Vegetarian frozen food brand Strong Roots looks to expand in the U.S. with $18.3 million funding – gpgmail


The U.K.-based vegetarian frozen food company Strong Roots has picked up $18.3 million in funding from the private equity firm, Goode Partners, as it looks to expand its U.S. presence and build out its technological capabilities.

Advised by global mid-market investment bank, Alantra, Strong Roots has a presence in the U.S. in retailers including Target, Wegmans and Whole Foods, and in the UK at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer.

Neither a direct to consumer company nor a novel technology developer, Strong Roots is hoping to use the new financing to expand its research and development efforts to provide more functional foods and nutrients, according to chief executive officer Samuel Dennigan.

The company is on track to move $50 million worth of frozen vegan food items in the calendar year, and it expects its sales to more than quadruple over the next four years.

The company’s exceptional growth comes at a time when consumers globally are looking for healthy options. Strong Roots offers a range of tasty plant-based food designed for busy lives. Found in your freezer aisle, the award-winning line includes premium root vegetables, veggie burgers and freezer favorites like Cauliflower Hash Browns.

The company has found a strong partner in Goode Partners, whose previous investments include AllSaints and La Colombe.

Dennigan’s career in agribusiness stretches back 15 years, but his family has long been in the food production and distribution business.

“I started working with some international brands in the late nineties and saw how CPG companies were doing things in a poor way,” says Dennigan. At first the company thought it would go after fresh foods, but saw more opportunity in the frozen food aisle.

Strong Roots began selling its frozen foods in 2015 just as the vegan and health food craze began to surge.

While the company has spent the past four years building up a brand as a vegan alternative in frozen foods, Dennigan is now ready to expand into other categories. “The pieces of IP that are going to be developed and placed in market in the next 12 months especially around the fortification of the products,” he says. “What our research is showing us is that there’s a huge opportunity between extruded and food and what we’re doing.”

Dennigan is, of course, referring to companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods which have built protein replacement businesses over the past ten years and have surged into consumer consciousness with big deals at fast food chains (and no small amount of kerfuffles).

The success of those two companies has set up a feeding frenzy among investors who are voraciously scarfing up vegetarian food companies to add to their portfolios.

 


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Novameat has a platform for 3D printing steaks and has new money to take it to market – gpgmail


Novameat, a Spanish startup looking to accelerate the development of alternative proteins across the meat aisle, has gotten a boost in the form of new investment capital from the leading foodtech investment firm, New Crop Capital.

Founded by biomedical engineering expert Giuseppe Scionti, Novameat builds on Scionti’s decade of research as an assistant professor in bioengineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, the University College of London, Chalmers University and Polytechnic University of Milan.

The company first came to fame with the production of the world’s first 3D printed plant-based beefsteak in 2018 and will use the new funds from New Crop Capital to further develop its platform for accelerating the development of meats like steak, chicken breasts and other fibrous textured meat replacements.

The company has developed a new scaffolding technology that mimics the texture, appearance, nutritional and sensorial properties of fibrous meats like beefsteaks, chicken breasts, and fish filets.

Scionti sees the technology as the next step in the development of plant-based and lab-cultured alternatives to traditional proteins. While many clean meat and plant-based food companies have managed to take ground meat replacements to market with similar taste and textural qualities to the real thing, steaks and cuts of muscle meat have proven harder to replicate.

Novameat potentially solves that problem.

“While I was researching on regenerating animal tissues through bioprinting technologies for biomedical and veterinary applications, I discovered a way to bio-hack the structure of the native 3D matrix of a variety of plant-based proteins to achieve a meaty texture,” said Scionti, in a statement.

The core of Novameat’s technology is a customized printer that enables companies to create the kinds of fibrous tissues needed to make a steak. “We are providing the equipment, the machinery, under a licensing agreement to these companies,” says Scionti. “Plant-based meat manufacturers have access to something that creates the texture and taste of a steak.”

Traditional extrusion technologies are not capable of using the ingredients from Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods and print a steak, but Novameat’s founder argues that his technology can.

The technology was promising enough to attract the attention of New Crop Capital, arguably one of the most seasoned investors in the expanding market of meat replacement. The venture firm’s portfolio includes Memphis Meat, Beyond Meat, Kite Hill, Geltor, Good Dot, Aleph Farms, Supermeat, Mosa Meat, New Wave and Zero Egg.

“We think the global food supply chain is broken and we are focused on fixing one of those challenges which is animal protein,” says New Crop Capital’s Dan Altschuler Malek. “We see that there is an opportunity to shift consumer behavior to reduce their consumption of animal protein products to products that are at the price point that people will pay.”

Novameat can help reduce costs, Malek thinks, because it speeds up the time to create meat substitutes.

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Scionti says that the company’s micro-extrusion technology enables companies to get a three dimensional structure without having to go through an incubation period that can take a significant amount of time and increase costs.

“Novameat’s bioprinting-based technology provides a flexible and tunable method of producing plant-based meat, with the utility to create different textures from a wide variety of ingredients, all within a single piece of meat,” he said. “Low and high-moisture extruders are the primary method currently used to restructure plant proteins to create the texture of meat. While extrusion works well for some applications, this method may not be ideal for mimicking all types of animal meat. Alternative technologies like Novameat’s give plant-based meat manufacturers a wider array of tools to mimic all types of meat and seafood,” said Good Food Institute Director of Science and Technology David Welch, in a statement.


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Kentucky Fried Chicken goes beyond chicken in partnership with Beyond Meat – gpgmail


Kentucky Fried Chicken is going beyond chicken with its latest partnership.

As other chicken chains vie for chicken sandwich dominance, KFC is doing its bit for the planet and taking its first fledgling steps to move beyond the chicken coop with a plant-based chicken nugget in partnership with Beyond Meat.

The first nuggets are going on sale at a single restaurant on August 27th in Smyrna, Ga.

KFC has already experimented with vegetarian offerings outside of the U.S. In the U.K. the company has an “Impostor Burger” on the menu that’s made from mushrooms and was developed with the English vcompany, Quorn.

Beyond Fried Chicken’s one-day-only offer from KFC is significantly different from the month-long citywide rollout that Burger King did for the Impossible Whopper (its Impossible Foods menu item) earlier this year. But it comes as most fast food chains are trying to come to grips with rising consumer demand for vegetarian alternatives to traditional menu items.

Beyond Meat’s foray into fast casual chicken comes after several big wins for the company with Dunkin Donuts, Del Taco, Tim Hortons, Carl’s Jr. and TGIFridays.

“KFC is an iconic part of American culture and a brand that I, like so many consumers, grew up with. To be able to bring Beyond Fried Chicken, in all of its KFC-inspired deliciousness to market, speaks to our collective ability to meet the consumer where they are and accompany them on their journey. My only regret is not being able to see the legendary Colonel himself enjoy this important moment,” said Ethan Brown, founder and CEO, Beyond Meat, in a statement.

Chicken is one of the next battlegrounds for the alternative protein purveyors, although they’re not just looking at plant-based chicken substitutes. Companies like Memphis Meats (and, reportedly, Just) are working on lab-cultured meat cultivated from animal cells.

News of KFC and Beyond Meat’s challenge to conventional chicken chains sent Beyond Meat’s stock price up more nearly 6%, or $8.28 per share, to close at $155.13.


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Competition among alternative protein players gets hot as companies beef up with new deals – gpgmail


The competition for control of the burgeoning market for burger replacements (and other alternatives to animal proteins) continues to heat up.

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods the two leading contenders for top purveyor of plant-based patties (and other formulations) have spent most of the typically sleepy summer months jockeying for the position as top supplier to a food industry suddenly ravenous for alternatives to traditional meat product.s

As soon as the first Impossible Whoppers came off the flame broilers at Burger King, Beyond Meat was announcing a new fast food chain supply deal of its own with Subway.

Through that agreement the publicly traded provider of plant-based products will be grinding up meatless meatballs for Subway’s new vegetarian option to the classic meatball sub.

Subway will roll out meatless meatballs in 685 of its franchise locations in the U.S. and Canada starting in September.

Not to be outdone, Impossible Foods came swinging back with some a new partnership with the institutional food prep giant Sodexo. At roughly 1,500 Sodexo locations food slingers at healthcare facilities and corporate and university cafeterias will unveil new options like Impossible Foods-based sausage muffin sandwiches, sausage gravy and biscuits, steakhouse burgers and creole burgers.

Image courtesy of Sodexo

“Sodexo is committed to providing customers with more plant-forward and sustainable options as part of their diet,” said Rob Morasco, senior director culinary development, Sodexo, in a statement. “We are excited to expand our menu to include the Impossible Burger’s flavorful blend, which will be featured in several new products this fall.”

Set against this meatless horserace for national food service dominance, other plant-based providers have launched to take the startup direct-to-consumer approach to satisfy vegetarian cravings for other types of food substitutes.

It was partially in response to this furor over the vegetarian market that the world was introduced to Nuggs. Ben Pasternak, the company’s young founder, first came to fame as the teenage entrepreneur behind the social media app Monkey.

When Monkey was sold to a Chinese company in 2017, Pasternak turned his attention to food. He’s been cooking up the idea for Nuggs since that time. In 2018 the core team assembled with Pasternak bringing on Liam Mullen, a former pastry chef and self-trained molecular gastronomist who was working for the high-end New York restaurant Daniel at the age of 16.

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Image courtesy of Nuggs

Unlike Impossible Foods, which has faced supply chain woes thanks to its initial strategy of building its own manufacturing facilities, Nuggs is manufactured by McCain Foods, a food prep giant that also led the company’s $7 million round. Other investors include Rainfall Ventures; Greylock Discovery Fund; Maven Ventures; NOMO Ventures; M Ventures; ACME Capital; Founder of MTV and CEO of iHeartMedia, Bob Pittman; Casper Founder & COO, Neil Parikh; and Former President of Tumblr, John Maloney.

While Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have grabbed most of the headlines as the first generation of protein substitutes to really make a dent with consumers, Just (the company formerly known as Hampton Creek) has also nabbed some major deals with big fast food chains for its big product — egg replacements.

Launched in 2018, the egg replacement from Just inked a major deal in late July with Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee, donut, and sandwich chain. Much as Beyond Meat has found a home for its meatless sausages at Dunkin Donuts in the U.S., Just has seen Tim Hortons take its eggless egg replacement to a Canadian consumers (Hortons also has a sandwich using Beyond Meat).

Some companies are going beyond plant-based protein replacements to lab-grown versions of the real thing. That’s been the story behind Perfect Day, which sold out of their $20-per-pint ice cream in a matter of hours. Like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, the company intends to sell through ice cream manufacturers rather than going direct to consumers with its own product, according to a CNBC report.

The three protein replacement companies have grabbed investor attention and heralded a surge of venture capital investment into plant based protein products. In all, Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Just have snagged over $1 billion in funding.

For investors in Beyond Meat, the $122 million in capital will yield billions in returns. The company’s market capitalization is up to a meaty $13.4 billion from $1.5 billion when its stock first began public trading. Analysts at Barclays predict the market for alternative proteins could hit $140 billion by 2029.


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Impossible Foods goes to the grocery store – gpgmail


After receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration, Impossible Foods has cleared the last regulatory hurdle it faced to rolling out in grocery stores.

The company is targeting a September release of Impossible products on grocery store shelves, joining its competitor Beyond Meat on grocery store shelves.

The news comes as the company said it inked a major supply agreement with the OSI Group, a food processing company to increase the availability of its Impossible Burger.

Impossible Foods has been facing shortages of its product, which it can’t make fast enough to meet growing customer demand.

The supply constraints have been especially acute as the company inks more deals with fast food vendors like Burger King, White Castle, and Qdoba to supply its Impossible protein patty and ground meal to a growing number of outlets.

Impossible Foods products are now served in over 10,000 locations around the world.

Earlier this year, the company hired Dennis Woodside and Sheetal Shah to scale up its manufacturing operations and help manage its growth into international markets. The company began selling its product in Singapore earlier this summer.

May not only saw new executives joining the Impossible team, but a new capital infusion as well. Impossible Foods picked up $300 million in financing from investors including Khosla Ventures, Bill Gates, Google Ventures, Horizons Ventures, UBS, Viking Global Investors, Temasek, Sailing Capital, and Open Philanthropy Project.

With the new FDA approval, Impossible Foods will now be able to go head to head with its chief rival, Beyond Meat. The regulatory approval will also help to dispel questions that have swirled around the safety of its innovative soy leghemoglobin that have persisted since the company began its expansion across the U.S.

Last July, the company received a no-questions letter from the FDA, which confirmed that the company’s heme was safe to eat, according to a panel of food-safety experts.

The remaining obstacle for the company, was whether or not the company’s “heme” could be considered a color additive. That approval — the use of heme as a color additive — is what the FDA announced today.

“We’ve been engaging with the FDA for half a decade to ensure that we are completely compliant with all food-safety regulations—for the Impossible Burger and for future products and sales channels,” said Impossible Foods Chief Legal Officer Dana Wagner. “We have deep respect for the FDA as champion of US food safety, and we’ve always gone above and beyond to comply with every food-safety regulation and to provide maximum transparency about our ingredients so that our customers can have 100% confidence in our product.”


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