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Agribusiness giant Cargill has invested in Bflike, a startup hailing from the Netherlands that licenses its proprietary plant-based technology and ingredient solutions to food companies looking to produce alternative proteins. The partnership between Cargill and Bflike will mean faster and more affordable routes to market for new “next generation” plant-based meat and fish analogues.
Cargill has entered a new 50-50 joint venture with Dutch food tech incubator Blue Ocean Xlerator NV (BOX), the firm behind the startup Bflike, the firm announced on Thursday (April 22). The new partnership will see the Dutch startup bring its recipes and technology, while Cargill leverages its established food and ingredient solutions to launch new plant-based alternative products on the market, with plant-based meat and fish as the first target categories. The financial details of the deal was undisclosed.
Bflike’s technology enables the development plant-based alternatives look, feel and cook like their real animal counterparts to a next level, thanks to its proprietary patent-pending vegan fat and blood platforms. According to the firm, its alternatives are “virtually indistinguishable” – even in both raw and cooked formats, from mouthfeel to melting behaviour and texture.
[We are] allowing manufacturers and retailers to offer affordable, meat and fish alternatives that truly mirror the sensory experiences of traditional animal-based products.Koos van Haasteren, CEO, Bflike
The Dutch startup, whose existing line features plant-based burgers and minced meat, developed its technology with technical support from TOP BV, the Wageningen-based food tech service provider and subsidiary firm under BOX.
“BOX and TOP have spent years developing a pipeline of diet enrichment solutions, allowing manufacturers and retailers to offer affordable, meat and fish alternatives that truly mirror the sensory experiences of traditional animal-based products,” said Koos van Haasteren, CEO of Bflike.
The partnership with Cargill will mean a “seamless” transition for food businesses, producers and retailers who want to license Bflike’s technology, to move from pilot stage to commercialisation. It will also mean faster scale-up timelines for food producers who use their own facilities and machinery, while being supported by Cargill’s secure ingredients supply chain.
It’ll be particularly handy for businesses across the food industry who are racing to ramp up their plant-based offerings amid surging mainstream consumer demand. In the U.S. alone, retail sales of plant-based food products grew twice as fast as the broader market to hit US$7 billion in 2020.
Cargill is enabling plant-based alternatives that exceed consumer expectations and enrich consumer diets with responsible, sustainable and affordable options in various geographies.Belgin Köse, Segment Director, Cargill Starches, Sweeteners & Texturisers Europe
Statistics collected during the pandemic also suggest that sales were driven by huge numbers of first-time buyers of plant-based products and the fast-growing cohort of flexitarians or “part-time vegans”, who now make up more than 40% of the global consumer market.
“Plant-based protein…will help fulfill growing consumers’ desire for more options as part of a balanced diet,” commented Belgin Köse, segment director at Cargill Starches, Sweeteners & Texturisers Europe.
“This joint venture is another way in which Cargill is enabling plant-based alternatives that exceed consumer expectations and enrich consumer diets with responsible, sustainable and affordable options in various geographies.”
Bflike CEO van Haasteren added: “Now together with Cargill as a development partner, we can help expand the possibilities with a new generation of nutritious products that will continue to revolutionise the plant-based marketplace.”
Entering into a joint venture with the plant-based startup is only the latest in Cargill’s expanding plant-based strategy. Last year, the agribusiness giant launched PlantEver, its first Chinese plant-based meat brand, after rolling out chicken-free nuggets in collaboration with fast food giant KFC in the country.
All images courtesy of Bflike / Cargill.