Woah! What a year it’s been for alternate proteins, especially vegan and plant-based.
In 2019, vegan stepped into the mainstream. The rise of veganism is a blessing for our fragile planet.
In the last two years, I have seen the blood, sweat and tears of joy from business owners bringing ideas to life.
I thank them for all that they do.
So what are my top alternate protein stories for 2019? Here they are...
Australian Top 5 Stories
#1 The launch of V2 Food in Australia. V2 Food is a plant-based protein, made with beans.
I had the opportunity to connect with Nick Hazell, the CEO of V2 Food, at our Sydney Start-up Space, Fishburners. He gets it.
We need an alternate way to access protein without farming animals for environmental and health reasons.
Jack Cowan, founder of Hungry Jacks in Australia (Australia's Burger King) and the CSIRO (Australian Research Arm), provided the seed funding for V2Food. In the latest round of funding, V2Food attracted $35M in funding to set up a plant-based factory to cater to the greater demand.
#2 Eco-System Builders - which I define as organisations enabling the sprouting of many vegan businesses. Top two organisations that come to mind in Australia are Sydney Vegan Market and Food Frontier.
#2.1 Sydney Vegan Market – After a year of planning, Vegan NSW (Society) launched the Sydney Vegan Market at the end of last year. This year they secured a permanent venue. The monthly event in Sydney attracts a crowd of approximately 10K - 15K and has sprouted many vegan businesses. They have just launched a bi-monthly event in a neighbouring city of Newcastle. This is a world first!
#2.2 Food Frontier is kicking some big goals as the think tank for alternate proteins. They are also leveraging the partnership with Good Food Institute in the US. Food Frontier commissioned a report with Deloitte on the projected jobs in the plant-based & cell-based meats in Australia. The report highlighted Australia has an opportunity to create a $3 billion industry by 2030 and create 6000 jobs.
My gut feel is that the 6000 is a small fraction of the direct jobs that will be created as the public adopt a more plant-based diet.
#3 Venture Capitalists (VC) - Australia Blackbird Ventures & Grok Ventures are actively investing in plant-based foods and cell-based food. In 2017, I could foresee that social impact investors will eventually be being interested in plant-based. Little did I guess the rise of vegan & plant-based would attract much larger capital from VC’s based on the growth trajectory.
#4 Tech entrepreneurs entering this space. Launch of Fable (plant-based meat from mushrooms) and Grounded (plant-based cheese), winning the seeds of change accelerator by Mars. Fable has gone onto to raise $1.5M in funding and will launch in high-end restaurants, including Heston Blumenthal’s ‘The Fat Duck. On a similar note, a cell-based kangaroo meat company, Vow Foods, is pioneering this type of development in Australia. The goal for all these companies is to eliminate animals in the food system.
#5 – Finally, the two major supermarkets in Australia, Coles and Woolworths, are now increasingly wanting stock vegan and plant-based offerings. The meat aisle is now marked, Beef, Chicken, Organic and Plant-based. This is part of the shift.
I see this as an attempt to keep up with the market trends. However, I see some mistakes in the category management process.
For example, in one outlet, all the plant-based meat was sitting next to the meat and not in the usual vegetarian and vegan section. However, on this day, the meat range was enveloping the designated plant-based meat space. I was turned off buying any products after this. And I suspect many many plant-based enthusiasts, especially those vegan for the cruelty to animals will be as well.
Global Top 5 Stories
#1 The huge public campaign launches of plant-based meat companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Omnipork.
The Beyond Meat Initial Public Offering (IPO) launch in the US started at $25 and boomed to the highs of $225 before settling back down to $76 (Dec 19). The plant-based patties are used widely in large restaurant chains across the US and Canada. With Beyond Meat products, outlets like KFC, Subway, and the many different types of fast food outlets in the US are now able to offer plant-based offering. McDonald's is finally joining the plant-based wave and trialling them in stores in Canada.
Impossible Foods is another big budget plant-based meat company with a pre-IPO valuation of $1 Billion. Burger King (US) trialled and launched Impossible Foods Rebel Whopper to all of the US outlets.
Green Monday & Green Common. Founded by David Yeung, a social entrepreneur with a keen pulse on the ground. They run a Green Monday outreach program (eat plants one day a week) as well Green Monday Ventures, which founded Omnipork (plant-based pork).
Pork is one of the largest projected meats to grow by 2050. Early in 2020, Impossible Food launched grounded pork.
WHY is this relevant? – The rise of these businesses whets the appetite of other major companies to invest in plant-based meat.
#2 Eco System Builders, defined as organisations enabling many vegan businesses.
Three organisations come to mind globally; Pro Veg, Good Food Institute and Centre for Responsible Future.
Pro Veg is a not-for-profit founded in Europe – which has a mission to halve the global consumption of animals by 2040. It’s enabling meat companies and major food producers to adopt more plant-based options. They held the New Food Conference in 2019 with an amazing turnout. It’s on again in 2020.
Good Food Institute, a not-for-profit founded in the USA, is effectively enabling meat companies and the food industry to share knowledge and adopt more plant-based and cell-based options. Their mission to create good food, free from animal farming.
Closer to Australia, in Singapore, Centre for Responsible Future is doing several initiatives including holding the Disruption in Food Summit in Singapore. Similar to the New Food Conferences in Europe and US, the DFSS is the leading regional event for food disruptions and industry innovators. I was on a panel discussion for the 2019 event and the here are the highlights.
#3 Eat Lancet Report - Brought together 37 international experts of food, planet and health and asked a simple question. How do we feed the world population of 10 billion people with the planetary boundaries?
The answers they came up with were profound. Simply, one goal is to drastically limit our current protein in take from animal products.
This conclusion is starting to filter through the medical and food industries to accelerate the adoption of plant-based. If you would like to find out more about this topic, we have a presentation which shares the insights from this report.
#4 Launch of Tech Startups in Seafood - Shiok Meats – a cell-based seafood company launched in Singapore and was the first company to be accepted into Y-Combinator (startup incubator famous for starting up AirBnb, Stripe, Dropbox etc). I interviewed the founders at the Disruption in Food Summit in Singapore.
#5 Largest meat and egg companies launching plant-based versions. Brazil’s Largest Egg producer is one example. And Tyson, one of the world largest meat producers, is planting seed money into Venture funds like Big Idea Ventures, together with Singapore Government Investment vehicle Temasek Holdings. Tyson Ventures invested in Beyond Meat and exited.
These are the top 5 highlights, both in Australia and globally.
We are now starting to see the seedlings sprout towards a plant-based world.
That’s a big call but many business and institutions are aiming for this.
If you would like to know how to position your impact business to stand out like some these brands above, do contact us at engage [@] Betacatalyst.com.au.
We have a ready for growth diagnostic which measures Purpose, People and Planet Strategies as well s our Profit drivers. When these pillars are strengthened, you can maximise your organic growth and attract the funding, including venture capitalists.
Here’s to very bright 2020 and the next decade.