Handtmann Steak 2.0

© Handtmann

veg+ Interviews

Handtmann: “Interest in the Steak Was Overwhelming. We Hadn’t Expected Such Strong Demand”

Handtmann Maschinenfabrik GbH specialises in innovative filling and portioning systems. These technologies are widely used in the food industry, including in the production of plant-based sausage and meat products and other alternative products. Handtmann focuses on innovation in order to realise new product ideas as well as classic recipes with state-of-the-art technology. At Anuga FoodTec in Cologne, Handtmann presented its new moulding system, a new option for the production of formed and filled products. The moulding system offers flexibility both for free forming and for forming and separating vegetarian and vegan alternative products, among others. With the “Steak 2.0”, Handtmann also presented its latest product innovation in the area of plant-based meat alternatives at the trade fair. In his role as industry manager for alternative …

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A shoe made from bacterial, self-dyeing leather

© Ed Tritton - Imperial College London

Materials

UK Researchers Develop First “Self-Dyeing” Plastic-Free Vegan Leather from Bacteria

Imperial College London researchers have developed, using bacteria, a plastic-free, vegan leather that dyes itself black during production. Scientists and material companies have been using microbes to produce sustainable textiles or dyes for the fashion industry; however, the researchers claim this is the first time a material produces its own color pigment. One of fashion’s most environmentally damaging processes is dyeing with synthetic chemicals. The researchers explain that black dyes — especially those used for tanning leather — are particularly harmful.  To solve this environmental problem, the researchers genetically engineered the bacterium Komagataeibacter rhaeticus to simultaneously produce microbial cellulose and the dark pigment eumelanin. Their new process has been published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.  “Inventing a new, faster way to produce sustainable, self-dyed leather alternatives …

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Rewe opens vegan supermarket in Berlin

© REWE Markt GmbH

Retail & E-Commerce

REWE Inaugurates its First Fully Plant-Based Supermarket in Berlin

REWE opened its first purely plant-based supermarket in Berlin yesterday. The “REWE voll pflanzlich” supermarket on Warschauer Brücke in the Friedrichshain district offers more than 2,700 vegan products. In addition to more than 3,800 stores in which the food retailer offers everything from organic vegetables to cheese and meat, this marks the company’s first vegan store. Peter Maly, CEO of REWE Group, sees the plant-based supermarket as an important test: “With REWE voll pflanzlich, we are showing how varied and large the selection of vegan products is. In the past, we have been recognised several times as a vegan pioneer in the food trade, and we are also encouraged by the strong response from our customers.” In standard REWE stores, the range includes up to …

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Lidl protein transition event

© Lidl

Fairs & Events

Lidl Hosts Protein Transition Event, Reports Vegan Sales Increase of Over 30%

Lidl Germany has hosted a protein transition event in Berlin, bringing together 110 representatives from politics, business, science, and society. Participants discussed topics such as what the protein supply of the future will look like, how animal welfare could be improved, and what society expects from food chain actors. Lidl described its strategy of creating price parity between plant-based products and their animal counterparts, noting that sales of vegan products had increased by over 30% since it made the pricing changes. The retailer has also begun placing plant-based products next to animal-based ones to make them easier for consumers to find. Additionally, Lidl is actively working to expand its vegan range, and is transparently disclosing the ratio of plant to animal proteins it sells. The …

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Quest Meat

© Quest Meat

Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Quest’s First Tasting for Microcarrier Replacements for Cultivated Meat Reveals Promising Results

Quest Meat, a UK-based B2B company specializing in high-quality cell lines and ingredients for the cell-based industry, has developed edible and food-safe microcarrier replacements —  the most promising method for scaling up the production of cultivated meat, according to the company. Recently, the team at Quest Meat conducted a microcarrier cooking test and tasting to see how they behaved in a food product. The material was blended only with rapeseed oil, shaped like a burger patty without other ingredients, binders, or cells, and cooked in a frying pan. “The tasting showed us that not only is our microcarrier replacement material scalable and sustainable, but it can also provide beneficial meat-like, visual and sensorial attributes to the final food product. I’m really excited by the potential of our material …

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Sokito drops kangaroo leather

© Sokito

Shoes

Football Boot Brand Sokito Drops Kangaroo Leather in Favour of Vegan Materials

UK-based football boot brand Sokito has announced that it will stop using kangaroo leather due to increasing ethical concerns about the material. In a statement, Sokito explains that the material was once thought to be a sustainable byproduct of kangaroos killed to keep the population in check, but figures now show that the kangaroo population is declining rapidly. This indicates that they are being killed for profit rather than just population control. Furthermore, the killing of kangaroos is not monitored and is often done unethically, with joeys sometimes killed alongside their mothers or left to starve when their mothers are killed. It is also believed that the number of kangaroos in the wild has been inflated, meaning the population is much lower than official figures …

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Stuart McAlpine Lupin Crop, WOA

Stuart McAlpine with Lupin Crop © WOA

Agriculture / Agribusiness

WOA Pioneers Novel Lupin Fiber, a By-Product of Lupin Powder, Marking “Significant Stride” for Food Industry

Wide Open Agriculture announces it has successfully developed a groundbreaking lupin fiber, characterized by a smooth texture, solubility, and neutral taste, which is ready for commercialization. The anticipated market introduction of this lupin fiber is poised to enhance revenues and profit margins of the company’s production operations in Germany as it transforms what was previously considered a waste by-product into a lucrative revenue source. In collaboration with Curtin University, Wide Open Agriculture has also pioneered the creation of Buntine Protein® powder, a world-first innovation derived from lupins, and holds the exclusive, globally protected patent for this product. The lupin fiber in question emerges as a secondary by-product of Buntine Protein production. Notably, both the lupin fiber and Buntine Protein® boast solubility and are capable of …

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A photo of a fished Atlantic salmon

Atlantic salmon- © BLUU Seafood - Anna Brauns

Company News

BLUU Seafood Expands Cultivated Fish Production in Preparation for Market Entry, Predicts Price Parity With Fish Within 3 Years

Europe’s largest cultivated seafood biotech, the German startup BLUU Seafood, announces that it has officially inaugurated its first pilot plant in Hamburg-Altona.   The new facility boasts 2,000 m2 of space dedicated to research, production, and office use for its 35 employees. It includes state-of-the-art cell and molecular biology labs, process development areas, and a test kitchen for food applications. At the new plant, the company will initially operate 65 L bioreactors, with the potential to expand to 2,000 L to scale to industrial production as it prepares for market entry. The startup initially operated on a small scale in a laboratory setting in Lübeck, using stem-cell technology to establish GMO-free fish cell lines to grow muscle, fat, and connective tissue from Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout …

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Image: La Vie on LinkedIn

Politics & Law

Victory for Plant-Based Meat as French Conseil d’Etat Suspends Labelling Decree

The French Conseil d’Etat has suspended a decree banning the use of meat-like terms such as “steak” and “ham” for plant-based products. The suspension was requested by several plant-based food producers, including La Vie, Umiami, Happyvore, Nutrition & Santé, NxtFood, and Olga. The Conseil d’Etat agreed to suspend the decree, which would have come into force on May 1, on the basis that it may not be legal and could be damaging to plant-based meat producers. “The interim relief judge considers that there is serious doubt as to the legality of this prohibition,” the Conseil d’Etat said in a statement. “Pending the reply of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the interim relief judge of the Conseil d’Etat suspends the new decree, as …

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Lidl Austria equalizes prices for over 30 vegan items from its own Vemondo brand.

Alessandro Wolf, CEO Lidl Austria © Lidl Austria

Retail & E-Commerce

High-Growth Financial Year for Lidl Austria Since Expansion & Price Drop of Vegan Range

Lidl Austria has increased its market share in Austria by 0.6% to 5.9% since December 2022 and generated added value of over EUR 1.1 billion for domestic food companies in the 2023 financial year. The increase in the area of plant-based products is particularly emphasised, with a 24% increase in the number of plant-based substitute products sold and a 13% increase in sales in the vegan range. The vegan range currently comprises over 450 items. Lidl has also announced that it will continue to expand its range until 2025, focusing on regional ingredients and a low level of processing in order to offer healthy and environmentally friendly alternatives. “We are satisfied with the development in our anniversary year. Since December 2022, we have increased our …

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© Kern Tec

Milk- and Dairy Alternatives

How Bauer and Kern Tec Turn Apricot Kernels into Plant-Based Milk

The private dairy Bauer launched a range of plant-based drinks, yogurt alternatives and puddings at the beginning of 2024 under the ZUM GLÜCK! brand. The products are based on ingredients made from apricot kernels, an upcycled product from fruit farming. Here, Privatmolkerei Bauer is cooperating with the Austrian startup Kern Tec, which has created an innovative ready-to-use solution for the food industry from previously unused fruit kernels. We spoke to Frank Mayerhofer (Director of Marketing & Innovation) and Sascha Leiser (Sales Director Brand) from Privatmolkerei Bauer as well as Michael Beitl (founder of Kern Tec) about the new brand, product development, and the successful collaboration. Why did Privatmolkerei Bauer decide to launch a vegan brand? How does this fit into the company’s long-term strategy in …

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Battle of the Brands competition

Image: Veg-net/Vegan Business Tribe

Fairs & Events

Veg-net and Vegan Business Tribe Launch Dragon’s Den-Style Battle of the Brands Competition

Veg-net, a new event connecting plant-based brands with buyers and industry experts, has partnered with business support community Vegan Business Tribe to launch a “Battle of the Brands” competition. The pitching contest is in the style of TV show Dragon’s Den, and is open to vegan-owned food brands that sell a product suitable for general retail. The winner will receive a free place at Veg-net, worth almost £2,500; this will grant them ten pre-arranged meetings to pitch their product to key retail buyers and industry experts. Brands can apply by registering on the Vegan Business Tribe website and submitting a one-minute video introducing their product. Three applicants will be chosen to attend a live Zoom final, where the judging panel will include THIS co-founder Andy …

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Quorn meatless grounds

© Quorn Foods

Company News

Quorn Exits Retail Market in Benelux Region

UK-headquartered Quorn Foods has withdrawn from retail in the Netherlands and Belgium, the company confirms today. The mycoprotein products have not been listed in Dutch and Belgian supermarkets since February, though they will remain in foodservice channels. The global brand states that the difficult decision was made following losses in distribution as well as challenging market conditions such as inflation and the rising cost of living crisis universally affecting the consumer and competitors across the board. A statement sent to vegconomist reads as follows. “Following significant retail distribution losses, along with high inflation and a consumer cost of living crisis, we have taken the difficult decision to withdraw our Quorn chilled range from retail customers in Belgium and the Netherlands. “The Quorn Foodservice business in …

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Three Mushketeers stand

© Three Mushketeers

Fungi, Mushrooms & Mycelium

Finnish Startup Three Mushketeers is Redefining Plant-Based Taste with Mushroom Waste

Three Mushketeers is a food tech startup from Helsinki Finland, working to revolutionize the taste of plant-based foods by using sustainable, clean-label ingredients derived from mushroom waste.  Emmi Korjus, Emma Kynkäänniemi, and Ida Nikkilä, experts in food technology, food chemistry, and nutrition science, co-founded the startup with a mission to address the main challenges faced by the vegan food industry: tastelessness and off-flavors. According to the team, despite the growing popularity of sustainable eating and veganism, 60% of consumers still dislike the taste of these products. However, Three Mushketeers says its innovative product offers a straightforward solution. Masking off-flavors Using a proprietary technology called “remush,” the startup processes by-products of mushroom cultivation into a savory powder that is said to effectively mask off-flavors in plant …

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Torg raises funding for AI-powered platform for ingredient sourcing

© Torg

Investments & Acquisitions

Torg Raises €2.7M for AI-Powered Platform Matching Buyers With Food Suppliers

German startup Torg has closed an oversubscribed €2.7 million seed funding round for its AI-powered platform, which helps food service and private label buyers connect with food and beverage suppliers. Torg features a database of more than 100,000 verified suppliers, over ten times more than are present at major trade fairs such as Anuga and SIAL. The platform streamlines supplier discovery, communication, negotiation, and financing to make the sourcing process as simple as possible. It features several product categories, including a vegan category with 282 suppliers. In just two minutes, buyers can set up a product request and distribute it to hundreds of manufacturers. The supplier database features profiles, certifications, product capabilities, and contact information for the manufacturers; Torg claims that handling these large unstructured …

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VION_me-at_spareribs

© Vion Food Group

Meat- and Fish Alternatives

EU Meat Producers Driving Plant-Based Market Growth in Europe, Part 1

Europe experienced some of the most significant growth in the plant-based food sector globally, with the industry expanding by a reported 49% between 2018 and 2020 amid the first bubble of hype, post-Beyond IPO. This surge didn’t go unnoticed by the EU’s leading meat producers. Possessing well-established brands, extensive marketing capabilities, and solid distribution channels—bolstered by government subsidies—these traditional meat companies have substantial resources for research and development. Their entrance into the plant-based market undoubtedly raises consumer awareness and accessibility of these alternatives. However, this shift can present a challenge for startups competing in the same space. After looking closely at meat producers in the Americas starting plant-based projects last year, this series now looks at Europe. The European market is characterized by its high …

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Willicroft dairy alternatives

© Willicroft

Facts & Figures

Willicroft Dairy Alternatives Produce Up to 25X Fewer Emissions Than Conventional Dairy

Dutch dairy alternatives producer Willicroft has published a product emissions report comparing the environmental impact of its plant-based cheeses and butter to equivalent dairy products. The results take into account agricultural processes, production, packaging, transportation, and end-of-life for packaging. They show that Willicroft cheeses produce up to 25 times fewer carbon emissions than their dairy equivalents; for example, Willicroft Greek White generates just 1.26 kg of CO2 equivalent per kilogram, while traditional feta produces 34.1 kg. The brand’s butter alternative, Original Better, produces 2.48 kg CO2-eq/kg, compared to 16.9 kg for dairy butter. Furthermore, many of the products have lower emissions than dairy alternatives made by other plant-based brands. Original Better outperforms an Upfield butter alternative, and is roughly on par with Naturli’s organic spread. …

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liberation labs precision fermentation plant

© Liberation Labs

Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Agronomics Invests $10M in Liberation Labs to Advance its 600,000 L Precision Fermentation Facility

Agronomics Limited (LSE: ANIC), the UK’s leading VC company focused on cellular agriculture and biomanufacturing, has invested $10 million in its portfolio company, Liberation Labs Holdings, a US biotechnology firm focused on large-scale precision fermentation manufacturing. The investment was part of a $12.5 million financing round, which was made through a Secured Convertible Promissory Note (SCPN) using Agronomics’ existing cash resources. Previous investor Siddhi Capital also joined the round to help fund the ongoing construction of Liberation Labs’s facility in Richmond, Indiana. Agronomics has invested $17.6 million in Liberation Labs, including $7 million to join the CDMO company on its mission to propel fermented proteins and other bio-based solutions. According to the announcement, Agronomics now holds a 37.5% stake in Liberation Labs. Jim Mellon, Executive …

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The Protein Tracker shows that meat and “a lot” of dairy (in total 61%) dominate consumption, perception, supply, and marketing attention in The Netherlands.

©bbivirys - stock.adobe.com

Market & Trends

The Protein Tracker Shows Meat and Dairy Dominate Dutch Diets, Urges Changes for Plant-Based Shift

The Protein Tracker, conducted for the first time in 2023 by Wageningen Economic Research on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), shows that meat and “a lot” of dairy (in total 61%) dominate consumption, perception, supply, and marketing attention in The Netherlands. Marleen Onwezen, expertise leader in Consumer Behavior at Wageningen University, notes that while there is a shift toward plant-based options — 39% of the total protein consumption — it is not happening quickly enough.  The Protein Tracker is a collaboration between the Green Protein Alliance, ProVeg Nederland, and Dutch supermarkets (as 70% of foods are sold through these retailers) to monitor the protein transition annually. In March 2022, the Dutch government set a national target for a 50/50 …

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Freshcut Foods

© Freshcut Foods

Company News

Plant-Based Ingredients Supplier Freshcut Foods Reports Strong Performance With £42.4M Turnover

Freshcut Foods, a UK supplier of plant-based ingredients, has reported strong financial results for the year ending in July 2023. The company’s profit and loss account shows a turnover of over £42.4 million, up from £35.4 million the previous year. However, pre-tax profits were down from £709,567 to £179,270. Freshcut Foods aims to “make veg the hero”, supplying fresh vegetables to global food service brands, chilled food manufacturers, and recipe box operators. The company is catering to the growing trend towards flexitarianism in the UK, with a report published last year finding that the country’s plant-based food market is growing at a rate of 9.58%. Freshcut Foods recently announced on LinkedIn that it had led a Plant Forward Cuisine session for major supermarket chain Tesco, …

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