FoodBytes! Pitch 2020, a virtual competition by food and agriculture bank Rabobank, took place at the beginning of December. Over 340 startups applied to present their solutions for a more sustainable food system, and among the 15 selected finalists were plant-based companies Evo Foods and Pleese Foods.
Evo Foods is India’s first liquid egg replacement company. It has had a successful year, raising capital from investors such as VegInvest, Wild Earth’s Ryan Bethencourt, and the CEO of Shiok Meats. Its founders say their aim is to disrupt the Indian market.
New York-based Pleese Foods produces meltable plant-based cheese for pizzas. The company has already been supported by Harlem incubator Hot Bread Kitchen and Big Idea Ventures’s New Protein Accelerator.
The cheese is unique because it is free from all common allergens such as soy and nuts — instead, it’s made with potatoes and beans. It’s designed to melt as quickly as dairy cheese, whereas many vegan cheeses have a higher melting point.
Other plant-based companies in the top 15 included Planeteer, which makes edible vegan cutlery, Alchemy Foodtech, producers of a plant-based blend to slow the digestion of carbohydrates, and Envara Health, makers of an ingredient that increases nutrient absorption.
Almost half of the 15 companies are led or co-led by people of colour, while 60 percent are led or co-led by women.
Unfortunately, neither Evo Foods nor Pleese Foods made the top three in the final, but they will become a permanent part of the FoodBytes! network with ongoing support and connections from Rabobank. Plant-based company Envara Health had more success, taking the top spot in the Food Tech category.
Agricycle Global won the Consumer Food & Beverage category for its technologies to reduce post-harvest food loss and provide employment to rural farmers. The Agtech Award went to SWAN Systems for its highly efficient irrigation and fertiliser platform. A replay of the pitching competition is available to watch here.
“In five short years, FoodBytes! has become one of the most valuable networks for startups who are pioneering sustainable ways to feed the planet,” said Anne Greven, Head of F&A Innovation at Rabobank. “We’re connecting emerging and established leaders who want to solve real problems like climate change, plastic waste, and food insecurity.”