2020 has been a year like no other, across the food industry and beyond. The covid pandemic engulfed the whole world and brought a global crisis to food businesses around the globe. With quarterly lockdowns and struggling businesses it was no doubt a new experience for us all. Perhaps no other industry felt the strain than the agrifood industry, which saw a spanner thrown into its usually very flowing chain of farming, food supply and logistics. With the pandemic uncovering an unreliable food chain it was up to innovative, new startups to offer solutions for a new kind of consumer. If we can take one good thing from 2020 it was the rise of a number of disruptive companies that provided new offerings for new post-covid growing trends, including plant-based, direct-to-consumer, sustainable packaging and more.
- Spain .
Heura is the Spanish born plant-based meat startup which has placed top of all vegan meat brands in Europe expanding recently to the UK where consumers can now buy their 100% vegetable-based chicken strips, nuggets and bites, and with the countries plant-based market expected to reach £1.1 billion by 2023 theres no doubt they will find a huge new batch of consumer demand. The innovative brand was not only awarded 2020 entrepreneur of the year by the magazine Emprendedores de España but has also seen a whopping 460% growth in the past year and was recognized as having developed the worlds healthiest hamburger.
TIPA is on a mission to revolutionize sustainable packaging. The Israeli startup develops planet happy packaging solutions and has recently secured over $4 million in investment from a top listed Tel Aviv funding vehicle. The brands breakthrough innovation includes a compostable food packaging which could replace hard to recycle plastic films on the market. With a total funding amount to date of $53 million, TIPA plans to use the new capital injection to accelerate the startup’s mission to transform the existing packaging market, especially now larger companies are under mounting pressure to offer more sustainable solutions to reduce their large carbon footprint, like Nestlé and Mcdonalds for example.
Its a world´s first! Just a few weeks after being granted regulatory approval to distribute its cultured meat in Singapore, lab-grown food pioneer Eat Just announced last week that it had completed its FIRST ever sale of its cultured chicken. Singapore made history last month when it became the first country to approve the sale of Eat Just’s lab-grown chicken. In order to gain government approval the startup demonstrated a consistent and safe manufacturing process by submitting cell-based chicken samples from 20 production runs in 1,200-liter bioreactors. Now, the brands revolutionary meat called GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken product is making history again across the restaurant scene in the Asian region, in a mission to help solve climate change and offer new and more sustainable ways to feed the worlds growing population. Logically, Singapore is a good place to start. The region has been at the forefront of foodtech news this year after it launched its 30×30 initiative to amp up local production.
Creating food from thin air, sounds impossible doesnt it? Well Solar Foods doesnt believe so – the futuristic start-up is producing protein using air and electricity from raw materials and has recently been granted €4.3 million in investment to further develop its natural protein solution called Solein. The sustainable ingredient contains all the essential amino acids and is penned to be the new food of tomorrow. With fresh capital the team can now push ahead with his production facility, planned for operation in 2022. To date the startup has developed over 20 different kinds of food products that use Solein, including meat replacing and drinkable products. Their vision? To change the way food is produced and bring the future of food to the present.
Its certainly been the year of plant-based and alternative protein startup Change Foods is making the most of it. After raising $875,000 in an oversubscribed pre-seed round of funding, surpassing its initial target of $600,000, the brand plans to use the capital to scale up production of its precision fermentation technology, hot on the heels of its counterpart Perfect Day Change Foods is using this technology to create an initial prototype for animal-free cheese which it promises will look, taste and cook like the “real thing”. With the Good Food Institute claiming fermentation will be the third pillar of the alternative protein revolution alongside plant-based and cell-based food, young startups saw an opportunity and with most cheese substitutes lacking in taste and functionality Change Foods wants to leverage precision technology to create a more robust dairy supply chain, with cheese that can be made locally and offer a longer shelf life. The plan is to set up a B2C channel by 2023 and the company will use some of this newly secured funding to expand its team and raise further capital next year.
Retailing giant M&S is betting on innovation for 2021 as they open their new Innovation Hub which will house a specialist food solutions team looking into new sources of plant-based protein and plastic-free packaging. This comes as a number of supermarket chains have announced their plans to pursue the ever-growing alternative protein market. In their mission to chase the plant-based wave the retailer will partner with Glasgow-based 3F Bio who will develop a vegan range using its mycoprotein ingredient as well as work on new plant-based protein ingredients. This year open innovation has acted as a powerhouse for foodtech development, as large companies look to emerging startups to solve new issues in the food supply chain with innovative technology.
Tebrito, the Swedish startup that creates insect protein, announced earlier this month that it had raised €800,000 to scale up its operations, taking its total raised amount to €1,250,000. Their mission? to accelerate the modern consumption of insect protein. Their extraction method allows the achievement of an 88% protein-rich ingredient from mealworms. Having worked with researchers from the Swedish University for Agriculture for two years the end result is a nutritious powder that is both odorless and tasteless and perfect for a first time eater. The method is also very friendly to the environment as it uses leftover cereal and vegetables as insect feed. So, what can we expect from Tebrio come 2021? Well, the startup plans to use its latest investment to further automate its operations and scale up production.
Founded back in 2018, Germany´s biotech leader Mushlabs leverages liquid fermentation technology to create mycelia, known as the “root” of the mushroom, to be used as an ingredient to manufacture sustainable alternative proteins and meat substitutes. The mycelia is cultivated in a controlled environment and fed with byproducts from other industrial and agricultural processes, such as rice husks, coffee grounds and sugarcane. This is a highly circular process, which requires less land and water use and can offer the advantages of a mobile protein production industry suitable for regions experiencing food shortages. The startup recently raised over 10 million dollars in a Series A funding led by Singapores VisVires New Protein and Switzerland’s Redalpine. This came as a number of startups started harnessing mushrooms for food production. With covid uncovering a vulnerable meat supply chain, mushrooms are a safer and more efficient foodstuff that can create pandemic-resilient solutions of the future.
Vertical farming refers to the production of fresh greens in vertically stacked layers and closer to the consumer. In the last few years it has presented itself as a more modern and efficient way of offering locally produced fruits and vegetables. French startup Agricool was an early entrant into the space, developing an aeroponic system to grow fruits and veggies. With its “Cooltivator” program customers can learn how to use its technology and even become producers and distributors themselves. Over the years the company has racked up over 41 million dollars in funding since its 2015 launch, according to VentureBeat.