Page 28 - Food&Drink July 2019
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Lean, bean, plant- based machine
The rise of the flexitarian means people are eating more plant-based foods and less meat. Doris Prodanovic speaks to v2food founder and CEO Nick Hazell about the trend.
VISIT your nearest burger joint and you are likely to find a plant-based alternative on the menu. The meat substitute market, which includes vegan and plant-based foods, is set to reach $7.5 billion worldwide by 2025. According to IBISWorld analysts, Australia is also one of the largest growing vegan markets in the world.
Plant-based meats aim to replicate the experience of cooking and eating conventional meat, with food technologists developing combinations of plant proteins, fats, gums, spices and seasonings to to achieve similar appearance, texture and flavour.
Popular food chains such as Hungry Jack’s, Schnitz and Grill’d have all recently added plant-based options to their menus, taking advantage of the increasing demand.
“As the market continues to grow, we can expect more Australian manufacturers to jump aboard and embrace this trend to cater to the growing market,” IBISWorld senior industry analyst Bao Vuong told Food & Drink Business.
“If anything, Australian consumers would probably prefer to buy from an Australian manufacturer so there is definitely room for Australian plant-based food manufacturers to develop and grow.”
A new player Australians can expect to see in the plant-based game is the joint venture v2food. The partners are Competitive Foods Australia (CFAL) and Main Sequence Ventures, which managers the CSIRO Innovation Fund. Former
research director for Mars and PepsiCo, Nick Hazell, is leading v2food as the founder and CEO. The collaboration involves CFAL CEO and founder of Hungry Jack’s, Jack Cowin. His group of businesses – meat processing company Comgroup, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises and PMFresh – are working with CSIRO’s food science and manufacturing expertise to achieve “sustainability of our food supply”.
Hazell says there needs to be a version two of food and is planning to start with the v2whopper with Hungry Jack’s. He told Food & Drink Business: “Given our relationship with Hungry Jack’s, we’re starting with beef and the v2whopper, but there are no areas that aren’t interesting to us. We will look at chicken and pork as well, but for now it’s all about how meat consumption overall can be shifted to choices that are more sustainable.”
“We need a planet to create the meat we are going to consume but we need to create meat without relying on the constraints of raising livestock. We aren’t here to compete with the meat industry, we are about sustainability. With the increase of awareness in environmental issues, we are recognising this as a global problem and this is global opportunity to offer a solution, starting in Australia.”
IBISWorld reports that with the surge in demand for plant-based alternatives, so has the cost of meat products. In a series of analyses, it has found local meat demand has
and will
affect the long term viability of the Australian meat and dairy sector.
The Australian meat processing industry now generates more than 60 per cent of its revenue from overseas. But Hazell suggests there is an opportunity for the plant-based industry to work alongside the meat market.
“There’s this assumption positioning plant-based products as a threat to the meat industry, but this isn’t the case,” says Hazell. “My personal view is that we not only want to co-exist, but we also want to be an absolute positive for the meat industry.
“Australia has an incredible meat industry and export market and we want to be part of creating a bigger opportunity. It is important for us to explain to consumers that you can enjoy meat, as well as have the option of a product that is designed
for meat-lovers who are concerned about sustainability and the environment.”
Working with CSIRO for flavour, quality and texture, the launch of v2food products, including the v2whopper, remain in development for now. There’s no doubt it will join your nearest burger joint soon, as Hazell assures, “initial prototypes and tastings are goinggreat”. ✷
Flexitarianism is the term being used to describe those who still eat meat, just not as often. For a mixture of health and environmental reasons, people are turning to protein alternatives and plant-based meats are stepping up to meet that demand.
Analyst firm CB Insights says in the US, 86 per cent of people who consume plant-based meat do not consider themselves vegetarian or vegan. It predicts “we could see direct competitors to meat incumbent brands across virtually all frozen and prepared food categories”.
The rise of flexitarianism
is evidence of the educated consumer. Nutritional awareness, ethical considerations, environmental concerns, and health concerns make for
a discerning consumer.
The advice to food manufacturers is target a narrow audience at your peril. Consumers are no longer buying products because they are a vegan, vegetarian, or have a narrowed diet due to allergies, consumption is driven by a lot more these days.
28 | Food&Drink business | July 2019 |

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