Raffael Wohlgensinger and Hille van der Kaa – Image courtesy of Those Vegan Cowboys

Cheese Alternatives

Formo and Those Vegan Cowboys Reveal “First-of-its-Kind” Collab to Expedite Production of Cow-Free Cheese

Two precision fermentation companies — Germany’s Formo and Those Vegan Cowboys from Belgium — today announce a strategic R&D alliance to accelerate the production of animal-free casein and finally retire cows from cheese production. This “first-of-its-kind” collaboration will bring together over 60 world-leading scientists to create a “powerful and experienced” research team that will improve technological efficiency, including efforts in strain engineering, bioprocessing, and large-scale production of caseins. The companies believe that by joining forces, they can more quickly achieve price parity with milk proteins, thus making cow-free cheese more competitive and accessible to consumers. The companies explain that they plan to combine their manufacturing outputs to achieve economies of scale; nevertheless, each firm will maintain its distinct identity and market its lines of cow-free …


Plant-based cheese startup Dreamfarm expands to Belgium

© Dreamfarm

Cheese Alternatives

Almond-Based Cheese Startup Dreamfarm Expands to Belgium Following “Incredibly Successful” Italian Launch

Italian plant-based cheese startup Dreamfarm has announced it is expanding to Belgium, rolling out at Delhaize stores from March 14. The expansion follows the company’s “incredibly successful” launch in the Italian market. Dreamfarm offers almond-based products that provide healthy alternatives to cheese. While many plant-based cheeses are made predominantly with coconut oil, which is high in saturated fat, Dreamfarm’s products have minimal saturated fat and a Nutriscore of A. The company’s flagship product is a liquid-state mozzarella alternative, which is made using a proprietary processing technique and is the first plant-based mozzarella to ever achieve certified liquid status from the Italian government. Dreamfarm has also developed a plant-based cheese spread. “After two years of testing, we are very pleased with the first products we are …


Beyond Steak launches in Belgium

© Beyond Meat

Meat- and Fish Alternatives

Beyond Steak Arrives in Belgium, Launching at 250 Delhaize Stores

Beyond Meat has announced that its award-winning Beyond Steak has launched in Belgium for the first time. In a LinkedIn post, the brand revealed that the product is now available at Delhaize, one of the country’s leading supermarket chains. Over 250 Delhaize stores are stocking the plant-based steak. Delhaize has been offering Beyond Meat products since 2019, when it first listed the Beyond Burger. The brand’s Smash Burger, Chicken Burger, and Tenders are also available at the retailer. The launch comes six months after Beyond Steak arrived in the UK, where it received a gold award in the esteemed Casual Dining Innovation Challenge 2023. The judges described the product as a “sustainable gamechanger”, praising its high protein content and low saturated fat levels. “Resonating with …


Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter at the inauguration – Image courtesy of Paleo


Paleo Opens New Facility in Belgium for Animal-Free Heme, Reveals Expansion Plans for 2024

On the back of its successful €12 million funding round last year, biotech company Paleo has opened a new pilot-scale facility in Leven, Belgium, at the Bio-Incubator Leuven.  The company, which specializes in developing proteins via precision fermentation, aims to use the new laboratory facilities to accelerate the production and commercialization of its flagship product, animal-free heme. Speaking to vegconomist, the company outlined its plans for 2024, including making significant progress in bringing its products to market and preparing for a Series B investment round. Last year, the company opened an office in Singapore to serve future activities in the Asia-Pacific region, where market approval for novel foods takes less time than in Europe. Expansion of the leadership team As part of the 2024 strategy, Paleo …


Supermarket shelves with alt milk courtesy ProVeg

Image courtesy ProVeg

Milk- and Dairy Alternatives

Plant-Based Brands Condemn “Discriminatory” Taxes on Milk Alternatives in Belgium

Plant-based brands are drawing attention to the disparities in taxes on milk alternatives in Belgium, which have been described as “discriminatory”. Like cow’s milk, rice and soy milks are exempt from taxes, but other types — such as almond, oat, and pea — are not legally considered to be alternative milk sources. This means they are taxed at a rate of 22 cents for sweetened drinks and 17 cents for unsweetened. Unexpected bill One company that has fallen victim to this disparity is Tiptoh, a Belgian pea milk producer. When the company first launched, the founders assumed their product fell within the milk alternative category. However, they then received a bill for €30,000 in excise duties, plus a €10,000 fine. “I had no idea we …


Belgium ends war on plant-Based food labeling

© Lidl Belgium

Politics & Law

Belgium Ends War on Plant-Based Food Labelling: Vegan Burgers & Steaks Can Keep Their “Meaty” Names

Article update 15 Jan 2024: Fien Louwagie, Communications Manager, ProVeg Belgium, said: “Whilst the process for developing the guidelines has not officially changed, we believe it is unlikely to get any further before the next election. We hope that, post-election, the new Government will acknowledge the fact that consumers are not confused at all by plant-based foods carrying “meaty” names and will therefore abandon the development of guidelines altogether.” The Belgian government has concluded the so-called “veggie war,” allowing plant-based products to display meaty names such as ‘vegan burger’ or ‘vegan steak‘, as revealed by Nieuwsblad. The Minister of Economy, Pierre-Yves Dermagne, recently announced that Belgium would not establish guidelines on naming and labelling vegetarian and vegan products. The decision came amidst significant disagreement at the …


Garden Gourmet Voie Gras Nestle

© Garden Gourmet

Products & Launches

Nestlé’s Plant-Based Foie Gras Alternative, Voie Gras, Returns With a New Recipe

Nestlé has announced the re-release of Voie Gras, its plant-based alternative to foie gras, under its Garden Gourmet brand. Available to consumers in Belgium, Spain, and The Netherlands, the product previously gained popularity during its seasonal launch last year in Spain and Switzerland. Produced at Nestlé’s R&D centre in Singen, Germany, the recipe has been revamped by product developers and contains miso paste, sea salt, and a soy base, aiming to achieve the authentic texture and flavour of traditional foie gras. Marjolijn Niggebrugge, European Business Head of Plant-Based Meal Solutions at Nestlé, comments, “Garden Gourmet stands for food where taste feels good. Voie Gras is our testament to offering great-tasting seasonal options that cater to the growing demand for plant-based alternatives, balancing taste with environmental …


Those Vegan Cowboys announces a €15 million funding round to develop further and scale its precision fermentation platform for animal-free casein-

© Those Vegan Cowboys


Those Vegan Cowboys Open €15 Million Financing Round to Scale Casein for Animal-Free Cheese

Belgian biotech Those Vegan Cowboys has opened a financing round to raise €15 million to further advance and scale its precision fermentation platform (named Margaret) to develop casein for animal-free cheese. After selling The Vegetarian Butcher to Unilever, Jaap Korteweg and Niko Koffeman founded Those Vegan Cowboys in 2020 to make grass-fed dairy products using microbes instead of cows. With the funds, they assembled a talented team of scientists and established a “milk lab” in Ghent, Belgium. Last year, the company successfully developed a batch of caseins and crafted its first proof of concept, a cheese prototype made with dairy-identical caseins. Now, the company states that it is ready for its next phase of growth, which involves a significant scale-up of its operations.  “We gave ourselves 7 …


Precision fermentation startup Paleo expands into the plant-based pet food market with an animal-free heme ingredient.

Image courtesy of Paleo


Bleeding Burgers for Vegan Dogs? Paleo Files World’s First Patent for Animal-Free Heme for Pet Food

Paleo, a precision fermentation startup from Belgium that produces alternative proteins for plant-based foods, is venturing into the plant-based pet food market with an animal-free heme ingredient. Today, the company announces that it has filed and published what it claims is the “world-first” patent application for using its animal-free heme in pet food formulations.  Paleo’s portfolio of heme includes the animal myoglobins found in beef, chicken, pork, lamb, tuna, and mammoth. However, Paleo tells vegconomist, that it is considering developing common preys for cats and dogs, including rat, mouse, and rabbit proteins. The biotech’s proteins are said to be highly pure, 100% GMO-free, and bioidentical to animal myoglobin. Initially, the product could be presented as a protein powder, but the company says it is considering the advantages …



Image courtesy of Alpro

Milk- and Dairy Alternatives

Danone Puts €2 Price Cap on Alpro Milk in Belgium to Boost Category

French multinational Danone announces a campaign in Belgium where it will cap prices for Alpro plant milks (Oat and Almond, with and without sugar), at €2, representing a reduction of between 20% and 40%, depending on the retailer. The manufacturer has signed a commercial deal with food distributors to agree on the price cap. “Of course, it is the retailers who set the selling prices, but they have all undertaken to take part in the action and not to charge consumers more than €2 for the next six weeks”, Olivier Rabartin, sales director at Danone Belux, explained to Belgium’s Retail Detail. “We have reached a commercial agreement with our customers. The discussions were not easy, especially at the beginning, but they are playing the game,” …


Powdered microalgae ingredients

© Phycom

Fairs & Events

Industry Leaders to Gather at IPBFWG Event to Discuss the Role of Plant-Based Foods in a Sustainable Food System

The International Plant Based Foods Working Group (IPBFWG) announces its upcoming event, “The Role of Plant Foods in Transitioning to a Sustainable Food System,” set to take place on the 13th of October, 2023, in Brussels, Belgium. IPBFWG, a coalition of international plant-based trade associations representing Europe, the UK, Canada, the USA, China, India, and Mexico, promotes a healthier, more sustainable, and more compassionate food system. The event aims to bring together key stakeholders, experts, policymakers, and organizations to support and expand the plant-based food industry to maximize production and promote the transformation of the animal-centered global food system.  The program includes the IPBFWG Industry Forum, where industry leaders will discuss important topics such as market growth, consumer education, and the influence of multinational corporations on the sector. The goal is …


Meatless Week (Week Zonder Vlees will launch in Belgium for the first time

© Week Zonder Vlees

Charity & Campaigns

Successful Dutch Meatless Week Campaign Launches for the First Time in Belgium as Semaine Sans Viande

Meatless Week (Week Zonder Vlees), a campaign encouraging Dutch citizens to give up meat for a week and try plant-based alternatives, will launch for the first time in Belgium as Semaine Sans Viande from the 23rd to the 29th of October 2023.  Week Zonder Vlees is a foundation created by the food blogger Isabel Boerdam in The Netherlands to accelerate the path towards a more plant-based diet into concrete actions with directly measurable results. The project aims to raise awareness of the positive impact of a meat-free diet on human health and its potential to contribute to the 2030 climate goals. “Meatless Week challenges you to give up meat for a week and choose unexpected alternatives. It’s the perfect opportunity to taste and experiment with plant-based foods …


Thea Smit, ME-AT

Thea Smit, Director New Product Development, Vion


ME-AT: “In Five Years’ Time, Plant-Based Products Will Be Cheaper and Even Better Tasting Than Real Meat”

Vion Food Group is an international producer of meat, meat products, and plant-based alternatives with production locations in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. Vion says that we need to move our diets towards more plant-based protein sources, and in response, the company launched ME-AT (pronounce as meat), a white label that designs and develops 100% plant-based meat alternatives that it says offer the appearance, feel, and taste of animal meat. Important to note, from a vegan publication, is that Vion’s slaughterhouse and meat processing plant in Leeuwarden became a vegan meat factory upon the launch of ME-AT. We spoke with Thea Smit, Director New Product Development at Vion Food Group, and Willem Cranenbroek, General Manager of ME-AT.   You launched your plant-based white-label ME-AT three …


COSUCRA's banner advertising its agricultural activities

Image credit: COSUCRA FB

Agriculture / Agribusiness

COSUCRA Raises €45M for Nutrition-Boosting Chicory and Pea-Based Ingredients

COSUCRA, a Belgian leader in plant ingredients, has secured €45 million to fund its environmental, social, and economic transition, including the reduction of its carbon footprint and increased production of sustainable chicory and pea-based ingredients. Founded in 1852 in Warcoing, Belgium as a sugar producer, COSUCRA now pioneers healthy ingredients derived from local chicory and peas for the growing clean label and healthy food market. Its portfolio offers naturally sourced ingredients, including pea protein and chicory fiber, that the company claims have nutritional boosting capacities, improving product profiles. Sofiprotéol, Wallonie Entreprendre, and the Société Fédérale de Participations et d’Investissement (SFPIM) subscribed to the funding round and now join COSUCRA as minority shareholders. Transforming tomorrow’s food “We are delighted that such professional investors as Sofiprotéol, Wallonie Entreprendre, …


Paleo founders

© Paleo

Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Paleo Considers Legal Action Against Vow Regarding the Mammoth Meatball

Belgian precision fermentation firm Paleo announces it is considering legal action against Vow, an Australian cultivated meat company, for claiming that mammoth myoglobin protein is Vow’s invention, “while knowing that the technology (mammoth myoglobin) was already developed two years ago by Paleo, with patent applications ongoing.” Paleo develops animal-free heme proteins as ingredients for the alt meat sector. It focuses on producing myoglobin, a heme protein found in animal muscles. In July 2022,  the company released six new non-GM proteins: chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and tuna proteins and new variations of its mammoth protein, as part of the species extinct in the wild. “Our breakthrough in creating myoglobin for mammoth – and also beef, lamb, tuna, chicken, and pork — was significant and took hard work to bring about,” states …


Peace of Meat's cultivated poultry

© Peace of Meat

Company News

Peace of Meat Refocuses Resources Ahead of Cultivated Avian Product Launch in Singapore 

As part of its plan to launch a cultivated avian product onto the Singaporean market, Israeli 3D-printed cultivated meat company Steakholder Foods has announced a strategic restructuring of its Belgian subsidiary, Peace of Meat (PoM). The changes are designed to streamline PoM’s operations and position it for success. “Today’s announcement is an important step in our efforts to successfully launch a product in the Singaporean market,” said Arik Kaufman, Steakholder Foods’ CEO. Refocusing resources PoM’s 2023 business plan will focus on regulatory submissions for its avian product. This includes submitting to the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) by the end of the year and preparing for submission in the USA. To speed up production, PoM will outsource production to a third-party plant, thus eliminating the need to …


Paleo's animal-free heme proteins for plant-based foods

© Paleo

Investments & Finance

Paleo Raises €12M to Produce Animal-Free Heme for “Real Taste” Plant-Based Foods

Brussels-based precision fermentation firm Paleo, which aims to be a functional ingredient supplier for the alt protein sector, has raised €12 million in a Series A funding round to scale up the production of animal-free heme proteins and help manufacturers bring the “real taste” of meat to plant-based foods. Paleo focuses on producing myoglobin, a heme protein found in animal muscles that, when added to plant-based alternatives as an ingredient, replicates meat’s colour, smell, taste, and aromatic experience, providing iron and thus an increased nutritional value.  DSM Venturing and Planet A Ventures led the investment round, joined by Gimv, SFPIM Relaunch, Beyond Impact, and Siddhi Capital. GM-free heme proteins The Belgian food tech claims to be the first company to produce bioidentical GMO-free heme proteins of …


white couverture

© Belcolade

Sweets & Snacks

Belcolade Launches “Market First” Plant-Based White Couverture

Belgian chocolate producer Belcolade — part of the Puratos group — has launched what it claims is the first ever plant-based white couverture. Couverture is a type of chocolate containing more cocoa butter than eating or baking chocolate. It is typically used for applications such as coating, dipping, and moulding. Aimed at professionals who work with chocolate, Belcolade’s couverture is designed to have a rich and creamy texture and a firm “snap”. Unlike many plant-based chocolate products, the couverture is free of allergens such as soy and coconut. It follows the widely acclaimed vegan milk chocolate launched by the company in 2021. “Unique innovation” The new couverture has been developed in response to rising consumer demand for dairy-free chocolate; market reports suggest that the worldwide …


Delhaize burger


Studies & Numbers

Meat Consumption in Belgium: 11% of Belgians Are Non Meat-Eaters & 31% Flexitarian

Last week, the Belgian Association for Research and Expertise for Consumer Organisations published a survey studying the trends and habits around meat consumption in Belgium, revealing that 11 % of Belgians identify as non-meat eaters. In Belgium, meat is traditionally part of the daily diet. In 2020, Belgians ate an average of 82 kg of meat per year, double the global average (OECD-FAO, 2021). 89% of this came from four sources: pork, beef, veal, and poultry (Statbel, 2021). “We wondered whether Belgian consumers are ready to adjust their protein consumption to a more sustainable pattern; to consume less animal protein and more often consume alternative proteins,” said the study’s authors. The survey revealed a twofold scenario. Firstly, most consumers (56-65%) intend to keep their meat consumption …


L'Osteria pizza Bristol

© L'Osteria Bristol

Company News

McWin Acquires Majority Stake in L’Osteria for Almost 400 Million Euros

McWin, a private investment firm specialising in foodservice and food technology, recently announced the acquisition of a majority stake in L’Osteria, the leading casual dining operator in Germany and Austria. The chain currently operates 157 locations in eight countries, with over 6,000 employees in the DACH region, the UK, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.  The transaction is valued at nearly €400 million. The founders Klaus Rader and Friedemann Findeis will both remain minority shareholders in the company. The new partnership with McWin will further support and accelerate the group’s expansion both in Germany and in numerous new and existing markets across Europe. L’Osteria and plant-based The chain has a wide vegan offering. Its pizza dough is vegan, and for this Veganuary, it …