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Better Bioeconomy Weekly - Apr 3rd 2023 🌏
From extinct to exquisite?
WORD BUFFET 📖
🌎 The Untapped Potential of the Bioeconomy for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
The bioeconomy has potential to support climate change mitigation and adaptation objectives, with some practices already showing promise in reducing GHG emissions and supporting climate resilience.
To achieve net zero emissions, a combination of using new renewable biological resources, improving efficiency of current biomass use, and rescuing atmospheric carbon is needed.
Actions such as investment in innovations, sharing knowledge, capacity building, and responsible consumption and production should be implemented to make optimum use of bioeconomy's role.
🦣 Extinct to Exquisite: Woolly Mammoths Are Back...as a Giant Meatball
Vow, an Australian cultivated meat company, has created a meatball using cells from the extinct woolly mammoth as a token product to showcase the potential of cellular agriculture.
The mammoth meatball is not only a symbol of biodiversity loss and climate change but also a way to acclimate consumers towards novel cell ag tech and transition meat eaters away from eating conventional animal protein.
Vow is taking a different approach than most other cultivated meat producers by investigating the potential of more than 50 less common species, including alpaca, buffalo, crocodile, kangaroo, peacocks, and various types of fish.
“We needed to do something so outrageous that it would break through into mainstream media” - George Peppou, Co-founder and CEO of Vow
Mainstream it was. Even Stephen Colbert had things to say (0:46):
🇰🇷 World’s Largest Piece of Cultivated Meat Stole the Show at South Korea’s First Cell Ag Hub Opening
TissenBioFarm, a Korean food tech startup, unveiled a 10 kg (22 lbs) prototype of cultivated meat at the launch of the North Gyeongsang Cellular Agriculture Industry Support Center which they claim is the world’s largest piece of cultivated meat.
The Support Center is a large, state-of-the-art facility built with a 9 billion KRW (~ 7 M USD) investment, aimed at supporting biomaterials development and companies operating in the Uiseong Bio Valley industrial complex.
The North Gyeongsang Province plans to connect cell ag with other industries like vaccine, drugs, cosmetics, and green bio to create a unified cellular agriculture industry, paving the way for new developments in food tech in Korea.
“I think it was as big as my upper body” - Yeonjoo La, Chief Strategy Officer of TissenBioFarm said about the 10kg prototype of cultivated meat.
💰 Investors Predict a Pivotal Year for Cultivated Meat in 2023
Investors predict it will be a crucial year for the industry, as well-capitalized startups hit the market and early-stage players hope to attract funding. The level of consumer enthusiasm for cultivated meat will be a key trigger for further funding.
Lisa Feria, the managing partner and CEO of Stray Dog Capital, predicts that smaller companies without differentiation will struggle to attract funding and may be acquired by larger companies or go under.
The focus is on profitability and operating metrics, and capital-light models are expected to be much more attractive.
🐶 CULT Food Science Acquired Consumer Brand Assets and Product Formulations From Because, Animals
CULT Food Science, a cultivated meat innovation company, has acquired consumer brand assets and product formulations from pet food startup Because, Animals to develop and commercialize cultivated pet food products.
The acquired assets include a yeast-based dog treat, yeast-based dog food, and two provisional patents for pet supplements. However, Because, Animals CEO Shannon Falconer clarified that CULT only acquired the assets and not the consumer brand Because Animals itself.
Pet food is a growing focus area for cultivated meat startups, with other companies such as Bond Pet Food and Wild Earth also developing cultivated pet food products.
👩🏾 We Need More Women in Leadership if We Want to Build Sustainable Food Systems
Women control over $31.8 trillion in worldwide spending, representing 85% of all consumer spending in the US alone, but men make up over two-thirds of food systems leaders.
Female workers in food-related roles are paid up to 30% less than their male peers and women are significantly underrepresented in political decision-making globally (less than 30% representation in parliaments across most countries).
Women manage family and child nutrition, while men's lack of experience with these responsibilities results in lower policy priority for human health and nutrition.
🔥 The Boiling Waters of Alternative Protein and Agtech
Despite the challenges faced by alternative protein startups due to the current economic conditions, alternative proteins can still become mass-market products once the cost comes down, quality goes up, and there is consolidation in the industry.
Investors should prioritize helping a few high-quality products that can compete on price and attract average consumers, instead of flooding the market with numerous mediocre and expensive products.
Despite some scale-down and layoffs, money is still flowing into the industry, with notable fundraising deals and progress in cultivated meat.
🇲🇾 Cell AgriTech to Launch Malaysia’s First Cultivated Meat Facility With a Focus on Seafood
Cell AgriTech plans to launch Malaysia's first cultivated meat production facility in Q4 2024, with a focus on seafood such as tuna and eel.
They plan to achieve price parity with conventional seafood and be in full production by the spring of 2025 (subject to regulatory approval). The new facility will be three to four acres in size, with a production volume of 1,000 L.
The company's development of cultivated meat technology in Malaysia is expected to create job opportunities, generate revenue, and address national challenges such as food security, health management, and climate change.
🏴 England Legalizes Commercial Development of Gene-Edited Food
The strict regulation that limited the commercial development of GM crops in England under EU law also applied to gene editing. However, after Brexit, the Westminster government has been able to ease the regulations.
Supporters of gene editing claim it will speed up the development of crops that are more resistant to climate change, while critics argue that it could lead to the introduction of toxins and allergens into the food chain.
It’s unclear how genetically edited food from England will be prevented from being sold in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland where governments have not permitted the commercial use of gene editing.
SOCIAL FEAST 📱
🏛 Should Governments Take an Active Role in Supporting Climate Tech and Food Tech Startups?
Governments can have a positive impact by supporting impact startups in areas such as ClimateTech and FoodTech.
However, blindly supporting all startups can lead to spreading limited resources and reducing the chances of survival for the most promising and impactful ventures.
The dilemma of whether or not to support startups with limited resources changes in times of financial drought, and governments must decide whether to take "survival of the fittest" to its extreme or ensure that even the fittest startups have access to some resources.
🇮🇹 Balancing Tradition and Innovation for a Sustainable Food Future
The traditional meat industry (in Italy) has negative environmental impacts, including air pollution and resource depletion, that are not being addressed by the country's focus on protecting food culture and tradition.
The author, Jennibeth, has lived in the "Italian food valley" and experienced firsthand the importance of food culture and tradition, but also recognizes the need for freedom of choice in terms of food production and consumption.
Jennibeth believes that Italy has the potential to be a leader in cell-based meat technology, but this requires a willingness to embrace innovation rather than operating in fear of change.
“I’m just hoping tradition and technology can co-exist for a better future.” - Jennibeth Paglinawan
💬 Fighting the Echo Chamber by Addressing Public Misconceptions about Alt Protein and Food Tech
The alt protein industry is doing a poor job of communicating its purpose and benefits to the public, which has resulted in widespread misinformation and confusion among the public.
Startups are not investing enough time and resources in branding, communication, and customer engagement, while VCs only want to fund R&D and scaling, neglecting consumer engagement/education/comms.
There is a significant lack of awareness about the impact of food production on the climate crisis, and the need for alternative protein sources, with many people having little to no real information about the products, technologies, and the reasons for their existence.
😍 Look How Good That *Plant-Based* Chicken Looks!
Plant-based meat needs to be made significantly more affordable than the most affordable and popular animal meat, chicken, to be able to compete and penetrate the mass market.
While there is a global push to make plant-based products price-competitive with more expensive animal meat, achieving price parity with chicken remains a significant technical and culinary challenge.
The development of a tasty and super affordable plant protein marks a significant milestone in making plant-based meat mainstream and appealing to the mass market.
📜 A Manifesto to Save the Future of Food
The food technology industry faces significant challenges, including building supply chain capabilities on top of a century-old infrastructure and developing laws to regulate the industry, which makes it difficult for companies to achieve success and liquidity events within a decade as VCs expect.
The alternative protein industry needs to focus on building the best product and telling people why it is better than conventional animal products, rather than attacking other alternative protein companies or being distracted by self-driven agendas.
Startups in the industry should focus on not dying, and the industry as a whole should work together to build a better product and a better world.
EAR FOOD 🎵
🌱 A Recap of 2023 Q1 in Plant-Based Business
Elysabeth shares her experiences at various food and tech conferences, including Expo West, the Digital Animal Summit, and Future Food Tech.
She makes predictions about what to expect in the plant-based business world for the rest of the year.
She also reflects on her conversation with Deena Shanker on the podcast and how some of the claims in the Bloomberg article might be misleading.
👕 Some Help From Kelp: How Keel Labs Is Reimagining Sustainable Materials
Keel Labs is using kelp to create sustainable materials, which grow quickly and are more environmentally friendly than traditional materials like leather, cotton, or petrochemicals.
Kelp requires no water, fertilizer, or pesticide inputs and helps to make the oceans healthier by sucking CO2 out of the air.
Keel Labs is making kelp-based yarns, which can be used by fashion designers to create humane, climate-friendly materials, and has raised almost $20 million from venture capitalists.
VISUAL DELIGHT 🎥
🥓 Using Algae to Make Bacon
Umaro Foods is cultivating seaweed to create a sustainable meat alternative, starting with bacon, in order to diversify protein sources and improve sustainability.
Seaweed is highly photosynthetically efficient, producing 5x more protein per acre than soybeans, and Umaro Foods is the first company to purify and extract protein from red seaweed.
The ocean is a highly scalable and sustainable protein source, containing 80% of the world's chemically reactive nitrogen, and harvesting seaweed could be a more efficient alternative to traditional meat production.
Credits to Steve Molino for the caption
🦠 Archaea: The Tiny Heroes of Fermentation and Sustainable Protein Production
Archaea are tiny life forms that have been able to survive in extreme environments for billions of years, and some of them can convert CO2 and water into amino acids using a natural fermentation process.
Arkeon has harnessed this natural talent of archaea to make complete protein ingredients using CO2, hydrogen, and a little bit of salt in a bioreactor, without using land animals or a lot of water.
Arkeon's technology has a low environmental impact and can help regenerate the planet for future generations.
🐟 The Future of Seafood: A Conversation with Fishtown Seafood's Owner
Fishtown Seafood aims to reinvent the seafood retail experience by providing high-quality products that are typically inaccessible to consumers.
The owner, Bryan Szeliga, emphasizes the need for consumers to be mindful of their impact on the environment, animal welfare, and the carbon footprint of their food choices.
Fishtown Seafood views plant-based seafood alternatives as a growth market and plan to offer these options to cater to consumers' changing dietary needs and preferences.
Thanks for reading! Have an awesome week 🙌🏾
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