Proposed Changes to School Meals and Their Impact on Plant-Based Options

In February 2023, the USDA issued proposed changes to the regulations around the nutrient composition of school meals. Child Nutrition Programs: Revisions to Meal Patterns Consistent with the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans outlines changes in several key areas to help better align meals in schools with the most widely accepted US dietary recommendations. The proposal is open for public comments until April 10, 2023 and changes are scheduled to be implemented for the 2025-2026 and 2026-2027 school years. 

Here is a look at the proposed changes and their possible impact on plant-based options in schools:

Added sugars: Currently, sugars are not limited as long as sugar-containing items fit into established calorie caps for the total meal. The proposed changes will place limits on the amount of sugar in leading sources of added sugars in school meals, namely grain-based desserts, breakfast cereals, yogurts, and flavored milks. USDA hopes that limiting added sugars will incentivize manufacturers to develop products with less added sugar.

Data from Innova Market Insights show that sugar-related claims, led by a no added sugar claim, currently are among the top claims on plant-based products. Products with a plant-based or vegan claim tend to be less sweet than their conventional counterparts. Additionally, manufacturers of plant-based sweetened products often use alternate natural sweeteners such as stevia and monk fruit and naturally sweet ingredients derived from fruit. Use of the rare sugar allulose also is growing.

Milk: Proposed changes to milk regulations focus on placing limitations on the provision of flavored milk because flavored milks typically contain added sugars. The USDA doesn’t address milk alternatives and seeks feedback from school districts that offer them under the current milk substitute process requiring that nondairy beverages offered as fluid milk substitutes be nutritionally equivalent to the protein, vitamin, and mineral content of fluid cows milk. California recently became the first state to fund plant-based products in schools; it is expected that California schools are sharing with USDA their experience with plant-based milk alternatives.

Whole grains: Current whole grain regulations require that at least 80 percent of the weekly grains offered in the school lunch and breakfast programs be whole grain-rich, defined as containing at least 50% whole grain ingredients. Two rules are being considered. The first would maintain the current regulation while the second would require whole grain-rich products four out of five school days and allow enriched, non-whole grain products one day a week.

A high proportion of grain-based foods are made only with ingredients of plant origin, so this regulation has only minimal impact on plant-based declarations.

Sodium: Current regulations require school breakfasts to meet transitional sodium limits of no more than 640 mg per weekly meal average for high school students, with lower limits for children in elementary and middle school. Sodium limits for school lunches are being phased in with one set of average weekly meal limits in effect as of July 2022 and a more stringent set of limits in effect starting July 2023. The new regulations propose to require additional 10% drops in sodium limits for lunch beginning in school years 2025, 2027, and 2029 for breakfast beginning in school years 2025 and 2027. USDA hopes that the phased schedule will allow manufacturers enough time to reformulate their products.

In 2022, plant-based burger alternatives contained approximately 300-600 mg sodium, depending on the brand and serving size. Products with higher sodium levels could push a meal well above the average sodium limit, depending on sodium content of other meal components. Innovation in product formulations, along with wider use of global salt-free seasoning combinations and incorporation of flavorful, naturally lower-sodium ingredients and meal components, will enable manufacturers to comply with the more stringent requirements.

Nuts and seeds: In some situations, nut and seed butters are counted as only 50% of the meat/meat alternate component of the meal and must be served with another meat or meat alternate in order to be counted as a full meal. The new regulation proposes to allow nuts and seeds to be credited for a full portion of meat/meat alternate.

Competitive foods and “smart snacks”: Competitive foods and smart snacks are foods that are sold on the school campus but are not part of school meals. They are subject to limitations on calories, fat, saturated fat, total sugars, and sodium. Proposed regulations would exempt hummus from fat limitations of no more than 35% of total calories but would continue to limit its saturated fat to no more than 10% of total calories. The sesame paste and/or olive oil in hummus can push up the percentage of calories from fat; the new regulation would acknowledge that hummus is a wholesome, nutrient-dense food option despite the amount of fat.

Language changes: Proposed changes include referring to meat/meat alternatives as protein sources, to better reflect the variety of foods that can be offered within this meal component, including cheese, yogurt, eggs, tofu and soy products, nuts and seeds, and beans, peas, and lentils, in addition to meat products.

What’s next: Some school systems, like California and New York, embrace plant-based alternatives in school meals. New York City schools offer Plant-Powered Fridays with plant-based menu offerings often prepared from scratch in school kitchens. Foodservice provider Chartwells K-12 recently introduced its Veg-Out plant-based concept into school districts nationwide, with more than 100 options for children who are vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, plant-centric, or interested in trying different types of dishes. Other districts seek to limit plant-based options. A proposal brought before the Iowa State Legislature that would have banned meat and egg substitutes from school meals also brought up the importance of accurate labeling of meat alternative products. 

Plant-Based Food Alliance – We Need a Roadmap For The Plant-Based Food Industry

Uniting to promote the plant-based food industry at the top level is crucial to tackling the multiple challenges the sector faces. This was a strong message from the recent Plant-Based World Insider Talks – a forum for leading thought leaders in the sector. Marisa Heath is the Chief Executive of the Plant-Based Food Alliance, a UK non-profit coalition of organisations committed to driving forward plant-based. She told Insider Talks that lobbying government together is now vital to enable plant-based businesses to thrive.  

The overarching objective of the Alliance is to have a seat at the table for policy formation. Marisa Heath pointed out that recently plant-based was largely absent from policy forums and ignored from decision-making, compared to the huge influence that animal agriculture has in government circles: “We all know the livestock industry has been the main influencer of food policy. They have strong connections in the government and have been very effective in lobbying. There are also elements of resistance to plant-based food, with some narratives that we’re undermining British farming, telling people what they shouldn’t eat, and pushing highly processed foods that lack the nutritional value of meat and dairy. These false narratives have been built up by the animal industry.”  

This has led to specific threats for the plant-based industry: “Now that we are out of Europe, the reform bill is looking at what legislation to keep, bin or amend. This is a huge risk. The government are considering what to do about dairy descriptors. If they want to stop using phrases like plant-based alternative to mozzarella or misspellings such as Mylk that will be problematic. Changes to nutritional labelling could also have huge ramifications for our sector.”  

Despite these challenges, the Plant Based Food Alliance has a strategy for change: “When I started in government over 18 years ago, I worked in the environment and animal welfare arena. Back then, it was considered really niche, and we had very little influence. It’s changed recently. We’ve had strong outcomes: lots of new legislation, strong engagement with industry and the Department for Business and Trade, and new funding initiatives for alternative proteins from UK Research and Innovation. We’ve started to have positive conversations with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). I think it’s starting to happen because, as a sector, we are coming together. We also have NGOs who are putting pressure on the government to make changes to food systems.”  

Marisa Heath believes the best way to influence is to prove that plant-based food is of value to the government. “The more I’m in this arena, the more I think we solve so many problems for the government. We can solve issues around net zero, land management issues, air pollution, nature recovery, health, economic growth, and innovation. Plant-based food creates jobs and economic growth. We have some government funds for alternative proteins, but we need much more access to funding.”    

An important part of the Alliance’s strategy, and an immediate priority, is building a roadmap. Marisa Heath says it is time for the plant-based sector to up its game: “The meat industry has done very well in creating strategies and has a clear roadmap. We don’t yet have this in the plant-based industry. The government is influenced by those who know the system, and the animal industry does. It has benefited from the government having subsidised them and told the public to buy their products. I understand for plant-based businesses, government engagement doesn’t return quick money. But government influence will deliver big time in the long run. If we have a long-term vision, we can get immense returns.”     

One area where plant-based businesses would benefit from a roadmap is public procurement. The public sector spends about 2.4bn per year procuring food and catering services and the Alliance is calling for much more plant-based food purchased for offices, hospitals, prisons, and schools. They would also like to see land use shifted from livestock production to plant-based so that companies can get the ingredients they need from the UK. “We need the government to start nudging the public away from meat and dairy and letting them know that plant-based food is healthy and nutritious. We need to really push that into the mainstream.”  

Maris Heath also believes that better collaboration with the meat industry would be helpful.  

“I’ve worked across both sectors as I used to work in animal health and welfare in the meat and dairy industry. My view is that we should approach them and say we can solve your problems. You’ve just got to stop denying the problems and get down to the facts, and we can help you. We know that lots of companies are diversifying. Companies like Danone and Pilgrim are working across the space. We’ve got to have honest grown-up conversations with them. We’re all on the same side because it’s about the future of our planet. We need to work together. We’re very keen to have conferences on farming, for example, inviting the NFU and saying stop acting like we don’t exist. Come and speak to us because we’re producing food as well. We need to reach across and say let’s solve the problems together.” 

Veganuary 2023 Results, Impossible Foods’ Leaner Meat and Eat Just Staff Lay-offs

Welcome to our fortnightly business round-up. We have scoured the newspapers, magazines, and digital platforms for the most important plant-based news stories. If you have news for us, why not get in touch? Email us at [email protected] with your stories! 


Veganuary Results  

Veganuary has published its review of its 2023 campaign. A record-breaking 700,000 people officially signed up, with participants in almost every country in the world. A YouGov survey found that participation was much higher than official sign-ups, with 4% of respondents in the UK, 9% in Germany and 5% in the US taking part. Over 1,610 new vegan products and menu options were launched globally during the campaign.  

You can read the full report here. 

Queen Mary University of London Votes for Plant-Based Food  

Following the Cambridge Students’ Union’s decision to go plant-based, Queen Mary University of London has voted to do the same. The Plant-Based university’s campaign calls on universities and student unions across the UK to adopt plant-based catering.  

Market Research 

Consumers Open to Precision Fermentation  

A new study has found that 77% of those familiar with precision fermentation are likely to buy products made with its ingredients. The survey of 2,500 US adults, by Hartman for Cargill and Perfect Day, found that most consumers had a positive opinion of the benefits of science and technology on our food system. More than half said they would be willing to drastically change their lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly. 

Chinese Attitudes to Plant-Based Food 

Chinese consumers reveal positive attitudes to plant-based meat in a report published in the Journal of Integrative Agriculture. The survey of 600 consumers in four cities in China found that 82% had purchased plant-based meat.  

Company News  

Nex Gen foods Acquire Mwah!  

The Singapore plant-based meat company Next Gen has acquired UK plant-based dairy start-up Mwah! The Mwah! cashew ice cream is currently available in two outlets in London. Next Gen Foods said it would look into expanding Mwah! in the UK, US and Germany.  

Tofurkey Acquired by Morinaga  

Leading US vegan brand Tofurkey has been bought by Morianga Nutritional Foods. Morinaga is part of the Tokyo-based dairy company Morinaga Milk Group, and was previously the tofu supplier for Tofurkey.  

Eat Just Laying Off Staff 

California plant-based company Eat Just has announced job losses in its Just Egg division. The company said the cuts do not affect Good Meat, the company’s cultivated meat division.  

Impossible Foods Launches Leaner Meat  

Impossible Foods has launched a leaner version of its mince. Impossible Beef Lite is designed to be leaner than its animal counterpart with 21 grams of fat and no trans fats or cholesterol.  

Ish and Dot deal  

Vegconomist reports that The ISH Company, a US plant-based seafood supplier has reached a deal with Dot Foods, the largest food distributor in North America. ISH says the deal will enable it to expand across the US.  

Konscious Foods Launch  

New Vancouver-based Konscious Foods™ has launched a range of plant-based sushi rolls, onigiri, and poké bowls at the Expo West in California. The brand, created by Gardein founder Yves Potvin, aims to make plant-based seafood price-equivalent to its fish-based counterpart.  

SunOpta New Factory  

US plant-based dairy company SunOpta has opened a new $125 million manufacturing factory in Midlothian, Texas. The 285,000-square-foot facility will make plant-based milk in different-sized packages for food service, retail and e-commerce.   

Cabbage Protein  

UK company Naylor Nutrition is upscaling its operation that turns cabbage trimmings into protein. The company has got finance worth $37 million from Invest International to build a factory with Dutch company Colubris.  


Hershey’s Launch Vegan Reece’s Cups 

The Hershey Co has announced the arrival of Reece’s Plant Based Peanut Butter Cups. The oat chocolate confectionery will be the company’s first to be sold throughout the US. A second offering: Hershey’s Plant Based Extra Creamy with Almond and Sea Salt will follow in April.  

PlantX Deal With Affirm  

Plant-based shopping app PlantX has announced a partnership with the payment network Affirm. Affirm offers different payment options such as fortnightly or monthly instalments.  


Plant City X Opens at Bryant  

Plant City X has opened a new outlet at Bryant University in Rhode Island, USA. It is the third location for the plant-based fast-food eatery.  

MyGovindas Expansion Plans  

Dubai-based Indian vegetarian chain MyGovindas is expanding throughout the UAE and beyond. Director Sanjit Advani told Arabian Business that the company want to cater to the growing number of customers seeking more sustainable and plant-based meals. MyGovindas is also looking at launching US and European franchises.  

Second Plantude in Seoul 

A second Plantude restaurant is opening in Seoul, South Korea. The eatery, owned by plant-based food company Pulmone, will be in Seoul’s central Yongsan district.  

Mr Meat Goes Meat-Free  

In Eindhoven, NL, the Mr Meat BBQ restaurant has taken meat off the menu. The eatery has rebranded as Mr No Meat and will serve only vegetarian and vegan dishes

Plant-Based Deliveries – Deliveroo’s Head of Vegan Elena Devis on the Success of the Category

It has been a challenging year for online food deliveries, but the vegan category may prove to be more robust than others. In the UK, as consumers cut their spending, restaurant delivery and takeaway sales have dropped. Delivery and takeaway sales in the UK have fallen over the past 15 months as consumers rein in spending. However, the vegan category is still a growth area. At the recent Hostech conference, Uber Eats reported that the two categories to show the biggest growth on the platform were vegan and coffee.  

Deliveroo now offers more than 15,000 plant-based and vegan-friendly restaurants across the UK. The platform went all out for Veganuary with exclusive limited edition offerings from top restaurants and bakeries.   

Elena Devis is Head of Vegan Category at Deliveroo. She is one of the main drivers behind Deliveroo’s pioneering and enthusiastic approach to vegan online deliveries. At the recent Plant Based World Insider Talks webinar she shared her views on why the vegan category has been relatively successful. She accepted that online delivery is facing challenges, with the double-digit growth seen over the past three years now slowing down. However, she believes that the company has worked hard to support plant-based choices by making it easier for consumers to find more of the options they want.    

She described three pillars that she believes have been crucial to the category’s success.  

Pillar 1: Availability of Vegan Products. “I started at Deliveroo in 2018. I remember it was pretty much impossible to find vegan options on the platform. And the ones there didn’t have the right labels, which was very confusing. We’ve come a long way from that. We now have more than 50,000 menus, restaurants and grocers offering vegan options. Availability has been arguably the number one driver of the category’s success. I think what’s important is that we now have options across different times of day and for all occasions. It’s not just vegan burgers. We have tofu scrambles for breakfast, Buddha bowls for lunch, and kebabs, pizzas, and curries for dinner. The growth across cuisines has been amazing.”    

Pillar 2: User Experience. “This is incredibly important for online sales. It includes menu tabs, filters, banners, and item labels. Last year we released a new feature that allows restaurants to add dietary labels to each item. We’ve got vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, keto, and paleo, so not just dietary requirements but also lifestyle choices. How we display these options on the platform is so important. If the options are there, and consumers can’t find them, we’ve got a problem.”   

Pillar 3: Emotional Connection. “A few years ago, we weren’t really talking about this, but now we include plant-based, health and sustainability messages in marketing campaigns, newsletters, and social media. We need to get the platform to a place where we build an emotional bond with consumers because that’s what will keep them coming back.  

We need to understand the different types of people buying into plant-based, or not buying. We need to understand their motivations, or lack of motivation, and tailor our content to those needs. We need super-bespoke content for each consumer audience, whether that’s price, health, or sustainability.” 

“I want to open my Deliveroo app and see exactly what I’m looking for. I want a platform that understands my needs and gives me the correct information and options. For example, if I’m on my period and want something sweet, I want Deliveroo to understand that. Customers want that level of personalisation. When you log in to Spotify and Netflix, you feel they know you. That’s what differentiates them. Everyone can find food online. But if they can also find content that helps them achieve their goals or feel better about themselves, they’ll choose you.” 

As well as making it easier for consumers to find food that aligns with their tastes, lifestyle choices and values, Deliveroo has worked closely with suppliers. Elena Devis shares: “We worked hard to show restaurants the commercial value of selling plant-based food. Some brands will sell those products as a branding decision and a commitment to sustainability without necessarily considering the commercial implications. If that is the case, it is amazing. But 99% of brands need some justification to invest in plant-based. So we did a lot of engagement to get brands on board. It is a big challenge because many restaurants are not in a position to invest in innovation. So we need many more successful case studies to continue to move the needle. We know that about 31% of our audience is either vegan, vegetarian or into plant-based eating. So it’s a no-brainer. If they don’t offer at least one plant-based option, they’ll miss out on those orders.”  

Brand Stories: Captivating Meat Lovers With Plants

At Plant-based World Expo Europe, Redefine Meat™ was noticeable for the constant queues for its signature new-meat and the look of deep satisfaction on the faces of those who’d sampled it.   

Redefine’s new-meat is very realistic. The creators have managed to produce bloody fibrous steaks with creamy marbling that mimics animal flesh and fat. Not only is the product different, so are the intended outlets. The company has focussed on capturing the meat market.  

Redefine Meat is already in nearly 1000 locations in Europe and Israel including steak houses, restaurants, and even butchers’ shops. Before serving Redefine Meat™, most of these outlets had never offered plant-based options.  

Redefine Meat is an Israeli company with offices in Israel, NL, Germany, and the UK. It was founded in 2018 by Eshchar Ben-Shitrit and Adam Lahav. It was funded by leading investors in the food tech and alternative proteins space. The company has around 300 staff. It is currently available in foodservice and from wholesalers in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, France and in foodservice and retail in Israel. All products are 100% vegan.  

CEO and Co-founder Eschar Ben-Shitrit explains that their products are designed with meat-lovers in mind: “A key difference between Redefine Meat and other companies is that most of the existing alternative-meat companies appeal to vegetarians and vegans. These two categories of consumers already follow a plant-based diet. Therefore, their environmental impact is limited. Redefine Meat, on the other hand, targets flexitarians and omnivores, giving them a viable, delicious alternative to traditional meat, and helping decrease its consumption – a step urgently needed in the fight against climate change. In the case of our premium cuts, they are the only product in this category in the market, replacing beef or other livestock cuts from the dish – and not competing with others on market share.”  

Since launching in 2021, the company has quadrupled its points of sale and launched another seven products. Today, Redefine Meat offers a portfolio of 13 products for foodservice, spanning beef, lamb, and pork. Eshchar Ben-Shitrit adds: “We are working hard on all fronts but also in a very structured and strategic way, expanding our product portfolio with items that answer the needs of local markets, reaching new countries together with local distributors and partners, and scaling a production facility in Best, Netherlands, to support our growth.”  

The founders are on a personal quest to create plant-based meat that appeals to non-vegans and non-vegetarians. They both came from business leadership roles in global tech companies. They brought to Redefined Meat their broad background in tech and innovation and a passion for good food and for the environment and a desire to tackle one of the most pressing problems of our time.  

Eschar Ben-Shitrit defines what drove the entrepreneurs: “We founded the company out of a passion for meat and a devotion to our planet. We love the experience of cooking and eating meat but are concerned about its environmental effects.  We searched for a way to continue enjoying great meat without harming animals and producing the environmental pollution that occurs in traditional meat production.”  

He continues: “From the beginning, we set our sights on creating new-meat that mimicked traditional meat across all five senses. We studied meat down to its tiniest components and then used advanced food and manufacturing technologies to replicate its behaviour using plant-based ingredients. This enabled us not just to launch a portfolio of minced products but also pulled beef and, most significantly, the world’s first commercially available premium cuts of plant-based meat – long considered technologically impossible. The best response is the wide acclaim by chefs, critics, and diners. Today, new-meat is proudly on the menu of top restaurants, in steakhouses, speciality caterers hundreds of other establishments that, until now, had not offered plant-based meat.” 

Redefine Meat has just released a Bratwurst and a new category of pulled meat: lamb, beef, and pork. They are gearing up to release the next version of their flank cuts and have the additional product in the pipeline.  

Recipes, tips, news, and updated locations can be found on The company’s website and digital channels Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok. They would love to hear from diners and industry experts with feedback, requests, or questions. So reach out if you would like to know more.  

Plant Based Treaty: Putting Food Systems at the Forefront of Tackling Climate Change

Over 1000 businesses across all continents have endorsed the Plant-Based Treaty. In less than two years almost 400 companies in Europe, and over 300 in the US have signed up. These include many household names familiar to the Plant Based World community such as Vivera, Tofurkey, Heura and Bosh!

Launched in August 2021, the treaty is a grassroots campaign to putfood systems at the forefront of tackling climate change. Local governments can endorse the treaty in the same way they can declare a climate emergency. It is not legally binding but is a commitment to supporting plant-based initiatives such as carbon labelling, meat-free menus, and creating a pathway for growing plant-based eating. 

The treaty is modelled on the Fossil Fuel Treaty which addressed the Paris Agreement’s and subsequent COPs’ failure to include the phasing out of fossil fuels in written agreements. The plant based Treaty team were active at COP 27 in Sharm El Sheikh in November 2022, calling on world leaders to begin a sustainable and just transition this decade to avert climate catastrophe. At the previous COP 26 in Glasgow they published a free guide to vegan food in Glasgow for delegates and visitors.  

Nicola Harris, Director of Communications for Plant Based Treaty says she is delighted that so many companies are on board. She explained that the campaign grew from local to international level organically: “We are from the animal save movement and set this up as a standalone campaign. It meant we could leverage our network of activists around the world. That’s how we’ve been able to spread to all continents through our existing network.  

We send letters to businesses and go onto the High Street door to door and speak to owners about the plant-based treaty. Many of these now display posters to promote it. With the big companies: Tofurkey, Vivera and Linda McCartney foods, they just endorsed the treaty themselves without any contact from us. We have been getting quite a bit of media coverage and good reach on social media, and word has been getting around. So that has attracted support.”  

It is not just vegan businesses that are endorsing the treaty: “McCartney foods is vegetarian, not fully vegan, but there is an acknowledgement that we need to shift in that direction. With endorsements from individuals less than half of signers are vegan. Many are omnivores and sign because they know that things must change and are happy to sign as part of their journey to change their diet.”  

Businesses are also crucial as partners and ambassadors for spreading the word. “We really love partnering with businesses and are always looking for new partnerships. We have a partnership with vegan review app Happy Cow, and they’ve helped promote the treaty through their network. We’ve partnered with Veg Fest in the UK, and they’ve helped us with newsletters, and invited us to talk on panels. Then equally we’ve helped promote their events. Ethical Tee Company is another example. They have helped us with getting merchandise printed and their owner has become one of our ambassadors, reaching out to businesses and celebrities.” 

A major focus has been getting regional and city governments on board, with 20 towns and cities around the world signing up so far. The biggest US city to sign is Los Angeles, where the city council unanimously passed a resolution to endorse the treaty in October 2022. In India 15 cities have signed up. In January 2023 Edinburgh became the first European capital city to join the campaign.  

City endorsement has great potential to engage businesses in the movement even further. As cities make plans for implementing the treaty the expertise of plant-based businesses will be needed to enable the transition.  

Nicola Harris explains: “Edinburgh City Council is now looking at implementation and how to transition their catering services, to make plant-based food more accessible in council buildings, universities, schools, care homes and at public events. Edinburgh has more than 120 schools so just changing that sector will make a big impact. They want their catering companies to provide more plant-based options on a budget and we’ve been talking to them about offering training for caterers, so it is an opportunity for plant-based entrepreneurs with that knowledge to get involved.” 

There are plenty of good reasons why all plant-based businesses should support the treaty. It is a way of demonstrating strong values and doing something practical about the climate emergency. Nicola Harris adds: “By banding together we’ve got much more power and influence. We see that with animal agriculture, that they have lobbies and they’re very powerful, because they work together. If plant-based businesses can team up and have a louder voice, it’s going to help influence things in Parliament. For any plant-based businesses not already on board please get in touch and arrange a meeting and find out how you can support us.”  

Plant Milk Labels, Miyoko Leadership Change, Yeast Meat and More

We have scoured all the news outlets to bring you the most important stories from plant-based businesses across the globe. Here are the top stories from the last couple of weeks.   

Plant Milk Labels 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says plant milks can be called milk, under new proposed guidance. But they must explain the nutritional difference between plant milk and dairy. The guidance acknowledges that consumers understand that plant milk isn’t dairy but recommend plant milks display a label clarifying the difference.   

Company News 

Miyoko’s Leadership Change  

Leading vegan cheese company Miyoko’s Creamery has announced the departure of founder and CEO Miyoko Schinner. Business Wire reports that the founder and company have parted ways as the company enters a new stage of growth. Company CFO Jon Blair has taken the role of interim President.  

Kellogg Keeps Plant-based Range 

The US Food Giant is keeping its plant-based offering rather than separating it into a new independent company. Plant-Based represents 2% of the company’s net sales. Kellogg owns the meat-alternative brand Morning Star Farms and Incogmeato.  

Impossible New Products  

The California food producer has just launched three new chicken items. The nuggets, patties and tenders will be sold frozen in supermarkets across the US. Green Queen reports that Impossible Foods directors say growth is solid, with retail sales up 55%, and strong performance in foodservice and other sectors.  

Fazer Drops Dairy  

Finnish producer Fazer is ending dairy production to focus on oat drinks and products. In a press release the firm, whose products include chocolate, confectionery and baked goods, said it will stop dairy operations at its Koria plant by August 2023. It said the change “will enable the company to focus on the plant-based core business, in which the Koria factory plays an important role in the future.”  

Danone’s Non-Dairy Nutrition Drink  

Danone’s Nutricia nutrition drinks business has created a plant-based medical nutrition drink. Following three years of development it has launched Fortimel Plant Based Energy, a ready-to-drink supplement aimed at those with medical malnutrition who avoid dairy. 

Market Reports 

Vegan Yogurt  

The global vegan yogurt market is expected to be worth $2.1 Billion by 2027, according to a report. The category is predicted to show growth of 18.11% between 2021 and 2027.   

Scaling Up 

Expansion For Olive and Melon Seed Cheese  

Spanish vegan cheese brand Vacka has won funding worth €1.1 Million to expand its products made from olive oil and fermented melon seeds. Vegconomist reports that funders included Capital V, Big Idea Ventures, Leanox Venture capital and private investors. Last year Vacka achieved a turnover of €285,000 with a sales increase of 300%  

New Factory For Brewer’s Yeast Meat  

Californian company Planetarians has raised $6 million to build a factory for its innovative vegan meat. The company uses spent brewer’s yeast from beer production and soy flakes from the vegetable oil industry to make vegan whole cuts. Veg News reports that funders include Mindrock, Traction Fund and beer giant AB InBev who already collaborates with Planetarians on upcycling brewer’s yeast.  

 NH Foods Develops Plant-Based Seafood  

Leading Japanese food manufacturer NH Foods has developed plant-based seafood. The supplier of meat and fish has spent a year creating fish fries and popcorn shrimp from soya beans with seaweed extracts. The company says it wants to expand plant-based protein pre-cooked foods.  

Retail and Foodservice  

Cambridge Students Vote For Plant-Based Food 

Students at Cambridge University have voted to transition to vegan catering. The students’ union decision was backed by 72% of voters. It follows campaigning by Plant Based Universities, a nationwide initiative calling for universities to introduce plant-based food.  

Veggie Grill Franchise Opportunities  

Vegan burger restaurant chain Veggie Grill will be franchising its model and is reaching out to entrepreneurs  seeking a franchise opportunity. The California-based 35-branch eatery will be launching franchise deals and says it will provide comprehensive training and support for franchisees.  

Ikea Declares End to Dairy  

Swedish retailer Ikea says it aims to remove or replace dairy across its stores. The company also says it plans to make all its main meals in its restaurants 50 percent plant-based by 2025. 

Allergies and Intolerances – The Risks and Opportunities For Plant-Based Businesses

Allergies and intolerances present both risks and opportunities for plant-based businesses, according to leading plant-based food safety expert Heather Landex. The former UK food safety auditor, now a food safety consultant is both vegan and dairy intolerant. She advises food sector professionals including plant-based companies on allergies and is the author of the best-selling restauranteurs’ guide Inclusive is the New Exclusive: How the Food Industry can Stop Leaving Money on the Table. 

She argues that by understanding allergies plant-based companies in foodservice and manufacturing can both keep clientele safe and build a loyal customer base.  

In her ten-part blog How Not to Kill Your Customers Accidentally she sets out key areas that foodservice operators need to consider to prevent harm to diners. It contains insights she gained from a decade of advising thousands of food professionals in several countries, auditing and inspecting restaurants and hotels. It includes the importance of making sure all waiting staff are fully trained in allergies, the dangers of stereotyping or miscommunicating, and the problems of cross-contamination caused by toasters and tea towels that transmit food debris. A classic example in foodservice is a pizza restaurant where toppings are laid out in dishes side-by-side. There is a high chance that traces of cheese will find their way into the other toppings.    

She told us: “a lot of people think vegan food is dairy-free when it isn’t at all. It is very dangerous for the allergic community. One problem is that consumers are buying plant-based for a range of reasons – some ethical, some dietary, and some both. Some went vegan because of a milk allergy, which is one of the most common and deadly food allergies and then learnt about animal welfare and the environment. So their need is for dairy-free as well as plant-based. Some are allergic to eggs, fish, shellfish, or meat proteins. The custom of people with those diverse requirements is a big opportunity for plant-based businesses. Despite vegans and people with allergies being a minority of overall consumers, if you can appeal to these customers, they are likely to be loyal and committed to your brand and recommend it to other people from the same community.”  

Heather Landex is more qualified than most to comment. She herself was hospitalised with a suspected milk allergy after eating a vegan hotel breakfast. She discovered that she had multiple allergies, and milk and egg contamination in vegan products is extremely common. As a food safety expert, she knew this in theory but now has practical evidence that choosing a vegan option is no protection against unexpected allergens.  

As the plant-based food sector has scaled up there are many new dishes and ingredients on supermarket shelves described as vegan, vegetarian, or non-dairy. While this is great for vegans and people wanting to reduce their consumption of animal products it can also cause confusion and danger to those with allergies and intolerances. These customers can be drawn to plant-based items as they appear to be healthier and safer options. Many consumers wrongly believe that something labelled vegan or plant-based will be free from animal-origin allergens, not realising those labels provide no guarantee that a food is safe. For example, an ice cream labelled on the front as non-dairy could be assumed to be dairy-free ice cream, while the ingredients list at the back says it may contain milk. This means plant-based food producers and restaurant staff need to be more aware of the dangers that may be hidden in their products, and how to best communicate the risks. 

Sadly unclear labelling can and does lead to illness and even death.  

According to the World Allergy Organisation (WAO) allergies are very common, affecting more than 20% of the population in most developed countries. The WAO estimates that allergy prevalence in populations by country ranges between 10 – 40%. In the US More than 50 million people experience allergies each year and they are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness. Allergies are responsible for approximately 30,000 emergency department visits and 150–200 deaths each year. In the EU more than 150 million suffer from chronic allergic diseases and the current prediction is that by 2025 half of the entire EU population will be affected. In the UK 44% of adults and 50% of children have one or more allergies. In the UK and other territories, The 14 most common allergens must be emphasised within the ingredients list of pre-packed food or drink. In 2021 the UK passed Natasha’s Law, which extended the regulation to include food pre-packed for direct sale. Restaurants and cafes must also have allergen information available.   

Even with regulation labelling can still cause considerable confusion, with terms such as vegan, plant-based, may-contain and dairy free sometimes used interchangeably. Heather Landex says the lack of clarity causes problems for consumers and producers alike: “Something can be certified as vegan but not be suitable for people with a dairy allergy because it might contain traces of dairy. If you take the Vegan Society accreditation they will accept may contain and trace because otherwise there would be a shortage of vegan products with a vegan label, and because unintentional contamination does not increase the demand for animal products. So a vegan product can contain a small amount of dairy or egg and still be allowed to be called vegan. But the average consumer might assume a higher standard of allergy friendliness. The UK Food Standards Agency encourages the use of the label may contain. A free from claim can only be made following rigorous testing which is costly. This has led to supermarkets holding only limited ranges of free from items and customers paying more for those items. Concerns about risks have also led to discrimination against people with allergens in restaurants – with some being refused service. Heather Landex believes that this is an area where plant-based establishments could take a lead and provide an inclusive environment, giving them both an ethical and commercial advantage.   

While the plant-based sector benefits from the custom of those with allergies and intolerances It needs to skill up to meet the needs of this significant market. So how can plant-based food professionals include allergic customers in their customer base and keep everyone safe and healthy?   

Plant-based businesses are naturally wary of taking on the extra responsibility of reaching out to allergic customers. That is why Heather Landex works directly with brands and foodservice providers to navigate the regulations and concerns: “As well as training health and safety assessors’ associations and consultants so that they can help businesses, I work directly with hotels, restaurants, and brands. Because they are plant-based it is important that they understand allergies and can make their food safe so that they can serve this wider market and avoid unnecessary liability.”   

Beam Available in The UAE, Grass Protein, Plant-based on Campus and Market Reports

We’ve been tracking the news for the best plant-based stories. From news outlets across the globe and our own industry insiders – here are the most interesting and relevant news stories from the last couple of weeks.   

Veganuary Effect  

Organisers say the annual January challenge broke all records. More than 700,000 officially signed up, from almost every country in the world. In the UK a YouGov survey found that 4% of brits participated, and that overall 9% have participated since the challenge began a decade ago. The growth of Veganuary was food for thought around plant-based investment in a column by Moira O’Neill in the Financial Times.  

Market Reports – predicted growth in plant-based foods 


The vegan egg substitute market is predicted to grow at rate of 39% by 2028, according to a new report from Market Intelligence Data. The study says the increase is driven by concerns about food safety, and that the use of antibiotics and hormones are driving consumers to plant-based substitutes. As a result some food companies are phasing out or reducing the use of eggs in their supply chain and switching to plant-based alternatives.  

Protein Shakes   

Health concerns are also driving the growth of vegan protein shakes. Digital Journal reports that industry analysis found that consumers embracing healthy lifestyle are driving the adoption of vegan shakes.  

Vegan Chocolate 

The vegan chocolate market is set to surpass $1975.2 million, with a growth rate of 15%, by 2028 according to Vantage Market Research. The most popular category is bars, with demand driven by teenagers and employees at work leading the trend in plant-based snacking. Awareness of environmental issues, animal cruelty and health are cited as factors in the trend.  

Research and Development 

Grass Protein 

The rumour that vegans eat grass could become reality, as grass is being trialled as an ingredient in plant-based meat. Food Ingredients First says Schouten Europe and Grassa are researching the potential of grass protein to replace soy in meat substitutes. According to Grassa’s director, grass produces 2.5 times as much protein per hectare as soy and could soon be made into human food.  

UK’s First Cultivated Pork Steak  

UK scientists have produced the world’s first cultivated pork steak. The cut was made from pig cells by Newcastle-based biotech start-up 3D BioTissues. This report is from Food Manufacture.  

Scaling Up  

Cultivated Meat in China  

Green Queen reports on the development of the first cultivated meat plant in mainland China. Start-up CellX and manufacturer Tofflon have agreed a partnership to scale-up cultivated meat in the Asian market with the new factory. Building has already started, and manufacturing is expected to start in mid-2023.  

 Omni Dog Food 

Vegan dog food Omni has reached its crowdfunding target of nearly $500k according to Pet Business World. The company surpassed its goal within 15 minutes of going live on the Seedrs platform, the fasted ever success in the dog food category.   

New School Foods Plant-Based Salmon  

New School Foods has secured $12 million of seed funding to build a pilot plant for its plan-based fish. Food Dive says funders include Lever VC, Hatch, Good Startup and Blue Horizon Ventures. The company is developing realistic plant-based fish fillets using a freezing process instead of extrusion.   

Algae ingredients  

French company Algama, making algae-based ingredients has achieved investments worth $13 million, according to the Fish Site. Their most promising product is Tamalga, designed to be a replacement for eggs in baking.  



Ukranian start-up GreenGo is expanding its tofu-based cheese production despite the ongoing war. Food Ingredients First says the business is planning a new factory close to the Polish border to enable it to ship products to the EU and beyond. The company also makes plant-based seafood and steak from a mixture of pea protein, wheat, and soya.  

Meati Mushroom Factory 

A “MegaRanch” that farms mushrooms instead of cows has opened in the US. Millions of pounds of mycelium-based meat will be produced every year by Colorado-based Meati in the new facility. This from Plant based News 

 Rebellyous Nuggets 

Plant-based nugget brand Rebellyous has raised $9.5 million for a new manufacturing system, according to Food Dive’s reporter Megan Poinski. Rebellyous aims to produce inexpensive convenient comfort food that undercuts chicken on price. Founder, CEO and former Boeing engineer Christie Lagally told Food Dive: “Such a huge majority of consumers will totally replace their chicken if they can just get that price point there,” 

Every Co Egg Alternative 

Plant Based News reports that actor Anne Hathaway is among the investors in plant-based egg. She is putting up an undisclosed amount into the San Francisco-based EVERY Co that uses precision fermentation to create egg protein without chickens. The company has raised $230 million in total.  

Retail and foodservice  

Juicy Marbles in UK supermarket 

Juicy Marbles steaks have gone on sale in UK supermarket Waitrose. The Slovenian-based start-up, founded by microbiologist Luka Sincek, makes ultra-realistic high protein mock-meat that is bought raw and caramelises like animal flesh when cooked. In November 2021 the company raised $4.5 million seed funding to produce the steak.  

Beam Available in The UAE  

Allergen-free plant-based snack bars from Northern Ireland’s Bream brand are now on sale in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The range are available in stores run by Spinneys, Grandiose and Waitrose in the region.  

Plant-Based on Campus 

Vegan restaurants are making their way into university campuses, as students increasingly look for plant-based options. According to Veg News Bryant University in Rhode Island will be home to a branch of Plant City X, and Georgia Tech in Atlanta will be home to a Slutty Vegan at its John Lewis Student Center. Slutty Vegan is reported to have secured $25 million in investments to expand across several states.  

Brand Stories: Chef-Quality Plant Meats Created for Foodservice

According to Mintel data, in the UK around 41% of consumers are either meat or poultry-free or are actively reducing meat and poultry consumption. With diners expecting more and better plant-based options, restauranteurs and caterers are increasingly seeking more appetising, hearty, and realistic meat-alternatives to satisfy the demands of not just vegans but, vegetarians, flexitarians, and reducitarians too.  

[MOCK]® is designed for those chefs, caterers, and consumers wanting more realistic and tastier plant-based meat options. They are focused on attracting (and already winning) those creating international cuisine such as South American, Pan Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. [Mock] is currently in UK restaurants Megan’s, Cocotte, Butchies and Moka and Boojum in Ireland.  

The enthusiastic appetite for the realistic cuts was evidenced by the repeat queues for [MOCK]® samples at the Plant Based World Expo in London, where the [MOCK]® Lamb won Best Whole Cut Product at the Plant Based Taste Awards. 

[MOCK]® CEO Harpreet Gill explains: “We create plant-based meat alternatives that are versatile and easy to cook. Our aim is to empower chefs to be more creative and go beyond convention, really wowing their customers with something completely new.” 

There are currently two ranges – naked and vegan fried chicken. The naked range includes lamb and chicken pieces. Their vegan fried chicken range includes a 100g fillet burger, popcorn chicken and chicken drumsticks, all triple battered in their signature spice blend and crunchy just like traditional fried chicken.  

[MOCK] have been collaborating with Irish high street restaurant, Boojum, for Veganuary this year. The Mexican chain have created the [MOCK]® Alt Pastor, described as smoky and sweet, with mild chilli heat. Rob Powell, Head of Operations at Boojum said of the collaboration: “[MOCK]® has been a fantastic product to experiment with. After months of product development and recipe refinement, we are confident that the [MOCK]® Alt Pastor is our best plant-based dish to date.” Customers have agreed, with social media response being strong and calls for the dish to remain a permanent feature on Boojum’s menu. 

All [MOCK]® products are Vegan Certified and deliver high levels of protein. Their products are available through foodservice distributors in the UK and Ireland and will soon also be available in the EU.  

 Like most of the foodservice industry [MOCK]®’s biggest challenge so far has been managing the pandemic period. Covid resulted in a complete foodservice shutdown, increasing stress on supply chains and adding to a huge rise in costs, which have been difficult to navigate. However, the product has proved extremely popular with early customers and the business has continued to thrive in downturn.  

To find out more visit or search for [MOCK] with distributors. Get in touch via [email protected] and follow them on socials: Instagram @mock_uk and LinkedIn [MOCK] 

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Plant Based World Pulse is a go-to resource for the plant-based industry. Offering high-value insights, educational content, and the latest information year-round, it compliments the annual industry events Plant Based World Expo North America in New York City and Plant Based World Expo Europe in London.