Future Food Quick Bites: Ben & Berry’s, Better Butter & A Covid-19 Study
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In our weekly column, we round up the latest news and developments in the alternative protein and sustainable food industry. This week, Future Food Quick Bites covers Ben & Jerry’s new oat milk ice-creams, Beyond Meat’s new marketing campaigns, and a study linking plant-based diets to a lower Covid-19 risk.
New products and launches
Ice-cream giant Ben & Jerry’s has released its first new flavour after reformulating its non-dairy offerings with oat milk. A vegan version of a fan favourite, the Strawberry Cheezecake is available at retailers and for delivery in the US.
And in the UK, Ben & Jerry’s has teamed up with vegan frozen food startup One Planet Pizza to offer a meal deal at Asda for Veganuary. It means the former’s new Oat of this Swirled sundae and latter’s Peppernomi Pizza are available for £5, saving you £4.50.
At Morrisons, Mars has released a vegan version of its Galaxy Fruit & Nut chocolate bar, which is available as a 100g bar or in a 40g snacking format, which will be in stores nationwide from January 22.
Another sweet treat comes courtesy of Premier Foods, which has launched vegan versions of its famous McDougalls jelly for foodservice clients in three flavours: strawberry, raspberry, and orange. The company uses carrageenan to replace gelatin.
UK foodservice wholesaler Brakes has rolled out a new vegan range called Sysco Simply Plant Based, which currently features five centrepiece dishes like Chestnut & Seed Roast. The lineup will expand to reach over 50 products in the next 18 months.
Speaking of foodservice, British noodle chain Chopstix – which specialises in Chinese takeouts – has launched a plant-based Teriyaki Beef dish (created by Miami Foods) for Veganuary. Titled All Leaf, No Beef Teriyaki, it is available across its stores nationwide.
Over to some dairy news: European dairy giant Upfield has launched what it claims is the world’s first plastic-free, recyclable tub for its Flora plant butters and spreads, in collaboration with Footprint, MCC and Pagès Group. It is part of the company’s mission to reduce plastic content by 80% by 2030.
Meanwhile, Dutch alt-dairy startup Willicroft is debuting its new precise-fermented vegan butter, named Original Better, at Crisp stores across the Netherlands.
Across the Atlantic, Bel Group-owned The Laughing Cow has launched a dairy-free version of its spreadable Garlic & Herb wedges at Whole Foods in the US, available for $4.49. It is now exploring spicy flavours for its vegan range.
South Korean dairy-free brand Armored Fresh has unveiled a new innovation with its oat milk cheese in the US: Pepper Jack slices. The startup’s products are available at Kroger, Fresh Thyme Market, Town and Country Foods, and Fred Meyer, alongside foodservice clients.
Also in the US, Colorado-based mycelium meat producer Meati has expanded into Super Target stores, and has signed an agreement for a listing at Albertsons too, as the company moves to reach 8,000 retail locations by the summer.
And Canada’s Modern Plant-Based Foods has introduced a seaweed-based Vegan Kaviar line in Salmon, Wasabi, and Beluga flavours, initially targeting sushi and seafood restaurants.
Finance and research news
In a sad development, New Zealand-based vegan meal service The Kai Box is shutting down after eight years, the founders announced on Facebook.
But in more positive news, Better Foods, the plant-based subsidiary of South Korea’s Shinsegae Food, has attracted investment from Cleveland Avenue, a VC fund founded by former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. The company will produce alt-dairy products alongside its current meat portfolio to facilitate its entry into the US market.
Seattle-based Rebellyous Foods has announced that it nearly doubled its sales in 2023, and is now donating its plant-based chicken to universities participating in the Humane Society of the United States’ Forward Food Veganuary programme, which trains chefs on vegan prep.
In France, food procession giant Tereos is investing €4M in its plant protein brand Ensemble to triple the production of its Marckolsheim Alsace plant this year, following a 50% growth in sales in 2023.
UK biotech farm FaBao, which identifies superior microbial bioproducts that can improve soil health, boost crop production and protect ecosystems, has secured a £5.3M investment from VC funds Clean Growth Fund, Pymwymic, and Ship2B Ventures.
Enifer, a Finnish biotech mycoprotein startup, has secured a €12M grant from the European Union NextGenerationEU recovery instrument to fund the construction of a commercial-scale manufacturing facility for its Pekilo protein.
At alt-meat giant Beyond Meat, CFO Lubi Kutua is taking over as interim chief accounting officer from Henry Dieu, who has left the company for another opportunity.
New York-based precision fermentation company Helaina, which is making recombinant human lactoferrin derived from fungi, has released a paper detailing the structure of its first protein, Effera.
A widely shared study published earlier this month has revealed that people following vegan and vegetarian diets have a 39% lower risk of developing Covid-19, and are less likely to experience severe symptoms than omnivores.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, Unilever, IFF and Wageningen University are undertaking a four-year reserach project to explore how flavours bind to protein molecules and recommend novel strategies to elevate the sensory experience of plant-based meats.
Policy, marketing and awards
French cultivated chicken producer Vital Meat claims it is a frontrunner to be the first European cultured meat startup to receive regulatory approval in Singapore, having filed for clearance in December.
Speaking of cultured meat regulation, Japan’s framework is about to get more complicated, with the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare transferring its food hygiene standards division to the Consumer Affairs Agency (while continuing to oversee food safety), which means companies must liaise with two agencies starting in April.
It’s a big week for Beyond Meat, which has launched two new ad campaigns. In the US, its Literally the Least You Can Do spot playfully mocks people’s non-adherence to New Year’s resolutions, featuring returning star Rizwan Manji promoting its heart-healthy steak. And in the UK, its Taste You Can Believe In pokes fun at classic Veganuary misconceptions and spotlights taste – a factor key for Britain’s alt-meat-eaters.
German cocoa-free chocolate producer ChoViva has been nominated for a Consumer Award by ISM Cologne and Foodnewsgermany for its Neapolitaner Waffeln collaboration with Rewe Group‘s own-label brand, ja!
The Vegan Women Summit has announced 24 finalists in eight categories for the inaugural VWS Awards, which include BioCraft Pet Nutrition, Viva!, Sprout Organic, VBites founder Heather Mills and Polish MEP Sylwia Spurek. The winners will be announced on May 10.