Plant-based proteins are more than a food trend – they are essential in the quest for new food sources, new ways of providing human nutrition, and new ways of protecting our planet. These innovators are breaking new ground in nutrition.
The Future of Food
The future of food is vital to all of us. The Food and Agriculture Organization forecasts there will be 9.1 billion people on the planet by 2050. To meet the needs of an increasing population, the FAO says overall food production must increase by 56%. In an effort to address this need, the quest for alternative food sources is on.
Where protein, in particular, is concerned, issues include limited land and water for raising animals for food; growing consumer concerns about health and about the ethical treatment of animals; and climate change. These factors are driving economic investment and scientific explorations in alternate sources of protein. Innovative startups around the world are pursuing an exciting array of possibilities.
In a field of biotech that’s only about 10 years old, plant-based proteins have the longest history. Many companies are exploring the plant world, looking for new protein & plant-based protein sources. They’re looking beyond wheat, peas, and soy. And they’re finding the future of food!
Let’s take a look at a few of these start-ups.
Eggs From Lentils
EVO Foods Launched in 2019, Evo Foods is India’s first and leading producer of a lentil-based liquid “egg”. It took founders Shradda Bhansali and Kartik Dixit just one year to bring their product to market in India. Evo has no cholesterol, is antibiotic-free, cruelty-free, and is equal to eggs in taste, texture, and protein. It costs about the same as organic hen-laid eggs in India, and all the raw ingredients are available in India. “We use deep food science to create ‘clean’ protein alternatives to India’s traditional egg, dairy, and meat markets,” says Dixit. Bhansali adds “The plant-based revolution is just beginning in India and we want to be at the forefront of this movement by offering the most delicious food ever.”
Plants + AI = ‘Not’ Foods
NotCo Launched in Chile in 2015, NotCo’s logo is In Plants We Trust. Their mission? To take animals out of food production. Their patented algorithm, which they’ve named Giuseppe, uses AI to explore the molecular structure of foods. Then the company pursues a twin investigation; on one hand, choosing vegetable molecules that imitate the structures Guiseppe has identified, and on the other hand, using machine learning from humans to decide what tastes good. Thus, the foods they invent contain ingredients from pineapple to cabbage to sunflowers. Their product Not Meat is available across Chile as the vegan component used by Papa Johns and Burger King. Other products are Not Ice Cream, Not Burgers, and Not Chicken.
Genesea A Tel Aviv University spin-off, the start-up Genesea is developing protein isolates and other food ingredients for the B2B market. The company sees great advantages in seaweed as a food source. Seaweed is naturally about 35% protein, with all the essential amino acids humans need. These products don’t require land, water, pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. “If you are looking at the future of plant protein, the projections are for huge growth, and we think that seaweed will have a significant segment” says Professor Alexander Golberg, who, along with Ivri Goren, former VP of Tnuva, and Alexander Chemodanov, an aquaculture industry professional, created the company.
Meat, Minus Animals
planted. planted. was founded in 2019. Their production facility and offices opened in Kemptthal, Switzerland in 2020. The vegan meat company uses peas, oats, and upcycled by-products of sunflower oil production to reproduce the texture as well as the flavor of beef, chicken, pork, and salmon. The protein fibers arrange themselves to simulate meat due to shearing and thermal treatments during extrusion. Their first product, planted.chicken, launched in 2020. Since then, planted. has continued to develop new flavors and expand varieties. They now offer several vegan protein products in Swiss and German markets and restaurants.
A New Kind of Real Food
Stockeld Dreamery Founded in Sweden in 2019, Stokeld Dreamery uses fermented peas and fava beans to make cheese. The company does not want to fake ‘real’ cheese – they want to make “original indulgent cheese experiences”. Their first product, Stockeld Chunk, is 13% protein, with a similar nutrition profile to feta. Released after 2 years in R&D, Stockeld Chunk is currently available in Stockholm. The company sees itself as “a source for better cheese”, and for “tastier and more nutritious alternatives to our favorite foods.”
Plant Based, Sushi Grade!
Current Foods Based in San Francisco, USA, Current Foods makes sushi-grade plant-based fish, using plants such as radish, koji, bamboo, algae, & pea protein. After 2 years in R&D, Current Food launched their plant-based tuna in 2021 (then known as Kuleana). This product has several advantages over natural tuna. It doesn’t deplete fish stocks, doesn’t expose people to mercury or microplastics, and it has a longer shelf-life. Time Magazine named Current Foods’s sushi-grade tuna one of the 100 best inventions of 2021. Next in their R&D pipeline – sushi-grade salmon!
The future of food requires innovative thinking, backed by food and nutrition scientists, flavor & aroma developers, and biotech researchers that can bring ideas to life. Grapefrute’s innovative recruitment methods can deliver top tier talent to the world’s food-biotech industry. Contact us today to build a better tomorrow!