears about the bloc’s climate ambitions. “The EU already does a tremendous job of funding innovation through many direct and indirect programmes,” explained Maire. “However, it could simplify and standardise some of the regulatory hurdles – for example, for alternative protein companies.”

    The EU’s current novel foods framework has left it lagging behind other governments – the US, Singapore and Israel have already approved cultivated meat for sale, while the UK is on the verge of doing so after announcing it’s breaking away from pre-Brexit regulations. In contrast, Italy has banned the production and sale of cultivated meat, and France and Romania are considering doing so too.

    The post European Food Tech Startups Overtook the US to Attract $2B in Investments in 2023 appeared first on Green Queen.

    This post was originally published on Green Queen.