Investing in plant-based innovation for a better food system – The Food Bowl | So Good News


As founder of Plant Powered Consulting and co-founder of VegTech Invest, Elizabeth Alfano works to drive innovation in the plant-based food sector.

Alfano explains that she was drawn to the plant-based industry for the opportunity to help consumers make healthier food choices with a lower carbon footprint. “There are no silver bullets in life,” he tells Food Tank. But he was “looking for something as close as possible to a silver bullet, [that] I can solve as many problems as possible in the amount of time I have.”

Alfano founded VegTech Invest to invest in “plant-based innovation”. Also with marketing, branding, communications and PR firm Plant Powered Consulting to help companies navigate the changing landscape of the plant-based market.

Alfano believes the sector includes more than just products from big brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. But he says there is “exciting technology” on the market that turns plant-based ingredients into new products, including fermented proteins and cultured meats.

Alfano hopes that younger consumers will embrace these new products. But, he says, innovation will never matter if customers are not interested. “It’s primarily a taste,” Alfano tells Food Tank. “And then immediately after taste comes price, and price comes with scale.”

To make products affordable and accessible, “you need new production facilities, new production equipment,” says Alfano. “You have to have enough fresh ingredients – we can’t do everything with corn, soy, wheat, fava beans and chickpeas. All the constraints in the supply chain require investment capital to be there to actually support the end product.”

Research suggests that demand for meat alternatives may not be as high as some experts initially predicted. According to a report by the Good Food Institute and the Plant-Based Food Association, US retail sales of plant-based foods will grow 27 percent in 2020. Since then, some reports, such as IRI’s, suggest that sales may be flat. And Beyond Meat will cut 200 jobs.

But Alfano says those numbers can be deceiving. He believes it’s important to recognize a benchmark and measure growth against that number. “Nothing grows by 40 percent every year,” he says, adding that interest in these products is still there.

Hear the full conversation with Elizabeth Alfano on Food Talk with Dani Nirenberg, news about mission-driven companies on change, precision fermentation, and where demand is headed for the future of cultured meat and plant-based meat alternatives.

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Photo by Chantal Garnier, courtesy of Unsplash


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