Plant based protein
NotCo’s pitch is a grand one: to completely disrupt the factory-farm food system. The company argues that its proprietary machine-learning algorithm can efficiently sort through a complicated web of consumer food needs (nutrition and sustainability, but also mouthfeel, flavor, color, etc.), allowing NotCo to bring successful, delicious vegan alternatives to stores and upend animal-based markets in the process.
For the IndieBio team, the fact that the startup’s first product was already on the market proved that NotCo could deliver. But the machine-learning algorithm is what really has Gupta and Bethencourt excited.
Through the WI Lens
It’s important to keep an eye on to what extent tech might disrupt food. A few months ago, Eric Schmidt (the chairman of Alphabet – Google’s parent company) dubbed the plant-based meat industry the no. 1 trend in tech. Today, the biggest players in the food tech scene are funded by some of the most prominent private investors in the world (like Eric Schmidt or Bill Gates) who understand that the nutritional and environmental benefits of meat and dairy replacements make the disruptive companies especially attractive to investors. To put things into perspective: China alone will import 1 million tons of beef in 2018.
This article describes how one start-up using machine-learning algorithms to replace animal proteins with vegan alternatives became a vegan-mayo company once valued at $1.1 billion. Machine learning in food is particularly challenging because of the subjectivity of taste, so it’s too early to tell how these ventures will evolve and how profitable they’ll ultimately be. Some people worry that the food tech industry is racing forward, fueled by venture capital, a lot of hype, and “without much regard for any consequences”.
There is no doubt, however, that the big incumbents (the Nestlés of this world) are at risk of being disrupted. They are not alone: the underlying idea of using a machine-learning algorithm to more efficiently account for a wide array of consumer desires can be used for different industries, skincare companies for example.
Could Therapy Be Key To Treating Your IBS? – Huffington Post, 11 April 2019, Natasha Hinde
Sitting down for too long may be causing 70,000 UK deaths a year – The Guardian, 26 March 2019, Nicola Davis
Human Contact Is Now a Luxury Good – New York Times, 23 March 2019, Nellie Bowles
Americans Are Going Bankrupt From Getting Sick, The Atlantic, 15 March 2019, Olga Khazan
Why the future of well-being isn’t about money www.weforum.org, 26 Feb 2019, Justin Dupuis
With bread’s return to favor in the wellness world, consumers are ritualizing the baking process as an opportunity to slow down. JWT Intelligence, 28 February 2019, Emily Safian-Demers
Ikea’s new curtains purify the air inside your house – Fast Company, 20 Feb 2019, Jesus Diaz
Insectageddon – Politicians are complicit in the killing of our insects – we will be next – Guardian 12 February 2019 – Molly Scott Cato
Goop Enters Netflix Deal: Has Pseudoscience Found A New Platform? Forbes, 9 Feb 2019, Bruce Y. Lee
5 ways work culture will change by 2030, Fast Company, February 4th 2019 Gwen Moran