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Replacing Animals With Plants Is Taking Off

Green Queen Alt Protein Weekly | May 20 2021 Edition | View online


FUNDING & INVESTMENT

✅ In another record-breaking turn, Eat Just, the San Francisco-based food tech company whose plant-based mung bean alternative has sold the equivalent of 100 million vegan eggs across the globe, has closed a US$170 million round for its newly separate GOOD Meat subsidiary from funds managed by UBS O’Connor, K3 Ventures and Graphene Ventures among others.

Why it’s important: the announcement also included another major first: JW Marriott Singapore South Beach’s famed Madame Fan restaurant will replace all the chicken items on their menu with three new dishes made with GOOD MEAT’s cultured chicken, reflecting growing consumer and corporate interest in cell-based meat as a key part in the future of protein.

✅ Plant-based chicken startup Daring announced that it has raised a US$40M Series B round involving the backing of Canadian rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and entrepreneur Drake. The company plans to use this capital to triple its internal team by the end of this year, as well as scale its retail and foodservice growth.

Why it’s important: Michael Tully of D1 Capital Partners, who led the funding round, commented: “Daring has demonstrated impressive product-market fit in a short period of time. The brand has a significant growth runway ahead of it as the chicken market remains underpenetrated by plant-based products.” Plus, Drake’s involvement is an important factor in raising awareness among consumers, as he has a major social media following and fan base.

✅ YouKuai Group International, the Chinese plant-based company behind the pork analogue Zrou, has announced today the close of a US$7.3 million Series A funding round led by Singaporean investment firm TRIREC. Proceeds from the fundraise will go towards expanding partnerships with foodservice players across China to bolster Zrou’s “loyal fanbase” as the alternative proteins continue to grow in popularity in the country.

Why it’s important: the two-year-old brand takes a social media and influencer-forward approach in its marketing to reach younger consumers, and also works with renowned chefs to build a trendy “community of early-adopters” of alternative proteins in China. Pork is a category particularly ripe for disruption in China, given the country’s standing as the world’s largest consumer of the meat, and ongoing supply chain strains caused by livestock diseases affecting pig herds, namely African swine fever.

✅ Berlin-based Bluu Biosciences has secured investment from DX Ventures, the venture capital arm of European online food delivery giant Delivery Hero. The capital raised is part of Bluu’s seed funding round, and will go towards accelerating the food tech’s time-to-market and distribution strategy when it launches its first cell-based fish products.

Why it’s important: currently, the company is the first and only food tech within Europe dedicated to culturing seafood species. Investment from DX Ventures should pave the way for future strategic partnerships between Bluu and Delivery Hero’s distribution network as the startup begins to plan its go-to-market strategy, potentially becoming the first in Europe to make cell-cultured protein a reality.

✅ AI-powered plant tech firm Benson Hill is planning to go public via a merger deal with Star Peak Corp II, a blank-check company backed by Magnetar Capital which is dedicated to companies within climate and emissions reduction solutions. The deal is slated to give the company a valuation of around US$1.35 billion, with the proceeds going towards supporting its plant-based meat business segment.

Why it’s important: agri-food tech companies like Benson Hill are increasingly being eyed by investors as a major category of growth in the next few years, with the latest data showing that firms in the industry secured a record US$30.5 billion globally in 2020, up 34.5% year-on-year. Benson Hill CEO Matt Crisp commented on the merger: “We are now at the launch phase to deliver and help meet the explosive demand for plant-based  ingredients that can displace processing steps, reduce additives, and serve as the ‘picks and shovels’ for the plant-based food revolution.”

✅ Mosa Meat, the Dutch food tech that pioneered the world’s first cell-based beef, has announced a new R&D milestone, reducing its fat medium cost by over 65-times. The company’s “Fat Team” has also ensured that the differentiation media used to cultivate its meat is free from all animal components.

Why it’s important: commenting on its latest feat, Mosa Meat co-founder and COO Peter Verstrate said: “We’ve definitely checked yet another box on our journey towards a product that meets the expectations of critical meat lovers.” Previous blind taste tests hosted by Mosa Meat have already put the firm’s cultivated fat on par with conventionally-produced animal fats, and the price reduction brings it ever closer to parity for replacement.

✅ Green Monday’s OmniFoods arm has announced double-digit price reductions for its OmniPork line of plant-based pork alternatives. It comes as the brand expands its international presence to 40,000 point-of-sales across 20 markets, achieving greater economies of scale and enabling its vegan analogues to compete at price parity with its real animal-based counterparts, which are the most widely consumed in Asia.

Why it’s important: the suggested retail prices in Hong Kong brings OmniFoods’ vegan analogues down to price parity with the cost of real animal-based pork, or in some cases, undercutting costs of its conventionally farmed counterparts sold within Hong Kong. OmniFoods says that in order to continue to scale its operations and meet rising consumer demand for plant-based alternatives, it will be ramping up manufacturing capacity in its current Thailand site, while additionally setting up a new production facility in Guangdong, China to supply the Chinese market and is now “actively exploring another new production site in Taiwan.” Unstoppable!

✅ After its recent acquisition of Belgian B2B startup Peace of Meat, 3D bioprinted cultivated meat developer MeaTech 3D has revealed its intentions to set up and operate a pilot plant to manufacture cultured chicken fat in Belgium by 2022.

Why it’s important: the main purpose behind the upcoming plant is to produce cultured chicken fat that can be used across industry partnerships. The result of this technology means a slew of hybrid food products consisting of both plant and cultured meat ingredients with Meatech looking to offer consumers a meatier plant-based product than other pure alternatives available in the market.


PRODUCT INNOVATION & LAUNCHES

✅ Singapore food tech Next Gen is bringing its plant-based chicken brand Tindle into new markets, launching in Hong Kong, Macau and Kuala Lumpur simultaneously next month. Partnering with distributor Classic Fine Foods, Tindle will make its way into restaurant menus across the three Asian cities as plant-based demand across the region continues to grow.

Why it’s important: the decision to launch Tindle in Hong Kong, Macau and Kuala Lumpur is a strategic move for the company to tap into the “great food and cultural hubs of Asia” and also reach mainland Chinese consumers, who make up a significant portion of the tourism industry in these destinations. Next Gen is fuelled by a US$10 million seed round that closed in February, which broke records as the largest seed fundraise in the global plant-based industry. One to watch, for sure.

✅ From May 26th, the award-winning bleeding plant-based Impossible Deluxe Burger will make its convenience store debut in Asia. It will feature at over 300 locations of 7-Eleven stores in Singapore as a ready-to-eat meal available at under S$6 (approx. US$4.50).

Why it’s important: Singapore Country Manager at Impossible Foods, Laurent Stevenart, said that the company’s mission is to make plant-based meat products available and accessible to all those places where meat products are found – like convenience stores. This is the first plant-based own-brand product in 7-Eleven’s Ready to Eat range, and with its extensive network of stores spread across the island, customers can now get their plant-based fix at their convenience.

✅ Following its recent launch in the U.S., plant-based startup Grounded Foods announced today that it is rolling out its vegan-friendly alternative dairy cheeses made from ugly cauliflower and hemp in over 160 retail locations across the country, including select Whole Foods Market stores.

Why it’s important: CEO of Grounded Foods, Veronica Fil, commented: “ Our goal is to introduce better tasting, more sustainable and more nutritious products to the plant based cheese category—and appeal to those consumers who are not necessarily vegan, but are interested in cutting back on dairy. But also, we want to be part of the solution – not contributing to the problem that’s occurring in our existing food system. So we’re hell bent on using environmentally resilient and local ingredients as well, not just importing whatever is cheapest or easiest.”

✅ Famous Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung has expanded its vegan offerings across its U.S. locations in partnership with San Francisco food tech Eat Just, Inc. Featuring the plant-based JUST Egg, the five new items range from noodles to dumplings, and have now landed on the menus of all thirteen restaurants it operates in the country.

Why it’s important: the plant-forward move by Din Tai Fung is a pattern replicated across the foodservice industry, with numerous restaurants globally – including some of the world’s best known establishments – all announcing new plant-based menu options or have gone even further to ditch meat and dairy entirely. For Eat Just, the latest restaurant partnership follows multiple successful foodservice launches all over the world.

✅ Target, the eighth-largest retailer in the U.S., has unveiled a plant-based line under its largest own brand Good & Gather private label food and beverage brand, offering products like non-dairy chocolate-flavored mousse dip, chick’n tenders, buffalo-style cauliflower wings and many more.

Why it’s important: with its plant-based offerings increasing fivefold over the past three years, the plant-based products have been crafted by Target’s internal team of food scientists and recipe developers. A majority of the items are priced below US$5, with all products priced under US$8 and have a money-back guarantee in place as well. It’s certainly a compelling story of accessibility and quality.

✅ Burger King Indonesia has become the latest to hop on the Plant-Based Whopper bandwagon, launching the new meatless patty in Jakarta this month before expanding to all 175 outlets nationwide. Partnering with Unilever-owned The Vegetarian Butcher for the new vegetarian-friendly menu item, Burger King says that the response from consumers has been “amazing”.

Why it’s important: sold for 45,000 IDR (US$3.15) at price parity with its animal-based counterpart, Burger King Indonesia’s move is yet another step in the direction of making sustainable meat-free choices affordable and accessible to mass consumers. 

“Just two years back, I would have laughed off the idea of a plant-based offering by a burger chain in Indonesia. Not any more.”

Vaibhav Punj, CEO, Burger King Indonesia

✅ Diner chain Johnny Rockets, along with eight other restaurant concepts owned by global franchising company FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands, has launched new plant-based options for a limited period of time that include the Impossible Original burger, Craig’s Vegan Shakes, and dairy-free Daiya Cheddar Style Slices.

Why it’s important: Andy Wiederhorn, CEO of FAT Brands, commented: “FAT Brands’ long standing relationships with Impossible Foods, Daiya, and Craig’s Vegan has proven that these items integrate seamlessly into classic American menus, and we’re very happy to partner with brands that are centered around providing high-quality and great tasting products like we are. The Johnny Rockets environment and menu delivers a piece of nostalgic Americana at locations around the globe. While that will always be the most evident and fun part of the Johnny Rockets experience, we also acknowledge the future, which is plant-based.”

✅ Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s has released five new vegan flavours, expanding its non-dairy range to 19 ice creams in total. According to the brand, the new plant-based additions to Ben & Jerry’s means it now “tops the non-dairy category” and is the “number one producer” of desserts that are made entirely without animals.

Why it’s important: Unilever has gone all-in on the plant-based food category, recently setting out its ambitious €1 billion (approx. US$1.2 billion) sales target for the sector within the next five to seven years. At the time of the announcement, the company said that a big part of reaching its goal will be ramping up vegan products across the most popular brands in its portfolio, listing Ben & Jerry’s, Magnum and Hellmann’s as its top household names to go in this direction. 

 Milkadamia has launched a new “Milkman 2.0” service to deliver its plant-based macadamia milks to customers’ doorsteps. Available in the U.S. nationwide, the service replicates old-school dairy deliveries to make it convenient for consumers to choose plant-based, and will also offer a subscription program.

Why it’s important: the brand first launched in 2015 in an Australian family macadamia farm, and has since expanded its presence to more than 3,000 coffee shops and cafés in the U.S. Milkadamia is also available in retailers in the country, including supermarket chain Walmart, as well as e-commerce majors like Amazon and specialty platform Thrive Market. Milkadamia says its move to launch its own direct-to-consumer service is part of its goal to make plant-based choices more accessible and convenient, while also tapping into a fast-growing trend of online shopping.

✅ Plant-based meat company v2food has made its first foray into the fresh sauce category with the launch of its new plant-based, ready-made bolognese saucev2sauce. It will soon be available to Australian consumers through Woolworths supermarket.

Why it’s important: v2food’s CEO and founder, Nick Hazell, commented on the launch: “Life is busy and this delicious bolognese offers a great solution for an easy but tasty plant-based midweek meal — without missing out on the authentic flavours we’ve come to know and love from traditional bolognese. For parents, there’s the protein you’d expect from Bolognese with the bonus of sneaking in additional fibre into mealtimes for fussy kids. It’s a win, win.”

✅ Researchers at Sejong University in South Korea say they have developed the country’s first cultured pork prototype. The team, led by Professor Park Sungkwon, is collaborating with Seoul National University and homegrown cultivated meat startup Space F and are planning to commercialise their cell-based technology in the future.

Why it’s important: the project, which first began in 2018, is being supported by the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy as the country looks to bolster its local food production and resilience against supply chain shocks. The news comes as the cultivated protein space in the country is starting to gain momentum, with a number of homegrown players setting their sights on delivering cultured meats to South Korean consumers. Could South Korea soon be a major cell-based player?

✅ Bangkok-based Charoen Pokphand Foods Pcl has launched a new plant-based meat brand dubbed “MEAT ZERO”. The firm claims that its products feel, taste, and look like traditional meat thanks to the help of its “Plant-tec” innovation, and plans on becoming the leading alternative meat brand in Asia by 2022 and being among the world’s leading three alternative meat brands over the next 3-5 years.

Why it’s important: it has taken over two years to make the plant-based meat a reality, and the company partnered with experts from the U.S., Japan and Taiwan, along with food scientists from Chulalongkorn University and Mae Fah Luang University, which led to the CPF RD Center uncovering their “Plant-Tec” innovation that is able to replicate the texture, taste and smell of animal meat. The product is priced close to traditional meat equivalents, and is ready-to-eat so easily incorporated into meals from every global cuisine.


CONSUMER TRENDS & NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

✅ Green Monday Holdings, the operational arm of Green Monday Group, Asia’s leading alternative protein company and social movement, recently announced that Denise Wong has joined its leadership team as Chief Financial Officer and Chang Sun and John Wood have joined its Board of Directors, bringing their international experience in strategy, business development and capital markets to accelerate the firm’s growth.

Why it’s important: Wong’s appointment as Green Monday CFO brings her environmental advocacy and commitment to diversity, and inclusion to the forefront, and will facilitate the company in its path to achieve a more equitable, sustainable future. Several companies are hiring experts to further their companies’ missions, and we expect great things from this collective.

✅ Shanghai-based food tech Hero Protein has named Vicky Lee, former CMO of McDonald’s Taiwan, as its new CEO as the young startup looks to accelerate its growth in China. The company, which launched its products in January this year, also announced a rebranding of its Chinese name to 植物家, meaning “plant-based pioneer”.

Why it’s important: according to the startup, whose R&D team consists of former team members of internationally recognised plant-based brands such as Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Gardein and Morningstar, Hero Protein products are first homegrown analogues produced using high-moisture extrusion technology, which enables a more realistic meat-like texture. Hero Protein says the capital raised will be used to accelerate its growth across mainland China, with the aim of becoming the country’s “leading plant-based meat brand delivering best-in-class plant-based products formulated specifically for the Chinese market.”

✅ Plant-based foodtech The Very Good Food Company, which manages the famous plant-based butcher shop The Very Good Butchers, recently announced that it will be relaunching its vegan cheeses under its new brandThe Very Good Cheese Co.

Why it’s important: already tested in the market, the dairy-free products have received positive feedback and will be made commercially available in June to Canadian and U.S. audiences through the company’s e-commerce site. Then, in Q3 2021, they will hit retail stores. Co-founder and CEO of The Very Good Cheese Co., Mitchell Scott commented: “I am very proud of the VERY GOOD team’s quick execution on our strategy allowing us to enter the plant-based cheese market in record time. We completed the transaction in February and will have created a new brand, redesigned packaging and relaunched key SKUs in less than 16 weeks.”

✅ Legislators in Texas have passed a bill to ban terms such as “meat” and “beef” on the labels of plant-based food products, a law supported by big meat-funded groups to stem the rising popularity of alternative proteins. The bill will also apply to cell-based meat products and insect protein.

Why it’s important: industry watchers say that the bill – which has been supported by large meat companies and their lobbying groups, including the Texas Poultry Federation, Texas Pork Producers Association and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association – is simply a move designed to stifle the growth of the plant-based meat sector.

✅ Noble Jerky, a former meat brand that turned vegan three years ago, has seen its revenue increase by 70% over the pandemic-stricken year as consumers increasingly shift towards plant-based alternatives. The company decided to ditch meat entirely from its business model after recognising that “sustainable agriculture was not feasible when raising animals for food production”.

Why it’s important: Stefan Urbani, co-founder of Noble Jerky, commented: “After we understood that sustainable agriculture was not feasible when raising animals for food production, we took our three generations of meat drying technical knowledge, along with new developments in plant-based proteins, to deliver people the ultimate sustainable plant-based protein that tastes just like a top-quality beef-jerky.” 

✅ Bringing together global food leaders and stakeholders, from ingredient suppliers to brands and investors, the upcoming Alternative Proteins Summit hosted by Future Food-Tech is set to “unpack the possibilities” of the industry. Set to take place virtually on June 22-23, conference producer Oliver Katz says the summit will deliver the “crucial conversations we need to have in order to scale” and reach mass adoption.

Why it’s important: over the course of two days, the event will “unpack the possibilities” of all three pillars of the industry – plant-based, cell-based and microbial fermentation. Entrepreneurs, ingredient suppliers and retailers are also set to join the summit, which aims to unify all players to create new approaches to scale novel climate-friendly proteins that will meet the needs of a planet of 10 billion people by 2050.


EVENT HIGHLIGHT

Don’t miss this special edition of New Food Media on Clubhouse, featuring Green Queen founder and editor-in-chief Sonalie Figueiras and FoodHack co-founder Arman Anatürk. Join the conversation Thursday 20th May at 3pm CET / 9am EST / 9pm HK & SG as we cover the OTLY IPO LIVE as it happens.

SCENE & HEARD • Join The FAIRR Initiative 3rd June for Rethinking Protein: accelerating law and policy in the global food system. It’s the first international law and policy conference on the future of protein, designed to explore the role of policymaking for food system transitions and investigate policy levers that can support a healthy, sustainable food system within planetary boundaries. Sign up here.

  • The ProVeg Incubator is taking applications from pioneering plant-based, fermentation, and cultured-food startups from anywhere in the world to join the next edition of its accelerator programme. Startups that are accepted to the Incubator are supported with a tailor-made accelerator programme, up to €200,000 in funding, one-on-one expert mentoring, and access to the Incubator’s extensive networks of industry contacts. Don’t delay, apply today!
  • Bridge2Food is hosting the Virtual Summit Plant-Based Foods & Proteins Europe 2021 10-11 June to connect plant-based brands with the value chain. The event includes thought-leading expert presentations and panel sessions, plus a unique opportunity to network with speakers, panel members, delegates, suppliers, customers, and exhibitors. Register here.
  • Plant-based milk is steadily becoming a preferred choice for consumers due to a number of reasons – join Green Queen‘s founder and editor-in-chief Sonalie Figueiras’ panel on Day 2 of FHA Match: Dairy and be part of the discussion of its growth potential in different Asian countries, bottlenecks, and strategies to capture a larger market share. View the full program and register here.

STARTUPSLATEST NEWSASIA REPORT

The world’s food systems are undergoing a revolution- we’ve got close to 8 billion people to feed and alternative protein may just be the answer. From cellular agriculture to plant-based food tech to precision fermentation, we need to reform our global food production. Our Alt Protein newsletter is here to inspire and inform with a weekly roundup of the top foodtech headlines you need to know across Asia and beyond including new startups, funding news, industry trends, product launches, event highlights, inspiring interviews and more. We know you’ll love it.

Today’s edition was brought to you by Nicola and Brinc, a venture capital and accelerator firm that empowers game changers to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.

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Green Queen Alt Protein Weekly | May 20 2021 Edition | View online






By Sharon Lee Davies-Tight, artist, writer, chef

AFC GLOBAL™. Chef Davies-Tight™. The Animal-Free Chef™. ANIMAL-FREE SOUS-CHEF™. FAT-FREE CHEF™. Word Warrior GLOBAL™. Word Warrior Davies-Tight™. HAPPY WHITE HORSE™. Global Word Chef™. SHARON ON THE NEWS™. BIRTH OF A SEED™. Till now and forever © Sharon Lee Davies-Tight, Artist, Author, Animal-Free Chef, Activist. ARCHITECT of 5 PRINCIPLES TO A BETTER LIFE™ & MAINSTREAM ANIMAL-FREE CUISINE™.

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