The Latin American alt protein market is exploding. We recently did an overview of the space, in which we highlighted that 90% of the population want to eat more plant-based foods, according to an Ingredion survey. We recently spoke to regional expert Emmanuel Besserve (an interview worth reading for anyone keen to learn more about Latin America’s plant-based industry), who helps brands launch across the continent, and he shared that “searches for ‘vegan’ and ‘plant-based’ have clearly more than doubled last year and this pattern is consistent across Latin American countries”. Luckily there is no shortage of startups looking to fill the gap. Below, we profile the movers and shakers of the LatAm alt protein industry to get you all caught up.
The New Butchers (Brazil)
Founders: Nessim Abadi, Mariana Nakaie, Bruno Fonseca
Based in Brazil, this new food tech is recreating much-loved meats such as beef burgers, chicken tenders and even salmon fillets using only plant ingredients, such as pea protein, coconut oil and beetroot. It currently has a presence across 16 states in Brazil, sold in supermarkets and specialty stores, and is working on developing new products such as plant-based pork.
Founders: Matias Muchnick, Nicolas Szekasy & Karim Pichara
Since launching its plant-based mayonnaise product, Santiago-headquartered NotCo has developed vegan-friendly milk, ice cream and burger patties, and has a strong presence in its domestic market in Chile and across Latin America. The Jeff Bezos-backed company leverages artificial intelligence algorithms to look for patterns in foods that consumers crave to replicate these products using 100% plant ingredients. It recently closed a US$85 million funding round, taking its valuation to US$250 million.
The Live Green Co (Chile)
Founder: Priyanka Srinivas
Also based in Chile is The Live Green Co, a two-year-old food tech creating plant-based alternatives for everything from meat to baking mixes and supplements. It’s formulations are powered by its AI-forward software, Charaka, which uses biotech and machine learning to create natural and sustainable substitutes for animal products.
Tomorrow Foods (Argentina)
Founders: Agustin Belloso, Guillermo Daniel Lentini & Gonzalo M. Segovia
Buenos Aires-based startup Tomorrow Foods has developed a range of plant-based protein isolates derived from different non-GMO plant crops sourced locally in Argentina. Its products – LatinRice, LatinPea, LatinChickpea, and LatinMung – are designed to be easily incorporated into major manufacturers’ recipes. Since its inception just a few months ago, the company has tested its products with major food brands across Chile, Argentina and Brazil.
Fazenda Futuro aka Future Farm (Brazil)
Founders: Marcos Leta, Alfredo Strechinsky
Founded in 2019, Fazenda Futuro is a Brazilian vegan startup with a line of meat alternatives including burgers, meatballs and sausages. It has already established a foothold in international markets since its launch, including in Chile, Mexico, Uruguay and the Netherlands, and with its latest US$21.5 million investment, the company hopes to take its products to more countries in Europe and in Asia next year. The founders previously ran a juice which they sold to regional beverage giant Ambev back in 2016.
Founders: David Bermeo, Raul Bermeo, Daniel Bermeo
Ecuadorian company Terrafertil sells natural, organic, plant-based foods and healthy snacks across Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, and the United Kingdom. Its flagship brand, Nature’s Heart, is best known for its dried Andean goldenberries, which are high in vitamins and antioxidants. Other products of the Nestlé acquired brand include dried bananas, organic cacao powder, coconut flakes, and supplement blends that contain plant-based omega-3s and other nutrients.
Behind The Foods (Brazil)
Founder: Leandro Mendes
Established in 2018, São Paulo-based Behind The Foods is a food tech that has developed a plant-based burger. Called the Behind Burger, the patty contains no soy or artificial ingredients, is gluten-free and allergen-free. There is very little information about the startup, which appears to be in stealth mode.
CEO: Flávio André Nunes dos Santos
Superbom is a longtime Brazil-based vegan food brand (it was founded in 1925) that recently launched its ready-made frozen fish steaks that are 100% plant-based into Brazilian supermarkets. Made from pea protein and enriched with vitamin B12, the company hopes to fill the gap in the Latin American market when it comes to plant-based alternatives for seafood. Aside from seafood, the company has developed plant-based chicken and burger patties too.
Seara Foods Incredible Range (Brazil)
CEO: Joanita Karoleski
Seara Foods, which is owned by meat giant JBS, the world’s biggest meat processing company, has recently entered the plant-based market with a new “Incredible Range” that offers a number of plant-based protein alternatives primarily made from soy. There are five products so far, including two flavours of its Incredible Burger, Incredible Empanado, Incredible Kibe and Incredible Oriental Meat. Note; Seara Foods also manufactures meat products.
Heartbest Foods (Mexico)
Founders: Aldo González & Aniceto González Rodríguez
Heartbest is a Mexico’s first food tech producing plant-based dairy alternatives. Based in San Luis Potosi, the startup’s line-up includes vegan pea and amaranth milk, and several Vegicheez products ranging from plant-based mozzarella to cheddar and parmesan. Since its inception in late 2016, Heartbest has grown its presence to over 800 stores nationwide, including in some of the biggest retailers like Costco, Walmart, HEB, La Comer and Soriana.