Future Food Quick Bites: Bustling Britain, Super Basic Oat Milk & A Vegan Flag Carrier
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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 Oatly’s first new US products in five years, Emirates’ vegan push, and a massive amount of UK news coinciding with Veganuary.
New products and launches
For the first time in five years, Oatly has expanded its product portfolio in North America, with two new SKUs catering to specific consumer needs: Unsweetened and Super Basic. The former contains a proprietary oat blend with 0g of sugar, while the latter only has four ingredients (including citrus fibre upcycled from the juice industry).
In more Oatly news, the oat milk giant has widened its US footprint via a distribution agreement with coffee chain The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf that will see the former’s Barista Edition be available at over 180 of the latter’s stores nationwide.
Another brand growing its presence in the US is South Korea’s Unlimeat, which has opened an online D2C store for its meat alternatives.
Speaking of Asian producers, Hong Kong-based Omni is debuting its Plant-Based Teriyaki Bao Buns in the freezers of Albertsons, Safeway, Pavilions, Vons, Acme Markets, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Jewel-Osco, Star Market, and Shaw’s in the US.
In the pet food realm, PawCo Foods has unveiled two AI-powered vegan dog food products, with a first-of-its-kind shelf-stable plant-based meat meal, as well as a premium fresh offering with postbiotics and fermented protein.
Germany’s national rail company Deutsche Bahn, meanwhile, is doubling down on its vegan focus with a noodle stir-fry featuring Happy Ocean Foods’ soy-based shrimp, available onboard its train nationwide.
In the UK, bakery chain Greggs has relaunched its famous Vegan Steak Bake, two years after discontinuing the product due to unprecedented demand straining supply. It is available from January 4 for a “limited time only”.
In London, Le Petit Beefbar has witnessed a sharp uptick in plant-based steak sales. The Chelsea Steakhouse says its Redefine Meat steak frites dish has gone up from 1% of total weekly sales to 45%.
Slovenian whole-cut vegan meat producer Juicy Marbles has expanded its UK presence with a long-term deal with Tesco, launching its soy protein steaks for £9 per two-pack in over 350 stores.
French food tech startup La Vie has penned an exclusive agreement with Tesco as well, which will see its plant-based ham available on the retailer’s shelves in regular and smoked variants for £3 per 100g.
In another Tesco exclusive, plant-based meat brand THIS has released a new vegan chicken breast offering, retailing at £3.50 for a pack of two. Additionally, it has launched a frozen beef mince SKU in Morrisons.
British startup Greenwood Foods has released its Soak’d Oats bars in all 29 Costco stores in the UK, as well as locations in Sweden and Iceland, after celebrating its millionth sales four months post-launch.
Tempeh startup Better Nature has jumped on the Veganuary bandwagon with a new Smoky Tempeh SKU (which is seasoned with smoked salt), which is currently available on Amazon.
UK snack giant Walkers has launched a limited-edition Unbelievable! Vegan range of crisps for Veganuary in Grilled Cheese Toastie, BBQ Pork Ribs and Flame Grilled Steak flavours. While many of its existing offerings happen to be vegan, this is the first time the producer is marketing its innovation as such.
Also in the UK, plant-based ingredients manufacturer Marigold has introduced a wholegrain Popcorn Plus SKU featuring its Engevita nutritional yeast. It’s available at independent stores for 99p per 20g.
Continuing with the UK’s Veganuary boom, vegan chicken marker VFC and recipe kit startup Grubby have collaborated to add three new recipes – Crispy Chicken Burger, Korean Fried Chicken and Chicken Katsu Curry – to the latter’s menu. The link-up will provide five new recipes this year.
British vegan ready-to-eat brand Pollen + Grace has launched three new ready meals for Veganuary. The Rich Aubergine & Lentil Moussaka, Saag Aloo Potato Pie, and Thai Red Vegetable Curry retail from £4.95 to £5.50 per 400g and are available in supermarkets across the UK.
Vegan egg and aquafaba brand OGGS has launched Mega Caramel Cupcakes in the UK too, updating its packaging with ‘Cruelty-Free Cakes’ after its research showed a consumer awareness gap around eggs and animal welfare.
Another British sweet treat maker, Mummy Meegz has introduced Chickee Eggs, a plant-based chocolate SKU inspired by the Cadbury Mini Eggs. The new product comprises vegan milk chocolate eggs wrapped in a crunchy shell.
Elsewhere, UAE flag carrier Emirates is expanding its vegan offerings (which number over 300) after a 40% year-on-year rise in vegan meal consumption in line with passenger volumes.
And B2B gourmet food producer Classic Fine Foods has released the CFFALT Recipe Book, created by chefs and collaborators in seven markets (and features ecosystem insiders including Andre Menezes, Mirte Gosker and our very own Sonalie Figueiras). The book has a diverse range of vegan recipes and hopes to showcase the company’s commitment to sustainable gastronomy through its alt-protein platform, CFFALT.
Policy, funding and facilities
British oyster mushroom protein producer Myco has moved into a 20,000 sq ft site in Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire. The company, whose protein is called Hooba, aims to turn it into a vertical farming unit and create nearly 70 new jobs.
In Denmark, new food tech VC Kost Capital has announced the first close of its €25M target fund with the Export and Investment Fund of Denmark. The investment firm will look to pre-seed and seed B2B startups focusing on the future of food, having previously backed Äio, Nūmi and Nutrumami.
In sadder news, Catalan B2B plant-based food producer RIP Foods has ceased operations, citing funding challenges, category scepticism and the giant power of the animal agriculture industry.
Meanwhile, Baltimore has become the first US city to declare January as the official month of Veganuary, with mayor Brandon M Scott openly promoting plant-based diets for environmental, health, economic, and animal protection reasons.
A new Japanese book, Future Outlook for Cellular Foods, looks into the challenges faced by the country’s cultivated meat industry, and how they can be overcome through tech and social initiatives.
Awards and events
After pledging to step up its plant-based focus, Prince William’s Earthshot Prize has seen vegan charity GenV nominate Brazilian investor platform Vegan Business in the Protect and Restore Nature category for 2024. The winners will be announced in November.
A team of students from the National University of Singapore has won the top prize of $3,000 in ProVeg International’s APAC Food Innovation Challenge 2023 for its allergen-free vegan shrimp product, Keepin’ it Shrimple.
Finally, VeggieWorld & New Protein China, which is usually a single trade fair for all things plant-based and alt-protein, has now decided to separate the lifestyle exhibition from the professional forum (respectively) into two events after “studying the current domestic and international” trends in the industry.