ICEX Webinar – How is the Alternative Protein sector being disrupted in Spain?

Webinar by ICEX Spain Trade & Investment, with the global network of Economic & Commercial Offices of Spain

The innovative and accelerated era we are living in has challenged the food industry to evolve the way it has been operating up until now. Consumers’ interest in alternative protein is increasing globally. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, food industry players must understand the evolving market dynamics and place their bets on innovation.

Spain’s alternative protein industry has grown exponentially in the last few years, demonstrating both the potential of this new market and the challenges that need to be faced by this industry in the upcoming years. As of today, Spain has one of the most prolific ecosystems for foodtech entrepreneurship. The Spanish alternative protein companies saw investment figures rocket by 5,527% in 2021, raising 26 million euros, up from just 0,49 million euros in 2020.

New players in the ecosystem, including big companies, technology centers, and disruptive startups, have contributed to the growth of the plant-based market. Aside from plant-based solutions, fermentation, bioprinting, and cell cultivation technologies are capturing investors’ attention more and more, having a huge potential for innovation, and claiming a much larger share of investment than ever before.

Webinar ICEX

ICEX Spain Trade & Investment, together with the global network of Economic & Commercial Offices of Spain, will host a webinar on June 30, 2022 featuring five Spanish startups and one of the leading technological centers that are disrupting the food industry by using the most innovative technologies to create the foods of the future, in the most sustainable way.

This initiative seeks to strengthen the network of the Spanish foodtech industry, to showcase its successes and interesting projects, and to enhance collaboration.

To make sure you don’t miss out on this opportunity, ICEX is offering you two time slots options that may suit your schedule. 

Register for free in the 9AM CET slot here, and in the 6PM CET slot here.

Guest Speakers at the International Roundtable:

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Food 4 Future – Foodtech World Summit in Bilbao

Food 4 Future

Food 4 Future– Expo FoodTech (#F4F2022) the international reference forum where food and beverage industry professionals learn about the latest trends, solutions, and technologies to optimize and innovate throughout the value chain, will take place from May 17 to 19 in Bilbao. 

This year, Food 4 Future celebrates its second edition which is expected to attract more than 7,000 congress participants and 253 exhibiting brands. A meeting point for innovation managers, IT managers, marketing managers, and CEOS of the food industry, emphasizes the major challenges of the industry: sustainability, food safety, and the digitization and automation of industrial production processes. 

Food 4 Future encourages the transfer of knowledge and experience among international professionals and experts, including renowned scientists and researchers, startups that are redesigning the food industry, top chefs, and representatives of the public administration. Food 4 Future, organized by NEBEXT and AZTI, has the support of the Basque Government, the City Council of Bilbao, the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, the BASQUE TRADE, ICEX, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of the Government of Spain; and the associations and collaborators that are leaders in this industry as HAZI, NEIKER, ELIKA, EIT Food, ILSI Europe, Food for Life, SPRI, Eatable Adventures, SanTelmo Business School or IASP (international association of science parks and innovation areas). 

Agenda

The congress will feature more than 70 sessions and vertical forums for each sector of the agri-food industry, which will focus the debate on the major challenges facing the industry, with special emphasis on the application of automation and robotics, the transition to the new Industry 4.0, and content related to sustainable and healthy food.

As strategic partners in this event, we would like to highlight that Eatable Adventures’ Ecosystem Manager & Innovation Consultant Paula Álvarez Ameijeiras will moderate a round table where leaders in the industry such as Anthony Finbow, CEO of Eagle Genomics, Charis Galanakis, R&I Director of Galanakis Laboratories & Mathew Gorton from New Castle Unversity will be discussing “R&I for sustainable and healthy food systems” on May 17th at 12.00h. 

Furthermore, Eatable Adventures’ ​​Managing Partner & Co-Founder Mila Valcárcel will be speaking in a session about “Building a strong global foodtech ecosystem from Spain” on May 18th at 12.45h. 

For more details about the Agenda of Food 4 Future Summit visit their webpage.

 

Meet the EAA Alumni: Innomy

Innomy

Francisco Kuhar – CSO & Technology Partner; Juan Pablo de Giacomi – CEO & Founder; Pablo Sanchez Rey – COO & Founder.

With the growing demand from the population to eat more and more sustainably, fungi-based meat is one of the new alternatives being pursued by many companies, with the aim of mimicking the taste and texture of real meat. 

Innomy, an Argentinan-based startup located in Spain, is using fungal tissue cultures combined with precision fermentation technology to create complex structures that replicate the fibrous and tender consistency of meat. Created in laboratories, fungi-based meat relies on the mycelium, which is a network of fine filaments that are similar to the muscles of animals. The company modifies the shape, color, and flavor of the filamentous structures in mycelial matrices to make products that taste like meat.

During our interview with Francisco Kuhar, CSO & Technology Partner of Innomy, whose company participated in our Accelerator Program in 2020, he explained how the program helped the company grow, the reasons they chose the fungi-based meat to create their product, and the best advice they received from our CEO, Jose Luis Cabañero. Read on to learn more about Innomy’s experience during the Eatable Adventures Accelerator Program.

 

What stage was Innomy at when you joined the Eatable Adventures Acceleration program? Can you tell us about the growth Innomy has had since participating in our acceleration program?

When Innomy joined the Eatable Adventures Acceleration program: ‘Spain Food Tech’, the development stage was at an advanced stage, but the team’s configuration as a startup was incipient and a lot of organizational work was needed to be able to expose itself to investors and the public. Working with CNTA in the framework of this program was a huge help, as this institution became a valuable partner along the way. The experience we gained from Eatable Adventures enabled us to develop a credible business proposal, as well as to organize the team, understand the language of communication, and present ourselves to investors. In addition, the contacts provided by the Program and the appearances at various events allowed us to increase our reach and access to financing and production proposals.

 

What has the Spanish foodtech ecosystem offered you to establish your company in Spain?

In particular, we felt very supported by the Basque ecosystem. Institutions such as Beaz, Talent, and the BIC of this community welcomed us and helped us in a very active way. On the other hand, Basque research institutions and industry have been very supportive and are allowing us to grow.

 

What are the advantages and benefits of using mycelium compared to other protein alternative raw materials on the market today?

The mycelium contains high-quality protein in terms of its amino acid composition, but also in the supply of vitamins, Beta-glucans, ergosterol, and other compounds whose health benefits include the maintenance of a competent immune system, lower cholesterol levels, and the availability of nutrients without the need for artificial additives.

What is the most valuable piece of advice José Luis has given you in our Acceleration Program?

José Luis taught us that talking with a product on the table is much more effective than communicating ideas or a project. Even if it needs to be improved, the product shows an anchor with the reality that is often valued in the European entrepreneurial environment. Our speech was crystallized into a solid demonstrable development, which changed the way investors or other partners listened to us.

Spain as a global benchmark in FoodTech during the I InnoDays Madrid

Singapore, Israel, and Madrid? FoodTech is gaining momentum in the city trying to become a global reference. Public administrations and private agents have aligned their interests to position the region in one of the sectors of the future. These intentions were evident during the first thematic session of the Innodays, a series of sectoral meetings to promote entrepreneurship in the field of innovation organized by the Madrid City Council, the Community of Madrid, and the Madrid Innovation Driven Ecosystem (MIDE).

I Inno Days: Una nueva potencia global en foodtech

 

Spain as a FoodTech Nation

Among all the guests at the first InnoDays, Eatable Adventures’ Managing Partner, Mila Valcárcel, brought up a relevant topic: the geopolitical changes (and the consequent scarcity of food or raw materials) that will act as accelerators of changes in the agri-food value chain with the incorporation of new technologies.

These changeovers are led by technologies such as robotics, fermentation, bioprinting, artificial intelligence, IoT, new ingredients, cellular technology, or innovations in packaging. “We like to talk about Spain as a FoodTech Nation, a country that is much more than gastronomy and a world power in the agri-food field,” Valcárcel detailed. In fact, 10% of the national GDP depends on these sectors.

 

Startups, the main drivers of the industry

More than 30,000 companies are engaged in agri-food in Spain. “The great challenge for the industry is digitization, technology must reach the whole system. We also need more innovative and sustainable value chains, as is the case in other sectors”. Despite everything, the Spanish FoodTech and AgroTech environments have gained dynamism at full speed, as evidenced by the 700 million in investment attracted by agri-food last year, almost triple compared to 2020.

In this ecosystem, startups are clearly in focus, they are companies that are developing and generating interesting movements at different levels. As for Madrid, there are 407 startups operating in the region, representing 25.29 % of the national total. “They are companies that touch the entire value chain, from production to logistics. Madrid can be the Silicon Valley of food, the key is to work together to achieve it,” assured Mila Valcárcel.

 

Madrid, the Silicon Valley of food

Madrid should have a global ambition regarding its positioning on the FoodTech board. “We should take advantage to change what doesn’t work. For example, technology transfer is fundamental but very complex in Spain. We must mix technology and science to generate ambitious startups capable of solving global challenges.”

At a time when supply chains are breaking down and food autarky is on the rise, Spain has scientific teams, first-rate facilities, and a testing ground, such as Madrid Food Innovation Hub, where everything can be tested. “Let’s develop technology, intellectual property, and a solid business model around food,” said Valcárcel.

 

Educating the consumer

Meanwhile, we need to educate consumers so that they are aware of and able to exploit the disruption.  “For starters, FoodTech will allow us to make food accessible to everyone. This doesn’t mean we’re going to stop having traditional livestock or crops. It means there will be many other ways of doing things in the face of a world population that is growing and demanding functional foods, proteins…”

“It is important to work with the citizen on issues of perception and valuation. Countries like Singapore do a great job of dissemination. In this way, the consumer understands that there is nothing wrong with consuming laboratory meat or lettuce harvested in a vertical garden”.

During its first day, InnoDays aimed to highlight the needs of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and generate synergies between it. Watch the recorded session here.

Baking the Future – “Demo Day” & Second Edition Launch

Baking the Future

Baking the Future closes successfully its first
edition and opens its doors to new startups
with revolutionary ideas

 

Baking the Future

The first edition of our acceleration program Baking the Future, came to an end yesterday with the celebration of the “Demo Day”, a virtual event that aimed to present the projects of the three accelerated startups and communicate the opening of a second edition.

Innovation is part of our DNA. The company itself was born from an idea that revolutionized the bakery sector and since then, Europastry has always sought to be at the forefront of the sector, anticipating new trends and offering its
customers the most disruptive products. “If you stop innovating you end up losing competitiveness and capacity for growth. That is why it is very important to keep reinventing yourself and never think that what you have is for life“, said Jordi Gallés.

The Baking the Future acceleration program plays a very important role in this constant renewal. Startups help us to innovate and open up new opportunities that allow us to take our products to the next dimension, while at the same time we provide them with all of Europastry’s muscle so that they can grow and develop their projects with the greatest possible resources.

 

“CEREAL DEMO DAY”

The celebration of the “Demo Day” took place at Cereal, Europastry’s Innovation Center, where the first idea was born and where today we continue to work with great passion to bring to market the best products in the sector. To conclude the first edition of the Baking the Future program, the three accelerated startups presented their projects whose drivers are sustainability and health:

Agrain

  • The Chilean startup Done Properly with its cutting-edge technology which, through a bioprocess of fermentations, manages to reduce the amount of salt enhancing the natural flavors of food.
  • The Danish startup Agrain with its new way of producing food by recycling grains used in the brewing industry.
  • Spanish startup Bread Free, is the world’s first company capable of creating gluten-free wheat flour to make bread, pasta, and other bakery products.

 

BAKING THE FUTURE OPENS A NEW SELECTION PROCESS

Building an open innovation model for Europastry is the goal of the Baking the Future program. For this reason, we are opening a new selection process for Those startups that want to revolutionize the bakery sector with projects related to sustainability, improving the consumer experience, health, and food solutions and technologies aimed at improving production without losing sight of the quality of the products.

Starting today, those interested in being part of the project can apply on the Baking the Future website. Selected startups will have access to all the company’s resources – from mentoring sessions, workspace, and access to Cereal’s state-of-the-art technology labs to business plan design – to develop their products and test their viability in the market.

Meet the EAA Alumni: MOA Foodtech

Moa FoodtechMOA Foodtech is a Spanish startup that combines biotechnology and artificial intelligence to transform waste and by-products from the agri-food industry into a 100% sustainable ‘‘new generation protein” of high nutritional value.  Their goal is to implement new technologies that promote a fairer, more compassionate, and more sustainable food system while still being appealing to consumers.

We had the opportunity to interview Bosco Emparanza García, CEO and founder of MOA Foodtech, one year after going through our Accelerator Program. Discover what this meant to them, the advice he still retains, and how he sees MOA Foodtech in the future.

 

How did the idea of founding a company as MOA Foodtech arise? What is the main goal of the company?

The world is currently in a critical environmental situation. By 2050, agriculture will need to feed 40% more people, produce 70% more food, using only 10% more land.
The whole MOA team was concerned about the situation and the huge impact the agri-food industry has. For this reason, the three founding partners, Susana, José María, and I, made this decision to leave our jobs as scientific directors in a biopharmaceutical, M&A, and commercial company, respectively. As a step towards developing a sustainable agriculture-food model, we set out to investigate the following: Can we use waste and by-products from the agri-food industry to produce high-value food using biotechnology?

 

What were the benefits of working with Eatable Adventures in your first steps until the business was consolidated?

The beginning of our journey was a time of uncertainty. That same year was the confinement, and we found ourselves leaving our jobs. At that point, the Eatable Adventures team came on board; they believed in the project and shared our ambition. The solution we wanted had to be global, and thanks to Eatable’s way of working and networking, we were able to start a global project. As time passed, the most rewarding and intense hours of the week were our meetings with Mila and José Luis, when we wrote down our plans to overcome the next hurdle, and we did.

 

What is the most valuable piece of advice José Luis has given you in our Acceleration Program?

Having spent so many hours working together, it is impossible to choose just one. But without a doubt, there have been two in particular that made us change our approach and begin to see things more clearly.

The first, and undoubtedly essential, was that we had to seek international investment. This was the best way to position ourselves as a credible project and thus begin to grow.
And the second was to consider what we really were. Instead of thinking, we were just a protein manufacturer, we had to think of ourselves as a platform.

 

What is in the near future for MOA Foodtech and where do you aspire to go in the long term?

Our goal is to be a global project, so we are scaling the technology to an industrial level and developing solutions focusing on the Asian (where protein consumption will grow the most), European and American markets. In addition, we are working on applications not only in meat analogs but also in snacks and dairy analogs. We are also developing new processes utilizing by-products and residues, and perhaps most importantly, we’ve developed an artificial intelligence tool that helps us develop all of the above more efficiently and quickly.

Check out our other Alumni Interviews here.

Foodtech Opportunities in The Spanish Market

The foodtech sector is an emerging and dynamic sector dedicated to improving the entire food industry value chain sustainably. This intersection between nutrition and technology is changing the traditional food and beverage sector, prompting existing players to rethink many of their insights into manufacturing processes, consumers, and the market in general.

In recent years, Israel has positioned itself as one of the world’s FoodTech leaders, and it has succeeded. In just 70 years, it has managed to turn its threats into opportunities and become a world reference in innovation, responsible for some of the most disruptive and revolutionary technologies in multiple areas. 

 

Investing in Spain’s FoodTech Sector

In our country, investment in the foodtech sector has tripled in one year after national startups have raised 695 million euros in 2021, which is 220% more than the previous year, according to data from ICEX’s recent report. Thus, the Spanish ecosystem is the fifth foodtech ecosystem with the highest investment in Europe after Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands, offering numerous opportunities for innovation, some of which make this country a global benchmark.

Webinar Israel

Imagine how powerful these two ecosystems would be if they were connected? That’s exactly what happened during the webinar on February 22. The Foreign Trade Administration of the Ministry of Economy of the State of Israel engaged Eatable Adventures and leading Spanish corporations, such as Europastry and Pascual, to be part of the conversation and share best practices in open innovation.

Although we still have many challenges ahead of us, all levels of government, associations, clusters, and large food companies are working simultaneously to address them. We live in the era of collaboration, in which people, startups, investors, and administrations, are allied to build a better future; and of course corporations in the agri-food sector cannot miss this joint work.

 

Open Innovation Programs: Mylkcubator & Baking the Future

Startups in this sector are undoubtedly an engine of innovation that can bring a lot to the industry. In order to benefit from this, we need to create open innovation programs that identify the best startups to partner with, lay the groundwork for this collaboration, and channel joint efforts that benefit both parties.

Mylkcubator Companies of all sizes and nationalities are implementing programs along these lines every day. Important Spanish food companies have developed their open innovation programs, accelerators, and investment arms, such as Pascual’s Mylkcubator and Europastry’s Baking the Future. With these programs, companies can discover new business models, explore new channels with their consumers, reinforce the sustainability of their operations, diversify in categories or geographically and, above all, increase the efficiency of their business.

baking the futureThere are many ways in which companies in the sector work on open innovation, and it will depend a lot on the culture of the company, the position it is in, and the structure it has. In this regard, it is always helpful to have an ally who can advise the company on how to move forward, identify startups to work with, and lay the groundwork for collaboration with them, such as us, Eatable Adventures. 

If you want to know more about the Spanish foodtech sector, visit our recent article.

Meet the EAA Alumni: Ekonoke

 

Ekonoke Ekonoke is a Madrid-based company with a disruptive business model. It produces hops of the highest quality, ensuring sustainability and reliability of supply, and developing climate-resilient agricultural solutions with the least use of resources.

We had the opportunity to talk with Inés Sagrario, CEO and Co-founder of Ekonoke, which participated in our Eatable Adventures Acceleration Program (EAA) in 2019. Read on to learn more about Ekonoke’s experience as part of the acceleration program.

 

Could you narrate Ekonoke’s journey since you’ve been part of our accelerator program?

Ekonoke joined the Eatable Adventures Accelerator Program in September 2018. Our original project had nothing to do with what we are now. Even the partners at the beginning told us the project wasn’t quite right, but that they were confident in our team. We made fundamental decisions together to put the project on a better track, becoming who we are now.

In the first place, we suffered some confluence of our work with the Eatable Adventures team and the alterations of climate change we had to face. In March 2019 there was a beastly heatwave in Madrid, passing 40 degrees in the greenhouse, which was not prepared for it. This led to a drop in production, making us unable to get to serve customers we already committed with.
During this time we realized we couldn’t continue working in a greenhouse, and we had to switch to indoor cultivation.

With support from Eatable Adventures, we also realized that our vertical garden model focused on Horeca was not a scalable project, but rather an artisanal one. Responding to what our restaurant clients requested, we made our first change by offering ready-for-harvest live mini-gardens. Through Eatable, we were introduced to a variety of events, and in one of them, we met our partners Tallos microgreens. In combining the two projects, the brand Ekonoke was born.
Simultaneously, we continued testing with crops that did not have climate risk, one of them being hops, which has led us to what we are today.

  

Walk us through your rebranding process decision, why did you decide to focus only on one type of crop, as well as only selling your products at a B2B level?

We put together the situation Ekonoke was in at the time. On the one hand, our mini-gardens were not being profitable. Despite receiving very positive feedback from customers, we didn’t have the level of repetition that we had envisioned in our pre-covid business model.

On the other hand, having already been working with hops and being in contact with breweries, we realized that the brewing industry faced an important challenge of supplying their raw material sustainably and reliably.

Putting these two situations together, the answer was clear. One of the strongest supporters of our decision to completely change our business model has been Jose Luis Cabañero, CEO of Eatable Adventures.  

 

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received from Jose Luis in our Accelerator Program?

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the greatest advice I have received from Jose  Luis was not really during the Acceleration Program period. Once you are part of the program, you create bonds, connections, and relationships that last a lifetime. It is very valuable to have a team behind your project with a vision and the ability to guide and support you as you make future decisions.

Having said that, the biggest piece of advice he told us was to decide to focus on growing hops. It was hard to accept and put aside our mini-garden project, but after long conversations with Jose Luis, he made us understand that the future of Ekonoke was in being a hops company.

 

Where do you envision Ekonoke in the short and long-term future?

In the short term, we are already working to have our first commercial-scale hop growing facility in Galicia, having close connections with Estrella de Galicia’s brewery. We want to show the world that different types of crops can be grown in different ways, starting with hops, so that food and ingredients do not have to travel thousands of miles, but rather the knowledge and technology will do.

In ideally 4-5 years, we will have our indoor hop growing facilities available worldwide, being the leading company that has completely revolutionized the hop industry.

 

Madrid Food Innovation Hub launches the first incubation program for HORECA

The first Incubation Program for Innovation in HORECA Projects developed by the Madrid City Council and managed by Eatable Adventures just launched. Madrid Food Innovation Hub is a business incubator aimed at promoting entrepreneurship, innovation and technology in the agri-food value chain. This is a pioneering experience in the world that will revolutionize the global industry from the city of Madrid. 

Madrid Food Innovation Hub will develop during the year several incubation and acceleration programs, with different approaches; and a deep training program for entrepreneurs in any area of the agri-food chain. The center will work to promote entrepreneurship in Foodtech, supporting the Madrid startup ecosystem, in coordination with the strategy developed from Madrid Emprende, which has led the capital to lead the ranking as the best Spanish city for entrepreneurship and the sixth at European level, according to the Financial Times.

All these efforts will be developed from the facilities in the Villaverde district of Madrid Food Innovation Hub, a center that has a coworking space for entrepreneurs and a kitchen-laboratory of more than 300 m2, equipped with everything necessary for them to make concept tests, evaluation of prototypes and everything needed to develop their projects. This business incubator will be managed by the company Eatable Adventures with José de Isasa in charge of the project.

 

Madrid Food Innovation Hub terrace

Incubation Program for Innovation in HORECA Projects

Madrid Food Innovation Hub starts its activities with its first Incubation program, focused on innovation for HORECA projects, aimed at finding new gastronomic concepts, new business models or tools/projects that add to the current Horeca sector. The selected projects will have the ambition to revolutionize the sector, with a clear focus on the commercial viability of the projects and their contribution to the industry.

The program, which is completely free of charge for participants, will last 12 weeks, during which those selected will receive theoretical and practical sessions, tutorials with experts, will be able to make use of the center’s facilities (both the coworking space and the kitchen laboratory), and will end the program with presentations of their projects to potential consumers and investors.

Among the possible areas in which the projects could be framed, tools for the digitalization of restaurant management will be assessed, from purchasing, management, operation, scandals, marketing, to payments; new distribution channels, such as Delivery, Grab & go, dark kitchens, automated services, corners in establishments…; new gastronomic models and restaurant concepts, both in the dining room and in the kitchen or innovative technological tools applied to the channel such as business intelligence, machine learning, application of artificial intelligence, automation, robotics…

It is aimed at projects with less than 12 months of life, that have not received previous investment, that address the HORECA sector with an innovative perspective, that have an ambitious team and are based in the Community of Madrid. Special value will be given to projects promoted by unemployed or economically vulnerable people.

 

“The Madrid Hospitality Industry has suffered significant damage in the last 18 months due to the impact of COVID-19 and the Madrid City Council has developed a multitude of policies aimed at supporting it and mitigating its effects. With Madrid Food Innovation Hub we are going even further, looking for the future solutions that will help the HORECA sector to evolve and continue to be the global reference it is today” comments Ángel Niño, Delegate Councilor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Madrid City Council.

 

“Madrid is today a global reference in entrepreneurship, with one of the most solid ecosystems of startups and with Madrid Food Innovation Hub we will deepen in one of the sectors with more potential, foodtech. The capital has the potential to lead the search for solutions to changes in consumer habits and the development of new technologies, driving business development in this area,” said José de Isasa, Director of Madrid Food Innovation Hub and founding partner of Eatable Adventures.

 

The deadline for applications is Sunday, September 19. The complete rules are available at www.madridfoodinnovationhub.com 

The alternative protein “revolution”: emerging technologies, new sources and increasingly scalable developments

In collaboration with CNTA, we have put together a summary of the most relevant arguments made at the event Future Food Tech Alternative Proteins. Some of these are the potential of technologies such as precision fermentation or synthetic biology as ways to obtain protein alternatives, as well as predicting that this trend is likely to continue to grow.

CNTA, National Centre for Food Safety and Technology, is a private non-profit making association. Since 1981, the aim of this research centre has been to contribute towards improving the competitiveness and quality of the food sector. Its work is focused on the fields of food science and technology, biology, chemistry, agronomic engineering, food sciences and nutrition.

What is contributing to this acceleration in the so-called alternative protein revolution? Why, as experts and international foodtech leaders point out, are the “stars aligning”? Here we summarize some of the keys:

Technology boom helps: many breakthroughs in precision fermentation and synthetic biology

If there was one term redundantly mentioned at Future Food Tech Alternative Proteins it was “precision fermentation”. Undoubtedly, it is one of the trendy technologies to meet the challenge of the search for alternative proteins. During the event, it was predicted that its progressive implementation will make it possible to continue producing ingredients with technological and nutritional characteristics capable of matching and even surpassing animal sources.

It is also a sustainable and efficient technology, which are very valuable qualities considering that the food industry faces the challenge of mitigating its climate impact in the coming years. Thus, the progress that can be made in the application of precision fermentation will open up great opportunities in the food industry.

The food industry is also looking very closely at the potential offered by synthetic biology. Numerous startups are succeeding in creating very promising cell-based products. So far, cell-based alternatives are the ones that are best able to replicate whole cuts (steaks, chops, sashimi…), as they are able to offer the consumer organoleptic and nutritional qualities that practically match those of the “originals”. After all, as Michael Selden, CEO of Finless Foods, pointed out, “laboratory developments are managing to reproduce what really happens in nature”. Looking to the future, regulatory and price barriers remain to be overcome so that these products can have a real and extensive market penetration.

The strength of new sources: algae, fungi, SCP…

Little by little we will be seeing more products based on alternative proteins from a wide variety of sources. At Future Food Tech Alternative Proteins we were able to see examples of how, increasingly, sources are diversifying with interesting results and potential market implementation. From the commitment to algae varieties such as the red algae used by Triton Algae or the chorella used by Algenuity, to the commitment to mycelium by Meati Foods or the unicellular protein Euglena by Noblegen. These cases make it clear that there is life beyond plant-based sources.

future food tech alternative protein

Noblegen presenting its ‘Euglena’ SCP development at Future FoodTech Alternative Proteins.

Even so, work continues in the plant-based segment, where it is also possible to find sources other than the usual ones (chickpea, pea, soybean). To make this search more effective, the need for a better and more detailed knowledge of the nutritional properties of new plants or legumes was put on the table, applying technologies that make it possible to characterize the ingredients from a technological (texture, stability, etc.) and nutritional (amino acids, digestibility, etc.) point of view.

Greater knowledge will generate even more possibilities for diversification.

“There are startups that are scaling very fast”.

Sean O’Sulivan, of SOSV Imvestment, gave another of the keys that is contributing to the acceleration of developments and the expectation that new products can slowly make their way onto the agenda of more consumers. “There are startups today that are scaling very fast and that is a huge step towards success,” he said in the opening keynote at the congress. One of the reasons for that ability to scale is the fact that the most disruptive startups are counting on a solid technological base. This is also attracting the attention not only of investors but also of large companies in the sector. Looking to the future, everything suggests that this technological solvency will gradually increase and this will allow the innovation boom to be aligned with the investment boom, whose upward trend has been a constant in recent years.

The forecasts, therefore, continue to be very optimistic. With greater technological solvency, it will be possible to scale up and achieve products that can compete on price in the market, reaching a larger number of consumers. This is undoubtedly one of the keys to ensuring that the much-talked-about acceleration does not come to a screeching halt.

The food industry is facing a scenario in which it can connect with a consumer who is increasingly committed to sustainability and who sees alternative protein sources as a strategy in line with this commitment. If we add to this the fact that alternatives to animal protein are already an unavoidable part of the future agenda of institutions and administrations, the scenario is favorable for the “revolution” to consolidate its change of gear and reach cruising speed.

The original content was written by Mikel Arilla, CNTA’s Vanguard and Trends Technician, is available here.