5 Mins Read
Alternative protein innovation is exploding all over the world. France is no exception. The land of cheese and wine is now home to a growing cohort of startups developing sustainable protein alternatives, including some of the most iconic dishes French cuisine has on offer. From cultivating foie gras to plant-based milk, cheese and eggs, these 9 French food techs are ones to watch.
Gourmey is France’s first cell-based food tech, and it’s tackling one of the most iconic dishes in French gastronomic culture: foie gras. The delicacy is traditionally made from overfeeding geese and ducks to harvest their fatty liver, but the startup is making cruelty-free foie gras by growing it directly from cells. Armed with $10 million in funding, including support from the French government, Gourmey is now expanding its cell-based meat portfolio with duck, chicken, and turkey, with a goal to commercialise its slaughter-free poultry products by 2022.
2. Le Papondu
Le Papondu, formerly known as Les Merveilloeufs, is dedicated to making eggs vegan. The Paris-based food tech stands out among the vegan egg market as one of the only few companies working on a whole egg alternative, with its substitute coming in a shell and bearing a distinctive egg and yolk separation—just like a real one from chickens. Operating out of its base with incubator Station F, Le Papondu is now gearing up to launch its product across restaurants in the French capital and wants to make it available to consumers via retail too.
HARi&CO makes healthy vegan burgers and meatballs from whole food plant-based ingredients, with legumes being the star of the show. The brainchild of Lyon-based agricultural engineers Benoît and Manu, the brand shuns soy in favour of French beans such as green lentils, chickpeas and flageolet beans. Even the name of the company, HARi&CO, is a play on the word haricot, which means bean in French. Some of their products include a green lentil veggie burger and organic chickpea veggie balls, which are available in major retail outlets including Casino.
HappyVore (formerly Les Nouveaux Fermiers), dubbed the French Beyond Meat, is a plant-based meat startup offering an entire range of beef patties, nuggets, minced meat, chunks and sausages. According to the company, its substitutes are far more planet-friendly than animal meat, requiring 11-times less CO2 and 10-times less water to produce than its counterparts. Most of Les Nouveaux Fermiers’ products are made with a base of pea protein, with other ingredients including sunflower oil, potato starch, legumes and natural flavourings like rosemary and onion. The range is sold in major retail chains like Casino, Carrefour and Monoprix, as well as served in restaurants across the country.
5. Les Nouveaux Affineurs
Les Nouveaux Affineurs is a gourmet plant-based cheese startup dedicated to creating cheese wheels, cream cheese and spreads that taste just like their real dairy-based counterparts. Made from organic cashews sourced from Vietnam and non-GMO soybeans grown in France, the brand’s range is made using traditional French cheesemaking and culturing techniques. Les Nouveaux Affineurs sells its artisanal cheeses in specialty health shops and select retailers across France.
6. Jay & Joy
Jay & Joy is another plant-based cheese brand, but they don’t use any soy. Instead, the company’s range of certified organic and vegan cheeses are made from almond milk and cashew nuts. While its almonds are sourced from Spain, Jay Joy uses cashews from Vietnam and India and processes the nuts into delicious alternatives for classic picks like French blue cheese, goats cheese and camembert. At the moment, Jay Joy’s range is available in Biocoop outlets as well as in its own store in Paris, and also in Germany, with retailers like Vollcorner Bio and LPG Biomarkt.
7. Magic Bean
Magic Bean is a vegan meat brand dedicated to developing alternatives that look, taste and even have the bite resembling the real deal. Using a base of yellow pea proteins, the brand’s additive-free plant-based chunks come in three flavour varieties, including Mexican-style, provençal and curry. The Lyon-based company uses only non-GMO pulses and cereals that have been grown in France, and does not use any soy. It is available directly to consumers via its online website.
8. Algama Foods
Algama Foods is a B2B food tech that helps other brands develop sustainable alternatives to all kinds of animal-based proteins, from eggs to dairy and meat. As its name suggests, the star ingredient that powers the startup’s technology is algae. By selecting the right strains and cultivating and processing them into ingredients that can be easily used to create substitutes for animal products, the company offers its co-development, co-branding and formulation expertise to other food producers. One example is The Good Spoon, which leveraged Algama’s platform to create Supernaise, a plant-based egg-free mayonnaise alternative.
9. Update Foods
Update Foods is making plant-based milk using algae and faba protein. The Paris-headquartered startup is currently in the R&D stages of perfecting its “updated milk”, which it claims will taste and look like real dairy, but is even more nutritious and just as affordable. Aside from leveraging faba bean protein and algae oil, the company’s formulation includes natural flavourings, some emulsifiers and texturisers, and no added sugars.
Lead image courtesy of Magic Bean.