Image Source: PNGwing
Welcome to our VSQ Conscious Collective Journal. We’re taking this time to provide updates on portfolio companies or ventures we believe stand out and to explore content we feel is relevant to our journey together in order to enhance your experience and knowledge as a conscious investor.
Meat & Greet
The emerging “FoodTech” vertical is providing disruptive innovations to address exponential population growth, food security challenges, climate change and waste management. “FoodTech — a merger of the words food and technology — involves companies and projects that use technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), among other things, to turn the agrifood industry into a more modern, sustainable and efficient sector in all its stages, from food preparation to its distribution and consumption.” The Global Food Tech Market Analysis & Forecast 2016-2022 estimates the sector's total value will reach over 250 billion dollars by 2022.
Within the FoodTech space, scientists and entrepreneurs are joining forces to design solutions to meet the growing needs of the population, namely food, and this includes the development of technological innovations addressing the future of meat production. You’ve likely heard of the likes of Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods or JUST Egg, which continue to make headlines. Few of us, however, actually understand the breadth of the space - plant-based, cultured, fermented, insect-based… what, exactly, is going on?
Source: VSQ Future of Food Presentation
Full disclosure: our diverse VentureSouq team includes vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and (avid) meat eaters. We’re not here to convince you to go one way or another but simply to offer insights that will provide some food for thought.
The Meat Industry’s Age of Reckoning
Last week, Impossible Foods reached a new milestone with the launch of an Impossible Breakfast Sandwich at Starbucks internationally and at most U.S. locations. According to an interview with CNBC, Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown shared how this Starbucks deal is the biggest launch for the company thus far. “People are increasingly aware that plant-based products are going to completely replace the animal-based products in the food world within the next 15 years. That’s our mission. That transformation is inevitable,” Brown told Mad Money host Jim Cramer last week.
Alternative Proteins: The Race for Market Share is On
Interest in the alternative protein space has ramped up over the last decade due to increased consumer interest in health, pricing and ethics. This McKinsey report offers an insightful macro overview of the alternative protein market base - currently estimated at $2.2 billion compared with a global meat market of approximately $1.7 trillion. “Consumer interest in non-meat-based protein options is increasing globally. Food industry players that want to capture the opportunity must understand the evolving market dynamics and where to place their bets.”
China’s Artificial Meat Race is Heating up
What do Nestlé, Starbucks, KFC and Bubble Tea have in common? Check out this Radii piece to learn more about how the world’s largest consumer of meat is jumping on the alternative protein bandwagon. “If [China] can be weaned off of this particular habit, the environmental impact could be enormous.”
Show Me the Data
You’ve heard of the detrimental environmental impact of food production and agriculture. If you need some figures to wrap your head around it check out this report by Our World in Data:
Food accounts for over a quarter (26%) of global greenhouse gas emissions
Half of the world’s habitable (ice- and desert-free) land is used for agriculture
70% of global freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture
78% of global ocean and freshwater eutrophication (the pollution of waterways with nutrient-rich pollutants) is caused by agriculture
94% of mammal biomass (excluding humans) is livestock - this means livestock outweigh wild mammals by a factor of 15-to-1
Which of these data points surprised you the most?
VSQ Portfolio Spotlight: JUST
“The biggest individual impact you can make on our planet is the food you choose to eat. The truth is you get three votes for the planet every day — breakfast, lunch and dinner.” US-based food technology company JUST recently launched their Impact 2020 Report where they announced they had sold the equivalent of 40 million eggs as of May 2020 - a plant-based JUST Egg uses 98% less water, has a 93% smaller carbon footprint and uses 86% less land than conventional animal sources.
We had a call with Louis Psihoyos, Director of acclaimed documentaries The Cove, Racing Extinction and The Game Changers. Here are a few “hot takes” from the conversation:
"If you really want to scale social change, to have massive impact on the environment, healthcare and poverty, the way to do it is to address the way that we produce and consume food."
"85% of the most critical health issues, including heart disease and Alzheimers, can actually be reversed with a plant-based diet."
"People give us a lot of credit for Game Changers, but you can't say that because we made a film, X or Y happened. It's part of a chorus that is happening at a certain point in time."
"Google searches for Impossible Foods went up by 350% the week Game Changers was released on Netflix."
If you’re interested to hear more from Louie check out Von Wong’s Impact Everywhere podcast: Achieving Population-Level Change Through Documentary Films ft. Oscar-Winning Filmmaker Louie Psihoyos.
Speaking of podcasts, Sonia Weymuller, Partner at VentureSouq, was recently invited to participate in “Conversations with Loulou”, where she addressed adversity and resilience and life’s curveballs and pivots in this episode titled “Finding your Inner Sisu.” While not addressing alternative protein per se this is a meaty podcast nonetheless so check it out.
Future of Food Session
We hosted an engaging Future of Food session led by Caio Malufe (Top Tier Impact & Cargill). Caio provided an introductory overview of the Food & Ag space; he highlighted key innovation drivers in the value chain and the associated investment risks & opportunities and rounded it off with a case study.
Practice Makes Perfect
Subsequent to this session we went ahead and did a practical plant-based testing exercise. One of our team members, the aforementioned (avid) meat eater, with no previous plant-based experience, tested out US-based Beyond Meat versus Brazilian Fazenda Futuro’s burgers (both available in the UAE). The verdict? You’ll have to try them out yourself...
Not ready to take the plunge just yet? Journalist Graham Hill shares his practical suggestions in his Ted Talk: become a weekday veg.
Lola lists her top podcasts on this month’s topic:
This 30-min episode includes specialists like Pat Brown (CEO of Impossible Foods), Mark Post (Chief Scientific Officer of Mosa Meats), Roger Horowitz (food historian and recognized author) and Marta Zaraska (journalist and acclaimed author). It explores the entire history of meat from why we, as humans, started to consume meat to the accuracy in Winston Churchill’s 1940s predictions about the future of meat (hint: somewhat accurate).
Bruce Friedrich, co-founder and executive director of The Good Food Institute (GFI), talks about the origins of the organisation and the work it’s been doing since 2016. GFI is accelerating the production of plant-based and cultivated meat in order to bolster the global protein supply while protecting our environment, promoting global health, and preventing food insecurity and animal cruelty. In this episode he also addresses the beginnings of clean meat and how the different stakeholders involved - private companies, multinationals, governments & scientists - came together to build a knowledge and nomenclature base for the clean meat industry.