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Vegan brand Vince is developing dehydrated plant-based mince from vegetables. It is considered a more sustainable plant-based option than others in the market given that it ditches the need for a chilled supply chain.
Produced by the company Olive and Ash, the New Zealand-based Vince was founded by Nigel and Debbie Stowe.
Dehydrated vegan mince
The brand’s plant-based mince first launched in 2019 and is created from tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions, peanuts, herbs, and spices. After a dehydration process, the ingredients can be rehydrated with boiling water and incorporated into a range of dishes to replace meat including nachos, burgers, meatballs, and lasagne with a shelf life of 12 months.
At the moment, the duo produces 300 units of vegan mince a week, transforming their kitchen space into a commercial setup.
Part of the accelerator program by Sprout Agritech through which it received investment and funding, the products are sold at supermarkets and health stores across the country.
The company is planning to raise US$300,000 in its seed investment round, which could lead to US$1.2 million worth of sales per year.
Sustainable supply chain
In an interview with FoodNavigator-Asia, the founders said that initially, they wanted to create a product for the chilled supply chain, just like the other plant-based brands in the market. But the company noticed that there was a huge wastage, for instance in power outages and couriers not landing in time and 30% of all the food manufactured being wasted throughout the supply chain.
The duo then thought of having a long-term sustainable supply chain for its sustainable products. “We think that using dehydrated products is really a step forward in reducing our carbon footprint since there is no need for a cold chain. Also, it is lighter and opens the potential for exports in the future.”
The brand will also work to establish manufacturing facilities close to its growers.
Replicating meat properties is key
Vince uses tamari and nutritional yeast in its plant-based mince to replicate the umami flavors found in meat products.
We think that using dehydrated products is really a step forward in reducing our carbon footprint since there is no need for a cold chain. Also, it is lighter and opens the potential for exports in the futureNigel and Debbie Stowe, founders of Vince
The dehydration process also helps create a nutritionally dense product. According to multiple studies, this process achieves 50% more nutrient density compared to frozen or fresh vegetables.
The founders added: “For freeze-dried foods, when they are rehydrated with water, it tends to go mucky and this texture is uniform in the whole product. However, with dehydration, our product retains the texture after rehydration, and [from] having ingredients like peanuts also help with crunch.”
Validated by the New Zealand market, Vince is in talks with Massey University to receive consumer feedback on their products with the results to be unveiled in the coming months.
For freeze-dried foods, when they are rehydrated with water, it tends to go mucky and this texture is uniform in the whole product. However, with dehydration, our product retains the texture after rehydrationNigel and Debbie Stowe, founders of Vince
Sights on Asia market
The brand aims to work with partners to create specific flavours catering to different export regions with a special focus on Asia. According to experts, a 200% increase in demand for alternative protein is expected in certain Asian markets owing to the increasing flexitarian trend and health concerns.
The founders further believe that the APAC market will be more accepting of its products as consumers have increased awareness regarding dehydrated foods than European consumers.
It is further innovating for New Zealand’s snacking market and is turning to seaweed to make nutritious products and add more fibre and protein. “Seaweed is a highly nutritious ingredient with high levels of minerals and is a natural carbon sink. We are looking at formulating a product with seaweed as an umami base for the Japanese market.”
Lead image courtesy of Vince.