Future Food Quick Bites: Beyond Pizzas, Corporate Movers & Vegan Meal Donations
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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 a host of developments for plant-based giants, corporate moves and a vegan meal donation campaign.
New products and launches
It’s a big week for big plant-based brands. Let’s start with Beyond Meat, which has extended its partnership with Pizza Hut UK through the launch of its pepperoni in the country, which features in the Big New Yorker and Beyond Pepperoni Feast pizzas, as well as the Beyond Pepperoni Melt.
It’s not the only pizza partnership going for Beyond Meat. In the US, it collaborated with vegan frozen brand Blackbird Foods for a relaunched version of the latter’s pepperoni pizza. Blackbird argues that Beyond’s pepperoni is meatier than its original house pepperoni, and the pizza will be available nationwide in retailers including The Fresh Market, Central Market, Earthfare and select Whole Foods stores.
Fellow Californian plant-based meat giant Impossible Foods has announced that it is the Official Plant-Based Burger of Walt Disney World Resort. The company, which has a fantastic track record for foodservice partnerships, has been working with Disney for three years.
Staying in this area, Bay Area company Eat Just – another vegan leader – has updated the product packaging for its mung-based JUST Egg. It will begin rolling out at Target and other retailers this month, with nationwide (and Canadian) availability expected by March 2024.
Swedish oat milk leader Oatly has had a busy week too. It has expanded its foodservice footprint with Insomnia Cookies, which will house its 11oz plain and chocolate oat milks across its over 250 locations in the US.
Meanwhile, in Spain, Better Balance has introduced three veggie burgers with a Nutri-Score A rating. The Huerta (peas, carrots and peppers), Eggplant and Spinach Burgers are available in El Corte Inglés, Carrefour, and Alcampo supermarkets.
Fellow Spanish brand Cocuus, which debuted its 3D-printed vegan bacon in Carrefour earlier this month, is prepping for a UK launch with the plant-based bacon analogue. Plus, vegan foie gras and tuna are planned for the months to follow.
In other pig-based meat alternatives news, German meat manufacturer Rügenwalder Mühle is continuing its link-up with fashion photographer Paul Ripke with a cleverly named Paulled Pork snack, which resembles a char siu bao and is part of the brand’s Veganuary campaign.
Also in Germany, dairy giant Bauer is teaming up with Austrian upcycled food company Kern Tec to launch ZUM GLÜCK!, an alt-dairy brand that leverages the latter’s apricot kernel fat. The milks and yoghurts will be available in January.
Over in the UK, vegan yoghurt maker The Coconut Collaborative has joined the plant-based milk world too, with a barista coconut M*LK that it swears froths, doesn’t split, and keeps a neutral flavour. It will initially launch through Ocado, with a wider rollout from January.
Meanwhile, discount retailer Aldi is reportedly expanding its own-label meatless offerings with a spin-off of its Plant Menu range, called Veggie Menu. Its IP filings have revealed that it will include cheese spreads, vegetarian sausages and quiches.
Away from retail for a second, London-based cocoa-free chocolate maker WNWN Food Labs has launched wholesale packs of its dark and vegan milk chocolates for bakeries, restaurants/foodservice, confectionery groups, and CPG/FMCG companies globally – something the brand hinted at in an interview with Green Queen in August.
Fresh off its first national TV campaign with Grace Dent – where it pointedly hit home on the health aspect of its vegan chicken – British plant-based brand THIS has updated its chicken pieces with a cleaner label, with a 50% cut in the number of ingredients.
In more British chicken news, VFC has entered the frozen category with two new SKUs: a plant-based chicken breast and chicken mince, which it claims is first to market. They will initially launch in Morrisons stores, with a wider rollout anticipated in 2024.
Speaking of mince, Singapore’s Good Health Farm, which debuted the world’s first tempeh beef mince in August, will be launching into 13 Fairprice stores in the city-state, with a sampling campaign, promotional pricing and local celeb chef Forest Leong.
The tempeh market is fermenting in India too, with Hello Tempayy releasing its new line of shelf-stable, tikka-style marinated tempeh thins in Tandoori, Korean BBQ and Thai Chilli flavours. These are available nationwide via online delivery.
In Australia, plant protein manufacturer The Harvest B has gained a listing on Woolworths‘ online platform Healthylife, which will stock the former’s locally produced lamb, chicken, beef and pork analogues.
And in news that will delight plant-based meat fans, Israeli 3D-printed meat producer Redefine Meat is entering European retail after expanding into foodservice footprint to 5,000 locations over the last year and a half. Its retail rollout will begin with the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Funding and markets
In Germany, sugar giant Nordzucker will invest €100M ($109.5M) in the production of plant-based proteins, with a new dedicated facility planned for a 2026 opening, which will create around 60 jobs.
Similarly, Israeli mycelium meat producer Mush Foods – which provides its ingredient for use in blended meat applications – has been awarded $250,000 in the Grow-NY Food and Agriculture Business Competition.
In the UK, meat alternatives could account for a third of the nation’s protein market by 2040, according to a report by UK think tank the Social Market Foundation.
Meanwhile, in Italy, seven agrifood startups have been chosen for the FoodSeed Accelerator, including cocoa-free chocolate maker Foreverland, ozonated oil startup Agreen Biosolutions, and water management service Soonapse.
Dutch vegan cheese maker Willicroft has launched a crowdfunding campaign on the back of unveiling its plant-based butter, which is made using precise (not precision) fermentation – there’s a difference!
M&A and corporate moves
Canada’s Protein Powered Farms has acquired Lovingly Made Ingredients, the plant protein extrusion facility built and previously owned by Meatless Farm. It will offer customised protein blends, pea and fava proteins for alt-dairy and snack applications, and pulses-based fibre products, and be open for co-manufacturing opportunities.
And in the UK, artisanal vegan cheese maker Palace Culture has been acquired by The Compleat Food Group (formerly Winterbotham Darby), which owns fellow plant-based brands Squeaky Bean and Vadasz.
This week has also seen quite a few corporate personnel moves in the food world. Jean Madden, who has been the chief marketing officer of TiNDLE Foods for three years, is now the brand’s chief operating officer and has been formally named as a co-founder of the company (she was part of the original 4-person founding team).
Beyond Meat really is going full-tilt on the health aspects of plant-based meat. It has hired an official nutrition advisor in Joy Bauer, a registered dietitian and host of NBC’s Health & Happiness show and the health and nutrition expert on The Today Show.
Meanwhile, changes are afloat at Boston food tech firm Motif FoodWorks, whose CEO Dr Mike Leonard has departed and been replaced by industry veteran Brian Brazeau as the company embarks on a fresh round of layoffs.
Manufacturing, policy and events
Told you it’s been a busy week for Oatly. Toronto-based food packaging company Ya YA Food Corp. has announced a $92M investment into the expansion of its Business Depot Ogden plant in Utah – this was previously taken over from Oatly as part of the oat milk maker’s ‘asset-light supply chain strategy’, and will keep manufacturing oat milk and expand production for Oatly.
In Lisbon, biotech company MicroHarvest has opened a pilot plant to accelerate the commercialisation of its biomass-fermented single-cell protein. The 200 sq m plant can churn out 25kg of product per day.
Swiss equipment manufacturer Bühler has opened a new food innovation hub in Uzwil, Switzerland, which will house four application centres for food, flavour, protein and energy recovery. These will enable the development of processes to produce plant-based meat, drinks and ingredients – among other foods.
In the UK, while the King’s Speech left out some key social issues, it did include an animal welfare bill that will see the export of livestock for fattening and slaughter permanently banned.
Speaking of social issues, vegan supplements brand Complement, which has donated one plant-based meal to children in need for each product sold, has announced a no-purchase-necessary campaign through Christmas, where all you need to do is sign up to its emails, and it will donate a meal to kids globally.
Meanwhile, a study by the University of California, Irvine says monocropping foods like soy, corn and palm for cooking oils are highly detrimental to the climate, and lab-grown fats – take your pick – can save tons of land, water and emissions.
To promote more eco-friendly eating, Sodexo hosted its global Sustainable Chef Challenge, where eight of its chefs faced off to create two low-carbon practical dishes that minimised food waste. The winners were its UK and Ireland chef Sharon McConnell and Brazilian chef Ricardo Machado.
British plant-based meat brand Moving Mountains partnered with food emissions expert Klimato for a life-cycle assessment of its products, and revealed that its burger emits 92% less CO2e than beef.
As we approach the end of the year, awards season is upon us too. Vegan Women Summit has announced its inaugural VWS Awards to commemorate leaders and organisations accelerating women’s leadership with positive social, planetary and animal welfare impact. There are nine categories – including founder of the year and best place to work – and nominations are open until December 31.
And finally, Toronto held the 2023 International Vegan Film Festival and Vegan Cookbook Contest last week, with The Smell of Money among the winners in the former category, and PlantYou by Carleigh Bodrug winning in the latter.