Allen Zelden, as many of our readers will know, is an Australian expert in all things plant-based and sustainable with a focus on the APAC region. Founder of sustainability platform FutureVVworld, mentor and business advisor to many, as well as correspondent and friend to vegconomist.
“I believe we all have a duty to lead by example and leave the world in a healthier and better place for our children and all future generations”
We caught up with Allen to find out his highlights of the year and thoughts looking ahead to 2022.
What were your personal highlights of 2021?
For me, 2021 was truly a year for the record books!
My greatest personal highlight was launching FUTUREVVORLD which is a digital platform completely dedicated to the growing movement of sustainability in fashion, footwear and design.
With the Australian plant-based foods industry continuing to experience record growth, I also joined the Kilara Capital team as their Lead Advisor for Future Food to help fuel the ecosystems for those alternative protein companies seeking support at the “growth-stage” of their trajectory.
In Australia, we’re currently seeing a lot of funding across venture capital, but as the alternative proteins space continues to scale, and we seek to make greater moves overseas, growth equity will inevitably play an essential role here.
Which milestones can your company reflect upon throughout the last year?
Thanks to overwhelming support, having both the opportunity – and necessity – to relaunch the FUTUREVVORLD website was definitely a milestone for me.
Typically, the best founders have often lived the problem they’re trying to solve, and FUTUREVVORLD certainly solves my problem!
In my efforts to accelerate the growth and awareness of more ethical and sustainable food choices, I found there was no single destination to discover, inform and embrace more ethical and environmentally responsible choices in fashion and footwear.
We built FUTUREVVORLD to fill that void, and thanks to our new website, we’re thrilled to inspire our growing community to embrace new ways of thinking about their consumption beyond just the written word.
Where can interested parties meet the company in person in 2022? (Trade fairs/events)
On the 16th of February, Food Frontier is launching AltProteins 22 – the first-ever alternative proteins event for Australia and New Zealand.
It will feature the most inspiring representation across the AU/NZ alternative proteins ecosystem, and I’m excited to be moderating a panel on how we’re “Building a $3B Industry” featuring the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australian Government), and Australian Foodservice Advocacy Body.
For all those in Australia, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out: https://altproteinsconference.com.au/
What kind of challenges lie ahead in 2022?
After Australia’s seafood, meat and poultry industries bound together to call out what they believe is “misleading” marketing of plant-based proteins, a Senate inquiry was launched to consider whether the terms “beef”, “fish”, “chicken”, “pork”, etc, should be used in the labelling and marketing of plant-based products.
However, as with all emerging disruptive categories, collaboration and resilience is everything, and whilst there is undoubtedly competition amongst the increasing number of Australian alternative protein food businesses and service providers, we are ALL ultimately driven by a mission beyond just turning a profit.
Regardless of what the Senate presents in its February report, Australia has established a powerful foundation for success and I’m confident we can collectively overcome any challenges thrown at us by the meat, seafood and poultry sectors as they continue to protect their commercial interests before that of the consumer.
What are your plans for 2022?
Excitingly, I have some new ventures and advisory commitments to share but can’t divulge any more just yet.
However, what I can say is that I’ve recently partnered with a prominent manufacturer and food innovator that currently produces over 1000 plant-based SKU’s globally, and we will shortly be announcing a new evolution in the plant-based food space in Q1 2022.
I believe brands and their products are a way to tell stories and invest in radical systems change, and we want to be at the forefront of that when it comes to alternative proteins, particularly as there remains a number of untapped food types, some with little competition and ripe for disruption.
Any personal message to the PB business world?
It’s important to remind ourselves WHY we pursue our passion to make a difference to our future, and the way we personally and socially relate to our food and fashion choices.
I believe we all have a duty to lead by example and leave the world in a healthier and better place for our children and all future generations.
The last 12 months has really taught us all something and as we move into the holidays, I truly hope we use our respective learnings to fuel our subsequent goals with those things that align with what we value most so that together, we can make 2022 our biggest and most impactful year yet.