This Northern Ireland Startup Makes Vegan Scallops, Yogurt and Candy. And It’s Not Stopping There.

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Born Maverick, a food tech based in Northern Ireland, innovates everything from plant-based shrimp and scallops, to dairy-free milk and cream. Now, backed by a number of UK government agencies, including Innovate UK and Invest NI, the company is ramping up R&D and forging deals with food industry players to bring its healthier and sustainable food alternatives to market. 

Born Maverick, a plant-based startup based in West Belfast in Northern Ireland, is racing ahead to help more food brands launch healthy, sustainable, vegan offerings on the market. The company, backed by a number of public agencies including Innovate UK, Invest NI, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), says it’s already in talks with a number of multinational corporations, in a recent interview with Northern Irish paper The News Letter

Founder Azhar Murtuza. (Image: Born Maverick)

Vegan seafood, dairy and more

At the moment, Born Maverick is in the final stages of developing its vegan seafood line, which includes plant-based shrimp and scallops. The food tech is leveraging seaweed to recreate the taste and texture of real seafood using only plant-based ingredients, which come at a fraction of the environmental footprint compared to commercial fishing. 

“There is a huge demand for new products from global food companies and we have received interest in our vegan shrimps and scallops, particularly from the US, Scandinavia and Singapore,” said Azhar Murtuza, the founder of Born Maverick, which operates at the Belfast City Council-owned Innovation Factory. “We are currently finding the right match for the product.”

Púr product range. (Image: Born Maverick)

In the interview, Murtuza revealed that the startup is also developing alternatives for other animal-derived products, including dairy. Vegan milk, cream and yogurt are among some of the company’s products that are now at “an advanced stage”. 

Already on the market is its Púr brand, which offers vegan gluten-free and non-GMO protein powders made from the ancient grain teff, and its upcoming dairy-free milk and vegan lollies or “pops” will also be launched under this label. 

The B2B startup’s founder says it is “working with one of the biggest dairy companies in the Nordic countries to develop this product,” with Scandinavian countries typically the most receptive to changing consumer trends and are now “all about sustainability.” 

Born Maverick is developing vegan milk alternatives. (Image: Born Maverick)

Food innovation in Northern Ireland

Ultimately, Born Maverick hopes to propel a food innovation revolution in Northern Ireland, helping to establish a local, climate-friendly and resilient supply chain. Speaking to The News Letter, Murtuza says that the startup wants to be able to forge partnerships with companies in Northern Ireland to create homegrown products, such as plant-based meat and dairy products, which are now in high demand.

The UK’s vegan meat market is one of the most lucrative in Europe, with the EU-backed Smart Protein Project’s latest data estimating its current value at $470 million and annual growth to sustain at double-digits. Covid-19 has only accelerated the plant-based trend—one poll indicates that around a quarter of all British shoppers are now actively reducing their animal food intake. 

“Why not come up with your own new foods rather than import them from other countries? This is the challenge ahead for the Northern Ireland food industry,” shared Murtuza. “There is more and more space being taken up on supermarket shelves by plant-based products and that is why companies are showing interest.”

Lead image courtesy of Unsplash.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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