Future Food Quick Bites: Dazzling Dairy, Amazing Awards & Poopy Water
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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 plant-based dairy news, a bunch of awards and a Chilean vegan pizza collab.
New products and launches
Ahead of the launch of its Series A funding round – as exclusively revealed by Green Queen – Californian alt-honey startup MeliBio has entered the D2C segment with its Mellody plant-based honey, which is available for pre-order now. It’s priced at $19.99 for a 340g bottle and will ship out in January.
Weeks after being spotted at Whole Foods in the US, Slovenian whole-cut plant-based meat brand Juicy Marbles has officially appeared on the shelves of Whole Foods stores in the UK with its filet mignon.
London-hosted Plant Based World Europe (November 15-16) will see a host of gourmet brands unveiling their plant-based creations, including Dream Farm’s vegan mozzarella balls, Purezza’s stracciatella, Aberyne Foi Green and Isauki Seafood’s plant-based alternative to baby eels, a Spanish delicacy.
Speaking of Spain, vegan cheese brand Väcka and mycelium meat startup Libre Foods have begun a Veggie Burger Warriors campaign offering plant-based burgers in eateries from November 6-12, which feature the former’s pumpkin Cheddar and the latter’s bacon. The aim is to find the best vegan burger in Spain.
One company that won’t make more vegan burgers anytime soon, though, is Burger King, which is one of the leading fast-food chains for its inclusivity of plant-based food. In an interview with Bloomberg, its parent company’s CEO Josh Kobza said that the demand for plant-based was stable, but the chain will focus on core offerings in the US for the foreseeable future.
Vegan fast-food chain Neat Burger, however, has been expanding rapidly. It has collaborated with influencer Clare Every (The Little London Vegan) and vegan health inequality charity Made in Hackney to launch a Kimchi Crunch Burger featuring TiNDLE’s chicken patty. All burgers sold in November, which is World Vegan Month, will see £1 donated to Made in Hackney.
Another influencer making waves in the plant-based food industry is Mi-Lyung Cho, whose Korean vegan food enterprise INSTELLA has launched a Veggie Dynamite ramen SKU under its flagship Playful Foodie brand. It will be available on Amazon in the US this November.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong vegetarian fast-food eatery WOW Burger has unveiled a range of plant-based bowls in Katsu, Mediterranean and Korean variants, which use its chicken, lamb and beef alternatives, respectively.
In the US, vegan brand Abbot’s Butcher has extended its partnership with FireRoad Foods to launch plant-based egg cups using Abbot’s pea protein chorizo and FireRoad’s mung bean egg.
Elsewhere, fresh off a $33.5M Series B fundraiser, US-cultivated seafood maker BlueNalu has inked an MoU with Saudi Arabia’s planned urban development Neom to commercialise, market, and distribute the former’s cell-cultured seafood. Neom revealed that it was the lead investor in BlueNalu’s Series B round, injecting $20M.
UK-cultivated meat company Ivy Farm has roped in biotech and biopharma expert Dr Harsh Amin to deliver its R&D strategy and scale-up plans for commercialisation.
In the ingredients space, Ingredion has debuted Novation Indulge 2940, a functional gelling starch made from native corn for application in dairy and alternatives like yogurts, puddings and cheeses.
Meanwhile, on the heels of its University of Cambridge partnership, US upcycled food producer The Supplant Company has now released desserts using its Supplant Sugars from Fibre ingredient at the University of California, Los Angeles. The desserts concocted by UCLA chefs will contain up to 50% less sugar, 30% fewer calories and eight times more fibre than those with regular sugar.
In Chile, vegan food brand NotCo has collaborated with restaurant chain Melt Pizzas to release two plant-based pizzas with the former’s NotCheese mozzarella alternative. The two varieties are called Pesto Margherita and the Vegan Veggie, and there’s 20% off until November 12.
Research and markets
The above is probably a shrewd move, given there’s been a 45% yearly increase in the amount of vegan food delivery orders on Uber Eats in Chile, according to a study by the delivery giant and Veganuary.
Eating a more plant-forward Mediterranean diet can help reduce body fat and prevent muscle loss in older adults, according to a new peer-reviewed study analysing 1,521 individuals.
In the UK, corporate finance advisor Oghma Partners published a report saying that interest in cultivated meat has skyrocketed as the industry looks to scale and become more viable, but a shakeout akin to that of plant-based meat is likely and could see key players consolidate.
Meanwhile, New York-based biomanufacturing development platform Synonym has released an updated State of Global Fermentation report, which covers production costs for specific elements and at certain scales, production capacities in each region, and predicted demand.
In other news, a sea lice outbreak on an Icelandic salmon farm has been labelled as an “animal welfare disaster” by a vet, who was reacting to images of “severely diseased, dead and dying salmon” obtained by the Guardian.
A drone investigation by animal advocacy group Mercy For Animals has found that drinking water in parts of Wisconsin has traces of nitrates and E. coli, as a result of manure from dairy cow farms seeping into the water supply of the nearby residential areas.
It’s probably a good thing then that plant-based dairy holds the highest market share for vegan food, according to a new report by Research and Markets. But egg alternatives are set to have the highest growth rate per year.
Policy and manufacturing
Staying in the alt-dairy realm, Chinese fermentation startup Changing Bio has raised the largest alt-protein investment in the country this year with a 104M RMB ($14.2M) Series A+ round, following its record-breaking $22M Series A fundraiser last year. Its microbial yeast protein was featured in a whipping cream and parmesan powder unveiled earlier this year.
Meanwhiel, food giant Danone has put a €2 price cap on the price of its Alpro oat and almond milks in Belgium, which means a price cut of 20-40% depending on the retailer.
In neighbouring Netherlands, the municipalities of Bloemendaal and Utrecht have voted to ban meat and dairy advertising in public spaces like billboards, posters, and other ad spots. The ban also includes fossil fuel-dependent products.
Speaking of ads, US sustainability campaigner Changing Markets Foundation commissioned ad agency Nice and Serious to design a marketing campaign calling out Nestlé’s lack of methane commitments. No newspaper approached wanted to run it, so maybe social media could help?
Meanwhile, Sweden’s Veg of Lund – maker of DUG potato milk – has filed for a patent in the country for plant-based red and white meat, which could add to its current patents for milk in Europe, US and Canada, and smoothies, ice cream and cream in its home nation.
Elsewhere, Taiwan’s Food Industry Research and Development Institute has opened a Plant Milk Research and Development Center to develop alt-milk products with drinks brand Ah Zh Wei. It is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which is already working on vegan meat alternatives.
In sadder news, US plant-based dairy pioneer Miyoko’s Creamery has closed its Petaluma, Sonoma County factory headquarters and switched to a co-manufacturer, a move that has seen between 40 to 50 employees lose their jobs.
Fellow US company Atlantic Fish Co., which makes cultivated seafood focused on overfished species, has been awarded a Small Business Research loan by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.
Also in the US, meat giant Tyson Foods has recalled nearly 30,000 lbs of its dino chicken nuggets due to fears of contamination with metal pieces. The USDA says there has been one minor oral injury associated with the consumption of Tyson’s nuggets.
ADM has partnered with climate tech startup Solugen to improve the production of plant-based organic acids. To do so, ADM will build a 500,000 ft manufacturing facility adjacent to its corn complex to scale up Solugen’s unique chemoenzymatic process.
And in the EU, the think tank EIT Food has released policy recommendations for protein diversification for a healthier and more sustainable food system that’s less reliant on animal agriculture.
Media and awards
Still waiting for your favourite podcasts to release their new episode? Add another to your list. VegTech Invest has launched an Upside & Impact, a twice-monthly impact investment podcast available on the NYSE’s website ETF Central.
Weeks after the launch of a cultured meat book, there’s another one. Cultivated Meat to Secure Our Future – edited by animal rights advocates Michel Vandenbosch and Philip Lymbery, with a foreword from KindEarth.Tech co-founder Ira van Eelen, daughter of cultured meat pioneer Willem van Eelen – features essays celebrating the progress and discussing the challenges facing the industry.
Speaking of which, South Africa’s Newform Foods (formerly Mzansi Meat) was named a regional winner and overall runner-up in the Green Tech category at the Global Startup Awards Africa in Addis Ababa.
Australian plant-based meat company v2food, meanwhile, won an InnovationAus 2023 Award for Excellence in the Food and Agritech category for its meat alternative. The startup exhibited its bleeding burger ingredient at SXSW Sydney last month.
At last week’s Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit, seafood giant Thai Union named UK seaweed startup Oceanium as the winner of its Innovation Challenge to support the SeaChange 2030 Sustainability Strategy.
In more awards news, V-Label announced its 2023 International V-Label Awards winners on World Vegan Day (November 1). These included Heura, TiNDLE, Lidl’s Vemondo, Desserto and Plenty Reasons, among others, in four categories.
Finally, UK vegan dog food brand The Pack has announced that it is now a Certified B Corp, becoming Europe’s first plant-based pet food startup to do so.