The Top 3 Future Foods I Tasted At CES 2023
5 Mins Read
By Noah Hyams
Vegan entrepreneur Noah Hyams shares his top 3 future of food finds at CES 2023, from fermented plant-based soy protein to bioengineered microbe-based soft serve.
CES never used to be a food-forward show. But in 2019, plant-based meat startup Impossible Foods changed the rules of the game by debuting their Impossible Burger 2.0 at the annual gathering of the who’s who in tech. According to CES, which published a case study about the success of the launch, the pioneering food company garnered over 446 million media impressions. Thanks to this bold move, CES is now a conference mainstay for tech-forward food companies who are keen to showcase their tech-forward missions and products, not to mention nab some extra media headlines.
This year, there was plenty to get excited about foodwise. Asia-based foodtech companies in particular stole the show with innovations ranging from a proprietary plant-based fat and a plant-based replica of milk protein to a novel fermented soybean technology.
It was a dream come true for me to make my way through the show, tasting and discovering all the innovative new future food products on behalf of Green Queen. Below, I share my top three picks – the startups whose product or technology I found the most noteworthy.
Lypid: Plant-Based Fat Technology
To start my foodtech journey at CES, I headed over to Lypid’s’s booth to try their newly developed PhytoFat, which the company says “accurately mimics the texture, mouthfeel, transfer of flavor, and cooking behavior of animal fats.” The IndieBio-backed company plans to sell its product to manufacturers to add animal meat-like juiciness and mouthfeel to plant-based meats.
The company, which raised US$4 million back in March 2022, says it uses physics and fluid dynamics to recreate a highly stable fat that can hold its texture for six months and melt at high temperatures just like animal-derived fats.. The trans-fat-free ingredient list is mostly made up of water and canola oil. Crucially, the company claims the fat is cheap to produce and requires zero hydrogenation. The company is based in both Taiwan and San Francisco and is currently looking for food service partners to bring its fat innovation to market in the US.
The plant-based pork belly sample I tasted was surprisingly realistic and tasty. As plant-based meat companies look to increasingly mimic animal meats, ingredients such as realistic-tasting fats are playing an increasingly important role. Plant-based fats on their own don’t perform like animal fats which leads many products to lack the mouthfeel, juiciness, and texture consumers would expect. After its up-and-coming launch in the U.S. in food service, Lypid says it will be looking to expand throughout Europe and Asia.
Armored Fresh Technology: Bioengineered Soft Serve Ice Cream
Next, I headed over to Armored Fresh Technology’s (AFT) booth to try their new bio-engineered soft-serve ice cream, a new product line for the South Korean company, and it was delicious.
According to AFT, the core of their raw material technology is an emulsifying function that allows them to create a replica of the milk protein casein as a plant-based protein. The company says that dairy’s unique taste and texture features such as the stretchiness of cheese, chewy ice cream, and creamy yogurts all come from casein, which is not available in plants. It’s also why it has been difficult for plant-based proteins to get plant-based dairy to taste like its animal counterpart. Like Perfect Day, AFT uses precision fermentation technology to recreate molecularly identical animal casein from microbes.
AFT raised $23 million back in June and then launched their plant-based cheeses made from almond milk and a proprietary plant-based lactic acid in the US market this past October. Currently, the cheeses are available in more than 100 stores on the East Coast. The company has secured a number of patents for its cheese production processes and has now brought some of this same technology to the ice cream category.
Kwang Jin Corp’s DNS: Fermented Plant-Based Protein Powder Meal
My last stop was at South Korean startup Kwang Jin Corp’s booth. The company was a Korean showing off its latest plant-based food product, ‘DNS Da Neung Sik’ a sort of healthy powder beverage/meal replacement mix. The soybean meal is inspired by Chungguk jang, a traditional Korean fermented food. Kwang Jin has spent many years developing a modernized version of the traditional method of natural fermentation using rice straws to isolate and culture the Chungguk jang bacteria. While the product is primarily from fermented soybeans, there are loads of other healthy ingredients in it such as oat, brown rice, Konjac, cranberry, lemon, sweet pumpkin, broccoli, spinach, sunflower seed, almond, peanut, and banana. It is intended as a fermented alternative (plant-based) milk. I mixed it with water to try it, and it tasted like healthy oatmeal to me. The company says the powder is rich in both protein and gut-friendly probiotics and contains more nutrients than many plant-based milks and meal replacements on the market. The company is targeting US market entry and plans to start selling its products on Amazon as early as February.
Other Exciting Food Tech We Sampled
Some of the other noteworthy companies that exhibited their products this year included SavorEat, an Israeli company whose 3-D printer robot makes 3-D printed plant-based burgers. The printer allows customers to even choose their preferred protein-to-fat ratio as well as the size of the patty and how they want it cooked—juicy or well-done. Another exciting company that sampled their products is Chicago-based Nature’s Fynd, which makes fungi-based meat products from a microbe dubbed ‘Fy’, a nutritional fungi protein with all 9 essential amino acids. The novel fungi was discovered by the company’s scientists in the volcanic springs of Yellowstone National Park.
For a complete guide to the foodtech and agtech companies that participated in the show, check out The Spoon’s helpful list.