Future Food Quick Bites: Vegan Deviled Eggs, Low-Cost Lidl & California Calling
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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 vegan deviled egg launch, cultivated meat approval guidance in the UK, and several developments from Californian businesses.
New products and launches
Singapore-headquartered TiNDLE Foods continues its aggressive expansion drive with a new foodservice partnership with UK sushi chain YO! Sushi, which will see two limited-edition dishes (a bao and fried chicken) appear in over 50 locations until the end of the year.
More expansion news, this time from Hong Kong vegetarian eatery Treehouse, which is gearing up to launch its fourth and fifth locations at the Kai Tak Airside shopping complex (December 4) and in Tsim Tsa Shui (December 11), respectively.
Another upcoming restaurant is Nic Adler’s Italian diner Argento in Los Angeles, whose investors include pop megastars Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas (who are both vegan). Opening in winter 2024, the kitchen will be headed by Scott Winegard, former deputy of celebrity chef Matthew Kenney.
Fellow Californian business Planetarians is presenting its waste-to-food plans and products at Dubai’s COP28, which will begin tomorrow. Its CEO Aleh Manchuliantsau will be part of a panel on December 1, and the brand will have a booth at the Tech and Innovation Hub from December 8-12.
One more brand from California, hemp-based meat maker Planet Based Foods is expanding its footprint in the state, partnering with New Leaf Community Markets and Lunardi’s Markets, which will house several of its company’s products starting next month.
Over in Texas, vegan egg company Crafty Counter has launched a deviled egg SKU in collaboration with Fabalish‘s faba bean mayo. The limited-edition product comes in a tray filled with the former’s WunderEgg half egg white shells, and a sachet of pre-made deviled egg filling.
Elsewhere, in Malaysia, GoodMorning Global has unveiled a “complete-nutrition” plant-based meat dry mix under the brand name WonderMeat. The soy and pea protein blend has been listed in the Malaysia Book of Records and will retail at RM5.50 ($1.18) for each pack, which makes about 200-240g of wet mix.
The UK, meanwhile, has seen the launch of Herbie Wilde, a plant-based hypoallergenic alternative superfood for dogs. The vegan pet food contains 39 ingredients, including sweet potato, fruits, greens, ancient grains, herbs, and botanicals.
Across Europe, DSM-Fonterra-backed Dutch B2B ingredients startup Vivici has collaborated with Boston-based cell programming firm Gingko Bioworks to develop and commercialise animal-free functional alt-dairy proteins from precision fermentation.
South Korean vegan cheese brand Armored Fresh, meanwhile, has expanded into conventional and natural grocery stores in the US, including Fresh Thyme Market, Town and Country Foods and Fred Meyer – months after first launching its almond milk American cheese stateside.
Also in the Netherlands, plant-based seafood brand Vegan Zeastar has added a Crispy Coconut Shrimpz SKU to its lineup of potato-based shrimp analogues, which will be on sale from December 4.
And in Austria, Rewe Group’s Billa retail chain is ramping up its plant-based portfolio, with a new superstore featuring a dedicated vegan aisle – this will be expanded to 20 existing stores across the country.
Finance and markets
Swedish seitan startup Edgy Veggie – which makes kebabs, tacos and souvlaki – has reportedly raised $200,000 at about a $250,000 pre-money valuation, according to the FoodTech Weekly newsletter.
Berlin-based microalgae startup Quazy Foods has brought in €800,000 in a pre-seed funding round, which involved ProVeg International, Antler, and Sprout and About Ventures.
One brand that isn’t selling as well is plant-based giant Beyond Meat, which has experienced sales declines for months now. But it still has enough money to get through the next couple of years (and possibly more with further cost-cutting), according to John Baumgartner, managing director at analyst Mizuho Securities, who told AFN it’s hard to sense what will happen.
Another giant that has faced challenges is Hong Kong-based alt-milk company Vitasoy, which saw a 7% decline in annual revenue, driven by hurdles in its main plant milk markets, Australia and New Zealand (where revenue dropped 10%). But the company remains positive that its strong Asia performance – particularly with soy milk and tea – will help it bounce back.
Research and policy developments
Staying in the alt-dairy realm for a second, a student in Los Angeles – who wasn’t allowed to promote soy milk in her high school without doing the same for dairy – has won a lawsuit against her school, which ruled that students have a right to non-disruptive speech critical of dairy under the 1st Amendment.
Meanwhile, a study published in the Appetite journal has revealed that repeated consumption of plant-based meat doesn’t improve consumer liking of those products – it’s the context of what meals they were used in that really matters.
A little left field, but Minneapolis-based plant-based food and drinks manufacturer SunOpta is celebrating its 50-year anniversary. It has invested over $200M in its production capacity in the last three years to double its business.
Elsewhere, consumer finance website Little Loans has revealed that Lidl is the cheapest supermarket to buy a vegan-friendly Christmas dinner in the UK this year, costing £8.83 for nine items. The most expensive – no surprise – was M&S at £16.8.
Still in the UK, charity The Food Foundation is calling for mandatory reporting of animal-derived and plant-based proteins by retailers and the out-of-home channel for greater transparency, criticising government inaction on the issue.
There has been some action for cultivated meat though, with the UK Food Standards Agency publishing guidance on cultivated meat regulatory approval – weeks after it was reported that cultured meat approval could be fast-tracked in the country, following an application from Israel’s Aleph Farms in August.
Meanwhile, new research by Dutch cultivated meat pioneer Mosa Meat outlines the challenges the industry faces, including scientific ones like manufacturing bottlenecks and non-scientific ones like regulatory approval and consumer acceptance.
Movers, shakers and awards
In Germany, mycoprotein startup Nosh.bio has partnered with the Berliner Berg brewery to set up a pilot plant to demonstrate the concept that breweries can co-produce food ingredients whilst brewing beer at the same site.
There have been some more changes in the alt-protein corporate world. At Chilean AI-led plant-based company NotCo, CMO Fernando Machado will be transitioning to an advisory role.
Canadian vegan cheese brand Daiya, meanwhile, has welcomed new CEO Hajime Fujita, who was a VP at its parent company, Japan’s Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. He replaces Michael Watt, who has held the position since 2019.
Food tech company MycoTechnology also has new leadership, with Michael Leonard joining as CEO, replacing co-founder Alan Hahn, who will step into the role of executive chairman.
And finally, in some awards news, Barcelona’s plant-based eatery Roots & Rolls has won the Notable or Innovative Venue Award at the IV Barcelona Hospitality Awards 2023.