New Zealand Startup To Launch Plant-Based Hemp Meat Next Year

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New Zealand alternative protein food tech Sustainable Foods, better known by its retail brand The Craft Meat Co, is gearing up to launch a new hemp plant-based meat that is high in protein and fibre and minimally processed by early 2021. The company already sells a range of plant-based meat products, some of which incorporate hemp seeds but do not yet use hemp as its base, making its upcoming hemp-based meat alternative the first-of-its-kind launched by the brand. 

Founded in 2019 by Justin Lemmens and Kyran Rei, Sustainable Foods is a New Zealand startup that has developed a line of plant-based meat substitutes. Sold under its retail brand The Craft Meat Co, the range includes burger patties, sausages, mince and ready meals made with soy protein, wheat flour, coconut oil, beetroot and hemp seeds. 

Now, the brand wants to take it a step further from incorporating hemp seeds into their products to using hemp as the base ingredient. Speaking with FoodNavigator, co-founder Rei said that the new hemp meat analogue will have a “consumable protein content that is higher than even that of animal-based protein sources due to hemp being naturally so high in protein,” and added that it will also contain higher levels of dietary fibre. 

The upcoming product is developed as a part of Sustainable Foods’ collaboration with medical cannabis producer Greenfern Industries, who will be the brand’s exclusive grower to make hemp-based meat analogues using only locally-grown and sourced hemp, and the Riddet Institute at Massey University, whom the brand will work with on R&D

[Hemp meat alternatives] have a consumable protein content that is higher than even that of animal-based protein sources due to hemp being naturally so high in protein.

Kyran Rei, Co-Founder of Sustainable Foods

Sustainable Foods says that it hopes to be able to move towards commercialisation trials soon, and will aim to launch hemp-based vegan meat alternatives as well as snack products on retail shelves by early 2021

Looking ahead, the startup says that there is potential for the company to bring its hemp-based products to other regions, but this will depend on regulatory requirements. In its home base of New Zealand, hemp seeds have been legalised as a food since 2018, while its neighbouring country, Australia has legalised hemp seeds as food since 2017. 

“​At the end of the day each APAC country will need to be treated differently due to the spread of regulations, but the goodness of hemp seeds as a food is increasingly being recognised and we are hopeful that over the next 24 months there will be much wider uptake and regulations will align with that,”​ Rei shared in the same interview. 

Sustainable Foods isn’t the only food tech harnessing the nutritional powerhouse hemp seed to make plant-based alternatives. Los Angeles-based vegan cheese maker Grounded Foods, who recently closed a US$1.74 million seed funding round, has developed a line of fermented dairy-free cheeses such as camembert, gruyere, feta and cream cheese out of non-GMO hemp seeds and cauliflowers that are considered too “imperfect” to make it into supermarket retail. 

All images courtesy of Sustainable Foods / The Craft Meat Co.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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