Beyond Meat opens its first production plant in China

About a year after Beyond Meat debuted in China on Starbucks’s menu, the Californian plant-based protein company opened a production facility near Shanghai to tap the country’s supply chain resources and potentially reduce the carbon footprint of its products.

Situated in Jiaxing, a city 85 km from Shanghai, the plant is Beyond Meat’s first end-to-end manufacturing facility outside the U.S., the Nasdaq-listed company said in an announcement on Wednesday.

Over the past year, competition became steep in China’s alternative protein space with the foray of foreign players like Beyond Meat and Eat Just, as well as a slew of capital injections for domestic startups including Hey Maet and Starfield.

Beyond Meat doesn’t flinch at the rivalry. When asked by TechCrunch to comment on a story about China’s alternative protein scene, a representative of the company said “there are none that Beyond Meat considers their competitors.”

China not only has an enormous, unsaturated market for meat replacements; it’s also a major supplier of plant-based protein. Chinese meat substitute startups enjoy a cost advantage from the outset and don’t lack interest from investors who race to back consumer products that are more reflective of the tastes of the rising middle class.

Having some kind of manufacturing capacity in China is thus almost a prerequisite for any serious foreign player. Tesla has done it before to build Gigafactory in Shanghai to deliver cheaper electric vehicles. Localized production also helps companies advance their sustainability goals as it shortens the supply chain.

In Beyond Meat’s own words, the Jiaxing facility is “expected to significantly increase the speed and scale in which the company can produce and distribute its products within the region while also improving Beyond Meat’s cost structure and sustainability of operations.”

The American food-tech giant works hard on localization, selling in China both its flagship burger patties and an imitation minced pork product made specifically for the world’s largest consumer of pork. The soy- and rice-based minced pork could be used in a wide range of Chinese cuisines and is the result of a collaboration between the firm’s Shanghai and Los Angeles teams.

Besides production, the Jiaxing plant will also take on R&D responsibilities to invent new products for the region. Beyond Meat will also be unveiling its first owned manufacturing facility in Europe this year.

“We are committed to investing in China as a region for long-term growth,” said Ethan Brown, CEO and founder of Beyond Meat. “We believe this new manufacturing facility will be instrumental in advancing our pricing and sustainability metrics as we seek to provide Chinese consumers with delicious plant-based proteins that are good for both people and planet.”

Beyond Meat products can now be found in Starbucks, KFC, Alibaba’s Hema supermarket and other retail channels across major Chinese cities.

#alibaba, #asia, #beyond-meat, #china, #consumer-products, #ethan-brown, #europe, #food, #food-and-drink, #kfc, #meat, #meat-substitutes, #shanghai, #starbucks

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Chinese startups rush to bring alternative protein to people’s plates

On a recent morning in downtown Shenzhen, Lingyu queued up to order her go-to McMuffin. As she waited in line with other commuters, the 50-year-old accountant noticed the new vegetarian options on the menu and decided to try the imitation spam and scrambled egg burger.

“I’ve never had fake meat,” she said of the burger — one of five new breakfast items that McDonald’s introduced last week in three major Chinese cities featuring luncheon meat substitutes produced by Green Monday.

Lingyu, who works in her family business in Shenzhen, is exactly the type of Chinese customer that imitation meat companies want to attract beyond the young, trendy, eco-conscious urbanites. Her yuan means potentially more to meat replacement companies because it advances their business and climate agendas both. Eating less meat is one of the simplest ways to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint and help fight climate change.

McDonald’s hopes that its pea- and soy-based, zero-cholesterol, luncheon meat substitutes will carve out a piece of China’s massive dining market. Long-time rival KFC, and local competitor Dicos introduced their own plant-based products last year. Partnering with fast food chains is a smart move for companies that want to promote alternative protein to the masses, because these products are often pricey and are usually aimed at wealthy urbanites.

2020 could well have been the dawn of alternative protein in China. More than 10 startups raised capital to make plant-based protein for a country with increasing meat demand. Of these, Starfield, Hey Maet, Vesta and Haofood have been around for about a year; ZhenMeat was founded three years ago; and the aforementioned Green Monday is a nine-year-old Hong Kong firm pushing into mainland China. The competition intensified further last year when American incumbents Beyond Meat and Eat Just entered China.

Although some investors worry the sudden boom of meat substitute startups could turn into a bubble, others believe the market is far from saturated.

“Think about how much meat China consumes a year,” said an investor in a Chinese soy protein startup who requested anonymity. “Even if alternative protein replaces 0.01% of the consumption, it could be a market worth tens of billions of dollars.”

In many ways, China is the ideal testbed for alternative protein. The country has a long history of imitation meat rooted in Buddhist vegetarianism and an expanding middle class that is increasingly health-conscious and willing to experiment. The country also has a grip on the global supply chain for plant-based protein, which could give domestic startups an edge over foreign rivals.

“I believe, in five years, China will see a raft of domestic plant-based protein companies that could be on par with industry leaders from Europe and North America,” said Xie Zihan, who founded Vesta to develop soy-based meat suitable for Chinese cuisine.

Meat varieties

Hey Maet’s imitation meat dumplings / Photo: Hey Maet 

Lily Chen, a manager at the Chinese arm of alternative protein investor Lever VC, outlines three categories of meat analog companies in China: Western giants such as Beyond Meat and Eat Just; local players; and conglomerates such as Unilever and Nestlé that are developing vegan meat product lines as a defense strategy. Lever VC invested in Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Memphis Meats.

“They all have their product differentiation, but the industry is still very early stage,” said Chen.

#alternative-protein, #asia, #beyond-meat, #china, #ec-food-climate-and-sustainability, #food, #food-tech-investor, #greentech, #impossible-foods, #meat-substitutes, #memphis-meats, #shenzhen, #tc

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LIVEKINDLY screams its way to the top of new plant brands with the close of a $335 million round

LIVEKINDLY Collective, the shouty parent company behind a family of plant-based food brands, has snagged cash from the global impact investing arm of $103 billion dollar investment firm TPG to close its latest round of funding at $335 million.

The company’s fundraising shows that investors still have high hopes for plant-based food brands and that despite the money that’s flowed to companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods — and the resurgence of older brands in the category like Quorn or Kelloggs’ Morningstar Farms —  there’s still a healthy appetite among investors for more brands.

LIVEKINDLY was founded by some heavy hitters from the food industry including Kees Kruythoff, the former president of Unilever North America; Roger Lienhard, the founder of Blue Horizon Corp; and Jodi Monelle, the chief executive and founder of LIVEKINDLY Media. Food industry veterans like Mick Van Ettinger, a former Unilever employee and Aldo Uva, a former Nestle employee round out the team.

Founded as a rollup for a number of different vegetarian and alternative protein food brands, the LIVEKINDLY collective is now one of the largest plant-based food companies, by funding.

The company said it would use the money to expand into the U.S. and China and to power additional acquisitions, partnerships and investments in plant-based foods.

The company raised money previously from S2G Ventures and Rabo Corporate Investments, the investment arm f the giant Dutch financial services firm, Rabobank.

Fundamentally, the founding investors behind LIVEKINDLY believe that the technology has a long way to go before it matures. And it’s likely that this latest round will be LIVEKINDLY’s last before an initial public offering of its own. 

“We are building a global pureplay in plant-based alternatives – which we believe is the future of food,” said Roger Lienhard, Founder and Executive Chairman of Blue Horizon Group and Founder of LIVEKINDLY Collective. “In just one year, we have raised a significant amount of capital, which testifies to the urgency of our mission and the enormous investment opportunity it represents. We believe the momentum behind plant-based living will continue to grow in both the private and public markets.”

As a result of its investment, Steve Ellis, Co-Managing Partner of The Rise Fund, has joined the LIVEKINDLY Collective Board of Directors, effective March 1, 2021.

“We are excited to work with LIVEKINDLY Collective and its ecosystem of innovative companies and world-class leaders to meet the growing global demand for healthy, plant-based, clean-label options,” said Ellis. “The company’s unique, mission-driven model operates across the entire value chain, from seed to fork, to drive worldwide adoption of plant-based alternatives and create a healthier planet for all.”

#beyond-meat, #cellular-agriculture, #china, #companies, #eat-just, #food, #food-and-drink, #founder, #impossible-foods, #nestle, #plant-based-food, #president, #rabobank, #rise-fund, #s2g-ventures, #tc, #unilever, #united-states

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While other startups develop alt-proteins for meat replacement, Nourish Ingredients focuses on fat

Plant-based meat replacements have commanded a huge amount of investor and consumer attention in the decade or more since new entrants like Beyond Meat first burst onto the scene.

These companies have raised billions of dollars and the industry is now worth at least $20 billion as companies try to bring all the meaty taste of… um… meat… without all of the nasty environmental damage… to supermarket aisles and restaurants around the world.

Switching to a plant-based diet is probably the single most meaningful contribution a person can make to reducing their personal greenhouse gas emissions (without buying an electric vehicle or throwing solar panels on their roof).

The problem that continues to bedevil the industry is that there remains a pretty big chasm between the taste of these meat replacements and actual meat, no matter how many advancements startups notch in making better proteins or new additives like Impossible Foods’ heme. Today, meat replacement companies depend on palm oil and coconut oil for their fats — both inputs that come with their own set of environmental issues.

Enter Nourish Ingredients, which is focusing not on the proteins, but the fats that make tasty meats tasty. Consumers can’t have delicious, delicious bacon without fat, and they can’t have a marvelously marbled steak replacements without it either.

The Canberra, Australia-based company has raised $11 million from Horizons Ventures, the firm backed by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing (also a backer of Impossible Foods), and Main Sequence Ventures, an investment firm founded by Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

That organization is actually where the company’s two co-founders James Petrie and Ben Leita met back in 2013 while working as scientists. Petrie, a specialist in crop development, was spearheading the development of omega-3 canola oil, while Leita had a background in chemistry and bioplastics.  

The two had previously worked on a company that was trying to increase oil production in plants, something that the CSRO had been particularly interested in circa 2017. As the market for alternative meats really began to take off, the two entrepreneurs turned their attention to trying to make corollaries for animal fats.

When we were talking to people we realized that these alternative food space was going to need these animal fat like plants,” said Leita. “We could use that skillset for fish oil and out of canola oil.”

Nourish’s innovation was in moving from plants to bacteria. “With the iteration speeds, it feels kind of like we’re cheating,” said Petrie. “You can get the cost of goods pretty damn low.”

Nourish Ingredients uses bacteria or organisms that make significant amounts of triglycerides and lipids. “Examples include Yarrowia. There are examples of that being used for production of tailored oils,” said Petrie. “We can tune these oleaginous organisms to make these animal fats that give us that great taste and experience.”

As both men noted, fats are really important for flavor. They’re a key differentiator in what makes different meats taste different, they said.

“The cow makes cow fat because that’s what the cow does, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best fat for a plant protein,” said Petrie. “We start out with a mimetic. No reason for us to be locked by the original organism. We’re trying to create new experiences. There are new experiences out there to be had.”

The company already counts several customers in both the plant and recombinant protein production space. Now, with 18 employees, the company is producing both genetically modified and non-CRISPR cultivated optimized fats. 

Other startups and established businesses also have technologies that could allow them to enter this new market. Those would be businesses like Geltor, which is currently focused on collagen, or Solazyme, which makes a range of bio-based specialty oils and chemicals.

As active investors in the alternative protein space, we realize that animal-free fats that replicate the taste of traditional meat, poultry and seafood products are the next breakthrough in the industry,” said Phil Morle, partner at Main Sequence Ventures. “Nourish have discovered how to do just that in a way that’s sustainable and incredibly tasty, and we couldn’t be happier to join them at this early stage.” 

#australia, #beyond-meat, #chemicals, #cooking, #food, #food-and-drink, #horizons-ventures, #impossible-foods, #li-ka-shing, #meat, #meat-substitutes, #partner, #solazyme, #tc

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Waterfund commits $50M to OurCrowd’s water and agtech portfolio

Waterfund, an investment and trading firm that specializes in acquiring and managing water-related infrastructure assets, today announced a deal with Israel-based crowdfunding platform OurCrowd that will see the Waterfund team commit $50 million to build a water- and agtech-focused portfolio of 15 companies. The first of these investments is in Plenty, a well-funded vertical farming startup.

In addition to these direct investments, the two companies are also working together on a new water-focused platform called Aquantos, which aims to issue so-called Blue Bonds and other financial products related to the water industry. Comparable to Green Bonds that focus on projects with environmental benefits — and which have been around for more than a decade now — Blue Bonds are still a new idea and focus on projects that could benefit the oceans.

“We are working to issue Blue Bonds that can be both climate bonds-certified and backed by sovereign or sub-sovereign borrowers,” said Waterfund CEO Scott Rickards. “This new financial tool and others are being designed to enable water projects in the Middle East to acquire leading technologies to address water scarcity in a fundamentally new way.”

Rickards argues that a lack of private capital has held back innovation in the water sector and that this new partnership — and the equity and debt financing opportunities it brings with it — will help change this.

OurCrowd, meanwhile, currently has about $1.5 billion in committed funding and has made investments in about 250 companies across its 25 funds. Among the companies the platform has invested in are the likes of Lemonade, Jump Bikes and Beyond Meat. Its portfolio also includes a number of existing agtech startups and last November, OurCrowd partnered with Sprout Agritech (a company in its portfolio) to run a new agtech accelerator in New Zealand.

“The Abraham Accords present a huge opportunity to bring new water and agricultural technology to the water scarcity challenges of the entire Middle East,” said OurCrowd founder and CEO Jon Medved. “Alongside Waterfund, it is our mission to invest in and help build game-changing technology companies. We are excited to be working together with Waterfund to drive more private capital to address the critical challenges of water.”

#agtech, #articles, #beyond-meat, #ceo, #finance, #jon-medved, #middle-east, #new-zealand, #ourcrowd, #startup-company, #tc

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Energy Impact Partners has set up an index for climate tech… and it’s crushing the overall market

Given the deluge of climate focused companies flooding public markets, it’s getting hard to keep track of who’s doing what, where they’re traded and how they’re performing. That’s why the folks at Energy Impact Partners have set up an index tracking tech companies that are focused on sustainability, energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

For the past few months the firm, whose investors include some of the largest energy consumers and utilities in the world, has been working on setting up the index of representative climate tech offerings that are available on public markets and discovered one thing — these companies are crushing returns compared to the overall market.

Since the beginning of 2020, EIP Climate Index has outperformed NASDAQ by approximately 2.8 times — it’s up 127% compared to 45% for the NASDAQ. Of the companies on the list, about 20 out of the 27 companies are new offerings that have been public less than a year and have outperformed NASDAQ during that period. About16 of them are up over 100% during that time. That’s true even with the overall index down about 20 percent from its January peaks.

The index isn’t actually available for public investment, it’s an educational tool more than anything else, but it does show the breadth of companies working on climate-related solutions and reveals the overwhelming appetite of public market investors to back these companies.

“There’s been a really incredibly positive run in the climate tech run in the public markets and not just from SPACs,” said Shayle Kann, a partner at Energy Impact Partners. “Part of our motivation for creating this climate tech index let’s see if we can put together as diverse a group of companies as possible.”

Included in the EIP index are companies like Beyond Meat, which is a sustainability darling, and businesses that are a bit longer in the tooth like hydrogen fuel cell companies Ballard Power and Bloom Energy. The companies run the gamut from electric storage to renewable energy production, to vehicle charging and infrastructure to alternative protein providers.

“The idea was, how was the sector, if you include all this stuff, performing as a whole. We created this index and tried to be inclusive. It has been dramatically outperforming the market.”

While the EIP list is intended to be informative, there’s no reason someone couldn’t take this index and turn it into an exchange traded fund for the industry. Most of the ETFs that are currently on the market are focused narrowly on energy production, or infrastructure, this index is potentially the first to track the broadly diversified world of companies focused on mitigating the impacts of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

There are even additive manufacturers in the mix like Desktop Metal, which Kann said had a huge climate component to its technology.

“Additive manufacturing has a fairly strong climate case in reduced waste, reduced transportation, electrification of the manufacturing process,” Kann said. 

It’s also a signal that early stage private investors can take note of too, said Kann.

“It provides a broader pathway to public markets. The companies that see their share prices run up here. What it suggests for us and for everybody else in this venture capital world is the exit pathways are improved when this index does well,” he said. 

 

#articles, #beyond-meat, #bloom-energy, #desktop-metal, #energy, #energy-impact-partners, #finance, #fuel-cell, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #manufacturing, #nasdaq, #partner, #renewable-energy, #tc

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Investors get a rise out of Walmart’s agreement to stock more Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat shares soared today on the heels of an announcement that Walmart is beefing up its relationship with the purveyor of meatless protein patties, sausages, and balls.

900 stores will now be stocking Beyond Meat’s hot Italian sausages and its party packs of beefless burgers — those grilling delectations for the omnivores, vegetarians and vegans who no longer want to ask “Where’s the beef?”

Beyond Meat’s increased distribution at Walmart stores is the second jump in production over the past year and part of the company’s efforts to lock down the market for plant-based meat substitutes.

The company’s foods are now sold in over 28,000 stores, and it’s also pulling ahead in the food service industry, where it recently announced deals with Yum Brands and McDonalds.

Shares of the company’s stock ended the day up 3.16% or $4.28 as investors ate up the news.

 

“We are thrilled by the continued growth with Walmart and the opportunity to offer Walmart customers increased accessibility to a larger selection of our delicious and better-for-you plant-based products,” said Chuck Muth, Chief Growth Officer, Beyond Meat. “As more households continue to buy our products and buy them more frequently, we’re excited to satisfy the growing demand through increased product offerings and distribution.”

The partnership with Walmart, which dates back to 2015 is significant, but not nearly as attention grabbing as the company’s elaboration on recent agreements with McDonalds and Yum! Brands — the brains behind KFC and the two franchises that launched America’s greatest fast food hip hop anthem.

In late February, Beyond Meat opened up about its deals with Yum! Brands and McDonald’s that would see the company work to co-create plant-based protein menu items for KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell along with the famous golden arches fo McDonald’s.

That details of the agreement withYum! included the expansion of testing the company’s Beyond Fried Chicken in other U.S. cities with KFC. And the launch of the Beyond Italian Sausage Pizza and the Great Beyond Pizza nationwide, becoming the first national pizza chain to introduce a plant-based meat pizza coast-to-coast, the company’s said in a statement at the time.

The McDonald’s announcement fleshed out the meatless details of a partnership that was previously announced when the fast food giant unveiled its McPlant sandwich — a kind of face plant for Beyond given that it couldn’t confirm the details of the agreement at the time.

Now, other plant-based menu items — including options for chicken, pork, and egg products, have been unveiled as part of the broader McPlant platform, the companies said in February.

“Our new McPlant platform is all about giving customers more choices when they visit McDonald’s,” said Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s Executive Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer, said at the time. “We’re excited to work with Beyond Meat to drive innovation in this space, and entering into this strategic agreement is an important step on our journey to bring delicious, high quality, plant-based menu items to our customers.”

It’s been a busy year for the branding geniuses at Beyond Meat, who also inked a deal with Pepsi to develop protein enhanced snacks and beverages under the tragically named PLANeT Partnership.

 

#america, #beyond-meat, #companies, #kfc, #mcdonalds, #meat-substitutes, #pepsi, #pizza-hut, #restaurants, #taco-bell, #tc, #united-states, #walmart, #yum-brands

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Redefine Meat is moving plant-based proteins from patties to steaks

The Israeli startup Redefine Meat, which has developed a manufacturing process to make plant-based proteins that more closely resemble choice cuts of beef than the current crop of hamburger-adjacent offerings, has gotten a big vote of confidence from the investment arm of one of Asia’s premier food brands. 

The company has raised $29 million in financing from Happiness Capital, the investment arm backed by the family fortunes of Hong Kong’s Lee Kum Kee condiment dynasty, and Hanaco Ventures, an investment firm backing startups in New York and Israel.

Investors have stampeded into the plant-based food industry, spurred by the rising fortunes of companies like Beyond Meat, which has inked partnerships with everyone from Pepsico to McDonald’s, and Impossible Foods, which counts Burger King among the brands boosting its plant-based faux meat.

While these companies have perfected plant patties that can delight the taste buds, the prospect of carving up a big honkin cut of pea protein in the form of a ribeye, sirloin or rump steak, has been a technical hurdle these companies have yet to overcome in a commercial offering.

Redefine Meat thinks its manufacturing processes have cracked the code on the formulation of plant-based steak.

They’re not the only ones. In Barcelona, a startup called Novameat raised roughly $300,000 earlier this year for its own take on plant-based steak. That company raised its money from the NEOTEC Program of the Spanish Center for Industrial Technological Development.

Both companies are using 3-D printing technologies to make meat substitutes that mimic the taste and texture of steaks, rather than trying to approximate the patties, meatballs, and ground meat that companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible have taken to market.

Backing Redefine’s path to market are a host of other investors including Losa Group, Sake Bosch, and K3 Ventures.

The company said it would use the new funding to expand its portfolio and support the commercial launch of its products. Redefine aims to have a large-scale production facility for its 3-D printers online before the end of the year, the company said in a statement.

In January, Redefine Meat announced a strategic agreement with the Israeli distributor Best Meister and the company has been expanding its staff with a current headcount of roughly 40 employees.

“We want to change the belief that delicious meat can only come from animals, and we have all the building blocks in place to make this a reality: high-quality meat products, strategic partnerships with stakeholders across the world, a large-scale pilot line under construction, and the first-ever industrial 3D Alt-Meat printers set to be deployed within meat distributors later this year,” said Eschar Ben-Shitrit, the company’s chief executive, in a statement. 

 

#3-d, #asia, #barcelona, #beyond-meat, #bosch, #burger-king, #food-and-drink, #hanaco-ventures, #happiness-capital, #impossible-foods, #israel, #mcdonalds, #meat, #meat-substitutes, #new-york, #novameat, #steak, #tc

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Beyond Meat shares soar after inking deal with Taco Bell on new menu items

Shares of Beyond Meat are soaring on news that the company will be working with Taco Bell on new menu items.

The company’s stock was up $17.13, or 13.67%, to $142.48 and climbing in midday trading after Taco Bell announced that it would embrace Beyond Meat to come up with new menu items due to be tested in the next year.

The decision from Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Yum Brands, is a departure from the Mexican fast food chain’s commitment to go it alone as it developed new vegetarian menu items.

“We’ve looked. We’ve met with Beyond, we’ve met with Impossible — our head of innovation knows everybody, and they all know her,” Julie Felss Masino, Taco Bell’s president of North American operations, told CNBC back in 2019. “But I think what we’re proud of is that we’ve been doing vegetarian for 57 years.”

Now the company wants más alternative proteins from the Southern California alternative protein provider. “We have long been a leader in the vegetarian space, but this year, we have more meatless options in store that vegetarians, veggie-curious and even meat-eaters will love,” said Liz Matthews, Taco Bell’s Global Chief Food Innovation Officer. 

Taco Bell boasts that it already has over 30 vegetarian ingredients on the U.S. menu, but its lack of protein alternatives was noticeable as many of its competitors embraced the meat substitute craze.

#beyond-meat, #fast-food, #food-and-drink, #leader, #president, #taco, #taco-bell, #tc, #united-states, #yum-brands

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Obvious Ventures outlines the “world positive” impact of its startups and shares what’s next

Today, the early-stage, mission-focused, San Francisco-based venture firm Obvious Ventures released a very readable overview of how each of its portfolio companies is benefiting the world in its own way.

Its report shines a light on the grocery deliver service Good Eggs, for example, sharing that roughly 70% of the products sold by the company are grown or produced within 250 miles of its food hub in Oakland, Ca. That matters because fresher food is more nutritious. The electric bus company Proterra is meanwhile starting to save cities millions of dollars in diesel fuel costs while also eliminating thousands of tons of carbon dioxide.

It’s the kind of investing to which more people are gravitating, says Obvious’s cofounder and managing director James Joaquin . We talked with him last week along with one of his firm cofounders, the serial entrepreneur Ev Williams. You can find part of our conversation with Williams here; below, we talked mostly with Joaquin about how Obvious is thinking about 2021 and what the team finds most interesting these days. (Hint, hallucinogens is one new area of interest.)

TC: For founders reading this, how many companies is Obvious talking with on a weekly basis right now?

JJ: Annually, we look at or consider about 2,000 investment opportunities. It’s obviously not completely linear distribution, but in terms of incoming investment opportunities that we track, it’s a very large number. Most of those get filtered right up front as either being in a geography we don’t invest in because we’re focused on North America — we’re not focused on Europe or Asia — or maybe they’re what we would call world neutral or world negative [so] outside of our thematic areas. But then a subset of those our team will meet with, and the bottom of that funnel is that we make between 10 to 12 investments per year.

TC: At some firms, everyone is a generalist. At Obvious, each partner seems to have a specific focus, like your focus in part on plant startups. Is this correct? 

JJ:  That’s one of the areas that that that I focus on, for sure. I mean, we’ve got five investing partners in the firm. Within food, I lead our work in plant-based protein and plant-forward food and consumer products companies. Thanks to work that Ev and [Twitter cofounder Biz Stone] did, we were very early investors in Beyond Meat. We’re also an early lead investor in Miyoko’s Creamery, which is a plant-based butter and cheese company that is one of our fastest-growing portfolio companies right now.

TC: How do deals get green-lit?

JJ: The inside baseball is that we tend to form two-person teams on a given deal when it reaches the due diligence stage. So there’s always a lead partner or managing director who’s championing the deal, but there’s a second person from the investment team working on it, too. Then ultimately, a CEO or a management team presents to the full investment committee before we make a decision to to issue a term sheet.

The process isn’t quite unanimous, but each managing director at the firm has the power of veto, so if someone feels really strongly that Obvious shouldn’t make that investment, they have that power to stop an investment, but that rarely occurs.

TC: Who are you seeing that’s newer to the table? More firms say they are paying attention to the themes on which you’ve been focused the start.

JJ: I would say there are a number of new firms that kind of are similar age to us that have also been investing in some of these frontiers. Firms like Lux capital have done a lot of co-investing with us in the computational biology space. Data Collective is a firm that we’ve co-invested with in some of the full stack healthcare work that we do. S2G Ventures is a great plant-based protein food firm that we’ve co-invested with,  so those are some of the new faces that we think are part of this world-positive generation of investors trying to solve big problems with startups and with cutting edge tech.

TC: Are you interested in hallucinogens? 

JJ: It’s absolutely a theme where we’ve been doing research. I should say we’re interested in it specifically for medical use, but we think that these former Schedule 1 drugs like ketamine, MDMA [commonly known as ecstasy], and psilocybin have great potential to solve the mental health crisis that not just the US but that the world is seeing ramped to be a top five human health issue. In the early trials around treatment-resistant depression, PTSD, suicidal ideation, these molecules are showing great promise.

We think there’s an opportunity to create a full-stack healthcare company similar to what we’ve done with Virta Health for [type 2] diabetes, or the work that DevotedHealth, one of our portfolio companies, is doing for seniors in the Medicare space. We think there’s going to be one or more new mental health companies built around this new kind of drug-assisted therapy that these molecules will enable.

TC: Ev, you’re an investor in a company that last month announced a small seed round called Sanity, a platform that helps users build and manage content flows on sites, which seems like a perfect fit for you. When is a deal an Ev Williams deal versus an Obvious Ventures deal?

EW: That was one of the rare deals that I did separate from the firm. I used to do a bit of angel investing before before we formed Obvious and one of the great reliefs for me has been to just send all my deal flow to James and the team. However, as James described, there’s a focus at Obvious both in deal size and area that doesn’t include everything, so Sanity is basically an enterprise product and the reason it was interesting to me is is because of the future infrastructure of how content is [distributed] is super interesting to me for Medium’s purposes. I liked what Sanity is doing. I was really impressed. It just didn’t align necessarily with the focus areas of Obvious, so that’s why I did that deal. But it’s really rare.

TC: What percentage of the firm’s deals are inbound versus outbound and maybe based on some thematic research?

JJ: We make sure we have the bandwidth to do both. We call it hunting and farming. Farming is farming the inbox, [and reviewing] all those introductions from our networks that come in. Probably 60% to 70% of our investment portfolio came from that inbound, but 30% to 40% came from hunting, which is building apoint of view around a theme that we care about,then going out and mapping out who are all the entrepreneurs who are doing work in that area, and who are the angel investors and pre-seed funds that are doing good work in that area, because those are important relationships for us as well.

TC: What’s your position on Bitcoin?

JJ: We definitely did our research and we tried to answer the question: are there world-positive applications for blockchain writ large and then specifically for Bitcoin as a blockchain cryptocurrency? We haven’t found any that we’ve made an investment in yet, but we’re open to the idea we continue to research that space.

TC: You recently added Tina Hoang-To to the team; she joined you from the late-stage and crossove fund Technology Crossover Ventures. Will Obvious be making more growth-stage investments?

JJ: We’re known for our early stage work, but from day one, we crafted a barbell strategy where we said, because we’re thematic, because we want to find the best plant protein companies, find the best electric transportation companies, we knew that some of those companies that we would be hunting might already be at the growth stage. So we architected our funds to be 75% early stage and 25% emerging growth roughly. Now, with the addition of Tina, we’re basically increasing our horsepower [on that front]. We’ve got someone better and smarter than us who knows [growth stage companies] really well.

TC: Would we see Obvious maybe form a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, around a growth-stage company?

JJ: Ev, I know you’ve gotten incoming about SPACs. Our take at Obvious is that we do not have any plans to create an Obvious Ventures SPAC. We tend to stick to our knitting. I will say that a number of our companies that are that are at the growth stage, [meaning in the] $50 million to $100 million dollars [range] of annual revenue where they’re thinking about public markets, they’re being approached by a number of SPAC [sponsors] as interesting targets. So we’re seeing that, and it’s really up to our founders, not us [if they move forward with these]. But we certainly have a voice on the board and we’re considering in some cases, our portfolio companies going public via a SPAC

EW: I haven’t haven’t looked into [SPACs] seriously yet. I think liquidity can be a good thing, and hopefully many of these SPACs will work out, but I’m kind of in a wait-and see-mode like a lot of people.

#beyond-meat, #ev-williams, #james-joaquin, #miyoko-creamery, #obvious-ventures, #proterra, #sanity, #tc

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ORIX invests $60M in Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd

Japan-based financial services group ORIX Corporation today announced that it has made a $60 million strategic investment into the Israeli crowdsourcing platform OurCrowd. In return, the crowdfunding platform will provide the firm with access to its startup network. OurCrowd also says that the two groups will collaborate to create financial products and investment opportunities for the Japanese and global market, including access to its venture funds and specific companies in the OurCrowd portfolio.

ORIX is a global leader in diversified business and financial services who will strengthen OurCrowd in many ways,” OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved said in today’s announcement. “We are enthusiastic about the potential to further transform the venture capital asset class together and provide a strong bridge for our innovative companies to the important Asian markets.”

While ORIX already operates in 37 countries, including the U.S., this is the company’s first investment in Israel. It comes at a time where Japanese investments in Israel are already surging. And earlier this year, Israel’s flag carrier El Al was about to launch direct flights to Tokyo, for example, and while the pandemic canceled those plans, it’s a clear sign of the expanding business relations between the two countries.

“We are excited about investing in OurCrowd, Israel’s most active venture investor and one of the world’s most innovative venture capital platforms,” ORIX UK CEO Kiyoshi Habiro said. “We intend to be active partners with OurCrowd and help them accelerate their already impressive growth, while bringing the best of Israeli tech to Japan’s large industrial and financial sectors.”

So far, OurCrowd has made investments in 220 companies across its 22 funds. Some of its most successful exits include Beyond Meat and Lemonade, JUMP Bike, Briefcam and Argus. ORIX, too, has quite a diverse portfolio, with investments that range from real estate to banking and energy services.

#banking, #beyond-meat, #crowdfunding, #entrepreneurship, #finance, #financial-services, #investment, #israel, #japan, #jon-medved, #ourcrowd, #private-equity, #real-estate, #united-states

0

Beyond Meat unveils two new versions of its Beyond Burgers

Beyond Meat has launched two new versions of its Beyond Burgers, the company announced today.

The two new options will be available on store shelves in 2021, but will be on offer at a two-day pop up event in Los Angeles for folks to try.

The new Beyond Burger patties are designed to mirror the options of beef in the market with the presentation of a lower fat patty option and a new version of its higher fat content option that the brand promises will be its “juiciest” patty for the “meatiest” Beyond Meat patty on the market.

The low fat option contains 50% less saturated fat and 35% less total fat than 80/20 beef, according to a statement and both burgers have fewer calories and added vitamins and minerals that are comparable to beef’s micronutrient profile, the company said in a statement.

#beef, #beyond-meat, #food-and-drink, #los-angeles, #meat, #meat-substitutes, #tc

0

Beyond Meat earnings miss big on declining food service and consumer demand

Beyond Meat’s partnership with McDonald’s to develop the McPlant burger wasn’t enough to keep shares from collapsing after the company posted third-quarter earnings that fell far below analysts’ expectations.

The big miss sent shares tumbling nearly 29% in after markets closed Monday after reporting it generated $94.4 million in revenues and a loss of 28 cents per share vs the $132.8 million in revenue and 5 cents per share loss that analysts had expected.

“Our financial results reflect a quarter where for the first time since the pandemic began, we experienced the full brunt and unpredictability of COVID-19 on our net revenues and accordingly, throughout our P&L,” Beyond Meat’s president and chief executive, Ethan Brown, said in a statement. “Unlike the second quarter where record retail buying and freezer loading by consumers offset the deterioration of our foodservice business as COVID-19 stay-at-home and related measures set in, the long tail of retail stockpiling by consumers, coupled with continued challenges across the majority of our foodservice customers, led to Q3 results that were lower than we expected.”

Image Credit: Google Finance

The company reported losses of $19.3 million in the third quarter of 2020 compared to net income of $4.1 million in the year-ago period, according to a statement. Net loss per common share reached 31 cents per-share in the third quarter compared to 6 cents per-share in the year-ago-period.

Despite the poor performance, Beyond Meat is doubling down on its expansion plans by acquiring a new factory in Pennsylvania and its expansion in China and Europe. Brown also pointed to other data that suggests the business is growing.

“Even as the pandemic has created significant disruption, we continue to see strong growth in critically important metrics of household penetration, buyer rates, purchase frequency and repeat rates; our brand’s sales growth continues to outpace the category; and during the quarter we saw our year-over-year velocities rise even as we grew distribution,” he said in a statement.

Beyond Meat’s third-quarter earnings report capped a volatile day for the company that saw its share price seesaw as details of the McDonald’s plant-based burger emerged. Shares of Beyond Meat initially fell after McDonald’s announced that its new plant-based patty and chicken substitute formulation was made in-house. However, McDonald’s overstated its own role in the creation of its McPlant, which was actually developed in conjunction with Beyond Meat, according to a statement provided to CNBC. Beyond Meat shares rebounded only to fall again after the market closed due to its third-quarter earnings.

Brown stuck by McDonald’s despite the restaurant chain’s decision to leave Beyond Meat out of its initial announcement.

“Our relationship with McDonald’s is really good and really strong,” Brown said on an investor call. “I respect their decision to refer to the McPlant platform in the generic sense. We are working with them on a number of matters.”

 

 

 

#beyond-meat, #china, #mcdonalds, #pennsylvania, #tc

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Beyond Meat shares rise on news that it collaborated with McDonald’s on the McPlant options

After tumbling earlier today, Beyond Meat shares are shooting upward on news that the company did indeed collaborate with McDonald’s on its new McPlant vegetarian menu.

McDonald’s made waves this morning when it announced its new McPlant, and the company’s statement, which said that the new plant-based patty and chicken substitute formulation was made in-house, caused Beyond Meat shares to slide.

However, McDonald’s overstated its own role in the creation of its McPlant, which was actually developed in conjunction with Beyond Meat, according to a statement provided to CNBC.

The stock has been on a roller coaster today, with shares sliding on fears that it had been rebuffed by McDonald’s and then rising on the clarification that it was involved in the process.

The partnership seems like a win for the alternative protein provider, which is locked in a meaty competition with its privately held rival, Impossible Foods, for fast food burger chain dominance.

However, there’s still more news from Beyond Meat that’s coming later today as the company announces its latest earnings report.

The numbers could have investors asking, “Where’s the beef?”

If it seems like Beyond Meat’s sausages, patties and chicken offerings are cropping up everywhere, that’s because they are. The company announced a deal with the Jamaican patty company Golden Krust, and expanded its partnership with KFC both in the U.S. and in China, where the chain sells a Beyond Burger.

However, the number of protein replacement competitors continues to expand with startup companies galore looking to pitch meatless alternatives to the burger. The Spanish company Heura has a new meat alternative that it boasts can replicate the fatty texture of meat with fewer ingredients than the first generation of suppliers.

Meanwhile, vegetarian spam has made its way onto McDonald’s menus in Hong Kong, a meatless chicken brand, Nuggs, is going direct to consumers, and Tyson Foods and Kellogg’s are both making vegetarian alternatives.

#beyond-meat, #china, #food-and-drink, #hamburger, #heura, #impossible-foods, #kelloggs, #kfc, #mcdonalds, #meat-substitutes, #tc, #tyson-foods, #united-states

0

McDonald’s to launch a McPlant vegetarian option

McDonalds is developing what it calls a plant-based platform called the McPlant that will debut in markets around the world early next year, according to a report in USA Today.

In an investor meeting McDonald’s announced that it had worked to develop its McPlant formulation exclusively. “McPlant is crafted exclusively for McDonald’s, by McDonald’s,” Ian Borden, McDonald’s international president, said at an investor meeting, quoted by USA Today.

The company’s special formulation could extend across plant-based products including burgers, chicken-substitutes and breakfast sandwiches, according to Borden.

To date, McDonald’s has been a laggard in the corporate fight over plant-based burgers and chicken — at least in the U.S.

In McDonald’s around the world — including locations in Germany, the UK, Hong Kong, Israel, Canada, and Finland — diners under the golden arches can find a vegetarian sandwich option.

Indeed, in Canada, McDonald’s launched a pilot last year with Beyond Meat for the PLT sandwich (a play off of the company’s previous sandwich the McDLT, I’m assuming).

Compared to some other fast food chains in the US, McDonald’s has been something of a laggard. Burger King has worked with Impossible Foods to launch the Impossible Whopper and Beyond Meat has partnered with KFC on a plant-based nugget.

The two leading alternative protein makers have done a fairly good job of carving up the fast food market to date — but McDonald’s entry with its exclusive formulation must come as a blow to the companies (and the other startups that were hoping for a bite of McDonald’s food empire).

That includes startups like Chile’s the Not Company and Hong Kong’s Green Monday Holdings, which have both been vying for McDonald’s plant-based patty business.

#beyond-meat, #burger-king, #canada, #chile, #fast-food, #finland, #germany, #green-monday-holdings, #impossible-foods, #israel, #kfc, #mcdonalds, #restaurants, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #usa-today, #whopper

0

Startups making meat alternatives are gaining traction worldwide

Startups that produce lab-grown meat and meat substitutes are gaining traction and raising cash in global markets, mirroring a surge of support food tech companies are seeing in the United States.

New partnerships with global chains like McDonald’s in Hong Kong, the launch of test kitchens in Israel and new financing rounds for startups in Sydney and Singapore point to abounding opportunities in international markets for meat alternatives.

In Hong Kong, fresh off a $70 million round of funding, Green Monday Holdings’ OmniFoods business unit was tapped by McDonald’s to provide its spam substitute at locations across the city.

The limited-time menu items featuring OmniFoods’ pork alternatives show that the fast food chain remains willing to offer customers vegetarian and vegan sandwich options — so long as they live outside of the U.S. In its home market, McDonald’s has yet to make any real initiatives around bringing lab-grown meat or meat replacements to consumers.

Speaking of lab-grown meat, consumers in Tel Aviv will now be able to try chicken made from a lab at the new pop-up restaurant The Chicken, built in the old test kitchen of the lab-grown meat producer SuperMeat.

The upmarket restaurant doesn’t cost a thing: it’s free for customers who want to test the company’s blended chicken patties made with chicken meat cultivated from cells in a lab that are blended with soy, pea protein or whey, according to the company.

#beyond-meat, #cellular-agriculture, #cultured-meat, #food, #greentech, #impossible-foods, #meat-substitutes, #plant-based-food, #startups, #tc

0

4 sustainable industries where founders and VCs can see green by going green

Now’s the time for sustainable investments to shine. There are billions of dollars in funding in both public and private markets dedicated to new sustainable investing and demand for consumers for a more conscious capitalism has never been stronger.

As founders and investors reawaken to a sustainable morning in America a few areas are going to demand hardware, software and business model innovations.

Some of these sectors have been on the investment radar for the past year or two and others are just beginning to capture investor attention, but they all have something in common: the investor appetite for new businesses addressing the food supply chain; energy management and construction for homes and offices; carbon sequestration and monitoring and management of offsets; and new biomaterials and processes for packaging and industrial chemicals replacements have never been stronger.

If we’re going to feed the world, let’s start with the food chain.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has exposed significant holes in the food supply. Companies like AppHarvest, which agreed to go public through a SPAC earlier this year are only one of several companies remaking agriculture through the application of technology. There’s also Plenty, Bowery Farms, Unfold, BrightFarms and Revol Greens, working to upend the agricultural supply chain. If those companies are looking at new ways of growing crops, companies like Apeel Sciences and Hazel Technologies are trying to find ways to preserve food from spoilage. Treasure8 is looking at ways to use food waste for new food and ingredients and they’re not alone.

Then there’s the protein replacement companies that we’ve written about previously. Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Memphis Meats, Mosa Meat, Nuggs, Future Meat Technologies, Shiok Meats (a seafood company) are devising methods to create meaty proteins less dependent on animal husbandry. Perfect Day and its competitors are doing the same for the dairy industry.

There’s also tremendous need for new protein sources to feed the animals that people around the world still like to eat. For this there’re companies like Ynsect, which is providing insect proteins for industrial fish farms, or Grubly Farms, which is providing feed to the families raising their own chickens.

For these opportunities that are raising hundreds of millions in financing there are others that require the kind of high margin software solutions that are yet to be developed. These are visual technologies for tracking, monitoring and managing food production; sensors for improving the storage and supply chain, software for managing production and tracking produce and products from the farm to the table. Venture investors are beginning to invest in these companies as well.

#apeel-sciences, #beyond-meat, #biotech, #blue-pillar, #blueprint-power, #carbon-sequestration, #carbonchain, #food, #food-supply-chain, #ginkgo-bioworks, #greentech, #hazel-technologies, #impossible-foods, #memphis-meats, #normative, #pachama, #renewable-energy, #solugen, #startups, #tc, #techcrunch-disrupt, #venture-capital, #ynsect, #zymergen

0

A clean energy company now has a market cap rivaling ExxonMobil

The news last week that NextEra Energy, a U.S. utility and renewable energy company, briefly overtook ExxonMobil and Saudi Aramco to become the world’s most valuable energy producer shows just how valuable sustainable businesses have become. It’s yet another proof point that there are billions of dollars available for companies focused on renewable energy alone — and a sign that, finally, the floodgates may be about to open for companies that build their businesses to service a sustainability revolution.

Large money managers are already returning to investing in earlier stage sustainability investments after an extended hiatus. These are institutional investors like the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which could commit billions between them to technologies focused on mitigating the impacts of climate change or reducing greenhouse gas emissions across industries. The flood of dollars into renewable energy and sustainable technologies actually began in the first quarter of the year.

Some of the largest private equity funds in the U.S. like Blackstone (with $571 billion in assets under management), announced a flood of investments into renewable power generation and storage. Blackstone alone invested nearly $1 billion into Altus Power Generation, a renewable energy developer, and NRStor, an energy storage company; while Generate Capital raised $1 billion for renewable energy infrastructure projects; and Warburg Pincus (with over $50 billion in assets under management) backed Scale Microgrids, which developed clean energy and storage projects, with another $300 million. In March, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board closed its investment in Pattern Energy Group, a $6.1 billion transaction that gave the massive money manager ownership of a renewable power project owner and developer with assets across North America and Japan.

Behind all of that massive investment will be a surge in demand for technologies that can orchestrate resources that will be more distributed and provide better energy storage and distribution technologies for a more complicated grid. Indeed, the beginning of the year saw venture firms like Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia and Union Square Ventures begin to plant flags around sustainable investments in startup companies. Microsoft announced a $1 billion climate change-focused investment fund and in the second quarter, Amazon followed suit with the commitment of $2 billion to its Climate Pledge Fund that would invest across a range of renewable and sustainability-focused technology startups and climate-related projects.

“You’ve got all of this activity even without policy changes — and policy changes are even going in the wrong direction,” said Abe Yokell, a longtime investor in technologies addressing climate change and the managing partner of Congruent Ventures, in an interview with TechCrunch earlier this year. “Our general framework is that the venture model applies to some but not all of the solutions that will solve the problem of climate change.”

Environmental and social investing rises again

In 2007, John Doerr, then one of the world’s most successful venture investors and a leader at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (now just Kleiner Perkins), delivered an emotional speech to an early audience of TED talk attendees. In it, Doerr announced that KPCB would be investing $200 million into a range of “clean technology” companies and encouraged other investors to make similar commitments. Doerr spoke of a coming climate crisis that would reshape the globe and wreak vast economic damage on communities. He wasn’t wrong.

But the solutions that the first generation of clean tech investors backed were economically unfeasible and markets weren’t then ready to embrace massive investments required to avoid what were, at the time, future risk scenarios. Prices for solar and wind energy production technologies were too expensive and energy storage options too unreliable. Biofuels could not compete at costs that would make them competitive with existing petrochemicals, and bioplastics and chemicals suffered from the same problems (along with a consumer culture that had not awoken to the perils of plastic and chemical production).

While there were a few notable successes from that first generation of clean tech companies, including, most notably, Tesla, there were far more failures. Kleiner alone poured hundreds of millions into companies like Think and Fisker Automotive, two early electric vehicle companies. Another electric vehicle bet, Better Place, lost $1 billion for investors like VantagePoint Venture Partners. The losses weren’t confined to electric vehicles. Solar energy companies, biofuel companies, grid management companies and battery companies all racked up millions in losses for a generation of venture funds.

Yokell, who previously worked as an investor at Rockport Capital, saw the failures, but managed to persevere and raise new cash with his fund Congruent. “Things are different, but they are different for 10 different reasons — not one different reason,” Yokell said. “The preponderance of dollars went into the physical layer that would drive down the cost of accessing a product or technology. Solar is a great example; wind is a great example; batteries are a great example. [But] this time around, the venture dollars that are going into the ecosystem are being applied to products and services that are going to the end product.”

This means focusing not on the generation of electricity necessarily, but managing and monitoring how those atoms move. Or in the case of food tech, making the processes of creation and distribution more efficient in addition to making new sources of supply. “Venture is a rule of exceptions,” said Yokell. “If you use what works for the venture model and apply it to Tesla [most investors] were wrong. It only takes two massive successes to prove the rule wrong.”

More often though, the money for venture investors is in following some basic rules of investing — chiefly look for high-margin businesses with low upfront capital costs. If something is going to take $40 million or $50 million just to figure out that it might work and then you need to spend another $200 million to prove that it does work … that’s likely not going to be a good bet for a venture firm, Yokell said.

Public markets and large corporations now lead the way

Even as most venture capital dollars shied away from investments in technology that could move the needle on climate (one large exception being Vinod Khosla and Khosla Ventures … another story), the world’s largest investment firms, money managers, publicly traded energy and agriculture companies began stepping up their commitments.

In part, that’s because the economic viability started to become more apparent for decades-old technologies like wind and solar. The costs of these energy-generating technologies made sense to develop because they were, in many cases, cheaper than the alternative. A June report from the International Renewable Energy Agency showed that renewable power generation projects were cheaper than the cost to operate existing coal-fired plants. Next year, the energy agency said, the 1.2 gigawatts of existing coal capacity could cost more to operate than the cost of new utility-scale solar photovoltaics. According to the agency:

Replacing the costliest 500 GW of coal with solar PV and onshore wind next year would cut power system costs by up to USD 23 billion every year and reduce annual emissions by around 1.8 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2), equivalent to 5% of total global CO2 emissions in 2019. It would also yield an investment stimulus of USD 940 billion, which is equal to around 1% of global GDP.

Beyond that, the real effects of climate change began to be felt in rising insurance payouts as a result of increasingly frequent natural disasters and money managers beginning to realize that you can’t have a functioning economy if you don’t have a functioning society thanks to social unrest brought about by rising populations consuming increasingly limited resources thanks to climatological collapse. 

In early January, BlackRock, one of the world’s largest investment firms, pledged to refocus all of its investment activities through a climate lens. The investment bank Jefferies has declared 2020 to be the shot from the starting gun for what will be a decade of investments focused on environmental, social and corporate governance. Big energy companies were already picking up the slack where venture investment left off, with firms like National Grid Partners, Energy Investment Partners and others committing capital to new energy technologies even as venture investors pulled back. In 2016, Bill Gates launched a $1 billion investment fund that would focus on climate-related investing, backed by several of his billionaire buddies (including Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr and former Kleiner Perkins managing director, Vinod Khosla) and take the big swings that many venture firms were unwilling to take at the time.

Opportunities beyond energy

Investments in clean tech and sustainability were never just about energy, although that captured a fair bit of the imagination and some of the earliest returns — in biofuels companies and electric vehicles. Now, the breadth of the thesis is being expressed in a deluge of exits and millions invested in areas like novel proteins for food production, new technologies for a more sustainable agriculture, new consumer food products, new technologies for managing power and distributing it, and fantastic new ways to generate that power.

Last week, AppHarvest, a company using greenhouse farming techniques to grow tomatoes more sustainably, agreed to go public through a special purpose acquisition vehicle, and just today, a bioplastics manufacturer is taking the same tack. With the world awash in capital and looking for high-growth companies to generate returns, sustainability looks like a good bet.

Those are the companies that have managed to access public markets in the last week. Beyond Meat captured the attention of institutional investors and the investing public with its better-tasting hamburger substitute, and Perfect Day snagged a massive investment from the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board to make an alternative to cow’s milk. In fact, Perfect Day was the inaugural investment in the national pension fund’s climate strategy. Other deals should follow.

Meanwhile, as carbon emissions monitoring, management and sequestration gain broader commercial and consumer traction, other investment opportunities will begin to open up for digital solutions.

#beyond-meat, #biofuels, #chemicals, #climate-pledge-fund, #congruent-ventures, #energy, #exxonmobil, #fisker-automotive, #food, #food-tech, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #greentech, #microsoft, #nextera-energy, #renewable-energy, #sustainable-energy, #tc, #warburg-pincus

0

Leonardo DiCaprio takes a stake in Struck Capital to fund the future of LA’s tech ecosystem

Leonardo DiCaprio is making a significant commitment to the Los Angeles-based investment firm, Struck Capital, as part of the actor’s commitment to building LA into a tech development powerhouse.

It’s part of what Struck Capital founder Adam Struck called a vision of making Los Angeles “a leading hub for innovation to save the world.”

Struck Capital, which is currently investing out of a $55 million second fund, would not disclose the size of DiCaprio’s stake, but said that the investment is significant.

“Los Angeles has a creative and innovative spirit like nowhere else, and I’m excited to be investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders in my hometown,” said DiCaprio, in a statement.

DiCaprio has already made a number of investments in startup companies that have done very well for the Academy Award-winning actor. Two investments, the mattress retailer Casper and the meat alternative manufacturer, Beyond Meat, are now both publicly traded companies. In fact, Beyond Meat was one of the best performing public offerings of the last year.

And the two investments highlight themes of consumer innovation and sustainability that are a through-line across the startup commitments DiCaprio has made public, according to CrunchBase. Other investments include the lab grown diamond manufacturer, Diamond Foundry; the tea company promoting sustainable rainforest preservation, Runa Tea; recycling technology developer, Rubicon; the sustainable meal prep company, Love The Wild; and Magnus, an app that bills itself as a Shazam for art. DiCaprio is also investor in the Los Angeles-based ethically and sustainably focused financial services firm, Aspiration.

“He sees this as a way to support LA,” said Struck of DiCaprio’s commitment.

In addition to his commitment to the fund, DiCaprio will be making co-investments alongside the Struck Capital team. In fact, the actor has already investment in Raptor Maps, a company that uses drones to analyze the productivity and operations of solar farms.

“He chose us because he already appreciates our mandate,” said Struck. And while the firm may not be an impact investment fund by design, Struck said the company’s deals focus on financial inclusion, sustainability, and technological innovation as first principals. 

“I think, fundamentally, if a business is mission driven, they’re most likely going to acquire higher enterprise values and retain more talent,” Struck said.

Struck is now the fourth largest dedicated seed fund in Los Angeles, and has nearly $150 million in assets under management. Its portfolio companies include: Sendoso, ScratchPay, Mythical Games, and Brainbase and has backed and exited a number of later stage companies like Mojo Vision, Postmates, Nutanix, Latch, Grab, and Wunder Mobility.

“Alongside the team at Struck Capital we’re creating a community, where the next generation of LA’s leaders can grow their business, learn from one another, achieve their visions, and improve our world,” DiCaprio said in a statement.

#actors, #aspiration, #beyond-meat, #brainbase, #casper, #diamond-foundry, #economy, #finance, #impact-investing, #leonardo-dicaprio, #los-angeles, #louisiana, #mojo-vision, #nutanix, #postmates, #raptor-maps, #sendoso, #shazam, #struck-capital, #tc, #venture-capital, #wunder-mobility

0

Beyond Meat is introducing pre-packaged meatballs at stores across America

Indulging in American food companies’ favorite pastime of marketing innovations that no one needs but potentially everyone wants, Beyond Meat is launching Beyond Meatballs in grocery stores nationwide this week.

The new product can be put on top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese, and comes pre-spiced with a blend of Italian spices, according to a company statement.

The company’s meatballs have 30% less saturated fat and sodium than real meat and will be available at Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, Sprouts, Harris Teeter, Kroger and Albertsons, and more by early October, according to the statement.

The suggested retail price for these pre-spiced and pre-rolled protein replacement balls of soy is $6.99 for 12 meatballs.

For Beyond Meat, which already has a line of breakfast sausages and pre-made burgers under the “Cookout Classic” brand, the new product is the latest effort to win more of the meat aisle at the 26,000 outlets across the U.S. that stock the company’s products.

“We’re thrilled to introduce Beyond Meatballs as they deliver on consumers’ growing demand for delicious and nutritious plant-based meat options without GMOs or synthetic ingredients,” said Stuart Kronauge, Chief Marketing Officer, Beyond Meat. “We are proud to introduce our newest innovation at retailers nationwide and know our fans will be excited about the great taste and convenience of Beyond Meatballs.”

As part of the marketing campaign the company is offering free meatballs and spaghetti or a meatball hero at Beyond Meatball pop-up shops in New York and Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Would-be Beyond Meatball eaters will have to reserve their complimentary meal and pick-up time in advance via The Beyond Meatball Shop’s LA and NY pages on Resy, while supplies last.

#albertsons, #beyond-meat, #food, #food-and-drink, #kroger, #los-angeles, #louisiana, #meatballs, #new-york, #tc, #united-states, #whole-foods

0

Competing with both Perfect Day and Beyond Meat, Chile’s NotCo raises $85 million to expand to the US

NotCo, the Chilean food technology company making plant-based milk and meat replacements, has confirmed the close of a new $85 million round of funding to take the company’s products into the US market.

The announcement confirms earlier reporting from TechCrunch that the company had raised new capital, but according to people with knowledge of the investment, the valuation for the company is roughly $300 million, and not the $250 million TechCrunch previously reported.

The funding came from new investors including the consumer-focused private equity firm L Catterton Partners, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s Future Positive investment firm, and the giant venture capital firm, General Catalyst. Previous investors including Kaszek Ventures, The Craftory, Bezos Expeditions (the personal investment firm for Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos), Endeavor Catalyst, IndieBio, Humbolt Capital and Maya Capital, all of which have followed on in this round.

NotCo makes a hamburger substitute that’s currently being marketed at Burger King and Papa John’s restaurants in Chile as part of its NotBurger and NotMeat brands and has a line of dairy products including NotIceCream, NotMayo and NotMilk.

Both markets are not small. With milk alone being a multi-billion dollar category that NotCo chief executive Matias Muchnick believes his company can dominate in both Latin America and the US. That trajectory will put it on a collision course with well-funded competitors like Perfect Day, which raised $300 million in financing earlier this year and launched a new consumer brand subsidiary, the Urgent Company, for products made with its milk substitutes.

For longtime investors in the company, like Kaszek Ventures managing partner, Nicolas Szekasy, the new financing for NotCo validates his firm’s early faith that a company from Santiago, Chile could compete in some of the world’s largest consumer markets.

“We continue to actively support the company since its early days with a strong conviction of the potential that NotCo has to be the leading global player in the food-tech space. In this uncertain time, consumers have amplified their appetite for the plant-based world,” said Szekasy in a statement. “In parallel, COVID has allowed us to see that meat production is not only environmentally harmful and inefficient, but also that its supply chain is fragile. So we are happy to witness an inflection point where plant-based products are becoming an increasing proportion of a new normal, once they can actually taste amazing like we see NotCo crafting.”

Joining the company to help with its international expansion plans are a clutch of seasoned executives from large multi-national food brands. Flavia Buchmann, a former executive at Coca-Cola overseeing the company’s Sprite brand has been tapped as the company’s new chief marketing officer. Former Danone executives Luis Silva and Catriel Giuliano are taking the reins as heads of global business development and research and development, respectively. And Jose Menendez a former banker at Jeffries and executive at Tapad, is now NotCo’s global chief operating officer.

A flood of venture capital dollars have come into the food space since NotCo first burst on the scene and many of these deals are operating at the intersection of novel biomanufacturing technologies and food science. But NotCo’s take on foodtech is more akin to Beyond Meat’s than Impossible Foods or Perfect Day.

The company isn’t making biologically engineered foods, it’s taking its taxonomy of existing foods and determining which combinations of plant ingredients will most closely mimic all aspects of the animal products they’re replacing.

So a closer analogy would be companies like Just or the newly funded Climax Foods. Muchnick said that the difference is in where these companies are spending their time. Instead of focusing on a protein that can act as a one for one replacement for casein or the carbohydrate lactose, NotCo is trying to replicate the whole product — the entire sensorial panel of a particular food.

“Flavors, taste, smell, color, and the interaction between all of them and the molecular components in food,” said Muchnick. “It’s not just the concept of how limited we are to replicating products and how limited to using AI to address other challenges in the food industry.”

For Muchnick, the biggest opportunity for NotCo is dairy. While the company has plans to introduce a number of new products including a chicken replacement to compliment its line of NotBurger and NotMeat products, it’s really the dairy business where the company wants to land and expand.

It’s looking to cut a deal with a large quick service restaurant along with deals for an online channel and a direct to consumer play.

As it grows, consumers can expect to see the company’s brands recede into the background as Muchnick looks to focus on supplying products to other vendors.

“We partnered upstream and downstream,” Muchnick said. The company works with suppliers including Ingredion, ADM, and Cargill and downstream has product partners who will incorporate its milk substitute into other products.

What we want is to be the catalyst of change with many other companies. Why don’t we become the enabler. We’re becoming the Intel inside of other products.”

At that scale, the company would be a prime candidate for public investors, and if Muchnick has his way the company will get there. “We are aiming to have a $300 million company by 2024 with 70 percent of that business in the US,” he said. 

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Founded by an Impossible Foods, and Google data scientist, Climax Foods raises $7.5 million to tackle the cheesiest market

Oliver Zahn began his professional career studying the stars. The founder of Climax Foods, a startup that’s using data science to replace animal proteins with plant-based substitutes, spent years at the University of California at Berkeley with his eyes fixed firmly toward the heavens before taking up with Pat Brown and Impossible Foods as the company’s leading data scientist.

That experience focused Zahn on more terrestrial concerns and undoubtedly led the founder down the path to launching Climax Foods.

Now with $7.5 million in financing from investors including At One Ventures, founded by the GoogleX co-founder Tom Chi, along with Manta Ray Ventures, S2G Ventures, Valor Siren Ventures, Prelude Ventures, ARTIS Ventures, Index Ventures, Luminous Ventures, Canaccord Genuity Group, Carrot Capital and Global Founders Capital, Zahn is ready to take on the future of food.

The pitch to investors is similar to the one that Josh Tetrick made at Just Food (the company formerly known as Hampton Creek). It’s elegant in its simplicity — scan the natural world for proteins that have the same or better characteristics than those that are currently made by animals and make products with them.

By looking at what makes animal products so delicious, the company will find their plant-based analogs and start producing.

As with most things that depend on data science, the taxonomy is the key. So Climax Foods is building machine learning algorithms that will process and cross-reference molecular structures to find the best fit. It’s starting with cheese.

While, the replacing the humble wheel of cheese may not seem like a worthy adversary for an astrophysicist, companies have already raised hundreds of millions to defeat the big dairy industry.

“We are at a pivotal time where industrialization enabled explosive population growth and consumption of animal products. Today, more than 90% of all mammalian animals and more than 70% of all birds on the planet exist for the sole purpose of metabolizing plants and being turned into food,” said Zahn in a statement. “This industry is complex and wasteful, creating as much climate change as all modes of transportation combined, and using more than a third of the earth’s water and usable land. By speeding up food science innovation, Climax Foods is able to convert plants into equally craveable foods without the environmental impact.”

Joining Zahn on this quest to conquer the cheese industrial complex and its milk-made monstrousness are a few seasoned industry veterans including co-founder, Caroline Love, the company’s chief operating officer and former sales and operations executive from JUST foods, and Pavel Aronov, a Stanford-educated chemist who previously worked at the chemicals giant thermo-Fisher.

“Climax Foods is tackling the same opportunity to change the market and the food system, but they are doing it with an entirely novel technological approach. They are using data science to produce a new category of foods that will not merely compete with, but out-compete, animal products in terms of taste, nutritional density, and price,” said Sanjeev Krishnan, one of the largest investors in the plant protein space and Chief Investment Officer of S2G Ventures. “The machine intelligence approach Climax Foods is pioneering is critical for harnessing the vast number of ways raw ingredients and natural processes can be used to create the ultimate digital recipes.”

Krishnan would know. He’s an investor in Beyond Meat, the most successful public offering of a plant-based protein replacement company.

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Focusing on human and climate health, S2G Ventures launches ocean fund with $100 million in commitments

S2G Ventures, the Chicago-based investment firm focusing on startups developing technology and services for human and planetary health, is launching a new investment vehicle focused on seafood and oceanic cultivation.

The firm was an investor in Beyond Meat, the $9 billion-valued publicly traded meat replacement startups that’s been one of the biggest recent success stories in the market for food science startups. It also holds stakes in companies like the healthy food chain, Sweetgreen, the microbial meat replacement technology developer Future Meat Technologies, robotic harvesting tech developer, Augean Robotics, food preservation technology developer Apeel, and other food and agriculture-focused tech companies.

Now the firm is turning its attention to the oceans. It has already received commitments for $100 million in new capital to finance the endeavor and added Kate Danaher, the former chief lending officer at RSF Social Finance, and Larsen Mettler, the former owner and chief financial officer of Silver Bay Seafoods as managing directors to oversee the oceans and seafood strategy.

The new investment vehicle will invest in early, venture, and growth stage companies globally that are developing alternative proteins and seafood, aquaculture, supply chain innovaiton, transparency, algae and seaweed cultivation and commercialization and ecosystem services, according to a statement.

GettyImages 1140243144

IZMIR, TURKEY – APRIL 25 : An aerial view of fish farm, raising a new breed ‘Egeli’ fish, in Izmir’s Karaburun district, Turkey on April 25, 2019. ‘Egeli’ fish, cross breeding of sea bream and dentex, are expected to be put on sale in a year. (Photo by Mahmut Serdar Alakus/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Seafood is a primary source of protein for 3 billion people around the world, and as consumers look to lower their meat consumption, many more are turning to fish and seafood as their alternative. According the United Nations panel on climate change, oceans have already absorbed over 90 percent of the excess heat trapped in the climate system.

The warming is causing significant changes in currents and sea levels, which affect the health of marine species, nearshore and deep ocean ecosystems, as well as weather systems across the globe, the firm said.

Any solution to climate change will need to address the acidification and overheating that the oceans have endured as the first victim of the world’s evolving climate catastrophe.

#beyond-meat, #future-meat-technologies, #s2g-ventures, #sweetgreen, #tc

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The Not Company, a maker of plant-based meat and dairy substitutes in Chile, will soon be worth $250M

The Not Company, Latin America’s leading contender in the plant-based meat and dairy substitute market, is about to close on an $85 million round of funding that would value it at $250 million, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans.

The latest round of funding comes on the heels of a series of successes for the Santiago-based business. In the two years since NotCo launched on the global stage, the company has expanded beyond its mayonnaise product into milk, ice cream, and hamburgers. Other products, including a chicken meat substitute are also on the product roadmap, according to people familiar with the company.

NotCo is already selling several products in Chile, Argentina and Latin America’s largest market — Brazil — and has signed a blockbuster deal with Burger King to be the chain’s supplier of plant-based burgers. It’s in this Burger King deal that NotCo’s approach to protein formulation is paying dividends, sources said. The company is responsible for selling 48 sandwiches per store per day in the locations where it’s supplying its products, according to one person familiar with the data. That figure outperforms Impossible Foods per-store sales, the person said.

NotCo is also now selling its burgers in grocery stores in Argentina and Chile. And while the company is not break even yet, sources said that by December 2021 it could be — or potentially even cash flow positive.

NotCo co-founders Karim Pichara, Matias Muchnick, and Pablo Zamora. Image Credit: The Not Company

With the growth both in sales and its diversification into new products, it’s little wonder that investors have taken note.

Sources said that the consumer brand focused private equity firm L Catterton Partners and the Biz Stone-backed Future Positive were likely investors in the new financing round for the company. Previous investors in NotCo include Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment firm of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the London-based CPG investment firm, The Craftory, IndieBio and SOS Ventures.

Alternatives to animal products are a huge (and still growing) category for venture investors. Earlier this month Perfect Day closed on a second tranche of $160 million for that company’s latest round of financing, bringing that company’s total capital raised to $361.5 million, according to Crunchbase. Perfect Day then turned around and launched a consumer food business called the Urgent Company.


These recent rounds confirm our reporting in Extra Crunch about where investors are focusing their time as they try to create a more sustainable future for the food industry. Read more about the path they’re charting.


Meanwhile large food chains continue to experiment with plant-based menu items and push even further afield into cell-based meat using cultures from animals. KFC recently announced that it would be expanding its experiment with Beyond Meat’s chicken substitute in the U.S. — and would also be experimenting with cultured meat in Moscow.

Behind all of this activity is an acknowledgement that consumer tastes are changing, interest in plant-based diets are growing, and animal agriculture is having profound effects on the world’s climate.

As the website ClimateNexus notes, animal agriculture is the second-largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels. It’s also a leading cause of deforestation, water and air pollution, and biodiversity loss.

There are 70 billion animals raised annually for human consumption, which occupy one-third of the planet’s land arable and habitable land surface, and consume 16% of the world’s freshwater supply. Reducing meat consumption in the world’s diet could have huge implications for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If Americans were to replace beef with plant-based substitutes, some studies suggest it would reduce emissions by 1,911 pounds of carbon dioxide.

#argentina, #beef, #beyond-meat, #brazil, #burger-king, #chile, #cultured-meat, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #impossible-foods, #kfc, #latin-america, #london, #meat, #meat-substitutes, #sos-ventures, #tc

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From bioprinting lab-grown meat in Russia to Beyond Meat in the US, KFC is embracing the future of food

From a partnership with the Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions to make chicken meat replacements using plant material and lab cultured chicken cells to an expansion of its Beyond Fried Chicken pilots to Southern California, KFC is aggressively pushing forward with its experiments around the future of food.

In Russia, that means providing 3D Bioprinting with breading and spices to see if the company’s chicken replacements can match the KFC taste, according to a statement from the company. As the company said, there are no other methods available on the market that can allow for the creation of complex products from animal cells.

“3D bioprinting technologies, initially widely recognized in medicine, are nowadays gaining popularity in producing foods such as meat,” said Yusef Khesuani, co-founder and Managing Partner of 3D Bioprinting Solutions, in a statement. “In the future, the rapid development of such technologies will allow us to make 3D-printed meat products more accessible and we are hoping that the technology created as a result of our cooperation with KFC will help accelerate the launch of cell-based meat products on the market.”

KFC beyond meat

Image: Beyond Meat

Closer to its home base in the US, KFC is working with the publicly traded plant-based meat substitute developer Beyond Meat on an expansion of their recent trials for KFC’s Beyond Fried Chicken.

Continuing its wildly successful limited trials in Atlanta, Nashville, and Charlotte, KFC is now setting its sights on the bigger markets in Southern California, near Beyond Meat’s headquarters in Los Angeles.

Beginning on July 20, KFC will be selling Beyond Fried Chicken at 50 stores the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego areas, while supplies last, the company said.

Unlike the 3D bioprinting process used by its Russian partner, Beyond Meat uses plant-based products exclusively to make its faux chicken meat.

Beyond Fried Chicken first appeared on the market last year in Atlanta and was made available in additional markets in the South earlier this year.  The menu item — first available in a one-day consumer test in Atlanta — sold out in less than five hours, the company said.

“I’ve said it before: despite many imitations, the flavor of Kentucky Fried Chicken is one that has never been replicated, until Beyond Fried Chicken,” said Andrea Zahumensky, chief marketing officer, KFC U.S. “We know the east coast loved it, so we thought we’d give those on the west coast a chance to tell us what they think in an exclusive sneak peek.

Beyond Fried Chicken nuggets will be available as a six or 12-piece à la carte or as part of a combo, complete with a side and medium drink starting at $6.99, plus tax.

Meanwhile, KFC’s Russian project aims to create the world’s first lab-made chicken nuggets, and plans to release them this fall in Moscow.

Popularizing lab-grown meat could have a significant impact on climate change according to reports. The company cited statistics indicating that growing meat from cells could half the energy consumption involved in meat production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while  dramatically cutting land use.

“Crafted meat products are the next step in the development of our ‘restaurant of the future’ concept,” said Raisa Polyakova, General Manager of KFC Russia & CIS, in a statement. “Our experiment in testing 3D bioprinting technology to create chicken products can also help address several looming global problems. We are glad to contribute to its development and are working to make it available to thousands of people in Russia and, if possible, around the world.”

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Beyond Burger arrives in Alibaba’s grocery stores in China

Beyond Meat is starting to hit supermarket shelves in China after it first entered the country in April by supplying Starbucks’ plant-based menu. Within weeks, it had also forayed into select KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut outlets — all under the Yum China empire.

China, the world’s biggest market for meat consumption, has seen a growing demand for plant-based protein. Euromonitor predicted that the country’s “free from meat” market, including plant-based meat substitutes, would be worth almost $12 billion by 2023, up from just under $10 billion in 2018.

The Nasdaq-listed food giant is now bringing its signature Beyond Burgers into Freshippo (“Hema” in Chinese), Alibaba’s supermarket chain with a 30-minute delivery service that recorded a spike in orders during the pandemic as people avoided in-person shopping.

The tie-up will potentially promote the animal-free burgers to customers of Freshippo’s more than 200 stores across China’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. They will first be available in 50 stores in Shanghai and arrive in more locations in September.

“We know that retail will be a critical part of our success in China, and we’re pleased to mark this early milestone within a few months of our market entry,” Ethan Brown, founder and chief executive officer of Beyond Meat, said in a statement.

Plant-based meat has a long history in China, serving the country’s Buddhist communities before the diet emerged as a broader urban lifestyle in more recent times. Amid health concerns, the Chinese government told citizens to cut back on meat consumption in 2016. The middle-class urban dwellers have also been embracing fake meat products as they respond to climate change.

“Regardless of international or local brands, Chinese consumers are now only seeing the first generation of plant-based offerings. Purchases today are mostly limited to forward-thinking experimenters,” Matilda Ho, founder and managing director of Bits x Bites, a venture capital firm targeting the Chinese food-tech industry, told TechCrunch. “The good news is China’s per capita consumption of plant-based protein is amongst the highest in the world.”

“For these offerings to scale to mass consumers or attract repeat purchases from early adopters, there is tremendous opportunity to improve on the mouthfeel, flavor, and how these products fit into the Chinese palate. To appeal to health-conscious flexitarians or vegetarians, there is also plenty of room to improve the nutritional profile in comparison to the conventional tofu or Buddhist mimic meat,” Ho added.

The fake meat market is already rife with competition. Domestic incumbent Qishan Foods has been around since 1993. Hong Kong’s OmniPork and Alpha Foods were quick to capture the new appetite across the border. Nascent startup Zhenmeat is actively seeking funding and touting its understanding of the “Chinese taste.”

Meanwhile, Beyond Meat’s rival back home Impossible Foods may be having a harder time cracking the market, as its genetically-modified soy ingredient could cause concerns among health-conscious Chinese.

#alibaba, #alpha, #asia, #beyond-meat, #china, #food, #food-and-drink, #health, #impossible-foods, #meat, #meat-substitutes, #shanghai, #yum-brands

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Alternative meat industry moves beyond the burger

Cell-based meat kebabs from Memphis Meats.

Enlarge / Cell-based meat kebabs from Memphis Meats. (credit: Memphis Meats)

After four years as a biomedical engineer specializing in 3D printing of tissue and organs in Barcelona, Giuseppe Scionti had a radical idea for another use for the technology: creating food.

The 33-year-old Italian took one of his creations to the Michelin-starred chef Ferran Adrià—of El Bulli fame—seeking advice about using similar principles to develop plant-based meat. “He told me to go and cook it and come back,” he said, laughing. He’s used the chef as a sounding board since.

In 2018, Scionti launched Novameat, patenting his “microextrusion” technology, in which plant-based ingredients are pushed through holes to form ultra-thin muscle-like fibers.

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#beyond-meat, #gaming-culture, #plant-based-meat, #plant-based-meat-alternatives, #science

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