ProVeg: Internationalisation and Startup Incubator

Portrait Matthias Rohra
Matthias Rohra, COO ProVeg International

ProVeg – formerly VEBU – is an international organisation dedicated to mindfulness in the food sector. ProVeg International is currently active on four continents, and has plans for further expansion. It is setting the course for its vision of a world in which people choose delicious and healthy foods which are good for humans, animals and the environment. Matthias Rohra (COO, ProVeg) tells us more about the development of ProVeg and its future plans.

You changed your name from VEBU to ProVeg International some time ago, why was that?

Problems such as climate change, factory farming and global hunger do not stop at national borders; they are global in nature. These global problems also need cross-border solutions. ProVeg is the first international nutrition organisation committed to the plant-based lifestyle. Such an organisation did not previously exist. ProVeg promotes the cross-border exchange of ideas and experiences and connects committed actors and interest groups worldwide, thus more effectively bringing about social change towards a sustainable way of life. Our renaming to ProVeg symbolises our completely new orientation.

How many members does ProVeg International now have in Germany?

In Germany alone, we currently have 63 permanent employees and we continue to grow. Additionally, there are many volunteer colleagues and around 100 ProVeg regional groups, all of which work for the plant-based lifestyle throughout Germany. In addition, more than 14,000 people nationwide support the work of ProVeg through their monthly ProVeg membership.

proveg international logo

How many countries is ProVeg International active in, and which countries will be added soon?

ProVeg currently operates in the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, South Africa, Germany and the United Kingdom. Other countries, such as China and the US, are interested in becoming part of the global ProVeg movement and will soon follow suit. We are working intensively on internationalisation.

What does ProVeg Corporate Engagement offer?

ProVeg Corporate Engagement offers a very wide range of services for the food retail and catering sectors. This includes support for companies that want to produce meat-free or purely plant-based products or switch to animal-free recipes. With the V-label, which is awarded by ProVeg in Germany, manufacturers can have their products certified and thus provide even more confidence and transparency. ProVeg also trains chefs who want to bring vegetarian/vegan food to their menus, and helps them implement healthy plant-based and climate-friendly offerings. An example is the project KEEKS (Climate and Energy-Efficient Kitchen in Schools), which is supported by the Federal Environment Ministry. At trade fairs and events such as VeggieWorld, Biofach and Internorga, ProVeg acts as a competent contact in the plant-based industry for both consumers and professionals.

What types of company have you already consulted and which ones are you currently consulting?

From vegan startups to medium-sized companies such as caterers, canteens and health insurance companies to large companies that currently only sell processed meat, ProVeg advises a wide range of companies which are making it increasingly easy for consumers to choose plant-based products. In the future, ProVeg will focus even more on projects which are researching innovative plant-based alternatives. Likewise, ProVeg welcomes the development of cultivated meat. Cultured animal products have the potential to alleviate many nutrition-related global issues and dramatically minimise animal suffering. For this reason, ProVeg will engage in further research in this area – from product optimisation and production to consumer acceptance.

ProVeg is planning an incubator in Berlin – what are you planning to do?

With the Startup Incubator, ProVeg will promote product ideas which aim to permanently change the food market. We will offer startups modern office space, a large kitchen, access to our extensive network of industrial and fair trade partners, market researchers and international investors as well as a broad workshop program. The opening of the incubator is scheduled for October and we look forward to exciting applications from international founders.

Who can apply to the incubator, and from when? What conditions must be satisfied?

Young company founders, as well as those who already have exciting ideas for new foods, can now apply for the incubator program at www.proveg.com/incubator. But the ProVeg Incubator team is also looking for professional reinforcement. The job advertisements with the exact requirements can be found at www.proveg.com/jobs.

Where do you want ProVeg to be in five years?

In five years’ time, we want ProVeg to be represented in all the strategically most important countries worldwide. In addition to the current ProVeg countries, this also includes China, the USA and Brazil. We also want to expand our cross-sectoral networks and collaborate with decision-makers in global bodies and institutions. ProVeg will promote the development of animal-free products, especially in the business sector, and will offer manufacturers new opportunities to produce the food of the future today. We are already observing that more and more companies are switching to plant-based products and that a growing number of people are turning to plant-based alternatives for the environment and animals. The study of cultured meat is developing just as rapidly. ProVeg will actively participate in its further development.