The year 2020 has shown above all that the plant-based innovation potential sees no end, resulting in an increasingly competitive global plant-based market. In review, vegconomist presents the top three most innovative startups based in the Nordic region, which we have reported on in the course of the year.
Of course, the most famous brand from this area is Swedish oat milk pioneer Oatly, which now holds 64% of milk alternative sales and has grown by an incredible 1,946% over the past two years. This year has also seen huge success for Naturli’ Foods, another big Scandanavian player.
The Nordic region is considered a hotspot for innovation. According to Forbes, Sweden, Finland and Denmark are all in the top ten of the world’s most innovative nations. Besides that, Scandinavia has offered a good stock of young, vegan talent in 2020, and here are three of our favourites.
1 – Food from air
The Finnish foodtech startup Solar Foods produces nutrition from thin air. What sounds like science fiction is expected to be ready for the market by end of 2022. So far, the young company has raised €24.8 million in investment funds, developed more than twenty types of products using its protein Solein made with air-captured CO2, and was even involved in a research project to develop astronaut nutrition for a Mars mission.
2 – Combatting food waste
The Danish company Rootly is against food waste and in favour of plant-based innovation. The startup’s vegan sausages contain vegetables and a very special ingredient – recycled juice pulp, which is normally discarded during juice production. Looking ahead, upcycled foods will be on the rise, as they have been predicted to be the biggest food trend for 2021.
In October, the Department of Plant and Environmental Science at the University of Copenhagen published an article in the open access journal Sustainability that sees an urgent need to channel Denmark’s innovation potential towards a plant-based transition: “Transitioning to more plant-based food production is pivotal for making our food system more sustainable, and we should therefore discourage large investments in technologies aiming to maintain an inherently less sustainable animal-based food production system.”
3 – Chicken from potatoes!
Veg of Lund from Sweden collaborated with Nordic meat giant Scandi Standard to develop chicken from locally produced potatoes. Previously, the startup created a patented plant-based emulsion incorporated in its smoothies, based on potatoes and rapeseed oil, which will also serve as the base for the new chicken alternative. Besides the unusual story of a smoothie company developing vegan chicken, the most innovative aspect is the fact that potatoes and rapeseed oil cannot be mixed under normal circumstances.
Looking to the future, all three nations have big plans. Sweden plans to take big steps towards sustainability, reducing its consumption of red and processed meat and establishing a resource-efficient circular economy in the long term. In the case of Finland, the project leader at the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), Nesli Sözer, commented to Good News Finland: “The Finnish food industry is in a unique position to take the lead in the transition towards a more plant-based system in line with the national and European targets.”