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Author: Alice Grahame

Alice Grahame is a freelance writer based in London. She's worked for the BBC, Guardian and various NGOs. She enjoys walking, allotment gardening and trying new plant-based dishes.

Beyond Soy, Pea, and Wheat. The Five Innovative Plant Proteins To Watch in 2023 and Beyond

The search for sustainable plant-based protein sources has accelerated in recent years. Concerns about global emissions, human health and animal welfare have driven food-tech scientists to seek protein beyond the more common sources such as soy, pea, and wheat. There have been some notable successes that are gaining investment and interest from manufacturers and retailers.  

Investment is split across different categories of innovations: cultivated meat, precision fermentation and plant-based protein. While cultivated meat and precision fermentation promise to replicate animal-origin food identically, plant-based protein offers something different for consumers: nutritious plant ingredients. The applications include ready meals, curries, chunks, nuggets, cuts, cookies, bars, and powders.  

We look at five proteins beyond soy, pea, and wheat that are driving innovation in plant-based.  


Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, describe microalgae as a new sustainable superfood. It contains between 27% and 70% protein, which is higher than eggs or meat, with essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and Omega 3 fatty acids. It grows naturally in ponds but is now grown commercially in tanks. The Danish government is investing heavily in microalgae, focusing on Chlorella vulgaris. And Israel-based start-up SimpliiGood is developing plant-based smoked salmon with another microalga, spirulina. 

Fava Beans 

Fava beans (known in the UK as broad beans) have a higher protein content than most pulses. Protein powder from fava beans is already used in sports nutrition drinks and bars. Fava beans are now being made into plant-based meat substitutes such as Beyond chicken tenders, chosen for its poultry-like texture. Fava bean is the main ingredient in Finish company Muu’s plant-based ready meals. It can also be used in gluten-free baking.  


With nine grams of protein per 100 grams, lentils are already a good source of nutrition, as fans of dhal and lentil soup will attest. Now scientists are finding new ways to reinvent this traditional store cupboard staple. UK Food-Tech company SPG Innovation, together with Baker Perkins and the University of Leeds have made New-fu, a tofu-like substance which can be moulded into cubes from locally grown lentils under the brand Rootiful.  


It could soon be humans rather than animals grazing. Scientists at the Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, have extracted the protein from grass. They successfully removed the grass flavour and produced a protein bar containing 10% grass protein.  

Grass produces more than double the amount of protein per hectare as soy. Dutch company Grassa is processing grass as an ingredient in animal food and has plans to use it in plant-based meat for humans.  


A UK farm has developed a method for extracting protein from cabbages and other brassicas. Naylors Farms in the East Midlands is building a $40 million factory funded by Dutch state-funded investor Invest International. Naylor Farms worked with Dutch scientists to develop a cold press system for extracting protein from the outer leaves that are usually wasted when coleslaw is made. The protein fibre can be used in plant-based meats, drinks and baking. Production is due to start in 2024.  


While not technically plants, fungi are a great crop from a sustainability point of view. They don’t need agricultural land, can happily grow in a cave or factory, and use minimal water. Loved by chefs and foodies, mushrooms offer a strong umami flavour and meaty texture. But they don’t generally contain much protein. The key to extracting protein is the mycelium – the roots below the surface. The UK brand Quorn has processed mycelium into nutritious meat substitutes since 1985. Newer entrants are now scaling fermentation techniques to drive an expansion of fungi protein. Swedish company Mycorena recently announced a partnership with Revo Foods to make mycoprotein seafood using 3D technology.  

Health Conscious Consumers and Significant Innovation Fuels Vegan Protein Powder Sales

Sales of vegan protein powder have grown significantly in recent years. Future Marketing Insights (FMI) reports that the market reached $4,326 million in 2022 and predicts an annual growth of 7.2% for the 2022 to 2032 period. The biggest market is North America, followed by Europe, with Asia Pacific as the fastest-growing region. Major players in the US include Archon Vitamin, Sequel Natural, Hormel Foods Corporation, Vital Amine, and NOW Health Group. Despite competition from corporations, a growing number of start-ups are producing smaller batches of artisanal blends and gathering loyal followers. And despite the sometimes macho image, there is an increasing number of vegan protein powders aimed at women at different life stages such as motherhood, menopause and ageing.  

According to a recent Allied Market Research (AMR) report on vegan protein powder, millennials are the largest age group, but sales from Generation X and Baby Boomers are strong and predicted to account for nearly half of all sales by 2031. The report says health-conscious consumers are mainly responsible for driving demand for all plant-based protein, including meat substitutes and protein powder. Other factors are consumers seeking to reduce their impact on animals and the environment and customers with dairy allergies and intolerances.  

The growth of plant-based protein powder follows a more general increase in demand for plant-based food. In 2021 plant-based food dollar sales in the US grew by 6%, three times faster than overall food sales. Ethical, environmental and health reasons drive this shift. People eating plant-based are more likely to consume supplements than the general population. A National Institute of Health survey  found that 66% of vegans consume vitamin supplements compared to 25% of vegetarians and 30% of omnivores. The Vegan Society recommends supplementation to achieve a balanced diet. So those trending towards plant-based eating are a natural target market for protein powder.  

Vegan protein powder is also benefitting from significant innovations, such as developing animal-free whey powder made using precision fermentation. Two North American brands are making protein powder with Perfect Day whey protein, which is also used in ice cream and cheese. Canadian company Natreve is launching its animal-free brand Mooless, and Perfect Day is launching its powder under the California Performance Co brand. They will be bioidentical to animal whey protein and deliver the same functional and nutritional benefits. 

The optimistic outlook for vegan protein powder is supported by anecdotal evidence. UK brand Nasty Vegan sells a mix of pea, brown rice and pumpkin seed protein, in three flavours, via its website and health food shops. The business was founded in 2019 by friends Rob Henson and Alix Wallace using their savings and is now scaling up. Despite the challenges of Covid, cash flow and a very competitive market, Rob Henson agrees that interest in vegan protein powder is growing: “The vegan movement is expanding year on year, which is brilliant. We’ve found interest in the brand has been strong. We’re getting more repeat customers and bigger order values. Each month orders are growing. People are coming back and buying more each time. We are building on that and expanding as we grow.” 

Nasty Vegan perfected its packaging, designed to appeal to today’s consumers. Each flavour is represented by a rich colour with botanical illustrations of its plant ingredients. Rob Henson explains: “We had a clear brief to engage with particular audiences. Around 80% of our customers are women. We don’t promote our product as a muscle-builder but as an everyday drink that boosts the nutrients in your system. It’s got 26 vitamins and minerals as well as protein. We’ve positioned it as suitable for anyone, not just for gym goers or bodybuilders.”  

The company’s biggest marketing platform is Instagram, where they post customer-generated content – often recipes: “People create their dishes with our product and share them online. We created it as a drink, but many of our customers use it in food like pancakes, waffles, protein bowls, cookies, brownies, and many different things. It’s very versatile and works in lots of different ways.” 

Six Food Processing Methods Driving Plant-Based Innovation

One of the key drivers impacting the growth of the plant-based market has been the new processes that have enabled more complex and realistic structures that mimic animal protein. The technology used to make plant meat and seafood is becoming cheaper and more inventive, resulting in a vast range of realistic dishes for consumers.

Plant-based meat is generally made from a protein-rich plant source such as soy, peas, or wheat. The processing transforms vegetable protein into fibrous layers that match the appearance and texture of meat or fish.

Below are some of the processes helping companies produce realistic plant-forward products to meet the growing consumer demand. 


Extrusion is the most common method for making plant-based meat. It involves kneading and compressing plant-based protein, adding water and oil and pushing it through a small hole, while applying heat, pressure and moisture. The resulting semi-solid output is cut into lengths, marinated, and cooled. It can then be dried into TVP or remain wet and get coated with seasonings to give it a meat-like flavour. The extrusion process can be adjusted for different textures, such as ground meat, sausages or nuggets.  

High Moisture Extrusion  

The high moisture process makes the appearance and texture of plant-based meat even more realistic. The process is currently used in around 20% of global plant-based meat products. Described as a cook-and-stir process, the meaty texture is gained by adjusting the size of the extrusion gap, mixing in water and protein under pressure and changing the cooling process.  

Directional Freezing  

In this process, liquid plant-based protein is frozen to produce ice crystals. In the freezing process, heat is removed from one side so the crystals align in one direction. The frozen product is dried without melting the ice, leaving a porous, fibrous structure with overlapping layers that resemble animal muscle fibres. This process has been widely used to make flaky fish-like structures from plant protein. New School Foods uses directional freezing to create its plant-based whole-cut salmon filet. The company says the process enabled it to make plant fibres that replicate the size and structure of fish muscle and give the same texture and mouth feel.  

Process-Controlled Microstructure Design

Spanish plant-based meat company Heura says it uses new patented technology to make its new range of high-protein plant-meat, including frankfurters, ham and fish. Known as process-controlled microstructure design, it alters the structure of proteins at micro-scale, creating new protein structures for its plant-based products. The technology allows Huera to refine the texture to match the meat it is mimicking. Heura uses a thermo-mechanical technique to shape the protein, applying heat and mechanical energy to change its structure.  

3D Printed Meat  

3D printing offers the chance to make large steaks or carvable slabs that cannot be achieved with other methods. With brands now wanting to produce whole cuts 3D printing is gaining traction. To make the meat, viscous plant protein such as soy or pea is fed into a 3D printer and emerges with a meat-like structure and shape. The process can be used with an extruded product or cell-based meat. Viennese plant-based seafood maker Revo Foods uses 3D printing to make salmon filets by building layers of pea protein, algal extracts and omega-3 fatty acids. Israeli company Redefine Meat also uses the process to make their ultra-realistic steaks.  


Fermentation is old-school technology but is increasingly being used in a new way – to make plant-based meat. Nature’s Fynd uses fermentation to create protein from fungus from a volcanic spring in Yellowstone National Park. Swedish company Millow is making an alternative protein from oats and mycelium using a novel fermentation process. The company describes the resulting product as juicy, bouncy and meat-like. And Quorn, the original fermented mycoprotein meat-substitute, is set for expansion as parent company Marlow Foods is making it available to other manufacturers.  

Novel Foods – How Plant-Based Business Can Navigate Regulations

With so many new and exciting plant-based foods being created by food tech scientists and entrepreneurs, complying with novel food regulations is essential to getting products to market. For non-lawyers, this can be a daunting task, and specialist help is usually needed to get through the process.  

We spoke to food law consultant and founder of Vegan Food Law, Mathilde Do Chi, who advises plant-based businesses to navigate the regulations. She has worked extensively on the legal challenges of alternative proteins, as the VP of Regulatory Affairs (Vegan World Alliance and Vegan Society of Canada) and as an advisor to various companies and NGOs.  

Do Chi explained that novel food is a special category which requires special consideration: “It is food where there is no history of consumption in the country where it is to be sold. In the E.U., it includes anything that was not eaten before 1997. Similar rules exist in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. To sell novel foods, companies must get regulatory approval. This applies to plant-based businesses creating new proteins or fats, cell-based meat, and precision fermentation-derived ingredients.”   

Some plant-based foods are considered novel even if there is a history of safe consumption of the original plant, but it is being used in a new way. For example, if leaves are commonly used, but a company wants to process the seeds into protein isolates. Food that is common in one country might be novel in another. So where innovators squeeze protein from grass or algae, that is a novel food and must go through the regulation process.  

This means entrepreneurs need to be aware of how their product is viewed in the territory in which they want to sell it. Mathilde Do Chi says, “They need to check the current regulations. Most countries will have a public list of products that are considered novel. If they cannot find an answer, they can contact national authorities. Just because something is authorized in one country doesn’t mean that it’s authorized in another. Even if there is a history of consumption, it will be considered novel if you want to change an ingredient. Decisions are made very much on a case-by-case basis. It can take between 18 months and three years to get through the process, depending on the quality of the application. If the authorities believe the company has not provided enough information, they will allow another six months and continue the analysis.”  

Mathilde Do Chi applies her knowledge to working with plant-based companies to help them work through the regulatory framework: “First, I check that the processes and ingredients are not novel. If I’m sure they are not, I help companies draft answers to the queries from the authorities. If they are novel, I help them write a dossier to get the product authorized. I also help identify which market will be the easiest to enter. If they want to start selling as fast as possible, I advise them on what ingredients to use from a regulatory point of view. I make sure companies have all the necessary information. And that they gather that first. Because if you apply with an incomplete dossier, the application might not even be accepted.”  

Businesses might assume that the UK is the best place to launch a new plant-based product. After all, the UK is the home of Veganuary and U.K consumers are accepting of non-traditional foods. However, the picture is different regarding novel food regulation: “At the end of the day, it’s a risk assessment, made regardless of the potential consumer acceptance. In fact, one of the best places to seek authorisation is Singapore. You can get approval in Singapore in around one year if the product is passed as safe. Singapore has more resources in place to approve products so you can get questions answered quicker than in the UK or EU.” 

Mathilde Do Chi has some tips for companies creating new foods and some general advice on naming new products: “Don’t assume the regulations will straddle different countries because they have different legal systems. It’s a matter of talking to authorities and researching to see if the product has already been sold in the same form. If it hasn’t, and the ingredient you want to use is a novel food, look at using other crops to see if you can get the same results without spending time and money getting approval. Ensure you are aware of labelling issues, where regulations differ in different territories. Be careful about using traditional names, which are often for specific products whose recipes are set in stone. The only thing you will achieve if you disregard this rule is to get sued. It’s why you have very generic terms for plant-based alternatives. For example, plant-based yoghurt is called plant-based dessert because yoghurt is a protected name in some countries. And my final piece of advice is to remember that the words you use in marketing campaigns are often regulated, so check whether you need to comply with certain conditions to use those words.” 

Cultivated Fish, Funding News, Plant-Based Seafood Trends, New Product Listings and More

Welcome to our round-up of plant-based news. We have been keeping across what has been happening in the sector over the past fortnight. We have and scoured newspapers, magazines, and digital platforms to bring you the most interesting plant-based stories. If you have news for us, why not get in touch? Please email us at [email protected] with your news.     

New Food  

Plant-Based Seafood Trend  

Sales of plant-based seafood are showing signs of growth. Between 2019 and 2022, the category saw a 53% growth in unit sales. While plant-based meat may have plateaued, the few start-ups in the plant-based seafood space are attracting funding. Keerthi Vedantam at Crunchbase News explains the evolving trend.  

Cultivated Fish  

Israeli food-tech company, Steakholder Foods, has made cultivated fish fillets from grouper fish cells from the Singapore company Umami Meats. Testers reported that the cultivated fish had an impressive taste and flakiness. The collaboration with Umami Meats received funding from the Singapore-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (SIIRD). It aims to scale up the production of cultivated fish using 3D bio-printing technology and customised bio-inks. The companies are hoping to bring the food to market next year, first in Singapore, and then gain regulatory approval for sale in the US and Japan. 

EVERY EggWhite  

California-based Plant-based egg and meat start-up Every Co is partnering with Alpha Foods to develop meat alternatives using animal-free egg whites made with microbes. The EveryEggWhites will provide binding and gelling qualities to make products more meat-like. The product could eventually replace methylcellulose in plant-based food.  

New Factories  

Switch Foods  

Abu Dhabi’s Switch Foods has a new 2,000-square-metre plant in the Khalifa Industrial Zone. The factory can produce 1000kg of plant meat per hour or 8000 kg per day and will produce plant-based kebabs, kofta, patties and mince. The products will be available in supermarkets across the country later this month. Switch CEO Edward Hamod said the factory will enable the region to reduce its dependence on imported plant-based food.  

Chunk Foods Raises $15 Million  

Israeli-based Chunk Foods has raised seed funding worth $15 million. The money will be used to build one of the world’s biggest plant-based whole cuts factory. The facility will be finished by the summer of 2023 and will be able to produce millions of steaks per year. . It is the biggest seed funding for an Israeli plant-based company. Investors include Fall Line Capital, the MIT E14 fund, and Robert Downey Jr’s Footprint Coalition  


Mellody Honey  

Mellody plant-based honey has partnered with Eleven Madison Home to make the product available direct to US consumers. Mellody is made without bees but tastes and performs like conventional honey. It was launched last month by MeliBio. The company raised $2.2 million last November. It is planning to launch in Europe through a partnership with Narayan Foods.  

Meatless Farm New Range 

Meatless Farm has launched four new products for UK retail. New items include plant-based meat-filled pasta, Chorizo-style Sausages and New York Style Cheeze Burgers. The new products are available in Sainsbury’s and Ocado.  

Native Snacks in M&S  

Native Snacks, the UK company making vegan prawn crackers, will be stocked in Marks and Spencer in the UK. Native Snacks Original Pr*wn Crackers are already in British supermarkets, including Ocado, Planet Organic, Whole Foods and Asda, as well as restaurants, including Yo! And Travelodge.  


BettaF!sh in Vending Machines 

Vending machines in offices, airports, railway stations and hospitals in Germany will offer BettaF!sh plant-based tuna sandwiches. They will be available in Foodji vending machines across the country. This follows BettaF!sh’s entry into European stores and on board Japan Airlines.  

Ontario Universities Learn Plant-Based Cooking  

Chefs from Ontario universities have been trained in plant-based cooking in order to offer more choices to students. The programme was a partnership with the Humane Society International’s Food Forward programme. The universities are boosting their vegan options in response to student demand. The universities’ goal is for 40% of the menu to be plant-based by January 2024 and 50% by 2025.  

How NYC Hospitals Successfully Made Plant-Based The Default

Earlier this year New York City’s 11 public hospitals started serving plant-based meals as the main dining option for in-patients. It is a momentous achievement. NYC Hospitals + Health is the biggest public healthcare system in the US, serving three million meals a year. It expects to serve at least 850,000 plant-based meals in 2023. The programme will likely now be extended to the region’s five post-acute facilities. As a result of the initiative. This historic achievement was the topic of a recent Plant Based World Pulse’s Insider Talks panel discussion.   

The shift was made gradually to ensure that the move had the highest chance of acceptance and success. In 2019 hospital food provider Sodexo began offering Meatless Monday. Then in March 2022, they piloted plant-based lunches by default, extending to plant-based dinners in September 2022.  

Samantha Morgenstern is a dietician and Senior Director of Nutrition Services for Acute Care at Sodexo. She explained how the policy was introduced:  

“It started back in January 2019 when Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams who is now Mayor of New York started speaking publicly about his own journey with his food choices and how he put his own diabetes into remission. The message was really inspiring. We felt it was a great opportunity for us to partner with him. So we started Meatless Monday for lunch across our 11 facilities. After there was no uproar from patients, nurses or doctors, we added dinner. Slowly over time, we introduced the concept to our patients. We were very careful about the dishes we chose. The first dish we served for Meatless Monday was Bolognese – something that people are familiar with. Ultimately, our goal is to make sure patients consume enough calories and nutrients. So we were very strategic and thoughtful about the choice of meals.”  

The change was supported by Greener By Default, an NGO that helps organisations adopt plant-based food by making it the default choice. Their founder and CEO Katie Cantrell explained how schools, universities, businesses, restaurants and hospitals are encouraged to offer more plant-based options: “We apply behavioural science to food policy. Research shows that our behaviour is largely shaped by our environment. So the dish we see first on a menu, the way it is presented and what it is called influences our choice without us even realising it. Rather than lecturing people or giving them statistics we make more sustainable, healthier choices, the easiest choices for them to make. In most places, meat is the default choice. Most people stick with the default because it’s easier and because we assume that if most people do it, it must be the right thing to do. Our goal is to flip the norm to make plant-based the default but give people the choice to opt into meat and dairy if they want to. That freedom of choice is critical because people don’t like having options removed or having a choice forced on them. That can generate a backlash. We found that when menus are entirely vegetarian or vegan, about 10 to 20% of people want meat and get upset if that option is not available. So having plant-based as the default, but allowing people to opt-in to meat means everyone has their needs met. Studies have shown that most people are happy to stick with plant-based when it is the normal easy choice. And of course, when it tastes good. One thing we advise is renaming dishes to avoid the word vegetarian, as some people will think a vegetarian dish is not for them. When a tech company renamed their vegetarian hummus wrap as a roasted red pepper, avocado hummus wrap sales went up. So we bring in research to make it as easy as possible to implement the strategy.”  

The key metric was uptake. The team found that 50-60% of patients were sticking with the plant-based default option. 95% of patients who chose a plant-based meal were happy with it.  

There are several factors that helped the programme succeed. The menu choices were delivered verbally by trained staff rather than on paper or online. Employees spoke to patients and described the dishes and ingredients. The plant-based choice was called the chef’s recommendation. The words default, vegan and vegetarian were not used at all. Instead, the meals were given catchy titles.   

There was extensive staff engagement prior to the launch, including a road show to all 11 sites with separate Q and A sessions for doctors and nurses. The team wheeled a food cart with a colourful logo around departments so that both leaders and frontline staff could try the food and ask questions.  

Samantha Morgenstern adds: “It was important to have physicians on board at each of our sites to make sure that they could speak with colleagues and share research. And from the get-go, we told people it’s not all or nothing. It is the chef’s recommendation, but ultimately, our patients have a choice. We just wanted to make sure that we’re giving them every opportunity to make a healthier choice.”  

Katie Cantrell says she is delighted by the success of the project: “There weren’t as many challenges as we were expecting. Logistically a lot goes into it. Between the Mayor’s office, Sodexo and NYC Hospitals + Health, everyone put in so much effort into including everyone, so it’s not a top-down initiative that people feel is being forced on them. It’s so important to have the buy-in of the people who interface with the diners. They need to genuinely recommend the food. Because people pick up if the person serving it is skeptical. This is really, truly a historic win. As far as we know it is unprecedented for a healthcare facility to implement plant-based default, let alone the biggest hospital system in the United States. We’re now trying to build on this progress and make sure that this amazing example is taken up by other healthcare systems.”  

2023’s Innovative Plant-Based Fats To Watch

Plant-based meats need realistic meaty fats, as well as protein, if they are to convince customers to ditch animal products and eat more plant-based food. Fats give meat its unique taste, texture, and mouth feel. When diners feast on a juicy steak or succulent chicken, it is the fat that creates the indulgent experience. The challenge is to recreate that sensation using plant-based fat.   

The Good Food Institute (GFI) has highlighted the importance of innovation and investment in sustainable plant-based fats if the alternative meat industry is to succeed. The sector currently relies largely on coconut oil because it is semi-solid at room temperature making it a fair substitute for animal fat. However, there are some drawbacks to coconut oil. while animal fat melts slowly when heated, coconut oil melts immediately, never achieving that semi-solid state that meat fat offers. In addition, a GFI report states that by 2030 there will be a global supply issue if demand increases in line with predicted growth. The other issue is health. Like animal fat, coconut oil is high in saturated fat. A Harvard University study found that coconut oil raised blood cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease. 

The other ubiquitous fat is Palm oil, used in margarine, frying oils and baked goods, as well as cosmetics and cleaning products. It is used in plant-based meat as an animal fat substitute. Like coconut oil, it is solid at room temperature and melts when heated. The problem with palm oil is that its production in Southeast Asia causes deforestation and the destruction of wildlife habitats. This has inspired one food tech company to choose the name Sun Bear Bioworks after a species threatened by palm oil production. The company is using biotechnology to produce an alternative oil that can be made from waste products such as potato peelings from the crisp industry.  

It vital that alternatives to coconut and palm oil are found if the plant-based meat industry is to grow sustainably and make delicious healthy food that people want to buy. Luckily scientists have found that while plant fats behave differently to animal fats, by changing their molecular structure or by adding other ingredients, they can be made to act in a similar way. Here are just a few examples of innovative fats that are already improving plant-based dishes, or will be in the near future.  

This’s Fat 2.0 

The clever UK company that brought us This Isn’t Bacon and This Isn’t Pork Sausages has its own patent-pending fat. Known as Fat 2.0, the ingredient is based on olive oil and adds succulence, flavour, and meatiness. The resulting sausages have 75% less saturated fat than their animal-based equivalent.  

Quibiq’s Smart Fat 

Scientists at Spanish company Qubiq have developed new technology to create an alternative to animal fat. Qubiq has created a vegan smart fat that behaves like animal fat, for use in plant-based meat and dairy. With a melting point of 80 degrees, it avoids the tendency of vegetable fat to disappear during cooking and could potentially replace coconut oil in plant-based products. Qubiq offers offer three varieties: Go!Drop fat replacer, Go!Mega3 Omega-3 algae oil, and Go!Great cultivated animal fat. The company has recently formed a partnership with international distributor Cargill which will bring investment, co-development and marketing support to make the fats more widely available.  

Shiru’s OleoPro  

US food-tech company Shiru has created plant-based fat OleoPro as its first ingredient. OleoPro combines plant proteins and unsaturated oil. It is solid at room temperature and melts when cooked, giving a juicy mouthfeel to plant-based meats. Nutritionally it contains 90% less saturated fat than coconut oil and palm oil. It was made using the company’s patented Flourish technology platform which uses bioinformatics and machine learning to discover proteins that can be made into fat. These are combined with plant-based oil to make an ingredient that looks and behaves like animal fat.  

Omni Foods’ OmniNanoTM Vegan Fat 

In November 2022 Hong Kong-based Omni Foods launched its patented OmniNanoTM Vegan Fat. Their process involves emulsifying oil and water, which is then added to plant-based meats to mimic animal fat. Omni says the new fat improves the juiciness, flavour and texture of its plant-based meats. OmniFoods is using this in its new plant-based whole cuts, including Plant-Based Beef Cut and Tips, Plant-Based Chicken Wings and Plant-Based Pork cutlets. The new items will be launched later in 2023.  

Nourish Precision Fermentation Fats  

Australian food tech start-up Nourish uses precision fermentation to produce plant-based fat that is identical to animal fat. In October 2022, the company raised $2.6 million in investment and is working with science and government organisations to scale up production. It has developed a technique using microbes to make bioidentical animal fat without animals, to recreate the taste and performance of meat.  

Mycolein Fungus Fat  

Swedish company Mycorena has created fat from fungi that mimics animal fat. The fat was first released in 2021 and is available for sale under the name Mycolein. It is the result of the development of a fungi-stabilised fat solution that behaves like animal fat. The product was tested with partner vegan steak maker Juicy Marbles, who were impressed with the juiciness and flavour it added. Unlike most fats, Mycolein is also a source of dietary fibre. It contains 85% less saturated fat than coconut oil.  

European Market Insights, China’s Food Policy, State of the Market Report  and More

Welcome to another selection of business stories from the past week or so. We have been keeping across what has been happening in the sector and scouring newspapers, magazines, and digital platforms to bring you the most interesting and important plant-based news. If you have news for us, why not get in touch? Email us at [email protected] with your stories!   

State of the Market Report  

The Plant Based Foods Association 2022 study found that consumer demand was strong, and sales were more resilient than expected. This is despite various difficulties facing the sector, such as the economic landscape and supply chain issues. Consumers are becoming more price-conscious, and companies need to adapt and innovate to secure ingredients and funding. The report looked at retail and e-commerce, food service trends and consumer insights for 2022. PBFA CEO Rachel Dreskin said: “The continued growth of plant-based foods amidst the challenging backdrop of the global pandemic and supply network disruptions—which have upended the entire food system—speaks to this industry’s ability to connect with consumers, engage their desire to eat in alignment with their values, and provide delicious options that meet expectations, for every eating occasion,”

European Market Insights  

Sales of plant-based food grew by 6% in 2022 and 21% from 2020-2022, reaching €5.8 billion, according to GFI Europe’s analysis of NeilsonIQ sales data. In 2022 plant-based meat sales grew to €2 billion, making up 6% of the pre-packaged meat market. Plant-based seafood and cheese also saw double-digit growth. GFI Europe says these figures are extremely promising given economic difficulties caused by the war in Ukraine, trade tensions and inflation.  

New Products  

Quorn’s Mycoprotein Available to Manufacturers  

Marlow Foods, the parent company of Quorn Foods, is making Quorn available to other food manufacturers. A new division, Marlow Ingredients, will make the mycoprotein, which has been sold as Quorn since 1985, available in Europe and beyond. Marco Bertecca, Marlow Foods CEO said: “By making our mycoprotein available to others, Marlow Ingredients will play a pivotal role in helping us achieve one of our missions – to tackle climate change by making great-tasting food.” 

Aleph Cuts Cultivated Steak  

Israel-based food tech company Aleph Farms has launched its first product brand, Aleph Cuts. The brand’s first offering will be a cultivated steak, which will be marketed in Israel and Singapore later this year if approval is granted. The steak is grown from non-modified cells of an Angus cow, and the company says there is no slaughter involved in production.  

Schouten Egg White 

Dutch plant-based company Schouten has launched a vegan egg white that behaves just like eggs from hens. Made from oil and soy protein, the product is designed for use in salads, sandwiches, and baked goods. The No Egg White cubes are available in 4.5-kilogram pouches that can last three months. Schouten has been making meat substitutes since the 1990s and supplies vegan meat and fish to more than 50 countries.  

Lypid Pork Belly 

Taiwanese food tech start-up Lypid has launched plant-based pork belly. Made from 100% plant-based ingredients and patented PhytoFat encapsulated oil technology, the pork belly is high in protein and lower in cholesterol, saturated fat, calories, and salt than its meat equivalent.  

Food Policy 

China’s Food Policy 

The Chinese government’s new policy statement calls for a diversified food supply system. The No. 1 Central Document for 2023 includes the development of plants, animals, microorganisms, edible fungi and algae-based foods. The document also highlights soya beans as a growth area. The Good Food Institute China reports that investment in alternative protein in China has grown significantly.  

New York City 

New York Mayor Eric Adams has announced plans to reduce the city’s carbon emissions from food purchases by 33% by 2030, as part of an effort to combat climate change. Mayor Adams has been key to getting plant-based food into the city’s public hospitals and is planning to expand the plant-based policy into public schools.  


Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton’s Neat Burger restaurant has opened its first US eatery, in New York. The new plant-based fast-food outlet is called Neat in Nolita. The burger chain already has six branches in London and one in the UAE. It plans to open 30 more outlets internationally.  

Futuristic Fantasy to Factory. Has Cell-Based Meat Truly Arrived?

From fantasy to factory within the last couple of years, innovation in cell-based meat has rapidly improved. Mainstream media is awash with headlines proclaiming the arrival of cultivated steak, meatballs, and nuggets. Amongst plant-based businesses, debates have begun in earnest about the labelling of cell-based products and how they fit alongside their plant-based counterparts. 

Although not plant-based, the companies operating in this new category share some of the goals and ambitions of plant-based foods and will likely appeal to similar consumers. A 2018 Harvard study found that Attitudes towards the environment appear to be one of the most important determinants of consumers’ consumption behaviour and new food acceptance and that consumers with environmental concerns were more willing to purchase meat alternatives, such as plant-based and cultured meat. A 2022 study by the UK Food Standards Agency found that a third of UK consumers were willing to try cultivated meat, with sustainability cited as the main reason. Of those who said they would not, over a quarter said they could be persuaded if they knew it was safe.  

For consumers concerned about animal welfare, environment and health, cultured meat performs better than animal meat on all fronts. An animal is only used at the very start of the process. Far less land and resources are needed than in traditional animal agriculture and the product will undoubtedly be free of the hormones and antibiotics that intensive animal farming requires.  

So while not plant-based, cultured meat is of immense interest to the plant-based business community, and following its progress is crucial for understanding the opportunities and threats it poses. These will likely become more pressing as products go through the various stages of development, scaling, and approval, which will eventually bring them to market.  

To discuss the issues around cultivated meat the Good Food Institute (GFI) held a webinar in February 2023 to review the status of the cultivated meat industry and examine recent advances in the US.  

The discussion was timely because cultivated meat is reaching some critical milestones. Companies are moving from the lab to the bioreactor stage, attracting serious investment, and gaining approval from national authorities. Cultivated meat took a major step forward in November 2022 when US company Upside Foods got approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA)that its cultivated chicken breast is safe for human consumption. Upside still needs the go-ahead from US Department of Food Safety and Inspection Service, but the company says it is hoping to bring products to restaurants by 2023 and to supermarkets by 2028. Other companies are seeking FDA approval. California-based Good Meat has an application pending. And Two others, Netherlands-based Mosa Meat and Israel-based Believer Meats are in discussions with the agency. This follows Good Meat getting the go-ahead for the commercial sale of two of its cultivated chicken products in Singapore.  

There are reported to be around 90 companies working in the cultivated meat space and some are investing heavily in manufacturing. In Wilson, North Carolina, the world’s largest cultivated meat factory is being built by Israeli start-up Believer Meats. It will be capable of producing 10,000 tonnes of meat a year. UK Ivy Farms is planning a factory capable of producing at least 12,000 tonnes of cultivated meat. It already runs an R&D facility that can produce three tonnes per year. And in Australia Vow has unveiled a factory capable of producing 30 tonnes per year, ahead of regulatory approval.  

Investment into the sector has also grown significantly. In November 2022 Research and Markets reported that $1 billion was invested during the past 12 months. In 2020 more than $360 million was invested, six times more than in 2019. Investors include big meat companies like Tyson Foods, JBS and Cargills.  Investment has also come from wealthy individuals such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson. 

Emma Ignaszewski is the Associate Director of Industry Intelligence and Initiatives at GFI. At the recent GFI webinar on cultivated meat, she explained: “All of the largest six meat companies are involved in cultivated meat – either through acquiring companies, investing in companies, or starting their own range. JBS the largest meat company in the world has acquired a cultivated meat company and has announced the establishment of an R&D centre, saying it intends to bring cultivated meat to market by 2024.”  

 Much has been made of the “yuck factor” as a barrier to consumer acceptance. Despite the argument that a bioreactor process is less messy than conventional meat production, there is a worry that consumers will be squeamish about this except this unconventionally produced food. However, research commissioned by the GFI in December 2022 suggests these fears may be unfounded. The survey of over 1000 adults found that after the technology was explained, support for cultivated meat increased. This suggests consumer education will be very important for uptake. The aspect of cultivated meat that most appealed to consumers was the health advantage – the lack of hormones, steroids, antibiotics, and lower risk of foodborne illnesses and zoonotic diseases. 45% said they would try cultivated meat and 20% said they would buy it, which is a very promising result for something they have not seen or tasted.  

 Emma Ignaszewskitold the webinar that one exciting aspect is the potential for hybrid products. One of the main barriers to consumers eating more plant-based food today is the sensory gap – that meat substitutes don’t match the tastes and textures that they are used to. Mixing cultivated meat with other plant proteins is a chance to improve the experience for consumers. “While we are in the early stage there is a chance to experiment. For example, a company could mix cultivated protein with plant-based fat. There will be products with the taste and texture of meat but the health benefits of plant-based products. Some companies have already announced products in that vein.”  

One barrier to getting accepted by vegan, vegetarian and ethical consumers, has been the use of Foetal Bovine Serum (FBS). This used to be considered necessary for turning stem cells into muscle. However, in January 2022 Mosa Meat announced that it had replaced FBS with a non-animal substitute.  

Faraz Harsini MSc PhD is a bioprocessing senior scientist at the GFI, and an expert on scaling up the cultivated meat industry. He is also the CEO of the non-profit Allied Scholars for Animal Protection. In the GFI webinar, he explained: “The supply for FBS is very limited globally and using FBS is a huge problem. It is in everyone’s interest to come up with an alternative. We don’t have a lot of information about what cultivated meat companies are using but we know that most now use substitutes.”  

In answer to the ethical question of whether cultivated meat is vegan, Faraz Harsini told Pulse that its development will undoubtedly lead to less suffering for billions of non-human animals: “Veganism is reducing the harm caused to animals. If cultivated meat reduces the demand for billions of pounds of animal flesh, then it is surely beneficial to the animals who weren’t forced to be born and later killed for their flesh. 

Cultivated meat research and technology also have a magnificent potential for replacing other animal products commonly used in pharmaceutical companies and biomedical research. This includes replacing FBS or advancing the tissue engineering field to replace animal testing.  

Is it vegan in the sense that no one was harmed in its making? The original sample still comes from an animal. But it is possible to take it from the tip of a feather or a small biopsy or blood sample. Once a cell line is established, there will be no need to go back to the animal. All further cultivated meat production will start from cells grown in culture and frozen in cell banks. The harm and inconvenience for the animals involved is far less than for animals harmed or displaced in agricultural practices. 

If the criteria is “absolutely no harm caused to anyone or anything”, then no one is really vegan, because we’re always causing harm knowingly or not to some level. But if the criteria is minimizing harm to non-human animals as much as possible and practical, then on that metric, cultivated meat would spare the lives of billions of non-human animals and will facilitate our transition from here to a world where animals are no longer raised, harmed, and killed for food!” 

Faraz Harsini is optimistic about the ability of the sector to reach the market in the next few years at a price that consumers will accept: “While there are degrees of uncertainty, we expect that by the end of this decade, cultivated meat can reach price parity, at least with luxury products. To enable scaling up and making cultivated meat as cheap as possible it will be crucial to develop better bioreactors. There is a huge opportunity for start-ups to build bioreactors specifically for cultivated meat.”  

A Look At Plant Milk Labelling Restrictions in The U.S and The U.K

There has been a huge increase in plant-based milk sales in recent years, making it the most successful of all plant-based categories. Sales have grown dramatically in the past decade and continue to grow. Global revenue for plant-based milk totaled US$ 11 billion in 2020. Demand is set to grow by 11% between 2021 and 2031, with more consumers choosing it for health, taste or ethical reasons. According to the Good Food Institute (GFI) plant-based milk took a 15% share of the total milk market in 2021 – up from 12% in 2018. 

As the sector grows governments are reassessing how plant-based milk should be labelled, with each territory taking a different stance. The US and UK are both reviewing their rules but are taking very different approaches and appear to be travelling in different directions. Whilst in the US it looks like things are getting easier for plant-based milk producers, in the UK the regulations look set to become more restrictive.  

In February 2023 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published its draft guidance on the labelling of plant-based milk. The document says that alternative dairy products can use the word “milk” on packaging and recommends a voluntary change to labelling. The FDA recommends the voluntary label should state the nutritional difference between plant-based milk and cows’ milk. The guidance only applies to plant-based milk, not other plant-based products. 

This comes after years of discussion between the FDA, businesses and Congress on using dairy names for plant-based foods. A 2018 FDA request for comments got 13,000 responses.  

The FDA reviewed consumer studies and conducted focus groups, revealing that consumers understand that plant-based milk does not contain cows’ milk and that the word milk is commonly used to describe plant-based milk. For example, one study found around 75% of respondents understood that plant-based milk does not contain milk and less than 10% believed plant-based milk contained dairy milk. 

The FDA said: “the fact that a standard of identity has been established for a food (under its common or usual name) or that a name is specified among the standard of identity regulations for a food does not preclude use of the name in the common or usual name of another food.” 

The FDA’s recommends qualifying the word milk with the specific plant source, such as soy milk, or walnut and cashew milk if there are two sources. It recommends a voluntary nutrition statement that describes how the product is nutritionally different to cows’ milk, such as “Contains lower/higher amounts of [nutrient name(s)] than milk.” 

The draft is open for further comments until April 24 2023, and the final guidance is expected to be published in the summer of 2023.  

Meanwhile, in the UK, the government looks likely to apply further restrictions on labelling non-dairy milk.  

Currently, plant-based milk cannot use dairy names such as milk due to an EU law dating back to 1987. Since Brexit, the UK government could relax this. However, the Food Standards and Information Focus Group (FSIFG) is calling for further labelling restrictions to be tightened. They have proposed additional restrictions to ban misspellings like Mylk or M*lk, and phrases like milk-alternative.  

The move has been strongly criticised by a group of 44 plant-based businesses and organizations, including Alpro, Oatly, Quorn, Pro Veg, Plant-Based Food Alliance, and the Good Food Institute, who have written to the government pointing out that the ban will impact the government’s environmental and food strategies.   

The FSIFG believes consumers could be confused and misled by dairy-like terms used on plant-based milk. However, a new study from plant-based food producer Upfield found that most consumers could distinguish between dairy and plant-based alternatives. For example, 91% could tell that Flora Plant B+tter Salted was plant-based.  

Dominic Brisby, Regional President, Europe, for Upfield said: “Do British officials really think Brits are incapable of understanding the terms that people across the pond clearly don’t struggle with? There is absolutely no problem with consumers being confused. Consumers know exactly what products they are picking off supermarket shelves.”