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Planted Launches In 350 Tesco Stores, Flora Back to 100% Plant-Based, Umiami Secures €32.5 Million in Funding and More

Welcome to another round-up of plant-based news. These are the biggest stories from the past week but if we’ve missed something important, please add [email protected] to your mailout list.

New product launches

Planted products hit 350 Tesco shelves in the UK from this week. A Swiss company that produces meat mimics leveraging fermentation techniques, Planted is also a registered B Corp. Items confirmed in Tesco are a hoisin duck dish, faux kebab meat, and a lemon and herb chicken analog.

Upfield has announced that its entire Flora range is once again entirely plant-based. The manufacturing giant caused controversy when it added buttermilk back into its ‘Buttery’ products in 2020 with a newly developed plant butter following shortly afterwards. However, the brand has reversed the decision again and reverted to an entirely milk-free formulation for all Flora spreads. Additionally, no palm oil will be used in any recipes moving forward.

Elmhurst 1925 has added to its unsweetened plant milk portfolio with a new coconut and cashews drink. The Milked product claims to deliver a neutral flavor and creamy mouthfeel, making it suitable for use in hot and cold drinks, in addition to cooking and baking. The new line is currently only available direct from Elmhurst but is anticipated to reach Sprouts stores, and others, by the end of October.

Brand collaborations

The Plant Based Seafood Co. has joined forces with Sam Rust Seafood, a conventional seafood supplier, to help widen its distribution net. The partnership, announced this week, will see Sam Rust’s customers offered the opportunity to use premium animal-free fish products alongside their regular seafood ingredients. The Plant Based Seafood Co. manufacturers items such as Maryland-style Crab Cakes, Dusted Shrimp, and Coconut Shrimp, amongst others.

Plant-based seafood brand Konscious Foods is now available in Whole Foods Market sushi restaurants. In-house chefs have developed two exclusive recipes, featuring Konscious Foods’ award-winning seafood analogs. The dishes are confirmed to be Tuna California and Spicy Sno Crab rolls.

Investments and expansions

French foodtech Umiami secured €32.5 million in funding to launch a bid to break into the US market, while also expanding its reach in Europe. Investment was secured as a Series A top-up funding round and was led by SPI fund and French Tech Seed, both of which are managed by Bpifrance, on behalf of the French government. As part of the US expansion, John Hatto (formerly of PepsiCo) is the new managing director for North America.

Unilever’s plant-based brand The Vegetarian Butcher turned 13 this month and to celebrate, it opened a new meat-free butcher’s shop in Rotterdam. Products will include existing consumer favorites–such as chicken pieces–in addition to limited edition store-exclusives. Shoppers can find the butchery at Pannekoekstraat 18a, Rotterdam.

Beyond Meat has officially launched its steak alternative in the UK with chefs and restaurants now able to use the product in their menu items. The steak launched in the US in 2022, garnering a rapturous reception, including from the American Heart Association which gave the products its coveted certification of approval. There are seemingly no current plans to make the steak available directly to consumers.

Patent updates

Meati Foods has been granted a US patent for its unique mushroom root-based applications. The process has taken years and has not been without controversy thanks to Meati accusing The Better Meat Co. of IP theft. Despite a number of hurdles, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued Patent No. 11,751,596 to ensure exclusivity over Meati’s Neurospora crassa (mushroom root)-based developments until 2039.

Sector news

The Financial Times reported that the plant-based meat industry is “on a mission to rebrand itself as a healthy option.” The claim comes after US non-profit Center for Consumer Freedom seemingly criticized alt-meat manufacturers with a Super Bowl advert that advised against eating foods with ingredients that are hard to pronounce. However, the plant-based sector is not fighting back with a knee-jerk reaction, as multiple brands, including Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, have been looking to improve the nutritional benefits of their products since the start of the year.

The Plant Based Foods Association has announced plans to launch a comprehensive marketing campaign to drive growth and overcome sector difficulties. All niches of the meat and dairy-free sphere will be represented and the first step appears to be an in depth consumer research program designed to shine a light on what buyers want.

Damoy Robertson