Meatless sliders at White Castle, Mars bars with added protein – what’s happening in protein innovation?

Chris Sworder

Over a year ago, we outlined in this blog how various innovators are tackling the problems that are affecting the protein value chain. The analysis a year ago concentrated on meat alternatives and innovators that were bringing down the resource intensity of certain parts of the protein supply chain by using insects or other methods. The problem, highlighted then, was that “food-related greenhouse gas emissions could account for half of the emissions the world can afford if global warming is to be limited to less than 2C” remains true. Looking at recent developments in cultured (lab-grown) meats, insect alternatives, and plant-based alternatives for human consumption, 2018 has so far seen some significant breakthroughs in this space.

US innovation is finding its feet in Asia

Other than the news that you can now pick up an Impossible Foods slider in White Castle for $1.99, the news that some of the top plant-based meat alternative companies are already eyeing up expansion in Asia was hard to miss in recent weeks. In April, Impossible Foods made its first move as it announced it is taking its flagship product to Asia. According to CSO Nick Halla, the company predicts that the Asian market will soon account for 44% of Impossible Foods’ future; although, as this was said in discussion at the Food for the Future Summit in Singapore, it is hard to say on what metric this is measured.

Further news came in from Beyond Meat, the plant-based meat alternative that has embedded itself in the North American market by rolling its products out to over 15,000 outlets in the US alone. The company is beginning a simultaneous and multi-geography global expansion. Named target countries include Germany and the rest of Europe, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Chile, Israel, UAE, Korea, Taiwan and South Africa.

Filling up the pipe

Whether or not you would describe Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat as the pioneers in this industry, they have certainly been working towards this level of expansion for many years. Impossible Foods is 7 years and $183 million of venture capital down the road (with their most recent $114 million funding for Asian expansion received as debt), and Beyond Meat is 9 years and $95.5 million deep already. However, there is plenty of innovation filling up the pipe. Below are examples of a few meat alternative companies that have received funding so far in 2018, working across various parts of the value chain:

 

This brief update only covers a small slice of the current protein landscape. We continue to track other related topics in the protein cycle, including the role genetic editing might play in reducing the effect of human consumption of protein (look at AquaBounty’s recent news as an example of a potential roadblock). We also will continue to track this most recent expansion into Asian markets, and look forward to reporting on the first home-grown Asian competitor to these North American success stories.

I look forward to a further update later in the year, get in touch to hear more about this fast-moving sector.