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TEN years ago, it would be inconceivable to eat a delicious hamburger that’s made out of plants or grown in a lab. But ten years from now, they may be the bulk of the hamburgers we eat.

No food group is undergoing more rapid and radical transformations than meat. All types of meat – from prawn and chicken, to pork and mutton – might someday just as likely come from a lab as a farm.

Singapore startup Shiok Meats recently made headlines for raising S$17.3 million in Series A funding to manufacture cell-based seafood. The company takes stem cells from crustaceans (shrimp, crab and lobster), and multiplies them in a laboratory. The results taste as good as the real thing, say founders Sandhya Sriram and Ka Yi Ling, who are former stem cell scientists-turned-food techpreneurs.

Meanwhile another Singapore startup – also founded by a stem cell biologist-turned-food techpreneur – is doing for red meat what Shiok Meats is for seafood. The aptly-named Gaiafoods is in the process of raising more funds for the research and development of cell-based beef, pork and mutton.

Right now, it takes 440,000 cows to produce 175 million burgers. But if Gaiafoods can perfect the science, all it takes is one cow – yes, one cow.

The company founder Vinayaka Srinivas says: “What holds us back – not just our company but everyone in this field of cell-based meat – is the technology. We know how to do it, we know it can be done, but the technology is slow and expensive . . . We expect there will be breakthroughs in the coming years and we will see the process of making cell-based meat becoming increasingly cheaper to produce.”

For now, a Whopper with a cell-based patty would cost a whopping S$1,000 to create in a lab. Last year, it was S$2,000. Within less a decade, pundits expect cell-based meat to be as inexpensive as ordinary meat.

For its part, Singapore has embraced cutting-edge developments in cell-based food as well as plant-based food. The land-scarce country views them as a means of achieving its goal of producing 30 per cent of its nutritional needs by 2030. Currently, it imports 90 per cent of its food.

To that end, it is extremely supportive of the food tech sector. The government allocated over S$144 million into food research programmes such as urban agriculture, cultured meat and microbial protein production under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan. And Singaporeans were the first in the region to embrace Impossible Foods’ plant-based burger and JUST’s mung bean-based eggs.

Mr Avinash Aswani, the CEO of superfood drink mixes company LVL Life, says: “Singapore is the best positioned in the region to trial these products. The country has a high number of wealthy consumers and forward-thinking consumers, who are thinking not just in terms of how can they satisfy their hunger, but what they’re putting into their mouths, where does it come from originally, and how does the production of that food impact the larger environment.”

We look at three young companies – all under three years old – that are trying to change the way we eat with their plant-based foods.


Karana: Making meat out of jackfruit

WHEN Blair Crichton was four years old, he found out where meat came from – and promptly decided to turn vegetarian. In his early teens, he started to eat meat again. But after writing an undergraduate thesis on the moral value of animals, he reverted to vegetarianism.

“I haven’t eaten meat since I was 19,” says the Hong Kong-born entrepreneur, now 35.

One of his favourite dishes as a teenager, however, was dim sum. He has many fond memories of eating plate after plate of pork dumplings with his friends, on the streets of Hong Kong.

Now a vegan, Mr Crichton has long looked for meat alternatives that approximated the taste of pork. But none in the market, he felt, passed muster.

So when his friend Dan Riegler told him of jackfruit dishes that act as meat substitutes in certain Asian cultures, both men thought that this was the solution.

Mr Crichton says: “Unripe jackfruit is perfect because it has a great meaty texture and a neutral flavour, and it absorbs spices and sauces very well. You can cook, chunk and shred it like pork or chicken. And, best of all, it is high in fibre; low in calories, cholesterol and fat; rich in magnesium (which aids the absorption of calcium); and contains calcium, iron and potassium.”

The men launched their startup Karana in 2018. (“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.)

Using sustainably-sourced Sri Lankan jackfruit, Karana created its first product, a whole plant-based pork, which will be launched in the coming weeks.

Mr Crichton is eager to make a distinction between “whole plant-based” and “plant-based”: Whereas most plant-based meats involved heavily processing soy, peas, mung beans and other plant ingredients to acquire the requisite meat texture, Karana enhances the jackfruit’s meaty texture without chemicals or heavy processing.

Earlier this year, the company announced it had attracted US$1.7 million in seed round funding, raising capital from Filipino food tycoon Henry Soesanto, Big Idea Ventures (backed by Temasek Holdings) and other investors.

Karana has also partnered with various chefs from establishments such as Grain Traders and Cloudstreet and Singapore hotels Grand Hyatt, Fairmont and Shangri-La to work with its product. The pork substitute will debut in restaurants and hotels before being made available to retail consumers.

Mr Crichton says: “Pork is the most consumed meat in Asia. Unfortunately, Asia is also home to 60 per cent of the world’s diabetics, and pork plays a role in that. And the thing is, in food-secure countries, most people are already consuming too much protein (which pork is rich in) and too little fibre (which Karana meat is rich in).”

In the meantime, Karana is also busy developing a range of pork dumplings and baos. When this comes to market, Mr Crichton will finally be able to indulge in the comfort food of his youth again. – by Helmi Yusof


Confetti: Rescuing ‘ugly’ veggies

WHEN she was 27, Betty Lu travelled the world for three-and-a-half years. While in Canada, she started making vegetable snacks to bring on numerous hiking trips up in the mountains of British Columbia.

Her experimentation of homemade vegetable chips infused with Singaporean recipes proved so popular with friends and neighbours, that she decided to return to Singapore and open a company called Confetti Fine Foods to make vegetable snacks on a full-time basis.

The snacks, crafted at a low temperature to retain their nutrients, have been particularly popular among parents whose kids hate vegetables. Presented as colourful chips in tasty flavours, the chips help break down their resistance, and habituate them to the taste of carrots, beets, okras and radishes.

The best part of it all is this: The chips they are eating were “ugly” vegetables – misshapen specimens that are perfectly edible but deemed too unattractive to be stocked in supermarkets. Indeed, some 40 per cent of all fruits and vegetables are typically discarded because they don’t meet the exacting cosmetic standards of retailers. “So we take them, slice them, turn them into chips – and people love them,” says Ms Lu. “For retailers, these vegetables are too small or too big or too ugly to sell. For us, they are delicious, highly nutritious, high-in-fibre, gluten-free and vegan-friendly produce that deserves to be celebrated and consumed.”

Confetti Fine Foods has veggie chips and shiitake mushroom chips in various flavours such as Teriyaki BBQ, Tandoori Curry, Summer Truffle and Green Curry to “reflect the rich diversity of Singapore’s communities”, says Ms Lu. The company is headquartered in Singapore and plans to set up subsidiaries in the USA and UK in 2021.

For the first-time entrepreneur who’s now 32, the journey has been full of “challenges and pitfalls”. But her hard work is finally paying off: NTUC Fairprice will be stocking Confetti Snacks on its supermarket shelves in late October, while Shell Select stores and Meidi-Ya supermarkets are already seeing healthy traction for Confetti products on theirs.

Now there is also interest from supermarket chains in the US, Europe, Australia and the Middle East, which see Confetti Snacks as an alternative to popular but less healthy offerings such as potato chips and candy.

“One of the hard parts of my job has been to get prime placement for Confetti in strategic channels. Putting our chips on these shelves sometimes means removing something else. So shelf space is very valuable . . . But retailers can see that our product range would enhance their snack assortment and make the consumer retail experience more exciting.”

She estimates that Confetti would be able to sell at least 2 million bags of chips in 2021, with a projected revenue of US$6.7 million. “A lot of people are still working from home . . . and people need healthy snacks as a form of ‘permissible’ indulgence.”

Like many young startups with an eye on the future, Confetti is committed to social causes, donating a portion of its proceeds to help the environment and alleviate world hunger. It is also partnering with organisations such as 1 For A Better Planet, Upcycled Food Association, Business For Good and the Centre For A Responsible Future to create a positive impact on the world. – by Helmi Yusof


LVL Life: Harnessing ancient superfoods

THE pandemic has been unkind to most industries – but not the health food industry, which has seen an unprecedented demand for its products. LVL Life, which sells superfood powder blends, has seen e-commerce sales surge by as much as a 100 per cent in the circuit breaker months. The company, which was created in June 2019, sells drink mixes containing long-recognised superfoods such as moringa, matcha, baobab, turmeric and ashwagandha.

CEO Avinash Aswani says: “There seems to be an acceleration towards plant-based foods right now. I think the idea of the coronavirus coming from an animal source is making people even more wary of meats at the moments. It has now got to the point where people don’t want to go out and buy pork. But there is this general sense of wanting to move towards more plant-based products – and that’s boosting our sales.”

Mr Aswani and his co-founder Rohit Nanwani started the Singapore company because they wanted a drink mix that complemented their active lifestyle which include gym and sports after a long day at work. The ones in the market, they felt, were missing many of the superfoods in Asia, Africa and South America that have been consumed for centuries.

Its Raw Focus+ blend, for instance, contains matcha from Japan, and moringa and brahmi from India, all of which are traditionally believed to improve your focus, memory and ability to absorb information.

Its Natural Immunity+ contains orange, baobab, camu camu, turmeric and holy basil – powerhouse foods that are either high in Vitamin C or effective in fighting inflammation and supporting gut health.

Mr Aswani says: “We import much of our ingredients from their native countries. These ingredients have been cultivated in these countries for hundreds of years, and that correlates to a high quality. In the case of moringa, turmeric and ashwagandha, we import from India. Matcha we get from Japan. Baobab we import from South Africa, and maca, cacao, and chia seeds from Peru.”

Mr Aswani and Mr Nanwani are fourth-generation family members of the Tolaram Group, a Singapore-headquartered conglomerate that sells various products around the world, from instant noodles in Nigeria to consumer goods in Estonia.

Mr Aswani was born in Indonesia and has lived in several countries including Estonia, Russia and India. He has a strong awareness of the norms and values of different cultures, and what the various markets want. Singapore, he says, is a leader in embracing plant-based foods as people here have become increasingly circumspect of their food sources.

He says: “When I lived in Indonesia, people there can only do one or two things in a day – the rest of the time you’re caught in traffic. People in Singapore live differently, in that they’re able to do many different things in a day. They’re busy bodies and they’re accustomed to living out of their bags. They want food that is convenient, highly nutritional and catering to their daily functional needs . . . That’s where we come in.” – by Helmi Yusof

After the success of the first edition of Ftalks, we brought together again the protagonists of the transformation of the food ecosystem . Inspiration, success stories, foodtech startups and networking are the ingredients of this new event, focused on sustainability and health.

While many food techs have been working on sustainable alternatives for meat, eggs and dairy, there perhaps hasn’t been as much innovation focused on honey – an often overlooked food that vegans avoid due to ethical and environmental reasons, with many turning to substitutes like maple syrup or blackstrap molasses. But this startup is on a mission to make honey that is molecularly identical to the real thing, with the same health benefits and delicious taste, but without any bees involved.

“Being part of the honey industry for 8 years helped me to understand all the challenges ranging from the broken global supply chain to issues of adulteration and most importantly large scale die-offs that threaten 20,000 bee species,” Darko Mandich, the co-founder and CEO of Berkeley, California-based MeliBio, told Green Queen.

“If we don’t bring sustainability through innovation into this industry, it could seriously harm bees and humans. So I decided to move from Europe to California and join the emerging community that is working on producing animal products just without the animals.”

Aaron Schaller (L) & Darko Mandich (R) (Source: MeliBio)

It was there that Mandich met with MeliBio co-founder Aaron Schaller, PhD, who together are laser-focused on their mission to replicate the superfood without the harmful consequences that commercial bee farming has on biodiversity. They are deploying the novel scientific technologies and synthetic biology to create real honey that has the same “familiar delicious taste and functional benefits, just without the use of bees” that even vegans can eat. 

If we don’t bring sustainability through innovation into this industry, it could seriously harm bees and humans. So I decided to move from Europe to California and join the emerging community that is working on producing animal products just without the animals.

Darko Mandich, Co-Founder & CEO of MeliBio

Experts have for years raised alarm bells over the consequences of continued decline in pollinators like wild bees, who are different from honeybees, and with almost three-quarters of the world’s food crops are dependent on these pollinators, and their suffering numbers could pose serious problems for global food security. A recent study highlighted apples, cherries and blueberries as key crops that are now already in jeopardy.

“From the animal welfare perspective, commercial beekeeping is unethical too. A lot of bees die or get stressed while being moved in big trucks across the country, they are being smoked and wings of queens are being clipped to keep them fit for artificial insemination,” Mandich added.

“Pathogens also spread more easily amongst stressed bees. A lot of people think that bees like to produce honey as their food which is true, however not under the conditions we as humankind have forced them into. Imagine how difficult it is for bees to produce honey as their food and then have that food taken from them and replaced with low nutritional cocktails of sugar and water that are supposed to keep them alive during winters.”

Wild bee (Source: UN)

Customers have an amazing power and with every purchase they make they cast a ballot for the mission they are aligned with.

Darko Mandich, Co-Founder & CEO of MeliBio

It’s a topic with far less mainstream awareness than other forms of animal agriculture and their adverse environmental and ethical impacts have had in recent years. MeliBio, who have recently been accepted into New York accelerator Big Idea Ventures’ (BIV) latest cohort of next-gen food techs, thinks that needs to change, and to that end, the startup has published a “State of the Bees” report in hopes to educate the public on the challenges that bees face.

“We are specially focused on educating consumers on the challenges of native and wild bee species that are far more endangered than honeybees that cannot go extinct,” Mandich tells Green Queen“Customers have an amazing power and with every purchase they make they cast a ballot for the mission they are aligned with.” 

When it comes to when consumers will be able to get a first taste of animal-free real honey, the startup, which only came out of stealth mode a few months ago, says it is well on-track to deliver its initial product by Q3 of next year, starting with U.S.-based companies via a B2B model. 

“We see that companies sourcing honey are becoming more interested in sustainability of the industry and the effect it has on bees. We’re striving to become the leader of the future honey industry that makes a positive impact on the planet and makes this superior ingredient accessible to everyone without harming bees.”


Lead image courtesy of Nature Nate’s.

The Good Food Institute India (GFI India), a nonprofit organisation supporting India’s burgeoning alternative protein ecosystem, recently hosted its Smart Protein Summit to great fanfare. Several key announcements were made during the course of the packed five-day virtual summit, including a dedicated investment and advisory platform for Asian food techs, the launch of an India-focused alternative protein accelerator, and more details on Bollywood celebrities Riteish and Genelia Deshmukh’s new vegan meat brand among other news, as well as an inspired keynote by former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi.

Held virtually this year between October 6 to 10, the Summit is the largest alternative protein industry event in the country that brought together thought leaders, investors and even Bollywood celebrities to advance the development of plant-based, fermentation-derived and cultivated proteins that will help build a healthier and more sustainable food system in India and beyond. In total, over 70 speakers were featured at the event with over 2,000 attendees who represented stakeholders across the value chain, from food processing to retail and scientific research, hoping to progress an industry that will be worth over US$1 billion within the decade, according to GFI India. 

“The excitement and groundbreaking announcements surrounding the Smart Protein Summit are a testament to the growing corporate, investor, and government interest in the burgeoning Indian alternative protein sector,” Varun Deshpande, GFI India‘s Managing Director told Green Queen. “As an agricultural and technology powerhouse, India will be a lynchpin in the global food system for the next decades – building the alternative protein industry from the ground up is critical to ensuring that food system is healthy, sustainable, and just.”

New Indian Plant-Based Brands Imagine Meats & Blue Tribe Food Go Live

Major announcements were revealed over the course of the Summit, including juicy details that Bollywood icons Riteish and Genelia Deshmukh dished out about their new plant-based meat company, Imagine Meats.

“We like our tikka, we like our kheema, that’s the kind of food that we enjoy. [Our] vision for Imagine Meats is to get the right kind of taste for people because the one thing that you cannot compromise on your product is taste,” said Riteish Deshmukh. “In terms of the product line, we’re trying to make a mix of ready-to-eat meals. We want to be region specific, because the kind of Imagine Meats products available in Maharashtra would be probably different from Delhi, in North India to Bengal or South India.”

Genelia Deshmukh added that the brand is targeting the “guilty non-vegetarian eaters” in India and providing them with convenient options that they can “take it home, eat it without any guilt.”

In terms of the product line, we’re trying to make a mix of ready-to-eat meals. We want to be region specific, because the kind of Imagine Meats products available in Maharashtra would be probably different from Delhi, in North India to Bengal or South India.

Riteish Deshmukh, Co-Founder of Imagine Meats

Another exciting launch that attendees of the Smart Protein Summit were the first to hear about is Blue Tribe Foods, who presented on Day 3 of the event during the Innovator Showcase. The startup’s CMO Sohil Wazir spoke about the new plant-based meat venture founded by Sandeep Singh, the managing director of Indian pharmaceutical firm Alkem Labs and his patner Niki Singh.

Source: LikeMeat / Unsplash

GFI India & WEF Announce Alt-Protein Forum

With support from the World Economic Forum, GFI India also announced the creation of a new Alt-Protein Forum, which targets pre-competitive partnerships between startups and co-manufacturers, corporations and incumbent meat, egg and dairy industry leaders that already have the space and equipment infrastructure for scale.

“When companies are scaling up they don’t know the market size and don’t know if they require a smaller quantity to test production, they are unaware of the regulatory and marketing challenges,” explained Dheeraj Talreja, President of India-AAK. “We think collaboration is the way forward to address and remove some of these bottlenecks. We’re looking forward to working together and bringing people on a common platform.”

“We want to create a forum for multi-stakeholder collaborations and be pivotal to shaping the landscape over the next few years,” added GFI India. “We invite retailers, distributors, foodservice people across the value chain to present data. We will synthesize data from these meetings and focus on collaborations.”

Protein Is Critical Element Of Food Supply, Says Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi, the former chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo, speaking about the issue at hand said: “We have to figure out how to give people a very healthy food supply and one critical element of the food supply is protein.”

“My hope is that we make the food supply a lot more healthy and therefore our citizens healthy and then we address this whole inequality in food distribution so that there are no food deserts and food surplus where so much food is wasted that’s my dream. Whether that’s going to happen or not, it’s up to the private sector and governments citizens, and nonprofit organisations. Everybody sitting together and figuring out how to make this reality,” Nooyi added.

First Plant-Based Seafood Certification Announced

Furthermore, GFI announced another partnership during the event with the World Sustainability Organization (WSO), which will see plant-based seafood products certified under a Gold Level version of their Friend of the Sea (FOTS) certification program.

“The World Sustainability Organisation’s DNA is to promote more sustainable products so we are launching a golden or premium label certification for plant-based seafood to highlight at the B2B level those products which originated in a sustainable way and this can impact the market,” said Dr Paolo Bray, the founder and director of the WSO.

The goal here is to create a huge impact by backing innovative, most ambitious, and most mission-aligned people and giving them the tools to lead in this space.

Rajeev Chitrabhanu, Founder of Magnetic

Rajeev Chitrabhanu (Source: Entrepreneur India)

New Investment Partnership To Support Indian Startups

The Summit additionally saw Magnetic and well-recognised investor Rajeev Chitrabhanu’s launch of a partnership with GFI to support, advise and provide funding to alternative protein startups in India and across the wider Asian region. 

“I’m proud to say that I’m announcing a vertical within MAGNETIC focused on consumer-facing products, understanding their issues, and obviously motivated by my personal interest in this space and the global trend and the network that I have across the PE firms, venture capital firms, and corporates and finding a way to act as an advisor and capital provider to them,” Chitrabhanu told the audience.

“The goal here is to create a huge impact by backing innovative, most ambitious, and most mission-aligned people and giving them the tools to lead in this space.”

Debut Joint Venture & Accelerator For India’s Alt Protein Industry

Finally, Big Idea Ventures (BIV) and Ashika Group publicised their new joint venture, an investment and accelerator program focused on nurturing and supporting Indian entrepreneurs across the alternative protein space, from cell-based startups to plant-based and fermentation food techs.

Source: GoodDO

We leapfrogged over laptops in India, now we have more people with mobiles than laptops. India is a protein-deficient country – we can leapfrog over animal-based meat directly to plant-based meat.

Chirag Jain, CEO of Ashika Group

“We are looking for great founders, great entrepreneurs, and [want to] find out how they can create an India-based Beyond or Impossible,” said Andrew D. Ive, founder and managing general partner at BIV. “We will put in money, mentorship, and access across stakeholders in the value chain.”

“[We are] looking for companies working on alternative meat dairy, and on the supply side – so not just B2C but also B2B – be it supplying other brands or exporting material for global brands,” added Chirag Jain, CEO of Ashika Group. “We leapfrogged over laptops in India, now we have more people with mobiles than laptops. India is a protein-deficient country – we can leapfrog over animal-based meat directly to plant-based meat.”


Lead image courtesy of Good Dot.

Join the first ever Protein Shift plant-based alternative for Dragon’s Den. Be blown away by a new generation of protein entrepreneurs and their propositions. Renowned investors from various continents will reflect and, who knows, invest…

Moderator: Jonathan Teoh (Foodvalley NL)
Key note talks by: Michiel van Deursen (Capital V), Christian Cadeo (Big Idea Ventures)

Innovative companies will pitch from around the globe: Hayo de Feijter (Johnny Cashew), Chirag Sabunani (Supplant), Eugene Wang (Sophie’s Bionutrients)
Plant-based investors: VeganInvestor (the Netherlands), Omnivore (India), Big Idea Ventures (Singapore)

 

Monday 12 October

14.00-14.45

Speed pitching roundtable

Six selected start-ups will get the unique opportunity to pitch to four foodtech investors in this virtual roundtable. Each start-up will have three minutes to pitch (share-screen will be available) followed by three minutes feedback from the investor panel.

Investor panel includes:

Andrew Ive, Founder, Big Idea Ventures

Gil Horsky, Director of Innovation SnackFutures, Mondelez International

Carsten Krome, Managing Partner, HATCH

 

Tuesday 13 October

12.00-13.00

Live panel debate: The rise of alternative proteins – are we ready for a meat-free future?

The coronavirus pandemic has put the spotlight on issues around food safety and security and we have seen a significant upturn in the number of consumers favouring plant-based protein over meat. Figures show that sales of plant-based meat alternative products have been booming since the outbreak with big meat corporations and FMGC brands investing more heavily than ever in the alternative proteins market as they seek to diversity their business models and weather the coronavirus storm. Clearly, there are significant opportunities for investment and development but will the current level of consumer interest translate into long term demand that is enough to propel alternative proteins into the mainstream?

Moderator: Costa Yiannoulis, Investment Director, CPT Capital

Andrew Ive, Founder, Big Idea Ventures

David Wagstaff, Executive Director – Europe, Eat Just

Tim Geistlinger, CTO, Perfect Day

Jürgen Engerisser, President & Directeur Innovation, La Revolution Champignon

By Avery Parkinson

Cellular agriculture  is the science of creating animal products without the animal. There are two main kinds of cellular agriculture: “cellular agriculture” which is concerned with making products containing once living cells (like meat and leather)

and “acellular agriculture” which is about creating animal derived products (like cheese and milk).

For now, we’re going to focus on cellular agriculture (that is, not acellular agriculture). When we produce meat using cellular agriculture, we are said to be “culturing it in vitro”. This is done in three main steps.

  1. Stem cells are extracted from the animal. Stem cells have the potential to become many or all of the different types of cells found in an animal which makes them ideal for creating the different parts of meat. In the case of a primary cultureadult stem cells are taken from the reserves of an animal’s specialized tissues — tissues that already have a specific purpose (like skin or muscle) — and are called progenitors. In the case of secondary cultures, cells might be cryopreserved (frozen) from previous experiments.
  2. Stem cells are immersed in a culture medium and proliferate. A culture medium is a substance containing everything cells need to grow like carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, salts and vitamins. As these molecules diffuse into the cells, they grow and eventually split into two smaller genetically identical cells. In this way, our population of stem cells increases exponentially, or “proliferates”.
  3. Stem cells are put into a bioreactor and differentiate. Bioreactors are machines which expose the cells to a variety of different environmental cues — for instance, electrical stimulation and mechanical contractions. This encourages the cells to differentiate into the types of specialized cells we get in meat (like muscle, fat… etc). These myoblasts then fuse to form multi nucleated myofibers— i.e. tissue.

And bam, we have perfect steak…well, not quite.

This process would be just about where everything ends for unstructured meat, but not for structured meat. Unstructured meat is, as it sounds, meat that doesn’t have a real structure (like ground beef). Structured meat, on the other hand, is meat that has a specific composition of cells — it’s not just the type of cells that characterize it, but the arrangement, too (like steak).

Getting a particular arrangement is not reliable by just allowing the cells to float around in the bioreactor and crossing our fingers. So, we need something called a scaffold. A scaffold is a mold which the cells grow in and around to form the specific shape and structure of the meat. The proliferated cells are usually seeded onto the scaffold (i.e. attached to it) and then put inside the bioreactor.

Some popular scaffolding materials include decellularized plant tissue, chitosan from fungi or recombinant collagen. Researchers at the University of Ottawa and University of Western Australia have been looking into the benefits and downsides of each type, and found the following:

Decellularized plant tissue is abundant and has a great structure and texture. However, it lacks many of the growth cues deemed vital for growing mammalian cells.

 

Chitosan is abundant, and has antibacterial properties. It can also be blended easily with other polymers which suggests that it could easily be tailored to what a scientist is trying to grow. However, in the presence of lysozymes (a naturally occurring enzyme), chitosan will start to break down in unpredictable ways.

Recombinant collagen is highly biocompatible but is hard to produce and source.

All of these scaffold variations are favoured by researchers because of their commonality: they can be produced by plants or fungus, and are hence unreliant on animals.

So there, now we have our perfect steak. Well again…there’s more.

We may have a nicely structured cut of meat, but now we have a scaffold in it. Scientists have proposed using edible scaffolds, but since the whole idea behind the cultured meat is to perfectly replicate meat, scientists are leaning towards figuring out a way to make biodegradable scaffolds. But this in itself introduces some new issues, most notably the rate of decay. If our scaffold literally disappears while the meat is growing on it, it kind of defeats the purpose.

Now, of course, this entire process is easier said than done. Key challenges include the cost of the culture media, media composition, finding biomaterials that are compatible for scaffolding, commercial regulations and of course, public perception. But, there are a number of startups working to overcome these obstacles so that hopefully, the technology will become more mainstream.

India is fast turning into an ecosystem conducive for emerging alternate protein food businesses, post COVID-19 outbreak.

The latest news from the alternate protein sector is that global VC investor Big Idea Ventures and Kolkata-based financial services conglomerate Ashika Group have partnered together to kickstart the Alternative Protein Fund & Accelerator to empower innovative Indian entrepreneurs in the alt protein space, launched online at The Good Food Institute India’s Smart Protein Summit 2020.

The India Alternative Protein Fund will launch and run an accelerator in 2021, and will also support promising companies with further investments for growth in the Indian and international markets. It will support businesses that innovate plant-based, fermentation-derived, and cultivated meat, seafood, egg, and dairy foods. It will provide Indian entrepreneurs with funding, mentorship, as well as access to their local and global network across the supply chain, while GFI India will offer its expertise and advice.

Speaking about the fund, Big Idea Ventures’ Founder & Managing General Partner Andrew D. Ive, said, “We believe we can help dozens more entrepreneurs in India to launch their alternative protein dream and build a thriving plant-based global industry.”

BIV worked with GFI India for more than a year to assess investment opportunities in India and Ashika Group will manage the investment fund. BIV and Ashika Group have started raising a $25 Million fund for India, and expect to begin accepting applications for the Mumbai-based accelerator in 2021.

The accelerator fund was launched on virtual Smart Protein Summit 2020

Together, they hope to help numerous startups in India’s alternative protein sector raise funding and scale up their innovations. BIV runs a $ 50 Million international fund and two accelerators in New York and Singapore. It is one of the investors of Mumbai-based food tech company Evo Foods which is developing a plant-based egg alternative. Evo Foods got its first angel investment earlier this year and the launch of it’s liquid egg substitute is around the corner.

Good Food Institute that is hosting the ongoing virtual summit on smart protein is also helping bollywood stars Genelia and Riteish Deshmukh set up their soon-to-be-launched plant-based faux meat company, Imagine Meats.

Brands like Good Dot and Vezlay already manufacture and distribute ‘mock meat’ products like ‘vegan meat’, ‘vegan chicken’, ‘vegan rogan josh’ and much more. India’s alternate protein space is getting more exciting with each passing day. Throwing light on the same, Good Food Institute India Managing Director Varun Deshpande, said, “Alternative protein is a key lever in our fight against climate change, malnutrition and food insecurity, and public health risks. It’s also a huge opportunity for business and job growth, with participation across the board from governments, large food and animal meat companies, and entrepreneurs. This fund is a big step forward in that momentum, and we are glad to support Big Idea Ventures and Ashika Group towards our shared goal of a more healthy, sustainable, and just food system.” The alternative protein sector is burgeoning and its global market value is expected to be worth $17.9 Billion by 2025. Watch this space for more!

Pssst… GFI is hosting a free, virtual symposium exploring the role of fermentation in the alternative protein industry on 20 October.

Feature photo courtesy: Gooddot

Giving a lift to the developing opportunity protein area, worldwide investor Big Idea Ventures (BIV), Kolkata-primarily based monetary services corporation Ashika Group, and non-income Good Food Institute India (GFI India) have joined arms to release India Alternative Protein Fund and Accelerator.

According to the professional declaration, the BIV-Ashika India Alternative Protein Fund will release an accelerator in 2021, with the intention to assist startups worried in progressive plant-primarily based, fermentation-derived, and cultivated protein industries, with investments and mentorship to assist them develop throughout the Indian and global marketplace.

“The opportunity protein or ‘clever protein’ area is hovering globally, with unexpectedly developing worldwide intake and billions of bucks in investments in businesses including plant-primarily based meat and egg pioneers Beyond Meat and Eat Just, Inc. GFI India has undertaken studies which underscores Indian clients are primed to consume those meals in step with their worldwide counterparts, mainly because the COVID-19 pandemic brings multiplied interest at the threat of zoonotic disease and weather change,” the declaration noted.

A current record by Meticulous Market Research discovered that the worldwide alternative protein market is anticipated to develop at a CAGR of nine.five percentage from 2019 to turn out to be a $17.9 billion market by 2025.

New possibilities for entrepreneurs

The fund and accelerator will assist startups which can be specializing in growing progressive plant-primarily based totally, fermentation-derived, cultivated meat, seafood, egg, dairy meals, and also are surroundings pleasant through the usage of much less land and water.

“Alternative protein is a key lever in our combat towards weather change, malnutrition, meals insecurity, and public fitness risks. It’s additionally a large possibility for enterprise and task growth, with participation throughout the board from governments, huge meals and animal meat businesses, and marketers,” stated Varun Deshpande, Managing Director on the Good Food Institute India in a declaration.

He stated that the Indian surroundings is anticipated to develop over the following couple of years through leveraging the country’s expertise and agricultural biodiversity, and this fund may be a massive breakthrough toward attaining the growth.

The companies introduced that they have already began out elevating a $25 million fund for India and may begin accepting packages for the Mumbai-primarily based totally accelerator subsequent 12 months onwards. The decided on startups will acquire investment, hand holding, mentorship, and get right of entry to to Indian and global community of company partners, restaurateurs, retailers, and different buyers as a part of the accelerator programme.

“Alternative protein is a first-rate possibility for Indian marketers and company players to get worried withinside the destiny of meals. We’re searching ahead to assisting Indian marketers thru the BIV-Ashika India Alternative Protein Fund, and bringing our knowledge in fundraising and scaling F&B companies to their journey,” stated Chirag Jain, CEO, Ashika Group.

BIV has already been working a $50 million global fund and accelerators throughout New York and Singapore, and has already invested in greater than 20 ventures throughout the globe, such as Mumbai-primarily based totally foodtech startup, Evo Foods. The VC corporation claims to were operating with opportunity protein assume tank GFI India for over a 12 months to apprehend the market possibility in India.

It has now joined fingers with Ashika Group to manipulate the funding fund because the organization has revel in in supporting numerous Indian businesses in the meals & beverage area enhance investment and scale operations.

An Indian plant-based egg start-up has used advanced plant biochemistry and deep food science to create Asia’s first vegan egg.

An Indian food tech start-up has cracked the recipe of making the perfect vegan egg in an effort to offer clean plant-based alternatives to animal products.

Mumbai-based Evo Foods has created a plant-based liquid egg formula made exclusively from vegetable proteins using extraction techniques that isolate the protein from the legumes. The broth is then fermented before being injected with texture agents.

While other plant-based egg formulas use a single type of protein or a mix of vegetable protein, Evo uses a blend of lentil proteins to provide a sustainable, zero-cholesterol, antibiotic-free and an ethical egg alternative with better nutritional profile and bioavailability.

The resulting liquid ‘egg’ can be refrigerated for six months.

Indian plant-based egg company to launch Asia's first 'liquid' vegan egg
Image: Evo Foods

Evo Foods

Kartik Dixit & Shraddha Bhansali founded Evo foods in 2019 with the aim of bringing the plant-based revolution to India.

“Since my background was in alternative protein, I already knew that many plant-based sources can be used for different kinds of applications in the cell-based industry,” Dixit explained

“And because India is one of the largest producers of dry beans in the whole world, we have that kind of raw material and crop biodiversity here.”

The company is set to debut its vegan egg product in India by the end of this year while aiming for a US launch by April 2021.

‘Target flexitarians’

Explaining their decision to launch in the US market,  Bhansali told Foodnavigator-Asia: “We can see that with the success of Beyond and Impossible, [the US] has a larger percentage of population open to flexitarian as they don’t want to go completely vegan.”

According to food awareness organisation ProVeg International, there is huge demand for egg substitutes and despite a few other companies such as JUST gaining popularity, the sector is still relatively small.

‘Garnering all the right attention’

Evo Foods’ innovative product has already gained local and international traction. The company recently welcomed Wild Earth founder Ryan Bethencourt as its first angel investor and advisor alongside US-Asia impact venture firm Big Idea Ventures.  It has also received funding from Vegan investment firm, VegInvest, and angel investor Dr. Sandhya Sriram.

Commenting on Evo’s growth trajectory, Bhansali told Green Queen Media: “We are proud that Evo has been garnering all the right attention from mission-aligned mentors and investors.

“We’re so excited for more things to come.”

Lorem ipsum | Vietnam | cesiscompany.vn

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