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Food From Thought: November 2022
Strategic partnerships aim to bring more cultivated meats to Asia and Europe, potential new production options for cellular agriculture, and more.
First, a quick shout-out to FoodHack, which this month named Unovis to its new list of the top food and climatetech VCs! We’re proud to be in the company of VCs like Foodlabs and Nucleus Capital who are helping to move this industry forward.
Out of all the obstacles that have been faced by the alternative protein industry, one of the things to come out of the struggle is more collaboration — in all forms.
Strategic partnerships have proven to be a necessary and positive step forward for both plant-based and cultivated meat products. We’ve seen an influx of plant-based items added to global restaurant chain menus, predominantly in places like Australia and throughout Europe, met with consumer curiosity and approval.
We’ve also seen brands in the cellular agriculture category creating partnerships with restaurants in Singapore, which is currently the only place in the world where these products have regulatory approval to be sold. By planting their products there, cultivated meat has the opportunity to reach consumers in Asia and Europe more quickly, while they wait for regulatory approval in the United States and elsewhere.
Another recommendation for improvement has been talk of creating “hybrid” meats — a blend of plant-based meat with cultivated meat — to not only offer a more ethical and environmentally-friendly product, but also one that is more cost effective for consumers. The CEO of SCiFi Foods even says doing this would push alt protein products over the edge, giving them just enough actual meat flavor and texture to wow consumers seeking better options.
As for the production challenges, molecular farming startup IngredientWerks says there’s a more efficient third option to fermentation and bioreactors for growing cultivated meat: using corn varieties that express casein proteins and meaty-tasting heme proteins. It will be interesting to see if this takes off as another production route for this sector.
And in a historic movement, cultivated food startups in Asia recently signed a nomenclature agreement that will help move the sector forward even more, especially in terms of consumer acceptance and normalization. After years of being called “clean meat,” “lab-grown meat,” and “cellular meat,” this signed memorandum of understanding has decided that “cultivated meat” is here to stay.
As brands continue to partner and be innovative in the ways above, we should see gaps in price, taste, and texture become smaller between conventional and alt proteins — while consumer awareness and acceptance rise.
With that connectivity in mind, the Unovis team recently attended the FoodTech Israel 2022 exhibition in Tel Aviv, along with many of our portfolio companies included Anina, Imagindairy, Zero Egg and Aleph Farms. Founded by The Strauss Group’s foodtech incubator The Kitchen, FoodTech IL is one of the largest events of its kind in the world, dedicated to raising the profile of foodtech activity in Israel, promoting Israeli startups in the industry, and connecting founders with investors and major food companies.
New Food Magazine: How to stand the test of time in the cultured meat market
The University of Vermont: Cultivating Meat For A Sustainable Future
VegOut Magazine: Kevin Hart’s Hart House Opens First Location in Westchester
SciTech Daily: Plant-Based Meat Is “Healthier and More Sustainable”
And two books: