February 1st 2023
10 of the Most Innovative Food Start-Ups Across the Globe BY Isabel Putinja
2018 was the year that vegan went mainstream. Since then, the shift towards plant-based foods has sparked innovation and change in the food industry. Food technology start-ups have mushroomed, and are revolutionizing food as we know it.
Here are 10 of the top food start-ups across the globe serving up innovation and transforming the industry by changing how we grow and eat food.
This Swiss company is “on the mission to make deliciousness sustainable” by tackling the vital element missing from vegan dairy alternatives: “creaminess”. Cultivated Biosciences is coming to the rescue with plant-based fats made from GMO-free yeast fermented with sugar. These natural fats add a creamy texture that’s very similar to dairy cream to plant-based milk, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. The end of 2024 is when this innovative new product is projected to enter the B2B market.
Israel’s Redefine Meat made headlines in 2018 when it created the world’s first 3D-printed steak. They achieved another first in 2021, as the first company to commercialize plant-based whole cuts. Today over 250 employees are behind a dozen “mock meat” products ranging from from pulled-beef and pork, to sausages, burgers, and flanks of lamb and beef. These are already on menus in restaurants across Israel, as well as in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands.
But just how do you print a steak? The company’s website describes the process as “Meat Matrix Manufacturing” which combines advanced manufacturing technologies with additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Sounds like a carefully guarded secret…
Fish made of plants? Yes, there is a vegan alternative to fish, too. The mission of Swedish start-up Hooked Foods is “to lead the transition to a healthier seafood ecosystem, through making mouth-watering seafood.” By creating plant-based fish products, they’re tackling the problem of overfishing and saving our oceans.
What is Toonish, their plant-based tuna made of? Soy beans! And algae, and sunflower oil. There’s a salmon version too, called Salmoonish, and a soy-free version of both products is in the works.
Headed by a team of engineers and scientists, this start-up in the Netherlands describes itself as “a food technology company pioneering a cleaner, kinder way of making beef.” Mosa Meat is working towards introducing cell-cultured meat products to the European market.
How does cell culture technology work? A sample of cells, the size of a peppercorn, are extracted from healthy cows under anaesthetic. The cows then return to their fields while their cells are grown into fat and muscle through a natural process in a lab. Out of a single sample, 80,000 cell-cultured burgers can be produced. Imagine how many cows that would save?
Eat Just is the cutting-edge American company behind JUST Egg, the vegan egg replacer already familiar to fans of everything plant-based in the US. In 2022, it was approved by the European Food Safety Authority and is now on shop shelves in Europe.
This nifty egg replacer is made of mung bean protein and looks and tastes like the real thing. It’s also non-GMO, free of cholesterol, and high in protein. It’s a win-win-win.
“Food Out of Thin Air” sounds like a tall claim, but that’s how Solar Foods produces plant-based protein. With the goal to pioneer a new era of sustainable food production, this food tech start-up based in Finland uses air and electricity to create Solein®, a natural protein powder.
Using a technology the Solar Foods team developed, electricity is used to produce hydrogen which is then combined with carbon dioxide, water, vitamins and minerals, and presto – a microbial biomass is the result.
This pure and natural protein can be used to make meat alternatives as well as a huge variety of plant-based foods: from pasta and bread, to dairy alternatives.
The Live Green Co.
In Chile, a food start-up has been looking at how to transition to a more sustainable food industry using proprietary technology. The team at The Live Green Co. has come up with a technology platform called Charaka, powered by AI. The platform is a repository of ancestral wisdom related to plants from around the world and their health benefits. This collection of data is then mined for the creation of new plant-based alternatives.
Using their technology, a range of products have been created that include burger and baking mixes, ice creams and protein bars. All ingredients are made from plant ingredients only, and are entirely free of additives.
You’ve heard of vertical gardens, but how about a vertical farm? This is what’s going down (or up) in Barcelona, Spain. Groots is a large-scale urban vertical farm that runs on hydroponics yet uses 90 percent less water than a traditional farm. Also, though no soil is used, it produces 40 times more food.
Here, plants can grow all year round and there’s no need for long supply chains, fertilizers, or nasty pesticides. By going vertical, this start-up with an eye on sustainability is working towards a green revolution.
Fungi fermentation is the ingenious technology used by German start-up Bosque Foods to produce meat alternatives. The truly magic part of the mushroom is the mycelium, tiny thread-like fibers that form their invisible “roots. When cultivated in incubators, it’s transformed into whole-cut meat alternatives that are nutrient-rich and have the flavor of umami.
Dairy-free milk alternatives are probably the plant-based products that have gone the most mainstream. But for those who can’t give up the taste of dairy milk, there is a cruelty-free version in development. Formo in Germany is working “to bring the next generation of sustainable, healthy, and equitable dairy products to consumers.” This start-up has a goal: to replace 10 percent of dairy products in Europe by 2030.
By using the process of precision fermentation, the team at Formo uses microorganisms as mini-factories to produce milk proteins. They explain that it’s similar to using alcohol to make beer, but here the microorganisms make milk. The result is cruelty-free milk with the composition and taste of real milk, that can also be used to make cheese.