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Plant-Based Future: New Solutions for Tomorrow’s Nutrition

The market share of plant-based alternatives is estimated to increase five-fold, from around two percent in 2020 to a good ten percent in 2035. Thanks to new technologies and intensive research and development, the number of new products is increasing at a breathtaking pace.

Planteneers is also seeing this. This specialist for plant-based alternatives has become a key player in the rapidly expanding plant-based market in just three years. Its portfolio has multiplied quickly, from functional systems for sausage, cold cut, and ground meat alternatives at the start of the plant-based era to a diverse portfolio from which customers today can make entire product lines in various categories. The choices range from plant-based alternatives to meat, sausage, and fish products, to cheese, dairy products, and deli foods. “The challenge is that we are the pathfinders for the trends,” comments Dr. Dorotea Pein, Director Food Trends and Innovations at Planteneers. “Our customers expect us to have solutions for the trends of tomorrow, today. This means we are constantly working with new ingredients and applications to develop these innovations and be able to respond early in all cases.”

One example is functional systems for fish alternatives. “These alternatives have just recently made enormous strides in appearance and flavor,” notes Dr. Pein. “With our fiildFish compounds, we cover the gamut, from classics like smoked salmon alternatives for eating cold, to hot foods like salmon filet and shrimp alternatives.” According to Dr. Pein, one highlight in the meat category is the development of products traditionally associated with haute cuisine, like alternatives to beef tartare and carpaccio. “These two examples alone show the direction the market is taking. Diversification is advancing farther and farther.” The cheese category confirms this. Using the numerous functional systems in Planteneers’ fiildDairy series, customers can develop a wide range of plant-based cheese alternatives, with systems for plant-based alternatives to cream cheese, feta, pizza cheese, block cheese in slices and blocks, and processed cheese preparations. Among the latest developments are plant-based alternatives to high-sales classics like cheddar and parmesan.

New Ingredients as Growth Engine

Alongside new products, new ingredients also offer growth potential, especially mycoproteins and cellular agriculture. According to the world nutrition organization FAO, the worldwide meat market volume of 360 million tons in 2022 will rise to 455 million tons by 2050. In this scenario, alternative products are more and more important. Mycoprotein plays an important role for several different reasons. It has many advantages, from the production process to health to sustainability and zero waste. “Mycoprotein already has a certain structure, but the flavor and color are neutral,” says Dr. Pein. “Health benefits are another aspect. For example, it has been scientifically demonstrated that mycoprotein has a high satiating effect, and furthermore boosts muscle growth, which is very important in senior nutrition.” Cholesterol and blood sugar regulating effects have likewise been proven. Mycoprotein also has a very good nutritional profile, being high in fiber and low in carbohydrates and fat.

Another plus point is its sustainable, environment-friendly production by means of fermentation, which is done in a nutrient medium with a raw material containing carbon, for example leftovers from sugar beet processing. These plant residues are inoculated with a mycelium culture and fermented. This is a great way to make use of waste streams. “In recent months we did our first application tests of mycoprotein in plant-based alternatives to meat, fish, and dairy products,” reports Dr. Pein. “The results were impressive.” Based on this experience, Planteneers is currently making prototypes of the various final products in order to present them to interested customers.

“Cultivated Meat Has Disruptive Potential”

Alongside plant-based alternatives and proteins made through fermentation, there is also an increased focus on cultured meat, also known as in-vitro meat. The main drivers here are the challenge of feeding a growing world population, climate and environmental protection, and animal welfare. “Both vegan meat substitutes and cultured meat have disruptive potential,” explains Katharina Schäfer, Team Lead Product Management at Planteneers’ sister company Hydrosol. For her dissertation, she is studying the opportunities for meat from cultured cells as well as the challenges this new protein generation must overcome. “It’s easy to get the texture, fibrousness, frying behavior, and mouthfeel close to conventional meat products,” says Schäfer. “For cost reasons, most companies will start by taking hybrid products to market, i.e. combinations of cultured and plant-based proteins. That will make it possible to improve the nutritional profiles of these foods.” The composition of cultured products can be adjusted flexibly. “For example, it might be possible to configure the production of cultured fat in such a way that it contains omega-3 fatty acids, to create a healthier product,” explains Schäfer.

The Plantbaser: Develop Plant-Based Foods in 20 Minutes

With the Plantbaser Planteneers offers product development of a different kind. This digital product configurator provides users with new inspirations at a completely new rate of speed. From idea to finished product takes just two weeks. Users can put together their desired product in 15 to 20 minutes, with no dedicated plant-based knowledge needed. Whether alternatives to fermented milk products, fish, meat, or cheese products, in two weeks test samples are ready to taste. With over 1300 recipes, the Plantbaser offers the world’s largest selection of plant-based products in multiple categories. The next category, baked goods, will be ready soon.

Networked Collaboration Creates Added Value for Customers

Whether plant-based alternatives, new protein sources, or innovative technologies, the Plant Based Competence Center is a seedbed for future-forward food concepts.  Here, the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe bundles the assembled knowledge of its various subsidiaries in a creative pool. With Planteneers, SternEnzym, Sternchemie, SternVitamin, and OlbrichtArom, customers get complete plant-based solutions for every requirement and every market. Product managers, nutritionists, food technologists, and marketing specialists from all these companies develop creative concepts aligned with the trends on international markets.

For the North American market, Planteneers is investing in closer customer proximity with the opening of a new office in Aurora, Illinois. Here Gretchen Moon, Vice President of Commercial Operations for North America, and her team focus on American customers’ special wishes and expectations. In September, companies met the team and checked out their product highlights in person at the Plant Based World Expo in New York City. Planteneers presented popular products from its line-up, including functional systems for making plant-based alternatives to steak, salmon, chicken, salami, mortadella, snack sticks, parmesan, feta, and cheddar.

As a global sponsor of Plant Based World Expo, Planteneers also offered other platforms for discussion and new ideas at the show, like the Culinary Experience Show in the Culinary Theatre and a Plant-Based Foods Association afterparty.

The next stops in Europe are the Plant Based World Expo in London and the FIE in Frankfurt in November. Show visitors are heartily invited to these events and to tastings at the Planteneers Booth.

Mycelium Dream: How Fungus Roots Have Captivated Every Sector From Fashion to Food

As the world scrambles to find sustainable food options and materials, one natural entity can, seemingly, do it all: mycelium.

The root structure of fungus, mycelium resembles a network of encroaching branches and is viewed as a highly efficient ingredient with infinite possibilities. This applies particularly to the plant-based world, where the root is already used to develop nutritious alternative protein products, high-end leather substitutes, and more.

A Sustainability Heavy Hitter

What makes mycelium the environmentally conscious source ingredient of the moment? First and foremost, it is an entirely natural product, found on forest floors the world over. Made from infinitely renewable sources and with no need for external energy to be diverted for its production, the root system grows quickly and efficiently, earning it the title of most abundant organism on earth. Aside from this, it is a powerhouse of regeneration, dispensing vital nutrients into soil as it breaks down and reforms.

In nature, mycelium carries out vital functions, including improving water efficiency and nutrient acceptance of many plants. It is also a valuable food source for a plethora of animals, but it is in the commercial sphere that its full potential is beginning to come into focus.

Thanks to the robust nutritional values of fungus roots structures, including high protein and fiber levels, they are increasingly used in sustainable food production, apparently focusing on creating meat alternatives. But this is not the only sector to have uncovered the vast potential of ‘mushrooms.’

Alongside animal meat, mycelium is being used to replace several other conventional products. So far, these include–but are not limited to–leather, single-use plastic packaging, insulation, and bricks (yes, really), all of which have been created using fermentation.

Though researchers have yet to unlock mycelium’s full potential, some products are already commercially available.

Mycelium ‘Meat’ as The New Alternative Protein

Arguably, mycelium’s most voracious step forward into the consumer sphere is through its fermentation to produce viable meat alternatives.

The newest development in the mycoprotein (a term coined by Quorn in the 1980s) sector, mycelium allows manufacturers to tap into its natural umami taste to create a variety of meat-like products. These can include chicken, beef, and fish, all of which can be made as ‘whole cuts,’ in a step away from more traditional nuggets or pieces. This represents a major milestone for alternative protein and can entice more omnivore consumers to try plant-based steaks and cutlets.

While mimicking the texture and flavor of animal protein, mycelium meat contains zero trans fat and cholesterol and significantly less saturated fat, making it a healthier option. It is also a far more sustainable alternative that carries no animal welfare concerns, both of which are serious considerations for today’s consumers.

As a result, mycelium meat manufacturers are increasing in number and enjoying significant success with their proprietary launches. US-based Meati is a prime example of what is possible with mycelium and consumer openness to a sustainable alternative to animal protein.

In 2022, the company announced pre-orders for its highly anticipated whole-cut chicken-style cutlets. It was the first direct-to-consumer offering, with every product selling out in under 24 hours. Reportedly, 1,116 cutlets were claimed in the first hour alone. Since then, Meati has continued to grow, committing to an 80,000 square foot production facility called the ‘Mega Ranch’ that–when fully operational– will have gargantuan capacity. Meati president Scott Tassani claimed that the site will be able to produce the equivalent amount of meat to 4,500 cows, every 24 hours.

Mycelium Fermentation Technology Moves Forward

While mycelium appears to offer enormous potential for a drastic food system shake-up, investing in the necessary industrial fermentation equipment and expertise is costly. This maintains the ongoing niche factor of the mycoprotein sector. However, in a bid to remove cost and experience barriers, one former mycoprotein manufacturer has turned its attention to providing equipment to other manufacturers.

Kynda, formerly Keen 4 Greens, believes in the power of mycelium to change the current unsustainable food system so much that it has moved away from proprietary production of mycelium meat alternatives. It has now developed plug & play fermentation technology that will allow other manufacturers to tap into the market quickly and with cost-efficiency as a priority.

“We started with mycelium fermentation technology since it offers various product and cost advantages,” Daniel MacGowan-von Holstein, Kynda’s CEO, explained. “Not only is it high in protein and fiber, comes with a meat-like texture and umami flavor, it is clean label and contains all 9 essential amino acids. It also offers consistent quality and security of supply and increased resource and price efficiency (e.g. by-product utilization).”

From Forest Floor to Fashion Catwalks

Mycelium as a meat alternative is an exciting and ongoing development but it is also making waves with its fashion credentials. Thanks to a number of brands including Adidas and Lululemon, plus luxury designer Stella McCartney, mycelium-based leather alternatives are gaining traction and taking opportunities away from conventional leather suppliers.

At the center of the development is San Francisco-based biotech company Bolt Threads. Claiming to be on a mission to create “sustainable versions of the materials people already know and love,” it has enjoyed success with its ‘Mylo Unleather’ line, which is promoted as a mycelium-based alternative to animal and synthetic leathers. Created in under two weeks, using fermentation processes powered by renewable energy sources and vertical farming techniques that minimize land use, Bolt Threads claims to have landed on a truly comparable material to animal skin that treads far more gently on the earth.

Buttery-soft Mylo Is now being used across a vast spectrum of consumer products, from designer handbags to sneakers, and even luxury cars. As the material filters down into varying price points, the ‘leather as default’ consumer mindset will naturally shift to accept sustainable options.

Mycelium Market Predictions

In 2021 the global mycelium market was valued at $2.65 billion. This is expected to grow significantly–at a compound annual rate of 7.80%–to reach $5.21 billion by 2030.

The sector is expected to be largely bolstered by food manufacturing growth, alongside new innovations still in their infancy, such as building materials, skincare products, and more.

Analyzing How Plant-Based Businesses Can Help To Feed 10 billion People by 2050

By 2050 the global population is set to reach 10 billion people; there is a significant shortfall between the amount of food available today and the amount needed to feed that many people in the future. A plant-based food system has frequently been suggested as a less taxing solution for the planet as it requires fewer resources compared to raising and feeding livestock.

Population growth is not a new phenomenon or problem; however, due to the unsustainable nature of animal agriculture, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain a population that continues to grow. The animal agricultural industry is inefficient regarding land usage and requires substantial government bailouts to stay financially afloat.

A Plant-Based Food System

In 2018, The World Resources Institute created a five-step plan to address the issue of feeding the population. The first two points directly engage with the benefits of plant-based eating. The institute suggests that the demand for food should be reduced by managing waste and consuming a more sustainable diet. Secondly, food production should be increased without expanding agricultural land. This would lead to a sustainable food future.

Although the institute champions reducing the consumption of animal products on environmental grounds, unfortunately, it does not recognize that an entirely plant-based food system is the future. This is problematic, especially when considering the levels of waste and inefficiency involved in the animal agriculture industry. George Monbiot, however, takes a much more direct approach when discussing the issue; he uses data to highlight just how many people could be fed on a new system.

Monbiot calculates in his article for the Guardian that Britain alone could feed 200 million people on an entirely plant-based diet, which is over three times its current population. To achieve this, a more efficient system needs to be adopted, one that would see the consumers eat the grains and pulses themselves rather than feed them to livestock. This would free up large amounts of land for nature and allow the growing population in Britain to be accommodated. Simply put, more land would be available because fewer crops would need to be grown if they were eaten directly. A plant-based system is undoubtedly the solution to feeding a growing population.

Feeding The Population

This also applies to a global population that exceeded 8 billion people in 2022 and shows no signs of slowing down as it is estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050. Monbiot argues that there are enough calories to feed everybody on Earth, despite chronic hunger and poverty in parts of the world.

In his article, Monbiot writes that “almost half these calories are lost, mainly through feeding the food to farm animals, but also through using it for other purposes (such as biofuels) and through waste. Even so, in principle, there is more than enough for everyone, if it were affordable and well distributed.”

And this is the crux: it needs to be well distributed. Half the calories that are grown are fed to livestock. Rich nations claim to produce large quantities of meat themselves, but they only do so by importing huge quantities of grain. This is primarily soya from South America, which devastates the rainforest because of the huge quantities needed. This results in nations requiring vast amounts of land to grow crops for their food. This land requirement can be drastically reduced through plant-based eating.

What Can Businesses Do?

If the global population shifted to a plant-based diet, the global land use for agriculture would be reduced by 75%, according to Our World in Data. Because of this, we could sustain a much larger population and free up vast stretches of land that could be used for re-wilding. But how can plant-based businesses help with this switch? It is very clear from the data that they could feed a growing population with ease if they replaced the animal agricultural industry, but how can they establish that they must be the leading food supplier?

The value of the plant-based food industry will double to $92 billion by 2027, according to one report. The report also suggests that this increase is driven by heightened levels of food awareness, with environmental arguments at the front of consumers’ minds. The report states that new developments in the sector “emerge every year, paving the way for a global transition to a much more just, safe and sustainable food system.” This growth is expected to continue with a significant profit expected for the sector.

Plant-based businesses should actively lobby the government for change. They can highlight the humanitarian benefits of their products, along with the key fact that they do not need government bailouts to make a profit. Businesses can come together to form collectives; such was the case with the Plant Based Food Alliance in 2021. The alliance is a coalition of organizations in the UK that seek to place plant-based food alternatives at the center of a transition towards a sustainable food system. Similar alliances exist in Europe and America. Businesses should become active in such networks and work to create more change collectively, directly demonstrating to the government that they are the future.

Naturally businesses that are not already plant-based, as do farmers, need to make the switch. The campaigning group Viva! has several resources to help farmers make this switch themselves. Already plant-based businesses should carry on promoting their products in the global food market. Plant-based businesses must continue to grow and flood the market with their products. Only through this market’s continued growth can a growing population be sustained.

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.” 

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. 

Selfish Cow

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.”  

What’s Hot in Plant-Based? Natural Products Expo West 2023 Has Clues

With thousands of exhibitors across the natural products space and tens of thousands of visitors, the annual Natural Products Expo West, better known simply as Expo West, is among the top must-see shows in the industry. This year’s event, held in Anaheim, CA, March 8-11, was buzzing with energy and new product activity. Here are key plant-based product subcategories to keep an eye on:

  • Whole muscle meat alternatives have been the holy grail for the industry, which to date focused primarily on plant-based ground products. Canada-based Urbani Brands recently introduced its ribeye steak product manufactured from a combination of soybean protein and oil, tapioca, konjac root, and other ingredients. At Expo West, Konscious Foods featured a variety of sushi rolls with whole-muscle fish produced from seaweed, konjac, and pea protein. Current Foods tuna and salmon products are created from pea protein, potato starch, and algal oil and are designed to be consumed “raw” in sushi, sashimi, poke bowls, and other applications. unMEAT offers plant-based canned luncheon meat and tuna and is introducing canned chunk chicken, chilli with beans, and roast beef alternatives.
  • The battle of the burgers continues. Despite a highly saturated marketplace, plant-based burger brands continue to emerge and differentiate themselves from the competition. Nobull brands itself as the “true veggie burger” that is “not meant to be a meat imitator, but a true, whole-food, real food veggie burger” made from lentils, brown rice, quinoa, chickpeas, and vegetables. The ingredient list for burgers from Dr. Praeger’s is almost entirely vegetables, along with starches and flours for binding. Actual Veggies and Big Mountain also focus on their vegetable content rather than trying to recreate a meat-like burger.
  • Global plant-based products offer cultural diversity in authentic recreations of traditional dishes. Triton Algae Innovations, a San Diego-based food startup, launched its “Too Good To Be” Pork dumpling with algae, cabbage, onion, and plant-based pork. Funky Fresh offers a sweet potato and black bean vegan spring roll in addition to its conventional product line. Italy-based Mia Green Food produces a line of Italian-style plant-based deli slices, including protein-rich alternatives to turkey breast, carpaccio, pepperoni, and prosciutto. Wheat gluten is the primary protein; pea and chickpea flour may also be used depending on the variety. Mozzarisella creates its vegan mozzarella and Parmesan cheese alternatives using brown rice sprouts, along with oils and thickeners. Somos has a full line of plant-based classic Mexican dishes – refried beans, black beans, burrito bowl kits, and main dishes. Pea protein is widely used to the brand’s dishes containing plant-based ground meat.
  • Dairy alternative drinks are coming closer to replicating the protein and calcium profile of dairy milk by adding protein and calcium to a base that tends to be low in both. Oat continues to stand out as the most prominent base for dairy alternative drinks, although choices have broadened to include pistachio, macadamia, sesame, and the newly introduced mushroom milk. Animal-free milks made with whey from Perfect Day are trying to win over a consumer base among flexitarians who are interested in dairy alternatives and animal welfare but are not necessarily committed to a vegan diet.
  • Next generation cheeses are incorporating traditional cheesemaking techniques to recreate the texture, flavor, and performance of dairy cheeses. Climax introduced vegan blue, brie, feta, and chevre cheeses that are “high in protein, at parity with dairy, and with better fats and other nutritional properties.” The company website notes that it explores combinations of plant-based ingredients that can be optimized to “produce indistinguishable alternatives to animal-based products.” Mia Parmegan plant-based Parmesan is similar in appearance to a wrapped Parmigiano wedge, can be grated, and also melts. Bel Brands featured its Nurishh plant-based cheeses and its green wax-wrapped Babybel Plant-Based, each with added calcium and vitamin B12.
Selfish Cow
  • The keto diet is a variation on the age-old meat-rich, high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate diet. This current iteration has fully adapted for the plant-centric consumer, with plenty of nuts, coconut, and non-caloric sweeteners. Super Fat Keto Nut Butters are made with a base of coconut, almond, and macadamia; they are sweetened with erythritol and stevia. Super Fat also offers keto cookies. Madly Hadley markets a keto friendly, gluten free, soy free plant-based coconut bacon. Carbonaut breads and buns are fortified with protein and fiber, raising protein content to up to 12 grams per serving and lowering carbohydrates to 2-3 grams of net carbs. Sola breads, buns and bagels, all labeled keto-friendly, are an excellent source of both protein and fiber. Their high fiber content reduces net carbs significantly. Keto-friendly Catalina Crunch Cereal gets its protein from pea protein; fiber from potato, corn, and chicory root; and fat from sunflower oil, coconut oil, and almonds. Stevia provides sweetness without carbs or calories.
  • Noodles and pasta naturally are plant-based, unless they are made with eggs. Today’s plant-based pasta trends include a broader range of flours, use of vegetables for color and nutrition, and low carbohydrate options. Pastabilities formulates and markets its pasta products for different types of diets: high protein, high fiber, and low calorie. The Wildfare line of organic, vegan pastas are flavored and colored with a range of vegetables, including beetroot, broccoli, olive, sweet red pepper, tomato, spinach, and black carrot. Andean Valley produces pasta from quinoa grown sustainably in Nicaragua. Miracle Noodle plant-based noodles have close to zero calories and carbohydrates as a result of their konjac flour base.
  • Mushrooms loom large in product launches. Functional mushrooms have been added to supplements, beverages, and food products. The company Meati uses mushroom root protein as the base for its product line of cutlets and steaks. Big Mountain offers its Lion’s Mane Mushroom Crumble that supplements lion’s mane with shiitake and portobello mushrooms. The product is high in fiber and protein. Bravo Tea promotes a Mushroom Wonders line with a choice of lion’s mane, reishi, turkey tail, chaga, maitake, cordyceps, or blended mushroom.
  • Soy-free products are becoming more common across a broad range of categories, including burgers, dairy alternative drinks, snack mixes, and even tofu, where one company sampled a tofu made from fava beans rather than soy.

Expo West is nearly back to its pre-pandemic energy and innovation and likely will continue to be among the go-to shows for plant-based innovation.

Precision Fermentation Alliance – Championing a Resilient and Sustainable Food System

Nine precision fermentation companies have united to form the Precision Fermentation Alliance (PFA). A new trade group to champion the process as a reliable and sustainable food system. The founding companies (Change Foods, The EVERY Co, Helaina, Imagindairy, Motif FoodWorks, New Culture, Onego Bio, Perfect Day, and Remilk) say it will be an industry voice and global association for the sector. 

Irina Gerry
Irina Gerry CMO at Change Foods and Vice Chair of the PFA.

Irina Gerry is Chief Marketing Officer at Change Foods and is Vice Chair of the PFA. She told Plant Based World Pulse that setting up an alliance was an obvious and necessary step: “We decided we need to join forces because we’re all commercialising similar applications of this technology. We have a lot of work to do presenting it to consumers, retailers, manufacturers, and regulators. We feel this is very much needed.”   

The idea of a joined-up approach is not new. The main precision fermentation companies have been discussing the need for a common nomenclature, description, and approach to regulation for several years. Irina Gerry explains: “We knew we needed to join forces. The only question was how quickly could we organise something. We have start-ups in different parts of the world with different worldviews, but ultimately, we are one industry and category. As sector leaders, we are engaged in a revolutionary development, and we need to be upfront and lead the conversation.”  

Precision fermentation offers a brand new consumer benefit – the experience and nutrition of animal products made without animals. The PFA recognises the need to communicate overtly, explain how it works, and answer questions. They also need to communicate to consumers with allergies, such as milk or egg proteins, about the potential for allergic reactions, given that the proteins made via precision fermentation are molecularly identical to those from animals. 

The PFA is envisaged as an accelerator that can help reduce barriers to market category entry. Irina Gerry explains: “A lot of developments are happening. Many companies, whether start-ups, large companies, or ingredient manufacturers, want to commercialise this technology, but we need regulatory pathways, investment, and a common language. Failing to sort those could slow down progress to market and consumer adoption. The PFA can prepare the road and give companies a smoother path, so they don’t have to tackle everything independently.”  

The PFA has identified three key pillars with work streams for these key priority areas. The first of these is marketing and communications. Irina Gerry says: “We need the basics: What do you call it? How do we label it? We need to be clear and upfront with consumers about what it is and isn’t.  Retailers need to know where it goes in the store. Manufacturers need to know what to tell consumers. It is a massive undertaking, starting with the basics of what we call it and how we position the category to the industry and consumers.”  

The second pillar is regulatory. Irina Gerry continues: “Food is regulated, so we must follow the requirements within each market. We want to ensure that companies commercialising these ingredients follow the regulations and that the regulators understand the technology. So we need to engage with regulators in different territories and ensure that we are as cohesive as possible.”  

The third pillar is advocacy and policy – engaging with policymakers and government institutions to reinforce the technology’s environmental benefits.  Irina Gerry adds:   “When you think about the huge transformation we need in our food system, many governments see it as a major contributor to climate change. One of the ways to address the problem is to scale this technology which is much more sustainable. But we’re competing with animal agriculture, that’s very well developed. There’s almost no infrastructure for precision fermentation. It hasn’t been used at the scale that we need it to be. So there is a tremendous role for government institutions in building infrastructure and for us in promoting policies. Individual companies can only do so much. The PFA can be a unified voice to help bring this forward with policymakers.”  

The PFA is actively recruiting new members. They are finalising their membership structure with tiers for different types of organisations, including companies and NGOs. Irina Gerry concludes: “We absolutely want to collaborate with companies across the food ecosystem, including plant-based brands. Some might end up using ingredients made via precision fermentation to boost nutritional value or functionality. Impossible Burger is a perfect example of such fusion. It is a predominantly plant-based product that uses heme made via precision fermentation to give it a meaty flavour and colour. Today, I would not characterize products made with precision fermentation proteins as plant-based, given the allergen considerations and consumer understanding of what plant-based means. They’re not the same as plant-based because they contain molecularly identical animal proteins or fats. But they’re made without animals. So it’s a new category.” 

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