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Portfolio News and Updates: May 2023

E. Bader
May 31, 2023

May News and Updates

The Growth of Hybrid Foods and Alternative Proteins

Alternatives to animal protein have come a long way since the first veggie burger and tofu hotdogs were introduced in the 1980s. Back then, the taste and availability of alternative meat products were limited, along with consumer demand. Opting for a vegan or vegetarian diet with few protein choices meant more effort to prepare meals and more sacrifice on flavor.

Fortunately, today’s protein alternatives, from plant-based to high-tech, offer various products, flavors, and formulations. Flexibility and range of products are essential for consumer adoption, states Synthesis Capital. The food tech investor projects that alternative proteins will reach 10-20 percent market share by 2027, with exponential growth after 2030. According to a RethinkX report, “Rethinking Food and Agriculture 2020-2030,” alternative proteins will become ten times less expensive than meat by 2035.

While lower prices will be one reason to consider protein alternatives, Synthesis Capital predicts that hybrid food options will drive the demand. Hybrid foods are products with mixed ingredients, incorporating new protein options or plant-based alternatives with familiar ingredients. One popular protein brand is Perfect Day. The animal-free whey protein is in a variety of products, from ice cream and cream cheese to protein powders.

Better-tasting and lower-cost protein alternatives will appeal to one growing consumer segment: flexitarians. An estimated 15% of the population already identifies as flexitarian. The diet is flexible, as the name suggests, ranging from sometimes going meatless to mostly meat-free. Just how meat-free flexitarians choose to eat will depend on their choices. One certainty? Yesterday’s tofu dogs won’t make the cut.

Regenerative Practices and Farm Tour Held at Domaine De Graux

On May 25, Domaine De Graux hosted an educational event for Flemish authorities and policymakers. We are grateful for their visit and interest in learning how to make agriculture more sustainable, the challenges we face, and how they, as policymakers, can help farmers build a resilient and healthy food system.

The discussion topics included a keynote presentation on regenerative practices by Louis De Jaeger, CEO of Comensalist. Domaine De Graux Farmer, Emilien Rottier, explained how these practices are in place at the farm. The presentations also included soil health management by Koen Willekens of the Instituut voor Landbouw, Visserij-en Voedingsonderzoek (ILVO),circular agriculture and reducing ammonia emissions by Kurt Sannen of Landbouwen Natuur (INBO), and the importance of building connections between farmers and business by Donatienne van Houtryve of Farm for Good.

The event included a tour of the fields, livestock, and garden of Domaine de Graux to show how the theory of regenerative agriculture and soil health is in practice at the farm. Thank you to all our presenters and attendees for helping Domaine de Graux in our mission to build connections and share ideas.

Propagate Gets Props from Greenbiz

Greenbiz featured Propagate’s agroforestry solution as one of the “only startups in the U.S. working to combine agriculture and forestry to create productive and sustainable land use practices.” The article cites findings from Project Drawdown, which identify agroforestry as having more potential to sequester carbon than regenerative row crop practices. Agroforestry also offers co-benefits such as improved water quality, biodiversity, and soil health.

Soil Testing for Whole Microbiome

Twenty years after The Human Genome project, Trace Genomics uses advanced genetic sequencing to analyze an even more complex subject: the soil microbiome. The high-tech analysis of entire communities of microorganisms, called metagenomics, provides new ways to measure soil health, make decisions on soil fertility, and manage pathogens.