Beyond Impact VC
Sincere Apologies - it’s been a while since I wrote a piece on First Followers.
We are seeing exponential growth in the adoption of alt-meat/alt-protein, and it’s heartening to see such a response from buyers, investors, and alt-meat/alt-protein companies.
Version 1 (v1) of plant-based meat alternatives is from the 20th century - very basic, based upon textured vegetable protein (TVP), naturally derived vegetable ingredients, preservatives, and chemicals. Then comes the second wave, or v2, of plant-based meat alternatives led by Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers of the world. The v2 was way much better than v1 in terms of taste, texture, juiciness, and resemblance to animal-derived meat.
Though, with v2 plant-based meat alternatives, we have recently encountered quite an uproar among customer sentiments regarding the ingredient list of plant-based meat alternatives products like Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger, etc. There is a truth to it to some extent, as these brands have enjoyed first-mover advantage but lacked quite a bit on their nutritional profile, whether high in saturated fat or chemical-based ingredients and a long list of ingredients.
There are some concerning ingredients in the Beyond Meat burger patty, which is worrying for us as investors in the space investing exclusively in alt protein as well as from the lens of end consumer who is eating these alternative meat products. This long list of unheard and chemical-sounding ingredients, though if we dig deeper into a comparison of Beyond Meat’s beef burger patty vs. Beef burger patty, we see Beyond Meat is much better from a nutritional point of view.
The biggest differences1 are:
Beef has more calories per 100 grams
Beef contains cholesterol, while Beyond Burgers do not
Beef is slightly higher in protein – In a Beyond Burger, 35% of calories come from protein, while 39% come from protein in a beef burger.
Beef is slightly higher in fat (and saturated fat)
Beyond Burgers containing some fiber and carbohydrates, beef does not
There’s surprisingly very little difference between Beyond Burgers and meat burgers regarding vitamins and minerals.
So, in no way should you go back to eating those cruelty-filled burger beef patties. The good news is we are seeing a movement of next-gen - plant-based alt-meat products that not only save animal lives but also have clean ingredients, are minimally processed, and are much better in nutritional profile.
We have recently made an investment in Nowadays, which is making chicken nuggets super clean labeled. Their ingredients include organic pea protein, whole wheat flour, sunflower oil, yeast extract, maple fiber, mushroom extract, and filter water2. That's all!
They have 5 grams of fiber and NO saturated fat, which is unheard of in chicken nuggets. That makes me feel super bullish on the future of plant-based is the clean label.
On an everyday basis, I am seeing companies embracing this shift to clean label ingredients - customers are demanding, investors are preferring, and hence, the v3 of plant-based meat alternatives are on the way. It is going to be the NORM. It is inevitable - v3 has a similar taste, texture, juiciness, and resemblance to animal-derived meat without sacrificing nutrition or perceived naturalness.
While a new generation of plant-based innovation has been able to develop products that deliver on the organoleptic properties of meat and dairy, plant based 3.0 is likely to achieve this while also reflecting concerns around so-called clean label attributes. 3
If you are building a v3 plant-based meat alternative, ping me at email@example.com and fill in the fundraise form - bit.ly/fundvegan.
Thank you for reading this. If you find it useful, please do share!
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Beyond Meat vs Beef: (Nutrition, Price, and Health), Dale Cudmore, VegFAQs
When plant-based meets clean label: A sweet spot for future innovation?, Food Navigator, Lumina Intelligence