Can FoodTech startups find substitutes for everything?

We can observe an ever-expanding paradigm of substitution. The goal is as simple as it is hard to achieve: create products that taste, look, smell, cook, and cost just like those you are trying to replace. The underlying idea is that it will be culturally more accessible for the consumers to change then. If your read this, you certainly know about startups trying to create replacements for meat and dairy products (if not, find you can find a list of techniques used here and recent news about the ecosystem here). Now, this ecosystem has expanded quite significantly in the past months to a new range of products:

Replacing coffee

Coffee is bad for the environment (it is much worse than pig meat, for example). A handful of startups are working on replacing it with “lab-grown” coffee. This covers very different techniques from people working on cellular agriculture (still very early stage) to companies trying to understand what makes up for coffee’s taste and recreate it using other plants (notably from upcycling). Two US startups compete here:

Replacing chocolate
As for coffee, the rise of consumption of chocolate is bad news for the environment (and for our waistline). Using precision fermentation, QOA (Germany-based) develops cocoa-free chocolate using sustainable ingredients.
The company hopes to make a dent in the market by 2035.

Replacing honey

People love honey, and apparently, this is an issue. This creates a focus on honeybees and reduces bee biodiversity (20,000 different species). Melibio, which has raised $850k earlier this year, works on precision fermentation to recreate honey that tastes just like the “real thing”.

It is interesting to see all these substitutes flourish now. They all have one thing in common: they want to have an impact on the planet but without changing the habits of their future consumers.

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