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According to the Good Food Institute, the plant-based egg industry is worth $10 million. This is a small number compared to the plant-based milk industry, which is worth a whopping $2 billion; however, the plant-based egg industry has grown by an impressive 228% in the past two years. With the entire plant-based food industry estimated to reach $74.2 billion by 2027, there is plenty of room for the plant-based egg category to continue to grow.

Plant-based eggs are poised to become the next big thing in the plant-based space, and it can be hard to keep up with all of the companies involved in this industry. We’ve pulled together some of the emerging and bigger players in this space.

Eat Just
Funding: $220M
About: After hitting the milestone of selling over 50 million plant-based eggs earlier this year, it is clear that Eat Just is one of the leaders in this industry. The company makes its liquid egg and folded egg patties with mung beans as the main ingredient. Eat Just products are available in retailers and restaurants nationwide (U.S.), and the company announced in October that it is expanding its products into Asia.

Zero Egg
Funding: $8M
About: Zero Egg launched its plant-based egg powder alternative earlier this year in October on World Egg Day. The egg alternative is crafted from soy protein isolate and pea flour and comes in two different varieties: EGG Basics as a direct replacement for scrambles or omelets and BAKE Basics for specialty baking. Zero Egg’s products are available globally to foodservice operators and manufacturers in the US, Europe, and Israel.

Float Foods
Funding: Undisclosed
AboutAccording to Green Queen, Float Foods is the first company in Asia to create a plant-based egg white and yolk. This new product is called OnlyEg, and it is set to become available commercially in 2022. This plant-based egg was developed using a mixture of undisclosed legumes. In September of this year, Float Foods also launched an incubator for plant-based food innovators.

Evo Foods
Funding: $335K
About: This is India’s first plant-based egg start-up, and it has said it will be launching a plant-based liquid egg alternative sometime this year. Evo Foods uses biotechnology to extract protein from lentils for its formula. The product will first be made available D2C on its website and restaurants in India, and the company has plans to launch in the US by April 2021.

Funding: Unknown
About: The company recently announced at the beginning of November that it will be launching its liquid plant-based egg in the UK market. The egg formula is comprised of pea protein, nutritional yeast, and black salt. According to Crack’d, its liquid egg can be used for both baking and creating traditional egg dishes.

Five finalists have been announced for VWS Pathfinder, a global plant-based pitching competition for women founders. The competition, run by Vegan Women Summit, received over 800 applications.

Applications came from 31 countries and came from diverse backgrounds — 60 percent of founders who applied were women of colour, and more than a quarter were black.

The finalists will take part in the virtual event this Saturday December 5, pitching live to an investor jury to compete for the $50,000 prize.

The five finalists are:

  • Aki Kaltenbach, Founder and CEO of Canadian plant-based seafood company ​Save Da Sea Foods.
  • Astrid Prajogo, Founder and CEO of Chinese alt-meat company ​Haofood.
  • Courtney Blagrove, Co-founder of ​vegan ice cream parlour Whipped Urban Dessert Lab​ in New York.
  • Isabella Iglesias-Musachio, Co-founder of German mushroom-based alt-meat company ​Kinoko Labs​.
  • Renana Krebs, Co-founder and CEO of Israeli sustainable textiles company ​Algalife.
vws pathfinder
© Vegan Women Summit

Over thirty founders and CEOs will be present at the event, along with a range of investors. Speakers will include Miyoko Schinner of Miyoko’s Creamery and Shama Sukul Lee, CEO of Sunfed. Stray Dog Capital, Big Idea Ventures, and Purple Orange Ventures will be among the investors.

Women founders have long been pioneers in the plant-based sector, but for many, it isn’t easy. A survey conducted by Vegan Women Summit found that 75 percent of women had experienced gender bias in the plant-based industry, with many having suffered harassment or discrimination.

But many have prevailed despite the challenges, with research showing that investments in women-led companies perform 63 percent better than those in all-male teams.

Vegan Woman Summit
©Vegan Women Summit

“The thing I’m looking forward to the most at VWSPathfinder is meeting and sharing stories with other female founders as passionate about the plant-based movement and the collective impact we can have as I am,” said VWS Pathfinder finalist Aki Kaltenbach.

Five founders have been selected from over 800 pitch applications from around the world for VWS Pathfinder, a global women founder summit and pitch competition dedicated to plant-based innovation.

VWS Pathfinder, powered by Vegan Women Summit, will take place virtually on Saturday, December 5th and will feature more than thirty founders, CEOs, and investors from around the world, followed by a live pitch competition. The five finalists will compete for a prize package valued at over $50,000 USD and pitch live in front of an investor jury.

The five finalists include:
Aki Kaltenbach, Founder and CEO of Save Da Sea Foods of Whistler, Canada
Astrid Prajogo, Founder and CEO of Haofood of Shanghai, China Courtney Blagrove, Co-founder of Whipped Urban Dessert Lab of New York City, USA Isabella Iglesias-Musachio, Co-founder of Kinoko Labs of Berlin, Germany Renana Krebs, Co-founder and CEO of Algalife of Tel Aviv, Israel

VWS Pathfinder finalist, Courtney Blagrove, remarked, “The frozen dessert market has historically been devoid of diverse representation in the field and our team has experienced that while grit and work ethic is a critical part of the equation for success, having strategic connections to the right people at the right time is crucial as well. Establishing these strategic partnerships is a difficult endeavor, made even more arduous by being a member of a disadvantaged group that historically lacks access to the resources and networks available to others.

VWS Pathfinder by Vegan Women Summit is taking action to change this dynamic and we are extremely proud and excited to take part in a summit that allows us to increase our brand awareness, promotes diversity and representation in the plant-based food innovation field, and also promotes increased access to plant-based foods for all people.”

“Our vision is to build a global plant-based seafood brand and the thing I’m looking forward to the most at VWS Pathfinder by Vegan Women Summit is meeting and sharing stories with other female founders as passionate about the plant-based movement and the collective impact we can have as I am,” commented Aki Kaltenbach, finalist for VWS Pathfinder.

Remarking on the pitch application turnout, Vegan Women Summit founder, Jennifer Stojkovic, shared, “Women founders have been pioneers in the plant-based space since its inception, but the fact that we received over 800 applications from 31 countries proves this is a global movement. We’re thrilled to see that over 60 percent of founders who applied to VWS Pathfinder were women of color and more than one-quarter of applicants were Black founders. This summit is our first step at Vegan Women Summit to finally get these founders the much needed recognition, support, and investment they deserve.”

Other speakers at VWS Pathfinder include Miyoko Schinner, CEO of Miyoko’s Creamery, Shama Sukul Lee, CEO of Sunfed, Denise Woodard, CEO of Partake Foods, Matilda Ho, Managing Director of Bits x Bites, Tia Blanco, pro-surfer and founder of Dear Self Skincare, and Daniella Monet, actress and co-founder of Kinder Beauty. Supporting investors include Stray Dog Capital, VegInvest, Veg Capital, Vegan Capital, Purple Orange Ventures, Unovis, KBW Ventures, and Big Idea Ventures and other event sponsors include Postmates, Upfield, Evolution Bureau, Miyoko’s Creamery, Califia Farms, and WeWork.

Full event information and tickets are available here.

About Vegan Women SummitTM

Vegan Women SummitTM (VWS) is a global events and media organization created to empower female-identifying change makers to bring compassion to their careers. VWS hosts events with the goal to foster a community of strong, ambitious rising leaders working to build a kinder, more sustainable world. VWS is supported by leading CEOs, venture capitalists, artists, athletes, & nonprofit leaders from around the world. For more information, visit

Unlike other plant-based “meats,” Singapore-based Karana’s faux pork baos and dumplings are made entirely from a single ingredient: the versatile jackfruit.

The following interview is part of the new edition of Climate & Style, an exciting new newsletter exploring climate-focused lifestyle, art and culture.

Karana is Asia’s first whole-plant based meat brand. We had a chance to sit down with Karana co-founders Dan Riegler and Blair Crichton about their experiences setting up their company and their insights into where the market is headed. Both Riegler and Crichton talk here about their goal to make it easier for consumers to reduce their meat consumption — and change the way we think of Asian comfort food.

How did you pick the name “Karana?”

Karana comes from a Sanskrit word that means “doing” and a Balinese phrase that refers to achieving balance with nature as a route to prosperity.

Karana represents our goal to empower and encourage everyone to take action, however small, to bring more balance back to our food systems. It also represents our commitment to blending innovation and tradition, using technology to improve what we already have available, and celebrating food in its natural form.

Why jackfruit?

We choose crops like jackfruit that already have a large bioavailability, are not water or land intensive, and are resistant to many of the climate change issues facing smallholder farmers around the world.

What is different about what you’re doing? 

We want to prove that eating in a healthier and more sustainable way doesn’t mean sacrificing or compromising on the food we love. We hope to make it easier for consumers to reduce their meat consumption

To do this, we’re taking ordinary, underappreciated plants and transforming them into meat starting with a whole-plant based pork made from jackfruit.

The first wave of modern plant based products are great and they’ve done a lot to open the market and educate consumers. But they are by-and-large relying on commodity crops in processed forms.

There is often an implicit assumption that these products are healthy just because they’re plant based. While they’re healthier than meat products, many of them are highly processed and not necessarily “health foods.”

With health being the number one incentive for people to reduce their meat intake, we need to offer more choices that are minimally processed and offer the benefits of eating whole plants.

How will this change what others are doing?

Moving away from animal agriculture is a great starting point for a more sustainable food system, but we need to look more deeply at which plant based ingredients we are consuming. For example, soy is second only to beef as a cause of deforestation.

We hope others are inspired to innovate more around the ingredients used in this category. Currently, we only commonly consume 150 of 30,000 edible plant species, and 12 crops make up 75% of what we eat.

What do you wish the market was paying more attention to?

The importance of biodiversity and soil health are becoming more significant topics and rightfully so. We need to dramatically increase the variety of the types of crops we eat and ensure that we are choosing plants that can be grown sustainably.

What’s the most important thing for you to get right in the next year?

Launching our first product: whole-plant “pork” made from jackfruit!

Our focus is on Asian applications. We’re starting with pork products because pork is the number one meat consumed in Asia.

We’ll be starting with restaurants but given the current global situation we are looking to accelerate our retail product launch as well, beginning with a line of dumpling and dim sum products.

In the future, we plan to launch products using other regional ingredients that will enable us to expand beyond pork.

Editors note: Responses in this feature were edited for clarity, brevity and narrative flow.

According to Barclays, the market for meat alternatives could be worth $140bn (£104bn) within the next decade, or about 10% of the $1.4tn global meat industry.

Global interest is booming, with research from the FAIRR Investor Network revealing that over £850m of venture investment flowed into alternative proteins in the first half of 2020 – more than double last year’s total investment of £412m.

And the next phase of the meat alternative wave – lab-grown meat – is well on the way, with Singapore this month announcing regulatory approval for meat products grown from cells, rather than taken from slaughtered animals. It has been hailed as a landmark moment for the future of the meat industry.

One step back from lab-grown meat, however, is another emerging technological breakthrough which could have equally ground-changing ramifications: lab-grown collagen.

Collagen is a protein that is vital in the animal kingdom. Simply put it literally holds the body together. It is found in bones, ligaments, tendons and in the skin. It’s importance in NPD is that it is a vital component in confectionery and in restaurant cookery.

Collagen is the protein that becomes gelatine – the substance that makes a fruit pastille possible and a jelly set with a wobble. It also adds body to reduced meat stocks which play a valuable part in giving body and richness to a meat stew, for example.

An American company, Jellatech, have pioneered the technique of growing collagen in a laboratory. In time it will provide a replacement for the technique of creating gelatine by boiling bones and ligaments (typically the waste bi-product of the meat industry).

To find out more I spoke to Jellatech’s co-founder Stephanie Michelsen to discover how the breakthrough came about.

“We asked the question – we have cells in our bodies producing collagen, so why don’t we just culture them in a bio reactor and harvest it?” Stephanie said. “I’m a bio technologist and so, instead of going to the animals, we knew we could grow the cells that produce it. But we had to start with an animal cell.

“Our process harvests the collagen from cells as opposed to having to farm animals. In the past this was impossibly expensive but the growth in cultured meat technology has driven the price down meaning it’s not so cost prohibitive as it once was.

A cell-based approach to collagen

“To produce collagen, we are going to be developing our own lab-grown meat to get the collagen cells we need,” explained Stephanie. “We are not the only company in this field. Geltor, for example, use microbes, yeast and bacteria to engineer collagen.

“We decided that was not the route we wanted to take. We use animal cells instead. The way we see it is that those microbes and yeasts don’t produce collagen naturally and a lot of complicated science has to take place to engineer it to have the same ultimate effect.

“Our router was to say: who’s the best collagen producer out there in the natural world? As humans, 35% of our body is collagen. We discovered that the best producer of collagen is the jellyfish. It is literally half collagen. So, that’s what inspired us to take a cell-based approach. All we are doing is optimising it.

“We are building a platform where we have various types of animal cells. It really depends on the industry we are going into. In food and drink the historic chosen collagen was made from bovine cells by turning it into gelatine.

“Other sectors like pharmaceuticals and cosmetics use other collagens from either human cells or marine. We are looking to build a platform so we can offer it to all sectors. It means we can tweak it a bit genetically to produce a better result.

“There is a scientific dilemma and debate going on about this. Our collagen does, technically, come from an animal cell but it’s not an animal – it’s a cell. It’s not multi-cellular which would mean it was an animal.

“The partners and confectionery businesses we have talked to say there is simply no vegan alternative to collagen. There are similar products like agar and pectin but they are not the same and don’t behave the same way – a gummy bear (think wine gum) is stable on the shelf but melts in the mouth. We just can’t get this outside of the animal kingdom. The cell-based approach means that we can grow collagen without having to slaughter animals.

As close to nature as is possible

“Science cultures cells all the time – say for a biopsy – but you also create continuous cell cultures that can keep on growing exponentially. They will divide and grow and grow forever. All we do is to take cells, feed them what they like so they divide and produce the protein that we want. Then we can harvest that from the cells.

“Our short term goal is to have this continuous cell line growth that we harvest from. That’s a very simplistic view of it. The science is much deeper than that, of course. We’re still in the development stage and we hope to have a commercial-grade product in 18 months.

“It will be as close to nature as is possible but what is exciting is that we can actually make a better quality collagen because we can control every stage, from the design of it, the growing, the harvesting and the purifying.

“With the conventional method, you have to go into animal agriculture and take things as they are. You can’t control what you end up with and the process needs a live animal to begin with.

“Our end product will mean the better the quality, the less you need of it. We are thinking a lot about the final product and a powdered form. We will work with the customers to see what they want.”

The global plant-based food industry is booming. Grocery sales of plant-based foods in the US outpaced overall food sales growth by more than five times in 2019,[1] and UK sales are expected to exceed £1.1 billion by 2024.[2] This growth has been driven by changing consumer attitudes and habits towards meat consumption; in part, due to an increased global awareness of the impacts of traditional agricultural practices on climate change, human health and animal welfare.

This combined with the growing demand for food, particularly protein, and we are left with the big question of where to source protein for human consumption. Plants and fungi may be the answer, due to their lower carbon footprint and healthier nutritional profile compared to animal protein. While traditional plant-based meat alternatives, such as tofu, tempeh and seitan, have been eaten for centuries, in recent years plant-based meat analogues (PBMAs)[3] have emerged as a new class of plant-based proteins.

Plant-based meat analogues (PBMAs)

The Good Food Institute defines plant-based meat as “structured plant- or fungus-derived foods designed to replace animal-based meat”.[4] PBMAs mimic the sensory attributes of conventional meat (taste, smell, texture and aesthetics) and can be cooked using similar methods as animal meat products. The nutritional profiles of PBMAs vary: some have lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, fewer calories, and higher levels of micronutrients than conventional meat,[5],[6] while some even contain higher levels of protein than the animal meat they are mimicking, such as the bacon analogue from THIS™.[7] PBMAs are distinct from plant-based meat alternatives, such as tofu, in that their aim is not simply to provide an alternative plant-based protein source, but to mimic conventional meat so closely that they are equivalent in all but their starting materials. PBMAs are thus a mass market product, intended to be eaten by both meat eaters and non-meat eaters.

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The ingredients: protein sources and additives

The bulk of a PBMA is made from plant-based proteins, commonly soy, pea and wheat proteins. Many of these are already used in traditional plant-based products such as tofu and seitan, but PBMAs go further than meat alternatives by using additives to create a more “meat-like” experience. These include colourings, such as beetroot juice and texture-enhancing polysaccharides and hydrocolloids.[8]

As the saying goes, people eat with their eyes first, and this is no different for PBMAs. Consumers feel more comfortable with products that behave similarly to conventional meat, therefore many of the ingredients used in PBMAs help mimic the behaviour of conventional meat during cooking. For example, heat-stable caramel colouring agents, malt extracts and reducing sugars are added to make the PBMA transition from red to brown upon cooking,[9] mimicking the browning effect of conventional cooked meat. Soy leghemoglobin (SLH), an oxygen carrier similar to myoglobin in muscle, is an ingredient in Impossible Foods’ ‘Impossible Burger’ which, when heated, forms a red-tinted liquid that mimics the “bleed” in meat, and provides a characteristically metallic meat-like flavour.[10] Meanwhile, pea proteins can form heat-induced gels[11] to encapsulate beetroot-based “blood” as in Beyond Meat’s ‘Beyond Burger’. Plant fat encapsulation is key to retaining moisture and fat during heating.

The processes

A fundamental characteristic of conventional meat is its fibrous nature, which contributes to its texture and mouthfeel. This is especially true for “whole muscle” meat like steak, but also for ground meat. However, plant-based proteins are typically globular; therefore, to mimic this anisotropic structure, plant-based proteins must be unfolded, cross-linked, and re-aligned to form fibres.

A well-established technique for achieving this is using High Moisture Extrusion Cooking (HMEC), wherein the protein, water and any other ingredients are mixed, before being heated under pressure and then cooled, forcing the fibres to align and creating a modified textured protein.[12],[13],[14] Another technique is shear cell technology, which creates a shear zone using two rotating cylinders and applies heat, generating fibrous structured plant-based protein.[15] Importantly, shear cell technology looks promising for meeting scalability requirements.

Investment into PBMAs

PBMAs have seen huge market growth, and the big players have amassed high levels of investment. Impossible Foods has aggregated more than $1.3 billion in total disclosed funding[16] and was valued at $4 billion in March 2020.[17] Its rival Beyond Meat went public in 2019, at a valuation of nearly $1.5 billion.[18]

Interestingly, some of the biggest investors in this field are the incumbent meat producers. Tyson Foods, one of the largest US meat companies, now pitches itself as a protein company rather than a meat company and has set up its own fund: Tyson Ventures. They have invested in many plant-based companies, including Beyond Meat and New Wave Foods.[19]

Venture capital firms and accelerators are also involved, such as IndieBio and New Crop Capital. Big Idea Ventures, a hybrid venture firm offering an accelerator programme focused on plant-based food startups, closed a $50 million fund in May 2019 and a $6.5 million fund in June 2020.[20]

The UK market is also active. UK-based PBMA company THIS™ launched in June 2019 after a £1 million pre-seed round. They have now secured £4.7 million in seed funding.[21]

PBMA companies are partnering with retailers to reach consumers. Impossible Foods has partnered with Burger King to launch the ‘Impossible Whopper’, while Beyond Meat’s share prices rose after the recent announcement of their partnership with McDonald’s to create the McPlant range, which will be launched in key markets in 2021.[22]

PBMAs and IP: what can be protected?

Intellectual property (IP) protection is vital to enable companies to secure a monopoly over their inventions, protect investments and recoup R&D costs. The growing number of players in this field means securing IP rights will become increasingly important. The multifactorial nature of PBMAs offers many opportunities for patent protection. Product patents can protect the novel ingredient combinations used for flavour and aroma, and can protect the PBMA product itself, defined by its ingredients and composition, such as moisture content. Process patents can protect the methods that alter the plant-based protein properties, as well as the specific conditions used in these processes, such as temperature and pH. In particular, methods for isolating and purifying the proteins from the raw plant material may be protected by method claims, and are likely to be relied upon more as attention shifts upstream.

New machines and production systems developed to make PBMAs – such as bioreactors, incubators and shear cells – can be protected by product patents and patents covering their use in the production of PBMA products. Interestingly, it is likely that many of these patents will be applicable across multiple products, meaning innovators could leverage or licence their patent portfolios not only over their competitors, but over those producing non-competing products.

What can we expect next from PBMAs?

Seafood analogues

Plant-based seafood analogues have been attracting increased funding due to a raised global awareness of global fish stock depletion. There are already some huge players in this area, such as Good Catch Foods, which raised $32 million in Series B funding in January 2020. They use lentil, chickpea and other legumes to make alternative protein-based tuna, crab cakes and fish patties. New Wave Foods has received backing from Tyson Ventures and uses pea protein and algae to make imitation shrimp.[23]

Upstream development

The first generations of PBMAs relied heavily on soy and wheat protein, which are by-products of other industries and so have the advantages of established supply chains and availability. They have some nutritional and structural benefits, but also present problems in downstream processing, such as anti-vitamins that reduce bioavailability of nutrients in the body. Attention is now shifting upstream: rather than trying to fix downstream problems that are inherent features of the crop used, research is turning towards finding alternative crops or genetic modification of existing crops to prevent these problems occurring in the first place.

Whole muscle

Currently, PBMA technology is limited to ground and shaped meat analogues. Although work is ongoing to develop a whole muscle PBMA, such as a plant-based steak, it seems likely that the race will be won by cellular agriculture.


In March 2020, Impossible Foods reduced its price for distributors by 15 percent on average, as continued production records drove down their costs.[24] Prices are likely to continue to fall across the board, making PBMAs ever more competitive with conventional animal meat.


PBMAs are an active area that continues to attract large amounts of investment, which drives the iterative research developing the next generations of PBMAs. Excitingly, they have proven to be largely resistant to the challenges of the current pandemic: in the US, plant-based meat sales increased by 264 percent over a nine-week period to 2 May 2020,[25] and while many meat processing factories shut down, numerous PBMA factories were able to stay open due to more automated production lines. Driven by consumer demand, large investment and technological advances, PBMAs look set to become a regular on menus and supermarket shelves everywhere.




3. Dekkers BL, Boom RM, van der Goot AJ. Structuring Processes for Meat Analogues. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 2018:81:25-36. Doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2018.08.011


5. Kumar, P., Chatli, M. K., Mehta, N., Singh, P., Malav, O. P. and Verma, A. K. (2017), ‘Meat analogues: Health promising sustainable meat substitutes’, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition57(5): pp. 923–32, doi:10.1080/10408398.2014.939739

6.  Bohrer, B. M. (2017), ‘Review: Nutrient density and nutritional value of meat products and non-meat foods high in protein’, Trends in Food Science & Technology65: pp. 103–12, doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2017.04.016


8. Turner J. Hydrocolloids Create Successful Analogues. 2019.

9. He, J, Evans, NM, Liu, H, Shao, S. A review of research on plant‐based meat alternatives: Driving forces, history, manufacturing, and consumer attitudes. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2020; 1– 18.

10. Fraser RZ, Shitut M, Agrawal P, Mendes O, Klapholz S. Safety Evaluation of Soy Leghemoglobin Protein Preparation Derived From Pichia pastoris, Intended for Use as a Flavor Catalyst in Plant-Based Meat. Int J Toxicol. 2018;37(3):241-262. doi:10.1177/1091581818766318

11. Ismail I, Hwang YH, Joo ST. Meat analog as future food: a review. J Anim Sci Technol. 2020;62(2):111-120. doi:10.5187/jast.2020.62.2.111


13.  Dekkers BL, Boom RM, van der Goot AJ. Structuring Processes for Meat Analogues. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 2018:81:25-36. Doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2018.08.011

14.  Krintiras GA, Diaz JG, van der Goot AJ, Stankiewicz AI, Stefanidis GD. On the use of the Couette Cell technology for large scale production of textured soy-based meat replacers. J Food Eng. 2016:169:2015-213. Doi:

15.  Krintiras GA, Diaz JG, van der Goot AJ, Stankiewicz AI, Stefanidis GD. On the use of the Couette Cell technology for large scale production of textured soy-based meat replacers. J Food Eng. 2016:169:2015-213. Doi:











Australia is no exception to the global plant-based trend in recent years, with the movement only picking up pace since the coronavirus pandemic with consumers increasingly shifting away from conventional meat amid headlines of virus-ridden abattoirs. And as the demand continues to grow, homegrown startups are taking on the challenge to innovate new products that give shoppers what they crave and love about meat, but without the ethical and environmental impact. From plant-based meat brands already making their mark to research undertaken to develop new cell-based proteins, there’s no shortage of Australian entrepreneurs driving the country’s fast-growing alternative protein industry.

While the U.S. and Europe are traditionally viewed as the hotbeds of alternative protein innovation, we’re now seeing the emergence of homegrown Australian companies who are developing Australian-made analogues that tap into the country’s unique resources and provide greater variety and choice in the alternative protein market.

Take Fenn Foods, for example, a Queensland-headquartered plant-based startup that has recently joined Big Idea Ventures’ accelerator program. Founded by Alejandro Cancino & Paola Moro, the brand has been known for its beef alternative “veef” and other plant-based products such as schnitzel and chicken burgers that are widely distributed across Australian supermarkets and restaurant chains.

Source: Fenn Foods / designed by Green Queen Media

Now, it’s gearing up to add three new products to its line-up, and expand its presence internationally, launching in Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong in the next months. One of its products is a carbon-neutral veef made from soy protein, pea protein, vegetable oil and cocoa butter. While all plant-based meats, by virtue of being animal-free, require far less land and water resources and generate much fewer carbon emissions to produce, Fenn Foods has partnered with carbon reduction institute Noco2 to offset all the remaining carbon emissions from the production process.

Speaking to Green Queen about the new carbon-neutral vegan meat mince, co-founder Cancino said: “Our aim is to be the most delicious and sustainable product on the market. We can keep working restlessly on deliciousness, but in terms of sustainability, this is really setting us apart from the rest.”

Source: Fable Food Co

Another startup, Fable Food Co, has developed animal-free, gluten-free and GMO-free plant-based braised beef made from 65% mushroom ingredientswhich is available throughout major retailers such as Woolworths, and has even gained a following from top food experts like celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, who has since partnered with the food tech to add the product to the menu of his U.K. restaurants.

Amid the coronavirus crisis, the brand’s co-founder and CEO Michael Fox told Green Queen in an earlier conversation that it is “having to adapt so we decided to launch an online pop-up in two cities,” and has since set its sights on expanding into the Singapore market in the coming months via both foodservice and retail.

Source: v2food

Meanwhile, Sydney-based food tech v2food made headlines recently, having landed a AU$77 million (US$55 million) Series B round, breaking records as the largest funding round in the category within the country. The funding was led by major institutional investors including many of Asia’s biggest names such as Hong Kong-based Horizons Ventures and Singapore’s Temasek, a major boost for the company’s intentions to launch its vegan mince and plant-based burger products into new markets in Asia.

But it isn’t just Australia’s plant-based sector gaining all the glory – the country’s cell-based alternative protein sector is also flourishing. Most notably at the forefront of the sector is Vow, a Sydney-based company that is developing not just any meat directly from animal cells, but exotic meats, from zebra to kangaroo.

Source: Vow

Vow has already held a successful first culinary trial of their products, prepared and plated by renowned Australian chefs Neil Perry, the founder of the Rockpool restaurant empire, and Corey Costello, featuring a range of dishes including cell-cultured kangaroo dumplings, alpaca chilli tamara and a goat cheeseburger slider – just to name a few.

Another cell-based project in the country, led by University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) researcher Lisa Musgrove, has caught the eye of New York-based cellular agriculture research institute New Harvest. Recently securing seed grant money from the institute, which represents the first time an Australian has been awarded, Musgrove will be investigating crayfish growth factors and cell-culture to bolster innovation within the cell-based crustaceans sector.

Lead image courtesy of Fable Food Co.

Shiok Meats has just unveiled the world’s first cell-based lobster meat. In an exclusive tasting event, the Singapore cultivated seafood food tech showcased its newly developed crustacean-free product in a range of dishes alongside their cell-based shrimp, marking yet another milestone towards the company’s ambitions to commercialise its cultured crustaceans by 2022.

Singapore-based cultivated seafood maker Shiok Meats has just announced that it has held a private tasting event to showcase their brand new cell-based lobster meat, making the company the first in the world to do so. The event was held at food incubator Innovate360, where Chef José Luis Del Amo of TheTasteLab served lobster tomato, leek, red pepper and cucumber gazpacho and lobster terrine made with Shiok’s newly-developed cell-based lobster meat, served on a crostini slathered in mayonnaise.

Special guests, investors and restaurateurs at the tasting were also treated to a spherified dish featuring cell-based shrimp created using molecular gastronomy techniques, marking the second time Shiok Meats’ shrimp has appeared on dining plates after first appearing in a siu mai dumpling prototype in 2019.

Among the distinguished guests attending the event included SaladStop! co-founder and president Adrien DesbailletsBernice Tay of Enterprise Singapore, and assistant director of the Singapore Food Agency Xuan Feng. Co-head of impact investment at Silverstrand Capital Patti Chu, Signum Capital partner John Ng were also first to taste the new product alongside other collaborators and the Shiok Meats team members.

“The taste is wonderful – to really get a sense of umami flavours that can be developed from this sort of technology, and by blending it with different bases, it really fascinating,” said Desbaillets. “It’s a great journey that Shiok Meats has been on for the past two years, and exciting to see it all come together.”

Co-Founders of Shiok Meats Dr. Sandhya Sriram (L) & Dr. Ka Yi Ling (R)

Our mission is to develop cell-based crustacean meats that are contributing towards a cleaner and healthier seafood industry and solving for the inefficiencies around global protein production. We are working very hard on making sure that our products are delicious, healthy and affordable in the long run.

Dr. Sandhya Sriram & Dr. Ka Yi Ling, Co-Founders, Shiok Meats

Commenting on the milestone, Shiok Meats co-founders Dr. Sandhya Sriram and Dr. Ka Yi Ling said: “We are ecstatic that we were able to showcase the first ever cell-based lobster meat that we produced in our facility.”

“Our mission is to develop cell-based crustacean meats that are contributing towards a cleaner and healthier seafood industry and solving for the inefficiencies around global protein production. We are working very hard on making sure that our products are delicious, healthy and affordable in the long run.”

While the company plans to take its cultivated Shiok Shrimp to market by 2022 – potentially becoming the first cell-based food tech to bring much-needed disruption US$50 billion global shrimp market at a time when food safety concerns are riding high amidst the coronavirus pandemic and threats of aquaculture diseases like Div1 – Shiok Meats has also set its sights on tackling the problematic lobster market.

Lobsters, mostly produced in the U.S., Canada and Australia, are in high-demand especially in Asian markets like Hong Kong and mainland China, and sustainable solutions to meet increasing consumption rates will be necessary to alleviate the industry’s environmental toll. Despite beef and lamb remaining the most carbon-hefty meats, wild lobster catches require fossil fuel-powered vessels that burn an estimated 10,000 litres of dirty fuel per catch.

The taste is wonderful – to really get a sense of umami flavours that can be developed from this sort of technology, and by blending it with different bases, it really fascinating.

Adrien Desbaillets, President & Co-founder, SaladStop!

Almost all commercial seafood fishing operations also use methods such as trawling and longlines, which are at some point discarded in the sea, making up almost 50% of the ocean plastic waste, not to mention harming non-targeted species in bycatch, including dolphins, sea turtles and sharks.

Most scientific estimates say that marine populations are depleting so quickly we could be seeing most species consumed by humans going extinct by 2048, with some recent predictions suggesting that the timeline could be pushed forward due to a spike in consumers choosing seafood as their choice of protein over red meats.

Shiok Meats says that it stands out from other cultivated protein startups as its proprietary patent-pending technology enables the isolation of stem cells from crustaceans for growth in nutrient-rich conditions. Within four to six weeks, the company is able to produce a 100% animal-free and slaughter-free cell-based seafood product that is identical to its conventional counterpart with only a fraction of the environmental footprint.

Its latest development of cell-based lobster meat comes just over a month after it announced an impressive US$12.6 million Series A funding round following its US$3 million bridge funding round secured earlier in June this year. The funds will go towards the construction of its first commercial pilot facility, putting the company on track to win the race in building the world’s fully-functional commercial plant dedicated to cell-based crustacean production.

All images courtesy of Shiok Meats.

“To say plant-based foods are having a moment is an understatement. Green is now mainstream.”  says Allen Zelden, in an article originally published by Inside FMCG, which includes insights from plant-based leaders including Mike Messersmith of OatlyMiyoko Schinner, Chris Kerr of Good Catch, and Kartik Dixit of Evo Foods.

“What was once a niche diet for vegetarians settling for some semblance of a meat-eating experience, is now increasingly embraced as a healthy, delicious and modern lifestyle. But while the sector is experiencing impressive growth, the penetration and proliferation of plant-based foods across our grocery aisles is still very much in its infancy. Beyond the plant-based meat category, there still remains a number of untapped food types, some with little competition, ripe for disruption.

Plant-based foods are undoubtedly a growth engine for retailers and manufacturers alike. Recent US retail sales data by SPINS (a market research and retail analytics provider), confirms this with plant-based foods continuing to significantly outpace overall grocery sales, soaring 29% over the past two years compared to only 4% growth for total US food retail dollar sales.

©Beyond Meat

In 2019, the plant-based meat category alone grew six times faster than its conventional counterpart, and now accounts for 2% of total retail packaged meat sales. Driven by the rise of mission-driven brands such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, clearly food businesses can no longer communicate their functional benefits alone. Now more than ever, only brands with authentic purpose are assured to see more long-term engagement.

Whether the mission is health, animal welfare or the environment, consumers are progressively shifting from the belief that the consumption of animal meat is a required part of their diet and identity. However, when looking at the values and dynamics of other burgeoning plant-based food categories, this is only the beginning.

Oat Milk Creams the Competition

 While dairy-free alternatives have been around for a very long time, they have recently evolved from an occasional request to a customary commodity. Amongst the many varieties, Oatly is unquestionably the global pioneer in commercial oat milk.

Oatly WPMD
© Oatly

Since their founding days in the 1990s, Oatly has experienced astronomical growth with US oat milk dollar sales surging 686% in the past year, and 1,946% over the past two years (as per SPINS retail sales data).

“One huge aspect of Oatly that has resonated with consumers globally is that there is a clear, focused intent behind WHY we make our products. We only do oats – from the very beginning of our company – because after careful evaluation of all the options available, it made the most scientific rationale sense of being able to create the most delicious products without excessively taxing the earth’s resources,” says Mike Messersmith, President of Oatly North America.

“There is a growing consciousness amongst consumers worldwide not just about the ingredients and nutritional content of their food and beverage choices, but how the product was made and what the environmental impact of that process was on our planet.”

Oatly at festival 8

According to an LCA study conducted by Oatly, the production of their oat milk resulted in 80% lower GHG emissions and 60% less energy use compared to cow’s milk. The study also found they used about 80% less land and significantly less water, especially when compared to almond milk which is known to be the thirstiest plant milk.

However, it’s most impressive feature amongst consumers and baristas alike is its superior taste and texture. While other varieties such as pea milk may be seen as having a greater nutritional profile, many consider it to be grassier and dissimilar in flavour. No matter the many plant-based milk distinctions, the greatest driver in the shift towards plant-based consumption will always be taste, something Oatly has spent over 20 years perfecting.

The Queen of Vegan Cheese

Studies show that for those looking to adopt a plant-based diet, cheese is typically the most difficult food to part with. This is due to a number of factors such as its varying textures, types and qualities (such as melt). Whilst cheese has many unique complexities that are hard to mimic, the biggest impediment to growth of the plant-based cheese category is undeniably taste – enter Miyoko Schinner, the ‘Queen of Vegan Cheese’.

Miyoko with cheese
©Miyoko’s Creamery

Miyoko’s Creamery is the leading natural and organic plant-based dairy food brand in the US. Launched in 2014, Miyoko’s famed array of products – from butters, slices, and shreds, to their multi-flavoured cheddars, cream cheeses and artisan cheese wheels – are now found in more than 15,000 US retailers nationwide.

“Miyoko’s is currently growing 100% year over year due to its cult status, and for being known as the gold standard in plant-based/vegan cheese and butters,” says Schinner, CEO and Founder of Miyoko’s Creamery.

After milk and meat, cheese appears to be the next explosive growth category for the plant-based food sector. As per SPINS US retail sales data, plant-based cheese sales grew 18.3% in one year to reach US$189 million in 2019. Meanwhile, Transparency Market Research forecasts the global value of the industry to reach US$7 billion by 2030.

Another distinguishing feature that separates Miyoko’s Creamery from their counterparts is their emphasis on using only natural and organic ingredients with no GMO’S, additives or fake ingredients. Cashews are a primary component for many of their products.

©Miyoko’s Kitchen

“As more and more people seek healthier, more eco and compassionate food choices, Miyoko’s is meeting this demand in style by offering phenomenal organic products crafted from organic, clean, whole food ingredients and traditional cheese-making artistry at a scale that is unmatched in the industry.”

Netting the Next Catch

According to WWF, seafood is the world’s largest traded food commodity with approximately 3 billion people relying on it as a core source of protein in their diets. At the same time, the fishing industry is fraught with public health issues – from heavy metal and mercury contamination to the overuse of antibiotics in factory fishing. With overfishing threatening the future of marine biodiversity, and consumers increasingly open to inventive alternatives, Good Catch saw a gap in the market to meet the growing global seafood demand.

“Simply put, there was no one focusing heavily on seafood, and yet we can see the problems the seafood industry is facing. So, we founded the company with a white-space mentality. Consumers are more comfortable with exploring alternatives. The time is right,” says Chris Kerr, Co-Founder & Executive Chair of plant-based seafood company Good Catch.

Frozen line Good Catch
©Good Catch Foods

Launched in 2016 with a debut range of plant-based shelf-stable tuna alternatives, the company has since launched plant-based crab cakes, fish sliders and burgers, and generated more than $50 million in funding (according to Crunchbase). Its latest roster of investors include celebrities Woody Harrelson and Paris Hilton.

With plant-based seafood still only accounting for 1% of the total US plant-based meat category in 2019, and with so few manufacturers and little competition, Good Catch is perfectly positioned to capitalise on strong forecast growth in the US and abroad.

“Seafood is ubiquitously consumed around the globe but the localization to specific cuisines will be critical to adoption. For example, while Japan is not known as a large consumer of crab cakes, in the US crab cakes are a stable. Germans like tuna pizza – something we don’t generally eat in the US. My mantra: global adoption relies on local acceptance, and local acceptance relies on familiar form, function and flavour,” says Kerr.

“Understanding this, Good Catch can create the base products and work with global partners. Whilst we are currently still in the starting gates of the overall opportunity, the tailwinds are in our favour.”

The Scramble for Plant-Based Eggs

Of all the animal proteins, none are more versatile, functional and universal than eggs. With so few egg alternatives on the market, both for consumption and baking purposes, it’s clear the plant-based egg category is a mammoth global opportunity.

With India considered to have the world’s largest vegetarian population, and eggs contentiously accepted by many vegetarian communities, EVO Foods is on a mission to bring the plant-based revolution to India with the country’s first 100% plant-based liquid egg.

EVO Foods
©EVO Foods

“We at EVO see plant-based eggs starting the whole plant-based foods market for India. Food in India is deeply rooted in tradition, culture and community, and a plant-based meat product might actually turn off a lot of flexitarians and vegetarians. We believe that eggs are the best gateway products to introduce the Indian consumers to plant-based foods because eggs represent a grey area in the vegetarian and non-vegetarian debate in India,” says Shraddha Bhansali, Co-Founder of EVO Foods.

As Indian consumers become increasingly aware of global trends, food is seen to be the most socially complex category. Although India has the lowest global meat consumption, conversely, it will shortly overtake the US as the second largest egg producing market. With an intimate understanding of the challenges and opportunities within their region, Bhansali and Co-Founder Kartik Dixit created a ‘clean’ protein alternative for India’s traditional egg market.

“EVO’s liquid egg uses advanced plant biochemistry and food science to extract proteins from legumes and other plant sources to create a sustainable yet delicious ‘evolved’ egg replica without cholesterol, antibiotics or any animal cruelty.”

 Ultimately, plant-based eggs are still a very new market. According to SPINS data, US retail sales for plant-based eggs grew from $3 million to $10 million last year. However, from all the plant-based food categories, eggs have easily seen the highest dollar value sales growth over the last three years with a massive 228.2% which is impressive when compared to the plant-based meat category which only saw 37.8% growth for the same period.

 With pricing considered to be a foundational acceptance factor in guiding consumer’s food choices, international expansion is very much on EVO’s roadmap. “In the US currently the average price of plant-based eggs is 184% higher than the price of animal-based eggs. This is where EVO can capitalize on the demand by providing high quality and affordable plant-based eggs,” says Bhansali.

Consumers Buy on Beliefs 

healthy ready meals

Yes, the food industry is going greener. From your local supermarket shelves to international markets, plant-based foods are a booming business. Yet it’s still early days as consumers branch out beyond the burger.

The next evolution of plant-based dairy, cheese, seafood and egg products are increasingly competitive with their animal-oriented equivalents on all the key factors that influence consumer food choices: taste, price, culture and convenience.

Simultaneously, shifting consumer values are further fuelling the demand for plant-based foods. Concerns for environmental sustainability, health and wellness, ecosystem decimation, and meeting our global future food demands are rapidly shining the spotlight on plant-based alternatives.

As with all emerging disruptive categories, speed and resilience is everything. With the plant-based food industry still very nascent relative to the overall food and beverage market, and with so many contenders determined to reshape their respective food markets, the question is, who will tick all the boxes first to be the next plant-based blockbuster?”

2 weeks ago, WOLF + WALD and Confetti Fine Foods got together for a fun collaboration, sharing the joy of healthy drinks and snacks with the Singapore community. We’ve finally had the chance to speak with Betty Lu, Founder of Confetti, to reminisce her travels and to find out why helping end global hunger has become a priority for her.

WW: You’re known for being an avid traveller, leaving your footprint across many countries. Yet, the core of Confetti Fine Foods’ culture is still Singapore’s heritage. Could you share with us why, and what value you feel it’ll bring to Singaporeans and consumers overseas?

Betty: Singapore has a rich culinary heritage. We are at a strategic crossroads of the East-West trade which brings the most beautiful harmony of cultures and flavors. My travels have inspired me to create a snack company that can leave a positive impact whilst paying tribute to the world by allowing global consumers to travel to Singapore via snacks as a medium. Our snacks are lovingly crafted from real vegetables, are nutrient dense, and allow people a fun and adventurous way to eat the colors of the rainbow in exotic flavors. We use up-cycled ugly veggies to resolve the food wastage pandemic, whilst donating a portion of these nutrient-rich snacks to feed the hungriest people in the world.

WW: We’ve been very moved by this initiative of yours. Was there a particular experience that left an indelible mark on you, spurring you towards alleviating this long-standing societal impoverishment? (If possible, please also share how many individuals/villages you’ve been able to benefit)

Betty: Yes, the extended travels were an eye-opening experience. I feel blessed to have seen many places that are beautiful but also places that are suffering. About 800 million people face hunger and malnutrition every day, and 8.6 million die from hunger each year, most of them children. 40% of nutrient-rich produce is discarded annually largely due to cosmetic reasons. It’s an insane amount of waste while people are dying from hunger which is exacerbated more now due to the current pandemic. At Confetti, our mission is to try to solve both challenges by up-cycling ugly produce to craft into tasty gourmet snacks, and donating a portion of our nutrient-dense products to feed the hungry. A “Robin Hood” approach. Since our launch, we have managed to donate 8,000 packets to vulnerable groups in Singapore like the Migrant Workers Center to bring some joy and nutrients into their lives amidst the pandemic. We look forward to scaling up globally in the next few years so that we can contribute more to end hunger and empower vulnerable communities in the world.

WW: Confetti is the world’s first vegetable chips to be made from ugly veggies. It’s apparent that your entire supply chain is working towards being fully sustainable. Do you see a future in Singapore where all F&B companies can adopt solutions that are as impactful and “earth-saving”?

Betty: Yes absolutely. And we are already seeing strong growth and interest here with consumers choosing sustainable and healthy options. We work with sustainable and mission-driven companies like Foreword Coffee, Tea Pasar, Nourish, SPRMRKT and The Green Collective which source regionally and support fair trade farmers. SusGain, Festival for Good, raiSE also help consumers make quality purchases that support sustainability, and even treatsure focuses on reducing food waste in Singapore. Am truly inspired by the wonderful entrepreneurs I meet on a daily basis who are driven by impact and inspired to create a positive change.

WW: Congratulations on launching Confetti in Singapore! How do you feel about other countries wanting a piece of Confetti on their shelves? Is there anywhere else in the world we can expect to find these real veggie crunchies in the near future?

Betty: We are seeing strong interest in North America, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific. We look forward to sprinkling Confetti to these markets in the near future to meet the explosive consumer demand for tasty plant based snacks. We are very excited to grow Confetti into a global snack company to bring more colors into people’s lives. It would be inspiring to see the creation travel further than its creator. We are grateful for the opportunity to make other people happy even though they may be far away. That would be ironically beautiful.


WW: You experimented in your own kitchen to create Confetti. Outside of managing your fast-growing business, what other personal culinary adventures have you taken on?

Betty: I’m in love with cooking which I find very therapeutic. Whether it is volunteering at a food bank, a homeless shelter or cooking for the vulnerable, I think love is expressed best by food which is a recurring theme throughout the world. Food bonds people regardless of which culture they come from. I love dining with indigenous tribes, and the most memorable was with a tribe in the heart of New Caledonia. Produce was sourced from the land, cooked in the ground, and the philosophy there is that no one owns the land, everyone shares it. That’s our ethos as a company to truly instill an inclusive culture where diversity is celebrated via our recipes or the ugly veggies that we use. It’s a safe space to experiment, explore, and embrace things that are interesting even though they may be strange or bizarre.

I also love exploring food markets, farmers’ markets and bazaars in my travels, and visiting farmers who have a strong passion in bringing wholesome produce. Confetti has an exceptionally talented Chef in Residence, Mitch Prensky, who is based in Manhattan. We love exploring brilliant ideas for Confetti snacks that are innovative by using ugly vegetables to bring joy, surprise and astonishment to the consumer. The adventure is to bring snacks inspired by the world and gift it as a tribute. We want to create an experience of wonder by using authentic recipes with a rich culinary history. We want to bring people on a journey to travel the world through a snack and indulge in a diversity woven by fascinating cultures.

WW: We ask everyone from our “WOLF + WALD Founder Stories” series this question — what advice would you give your younger self before embarking on this venture?

Betty: Take risks, be bold, explore. Go out and do things beyond your comfort zone because that’s where real growth happens. Do something that no one else has done before. Go off the beaten path. It’s better to fail at something audacious, then to create something boring and forgettable. I would tell my younger self to focus everything on creating a strong brand. A powerful brand is selfless in the sense that it elevates and empowers people, brings joy and wonder, and helps people live better and slightly happier lives. It should also be fun to interact with and is constantly evolving and adapting to change. Start now, start younger. There is never a good time to start, and you will never find conditions that are perfect. Just start anyway. Get the ball rolling. Whatever you think you might need will come along the way. You can always polish the ball then. Remember to take play seriously! More magic, less logic. That’s where the most interesting fun stuff happens.

Lorem ipsum | Vietnam |

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