Future Food Quick Bites: Soaring Seafood, Buzzing Britain & Vegan Tweezer Cuisine
9 Mins Read
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 Eleven Madison Park’s Hong Kong pop-up, UK environment secretary Thérèse Coffey’s anti-alt-meat comments, and a host of alt-seafood developments.
New products and launches
Eleven Madison Park, the three-Michelin-starred restaurant once named the world’s best, turned (mostly) vegan in 2021 – but for the milk and honey in its tea and coffee service. Now, it’s crossing continents in its 25th year, partnering with Hong Kong luxury hotel Rosewood on a five-day-long vegan pop-up at its Asaya Kitchen, led by EMP chef-owner Daniel Humm. And in true EMP fashion, the eight-course tasting menu will cost HK$3,998 ($510) plus 10% per person. Go figure.
Also in the restaurant world, popular vegan sushi chain Planta has opened its second outpost in Los Angeles, following the launch of the first one in Marina Bay earlier this year. The new Brentwood location is its 14th across the US and Canada. Another new vegan restaurant in Los Angeles is Ubuntu, a West African restaurant, whose chef is behind the New York vegan soul food eatery Cadence.
Speaking of plant-based sushi, Konscious Foods has collaborated with Whole Foods Market’s sushi venues on ready-to-eat sushi rolls, which feature the brand’s vegan seafood. The Tuna California and Spicy Sno Crab tolls are available at Whole Foods stores nationwide.
Whole Foods in the UK, by the way, will now feature products from Danish brand PerfectSeason, which makes whole-food plant-based meat, including beetroot patties, mushroom patties, and dill cakes. They come in 200g packs of two patties, with the aim to make vegetables the main dish.
The UK has actually been a hotbed for plant-based news this week. Swiss startup Planted has secured a listing for three products in Tesco: a vegan kebab, and lemon and herb chicken, and a new duck SKU that is exclusive to the UK. The B Corp-certified brand’s products will be available in 350 Tesco stores, joining Holland & Barrett, Morrisons and Planet Organic in its retail roster.
Meanwhile, British chef James Taylor has partnered with Hodmedod’s, a grains and pulses supplier, to include British pulses on the primary school menus he creates. He’ll be using ingredients like carlin peas, flamingo peas and coral lentils (among others) in dishes such as lasagne, shepherd’s pie and chilli. If you have any more suggestions, there’s an open call!
And on the heels of its new US ad campaign highlighting its health credentials, Beyond Meat is finally releasing its heart-healthy Beyond Steak in the UK, which will be available for restaurants and chefs to order. There’s no announcement about a retail launch, however.
In the US, frozen food giant Dr. Praeger’s is making a texture play with a new crunchy veggie burger line. Available in Crunchy Cauliflower and Crunchy Southwestern Sweet Potato variants, they’re made from six vegetables and can be found at Whole Foods, Shoprite, HEB, Sprouts and Publix nationwide, after debuting on telemarketing channel QVC last month.
Speaking of frozen foods, Indian plant-based meat company GoodDot is entering the US via a partnership with food exporter and distributor Regal Kitchen Foods. Its vegan chicken tikka curry and butter chicken are currently available via the latter’s website, and will soon appear on supermarket shelves in the US.
Meanwhile, upcycled food producer The Supplant Company has updated the recipe for its ultra-popular shortbreads, which contain its Sugars from Fibre ingredient claiming 30-40% less sugar than regular shortbread. Available in classic and chocolate formulations, the packaging has been updated to highlight the health and eco credentials too.
And Colorado-based Meati – which has had tons going on recently – has now joined the snacking category with a shelf-stable mycelium meat jerky in Original, Peppered and Sweet Chile flavours. It comes just weeks after the company opened its D2C online marketplace and subscription service, promising never-seen-before products.
If you’re a keen ocean traveller, Princess Cruises is launching several vegan menus across its fleet of 15 ships in response to “surging demand”. Passengers can request plant-based options ahead of the trip – these would include Baja-style cauliflower tacos, green goddess salad with tofu and endive, and “walkaway” ratatouille.
Going back to the seafood realm, US producer Plant Based Seafood Co. has partnered with premium wholesaler Sam Rust Seafood to introduce the former’s vegan range to Sam Rust’s foodservice and retail customers.
In Europe, Catalan plant-based brand Zyrcular Foods is exhibiting its vegan tuna and salmon, as well as a smashburger, pulled pork and pulled chicken at the ongoing German trade fair Anuga 2023 (October 7-11).
Elsewhere, Singapore’s OnlyEg, owned by Float Foods, is making its Australia debut, seeking foodservice partnerships in Sydney. It makes plant-based egg yolks, poached eggs, tamagoyaki, omelette wraps, egg shreds and patties.
Funding and M&A activity
Superlatus, the new company that recently agreed to acquire Perfect Day’s consumer-facing brand The Urgent Company, has now entered an agreement to purchase plant-based dairy and egg company Spero, which will join Coolhaus, Modern Kitchen, Brave Robot and more under The Urgent Company umbrella. Next year, Spero will launch mozzarella sticks and shreds, as well as Cheddar shreds.
Meanwhile, months after confirming its exit from the dairy category, Finnish company Fazer is considering changes to its plant-based dairy production due to a ‘slowdown’ in the sector’s growth. It’s looking to make its Sweden factory the hub for oat milk manufacturing, while its Finnish facility would focus on oat yoghurt – this could affect 133 employees, with 93 positions possibly being terminated.
Also in the dairy category, Spain’s Pascual Innoventures and Eatable Adventures have launched the third edition of Mylkcubator: More Than Mylk, an accelerator for cellular agriculture companies. Startups that were part of its previous editions include Novo Dairy, Zero Cow Factory, Miruku and Maolac, and have generated a total value of $107M. It has opened calls for this year’s incubator programme.
And in Barcelona, Japanese tofu maker Someno’s Tofu Co. – which opened its first overseas branch in the city in February – has reported a sales growth of 179% in the last eight months.
Speaking of soy-based protein powerhouses, UK tempeh maker Better Nature has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs with a £1M goal. It comes months after it launched a £3M Series A round – and yesterday, it emerged that the brand is the UK’s top-scoring meat-free B Corp, with an impact score of 99.7 (20% higher than the sector average).
Another company celebrating a milestone is Omni, the UK vegan pet food company, which says it has served over a million plant-based dog meals since its founding in 2020 and has seen a sales rise of 60% since the beginning of the year.
New Zealand-based NewFish, meanwhile, which has developed an 80%-concentrate marine whey protein from microalgae, gained investment from Oslo-based VC firm Katapult. It will join 22 startups in the latter’s accelerator programme, after being in the top 1% of 2,500 candidates and valued at NZ$10M ($6M).
In other startup news, the Vegan Women Summit Pathfinder competition has just announced its top 10 finalists for this year with startups working on everything from alt-fats to mushroom-centric meat-free ranges. The founders of Liven Proteins Corp, Kula Foods, Big Mountain Foods, Nud Fud (all Canada), Lypid, Tiamat Sciences, FoodNerd (all US), Alver (Switzerland), Poseidona (Spain), and Time Travelling Milkman (the Netherlands) will be pitching to the jury on November 1.
Policy and research
Did you hear that plant-based is good for you and the planet? Well, now, even one of the EU Commission’s scientific advisors is saying that. Eric Lambin, co-author of a study earlier this year that highlighted how the meat and dairy lobby are blocking the rise of alt-protein, is calling on the EU to adopt policies that will help drive this shift towards a more sustainable food system.
And speaking of people who used to be in the EU, the UK’s environment secretary Thérèse Coffey recently attacked plant-based meat at a Conservative Party Conference, saying they “might be okay” for astronauts. In an open letter, Plant Based News co-founder Robbie Lockie criticised her remarks: “Your dismissive attitude towards plant-based meats is not only misinformed but incredibly irresponsible… Your lack of environmental foresight is not merely disappointing; it’s a dereliction of your duty to both the public and the planet we inhabit.”
Elsewhere, Chinese impact investment firm Dao Foods has released a new report highlighting the potential of fermentation in novel protein adoption in the country, examining its history of biomanufacturing infrastructure development, supportive government policies, and the opportunities and challenges faced by the sector.
In Asia, the industry think tank the Good Food Institute APAC has published its first Korean-language State of the Policy report, highlighting how the South Korean government is accelerating the development of cultivated meat and other alt-proteins via strategic investments and collaborations.
And in further Asian news, alt-protein advocacy non-profit ProVeg International has opened a new office in Malaysia, its 12th branch across the globe. The organisation is also introducing V-Label to the southeast Asian country.
Novel tech and manufacturing news
SIngapore-headquartered plant-based meat company TiNDLE Foods, which has made a wave of headlines over the last year, recently opened an R&D centre in Nijkerk, the Netherlands, complementing its existing Chicago and Singapore. The company announced another milestone, its TiNDLE Nuggets, Wings, or Tenderslanded at Whole Foods in the UK.
On the other end of the spectrum, US meat giant Tyson Foods has laid off a reported 250 employees at a poultry processing plant in North Carolina in response to weak consumer demand, inflation and fluctuating prices. Prior to this, Tyson had already announced the closure of six poultry processing plants this year.
In new tech developments, Israeli nutri-tech startup Novella is unveiling its new line of berry-derived bioactive at the Las Vegas trade show SupplySide West (October 23-27). It’s in the advanced stages of making intact-cell berry compounds grown outside of the plant using “novel, precision-controlled-environment technology”.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s Veg of Lund – the company behind the Dug potato milks that caused a stir upon launch in 2021 – has received a notice of intention from the US Patent and Trademark Office, which is set to approve its application for a “vegan potato emulsion”, clearing the way for launch stateside. The company already holds similar patents in Sweden, Europe and Canada, and has active applications in Australia, China, India, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, and the UAE.
Finally, Chilean food tech startup NotCo – the company behind the AI-powered range of plant-based milks, mayo and burgers – has been named a Climate Tech Company to Watch by the MIT Technology Review for its potential to reduce emissions and address the challenges posed by global warming.
Want more roundups of alt-protein, plant-based and sustainable food? Stay tuned for next week’s Future Food Quick Bites, published every Wednesday, or get it in your mailbox by signing up for our Alt Protein Weekly newsletter.