The food and agriculture industries are arguably the most important in the world. According to the World Bank, it’s been estimated that food and agriculture make up about 10% of global GDP, which in 2019 was valued at $8 trillion. Agriculture is of great importance but its effects on climate change continue to ravage countries, many of which are suffering from droughts and mass flooding due to rising sea levels. Naturally, as the earth’s population grows, the demand for food will rise. This presents an opportunity for plant-based food technology to fill the gap where the traditional farming and food industries fall short.
What is plant-based food technology and plant-based meat?
As the traditional meat market continues to be faced with the challenge of finding and using more land in order to meet consumer demand for beef, pork and poultry, the seafood industry has also worked steadily to deplete the world’s oceans to meet the needs of the world’s growing population. Further, the accumulation of plastics in the world’s oceans is degrading their health and adds to the stress that humans are placing on the earth. Thankfully, plant-based meat and seafood alternatives have been increasing in popularity as consumers are becoming more focused on vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, not only for the health benefits but also to help shape a more sustainable and environmentally friendly industry.
By choosing plants as one’s primary source of protein, a consumer is more likely to require less resources be consumed and less carbon be emitted in order to produce that food than if purchasing traditional meat or seafood products. Thanks to advancements in plant-based food technology, the investee businesses of Billy Goat Brands (CSE: GOAT), such as Sophie’s Kitchen, are able to offer consumers high-quality, healthy and tasty products. Sophie’s Kitchen is a trailblazer in the plant-based seafood space. It has been able to understand consumer tastes and create products that exceed customer expectations while abiding by sustainable business practices that help to protect the oceans.
The Vegetarian Butcher, another Billy Goat investee company, is a bricks-and-mortar retail grocer offering plant-based meat alternatives to consumers. The Vegetarian Butcher is continuously looking to change the way that Canadians consume their proteins, while also looking at ways to curb their environmental footprint in the process. The business is proud to support local British Columbian suppliers who are working hard to bring healthy and sustainable food options to market.
Bill Gates is well known to be an early investor in plant-based food alternatives through his investment in Beyond Meat. He supports the idea that, since plants have plenty of protein, we should be feeding it to people instead of to livestock. The amount of resources required to farm livestock results in the creation of a large carbon footprint and negatively affects the environment through the depletion of forests and degradation of waterways. In order to produce one pound of beef it takes 1,799 gallon of water, whereas to produce one pound of soybeans it only takes 216 gallons of water, while corn only requires 108 gallons of water. While one pound of beef can only feed approximately 8 people, the same amount of people can be fed by using a smaller ecological footprint of soybeans or corn.
Plant-based Food Technology and Billy Goat Brands
Billy Goat Brands (CSE: GOAT) is pursuing the opportunity to invest in and incubate high-growth companies focused on the ocean economy like Sophie’s Kitchen and The Vegetarian Butcher, which are paving the way for innovation when it comes to food technology and plant-based proteins.
What are the different flavors that are key to creating plant-based meat alternatives?
Food flavour technology is another plant-based food innovation, there are a variety of flavours that are used in the production of plant-based meats. Typically, animal fat is a major contributor to the flavour of meat, however, coconut oil is used to replace animal fat in plant-based alternatives. While fat is an important component of creating plant-based alternatives, so is the umami flavour you get from meat products. Therefore, Koji fermented minerals are used to create that umami flavour.
Sophie’s Kitchen focuses on plant-based seafood structures and the plant proteins they use are from peas. The flavouring agents they use to produce their well-executed ‘fishy taste’ are konjac and seaweed powder.
Heme is used in many plant-based meat products available at The Vegetarian Butcher, which is created from yeast and provides a meaty taste. Yeast extract is another flavouring agent used in plant-based meat products.
How is plant-based meat and seafood processed?
Plant-based meat and seafood is processed using a high-moisture extrusion process, through which proteins are altered to become soluble. Typically, many plant-based meats and seafood are processed by milling, pounding, soaking, extruding and applying enzymes to mimic the way food breaks down while being chewed, like a cow would chew its food and use digestive enzymes to process it.
What type of technology is used to make plant-based meats and seafoods?
There are a few technologies that can be used to create plant-based meats and seafood, which include shear cell technology, mycelium cultivation, 3D printing, and recombinant protein additives.
- Shear cell technology allows the transformation of vegetable protein into a layered structure that looks and feels like steak.
- Mycelium cultivation is the harvesting of mushroom fibers that produce materials for packaging, clothing, food and construction, mycelium helps replace plastics.
- 3D printing is being used to produce plant-based meat through engineering and bioprinting of foods with high protein content and fibrous appearance like meat.
What is the plant-based meat manufacturing process?
There are typically three steps involved in the plant-based meat manufacturing process:
- Protein isolation — plant proteins are extracts from plants that undergo hydrolysis in order to improve their functionalities.
- Formulation — plant proteins are mixed with other ingredients that add flavour and texture in order to replicate the taste and feel of traditional meat.
- Processing — the plant and flavouring ingredients are mixed and the extrusion process begins, which involves stretching, kneading, trimming and folding.