ASIA January 2020
 
Venture Fund sees tremendous potential for plant-based foods in Asia
 
Asia Food & Beverages Report has the opportunity to interview Andrew Ive, Founder and Managing GP of Big Idea Ventures, one of the major venture capital firms that focus on plant-based foods. The following are excerpts of the interview:

(a) Tell us more on your company, Big Idea Ventures. What is its near term goal and objective ?
Big Idea Ventures is focused on solving the world’s biggest challenges by supporting the world’s best entrepreneurs. Our first fund, the New Protein Fund is a US$50 million fund that is focused on supporting up to 100 plant-based and cell-based food and technology companies around the world to reduce climate change, animal factory farming and improve our populations personal health.
The New Protein Fund (NPF) is backed by Temasek Holdings, Tyson Foods and other investors. We run accelerator programs in Singapore and New York, and focus on scaling early-stage companies in alternative protein food technologies in key global markets.
Currently, the New Protein Fund has 14 companies in our portfolio, 2 in cultivated meat and 12 in plant-based food technology. Big Idea Ventures will be launching a 2nd fund focused on the key challenges experienced by the global food industry, specifically CO2 footprint, Water & Plastic use, Waste and Sustainability.
Most of the world’s largest food companies are making aggressive commitments in these areas to their shareholders, customers and consumers - Big Idea Ventures intends to support the companies who will bring these technologies to transform the industry.

(b) Name 3 high-potential new ventures in this field (as mentioned) for the Asian region
The 3 new ventures are Malaysian-based Phuture Foods, US-based Black Sheep Foods and Singapore-based Confetti Fine Foods

(c) What are the latest updates on their progress in terms of new product development ?
(i) Phuture Foods has developed a natural, 100% plant-based minced pork, through their proprietary processing method. Their latest product is made out of non-GMO soy, chickpeas and peas primarily, tastes, feels and looks like meat, yet it is lower in calories (65%), fats (90%) and has no cholesterol, as compared to animal pork.
(ii) Black Sheep Foods has developed a 100% plant-based lamb product. It has identified flavor compounds that give lamb its taste including the unique pastoral notes. It also claims to have tested its lamb flavor against Givaudan’s lamb flavor, and has won. Initial texture experiments were also completed.
(iii) Confetti Fine Foods is creating nutrient-dense snacks and its first product, colorful veggie chips are already ready for launch and will hit shelves in January 2020, in completely compostable packaging.

(d) When will they go into commercialisation ?
Phuture Foods is launching its plant-based minced pork really soon in 1st Quarter 2020 while Black Sheep foods will be launching its 'lamb' product to market in 2nd or 3rd Quarter 2020. Confetti Fine Foods is all set to launch its product commercially in January 2020.

(e) What is your take (opinion) on the future for alternative meat products in Asia?
Traditionally, Asia has also been more experimental with meat alternatives than other regions around the world, and we expect the region to be openly predisposed to adopting new forms of plant-based and cell based high protein food.
Asia’s diverse population is a perfect market for plant-based and cell-based foods and given the high levels of consciousness towards sustainable living and future planning, the market is already showing high demand for such products.
Given the recent concerns around food safety in Asia, there is a growing need for alternative food technology to bring the satisfying tastes of animal-based foods yet delivered in plant-based and clean forms.

(f) Are there any recent statistical data that support the need for these new ventures ?
One example is the latest Chinese dietary guidelines which encourage eating less meat, with a goal to reduce consumption to 50% by 2030.
(Source: UN FAO; Food Based Dietary Guidelines – China, 2018)
 

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