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    37 min read

    [SYMPOSIUM 2021] DAY 1 - Panel

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    Novel non-animal alternative proteins | ProteinX Symposium 2021 | Panel | Day 1

    Curious about the holistic approach that may foster sustainable transformative innovation, reduce waste and environmental footprint, while also improving health, nutrition and wellness?

    A startling science-oriented discussion through the evidence and science-oriented logic that place non-animal proteins as a viable solution to ensure adequate global food supply while sustaining our planet, with Ron Shigeta, Scientist, Serial Entrepreneur in FoodTech and SynBio; Dr. Kai-Brit Bechtold, Senior Research Scientist at ProVeg International; Vi Nguyen, Director of Research at Asia Research and Engagement; Christopher Kong, co-founder and CTO at Better Nature Foods; and the panel moderator, Rosie Wardle, co-founder of Synthesis Capital.

    —“There is an urge for the food and beverage industry to go carbon and plastic negative — and some players like Better Nature are already taking the lead on this pathway.” (Christopher Kong, CTO of Better Nature Foods)


    What is the evidence in science that places novel, non-animal proteins as a viable solution to some of major global concerns?

    This panel opened startling science-oriented discussions of the first day of the ProteinX Symposium 2021, an experience-led digital event promoted by the proteinX Foundation, that united students, scientists, chefs and visionary entrepreneurs from around the world to discuss scientifically meaningful, potentially transformative, innovation and education projects for the future of food, focusing on next-gen proteins, and their potential contribution to improve life on our planet.

    ProteinX Symposium 2021: Scientists discuss the future of food, health, nutrition and sustainability in the food system in light of novel non-animal alternative proteins.

    Day 1 of the ProteinX Symposium 2021 united some of the most compelling brains in the next-gen food space for science-oriented discussions, keynotes, the global first InnoChef Cooking Show, a fascinating fireside chat on how food will become the medicine of the future, startup presentations, to expand upon the evidence of novel non-animal proteins as a sustainable solution to major global concerns.


    Design sem nome (4)
    Actively Building: Advising outstanding, ambitious FoodTech and SynBio Startups; Visiting Lecturer at Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship Santa Clara University Opening SynBio #foodtech Space @ Laney College
    Ron Shigeta
    Dr. Kai-Brit Bechtold
    Senior Consumer Research Scientist bei ProVeg International
    Dr. Kai-Brit Bechtold
    Vi Nguyen-1
    ESG, sustainability & investment specialist
    Vi Nguyen
    Christopher Kong-1
    Co-Founder & Head of Business Development at Better Nature - We're Hiring!
    Christopher Kong

    Panel Moderator

    Rosie Wardle-1
    Co-founder and Partner at Synthesis Capital
    Rosie Wardle


    Design sem nome (1)
    Market Intelligence Team and Partnerships at ProteinX Foundation

    Key points:

    • We have a lot of pollution, air, water, and land from our farming practices and also from our agricultural practices, much of which, many of these crops are actually used for animal feed
    • The pandemic accelerated the growth of plant-based product offerings especially in the US and Europe as well as strategic alliances between companies, M&A movements and investments
    • Molecular foods can be built to be healthier and people are going to start to see that the health benefits are substantial as there are studies already that show it
    • Producers of novel non-animal foods will need to show transparency in communicating the benefits of their products for the consumers as well as for the planet
    • The rise of vegan and vegetarian food around the world is being driven by flexitarians


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    Read the transcription of the panel discussion:

    Rosie Wardle: Hi everyone! It's great to be here, moderating this session which with such a fantastic lineup of speakers, we're a very international panel. We've got people that are 8am in San Francisco and 5pm here in London, and also there is something like midnight for other people... so,this is a very international representation, which is great. I think there's a lot of expertise on this panel, on this specific topic (next-gen proteins) so it should be a very good discussion. 

    The previous presentations (Welcome Opening and the Keynote), really kind of laid-out some of the challenges and opportunities with the current food system. And I wondered if we could dig into that a little bit more initially just to kind of set the scene for this panel. Maybe starting with Vi, I mean I know your organisation, Asia Research and Engagement, has done a lot of research on exactly this topic, prominent on western perspective... Could you perhaps kick us off by giving a bit of an overview of what your research has demonstrated in terms of the kind of concrete evidence that the current food production system isn't working, and really needs to change?

    Vi Nguyen: Well, the issues are really quite well-known. Actually, for many, from an investor point of view but also from a consumer point of view that, for instance, just protein alone, and meat, dairy, egg production within seafood... We have such a vast kind of basket of issues that need to be addressed. As we are working towards this population of 10 billion across the globe, and how do we feed the population sustainably. We have everything from, attitude microbial resistance issues, because of the overuse of antibiotics in factory farming. We have a lot of pollution, air, water, and land from our farming practices and also from our agricultural practices, much of which, many of these crops are actually used for animal feed. You know, in order to produce our meat, not forced, direct consumer human consumption. 

    We also have deforestation and biodiversity loss and that is something that, in the Asia region alone, we are facing at an extremely alarming accelerating rate. Biodiversity is a huge hoppiest which, especially, you know in Southeast Asia in parts of Indonesia, for instance, which is like the biggest, the second biggest hub for biodiversity after the Amazon and deforestation rates, you know encroachment on that because of agriculture and farming — that is a massive issue. I think COVID has actually really highlighted that to us, obviously, it's a timely reminder, in the midst of climate change, that our practices need to change, encroaching on these, the frontiers are invariable, doing us damage. And it's incredibly unsustainable because we don't have as much control as we think we do. And we are damaging the environment, which we absolutely, you know, completely reliant on, you know, and that's very clear. 

    Rosie Wardle: Yeah, thanks. Thanks, Vi.That sets the scene really well, I think. 

    Rosie Wardle: On the COVID point, Kai-Brit, maybe I can bring you in here, from your perspective and the work that you're doing at probe edge, do you agree that these kinds of food system challenges have really been amplified because of COVID. Have you seen these kinds of major impacts that he's talking about increasing or has COVID added new challenges, what are you seeing from your perspective?

    Dr. Kai-Brit Bechtold: Yeah, actually I totally agree with what was said by the. We have a lot of data here, revealing what people actually are purchasing in the supermarkets, with a focus on Europe. And it was quite fascinating to see when we bought Nielsen data, probably you don't all know Nielsen data but Nielsen is retail scanning data. So, this is the best reliable data one can get when it comes to grocery stores and supermarkets sales so all products that a consumer buys is scanned in the supermarket and this is the data that Nielsen provides and which we bought within a big eight or 10 year a million funded project called Smart protein, and we analyze this data in detail in the last years, in terms of plant based food categories, and its developments in 10 different European countries, and calculated growth rates for the sales value sales volume says and what we observed is that in the period when the pandemic broke out here in Europe so last year in March, April, around that these growth rates were even always higher than in the period before. 

    It is totally clear that the growth of plant-based food in Europe and in the US as well. It has been there for years, but the pandemic accelerated this whole growth. And this, for me, living here in Germany or in Europe in general is quite obvious, because, plant-based meat and plant based milk and so on, is coming, but going more and more into mainstream, and there were a lot of concerns about the spread of Coronavirus at meatpacking facilities, and a lot of supply chain travels at grocery stores, quite early in the pandemic, and this contributed usually also to the greater demand for meatless meat for instance, and also more and more consumers care about their health, and as such, choose plant-based products instead of their conventional counterparts, and yeah, just to make this point clear, the growth, already happened long before the pandemic, but the pandemic contributed to this momentum and to this growth. So it's kind of an accelerator, and I totally agree with what we said here and I feel that a lot of experts in this field also observed from their gut feeling, but we have seen this in the real data which is Yeah, always proof of what is actually happening.

    Rosie Wardle: Very interesting. And yeah, I mean I guess that's from a consumer perspective which is that that data is is pretty enlightening, how do you think about things from a company perspective, do you think that COVID has kind of brought to the fore broader issues on a company level such as, you know, supply chain transparency. So, thinking about it from a CEO of a company, how they're thinking about diversifying their business models, I guess, animal proteins?

    Kai-Brit Bechtold: Yeah, yeah, that's also a super interesting question. What we observe in big companies like Unilever and Tyson Foods, is their M&A / partnership approach in the US as well as the PHW-Group, a huge poultry producer here in Europe, that is investing into startups focused on cultivated meat. So, these are major moves from the biggest producers in the world, because of course they see as well what is happening. And this is a question of demand and supply — the basic principles of economy. If consumers asked more and more for this, the corporations clearly make an evaluation with the supermarkets to understand if more supply is needed. This is what is coming from both sides, especially from the consumer end, and companies learn to deal with their demand. 

    And what we observe is and which is really amazing to see is like, more and more of these big producers are really investing in this development. So this is just the start you know that has been going on in the last two, three years, and it's already gone mainstream, at least in some countries, and it will be more and more mainstream — it's amazing to see this development. Because what we know as well as that, it always begins with a little step, you know, and this is what has been in the organic business as well in the 80s 90s it was a total niche but now it's just mainstream, it's just normal to buy organic products. Similar things are happening in the whole plant-based business.

    Rosie Wardle: Yeah, yeah. And as you say, it's very interesting that it's happening from both sides. Exactly. Ron, maybe I can bring you in here, because you've obviously had lots of very fascinating experience working across many alternative protein technologies starting at Indy Bio and then kind of focusing on the fermentation space with Wilder. Can you give us your view? I guess, on the potential you think that biotech solutions have to solve some of these challenges (that we’ve been talking about) and do you think these types of alternative protein technologies have the potential to really shift global meat consumption?

    Ron Shigeta: To sort of validate what the other speakers have already said, these trends are really long standing. I mean, beef consumption in America has already dropped 25% over the past 15 years or so, but it's dropped quite a bit just because there's sort of a concept... for most people it's not as healthy (to eat animal meat). These new foods are being built basically they're constructed from components, molecule by molecule. And as molecular foods can be built to be healthier and people are going to start to see that the health benefits are substantial as there are studies already that show it. And, I think that the potential is really exciting to have new kinds of foods, and new choices, and health claims that aren't just sort of fluffy, you know, I think this idea that something is good for you is kind of vague, but the next generation of food, it'll be pretty explicit your gut health, your you know your chances of getting cancer, your blood pressure, all of these things are going to be associated with what you eat, in a way that they never have before and I think that's going to really drive the next generation to embrace food.

    Rosie Wardle: Yeah. Very interesting, and I guess building on that, Christopher... Could you maybe tell us a little bit about the benefits from that health perspective that Ron's mentioning but also I guess broader from a sustainability perspective that your product offers for instance as an example of one of these next generation alternative protein products?

    Christopher Kong: I guess, first off by a quick introduction of what it is that I do, what it is that Better Nature does. So Better Nature is the world's first blue tech company focused on temporary fermentation. And we believe that the future of the alternative protein industry will be one that is all natural, as what Ron said is completely geared towards delivering consumers added benefits beyond just taste. And, you know, ease of use, right, we, I think that we're really seeing that consumers are moving towards finding foods that are nutritionally superior than what they're traditionally used to consuming, and that's exactly what we're trying to build here fast nature. So today, we produce all natural plant-based proteins using a fermentation process called temporary fermentation. A really exciting element of temporary fermentation is that it is able to effectively apply or transform, you know, staple, plant-based substrates, very simple plant-based substrates like commodity crops like soybeans, chickpeas, leaping beans, into a high value, super nutritious super bio-available plant-based protein. And what the fermentation process does is that it effectively increases the protein content of the protein substrate, but also unlocks a lot of nutritional value within the plant-based substrate that will otherwise be effectively excreted.

    Because the fermentation process effectively digests this off a substrate, outside of the human body before it is then consumed. So, Ron suggested he already mentioned some direct, functional benefits of the adoption of more plant-based proteins, but I would reiterate some of them... There is a direct causal link between the overconsumption of meat, and the chronic health outcomes, such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and this has been validated by multi year long studies published by some of the world's most prestigious institutions such as John Hopkins (the University). Right, so I think the fact that we're no longer to be ignored. I think consumers are going to wake-up to that. And that's really just focusing on the health benefits. And I think relating to what people already have been saying about how COVID has accelerated the drive towards alternative protein consumption, I think acceleration is not only because of tangible health-related benefits that consumers can get by adopting a plant-based diet. Beyond that, the pandemic has opened a lot of people's eyes to just how precious the natural world is. 

    And I think what we're seeing is that a lot of the growth in the plant-based industry is not just being driven by health concerns, but also by sustainability concerns. As already mentioned, it's very well-known today just how impactful reduction of meat consumption can be on one's environmental footprint, but I think as a brand, we take one step further: All of our products are carbon as well as plastic negative, which means that we offset to x of all the carbon of plastic that we use to produce and package our food products. I think this wave of ethically, environmentally, health conscious brands is here already and they're here to stay as they’re what consumers have been looking for. Furthermore, this green approach is what's driving a lot of the growth in the meat-free category.

    Rosie Wardle: Thanks Christopher! It's very interesting to hear from a company's perspective, kind of how you're thinking about this. So, maybe we can shift a little bit and talk about some of the challenges I guess in the barriers to really drive, I guess a more mainstream shift towards center proteins and Tomaso mentioned some of the challenges to kind of shift consumers in his introduction (Welcome Opening). I guess if we start from a sustainability perspective, I mean Vi... Could you maybe speak a little bit to what you would see as some of the key sustainability concerns to kind of take note of for alternative protein production when we're thinking about scaling these systems right, or maybe, Ron, you could add in from your perspective when you've talked when you've kind of seen companies looking to move to that next stage of scale, or even Christopher from your perspective of Better Nature Foods, how do you think about the impacts as you scale and kind of, I guess building in sustainable practices, or foundations for those early on in the life of the company. How do you guys see that?

    Vi Nguyen: I think that as you create any product, there are resources required. And, Christopher was talking about the fermentation. I think what we're seeing in a lot of the alternative protein sector is that there's a lot of investment going into controlled environments. And one of the big selling points is that there's resources, there's always a feedstock for some kind. But the cost of that is obviously a massive challenge for the industry, at least it's a controlled environment, whether it's soil based cultures or supplementation or something else within the lab, and it's you know, the idea of selling it to the consumer is that it's clean meat. 

    I think that one of the hurdles that I've heard before about, you know, for instance cell based meat is that it's not natural, it's not coming from an animal right even though it is an animal cell. It's been replicated and I would pose. I would say that what is natural about our current food production systems, what is natural about intensive factory farming, where you're putting like five layers within a factory of crowded spaces and caging of animals, and pumping them with antibiotics for prophylactic purposes, with hormone changes and the extra weight that they put on. 

    I mean, there are so many animal welfare issues related to that. Furthermore, there are so many resource issues over what is natural about that it's not the hunter gathering, we're chasing after the animal. I would say that arguably more natural, but we don't produce our food in that way, we do it on a mass scale, we change our environment to suit us. And, you know, as a product. There's a lot of negatives that come along with that. So, you know, selling the whole idea of nutritional value. I think that's a very strong thing. Establishing a supply chain is a massive challenge.

    Ron Shigeta: I want to tell a very personal story about this, because Wild Earth was practically in some ways, the first “cell Ag product” that ever came out on the commercial market as well as their dog treats. A couple of years ago in our bubble in the alternative protein world — we know that these products are really super special — but imagine taking a package that you made, and took a picture of the grocery store and stuffing it in between two other packages that are in a row with 30 other products, and that's an incredible was an incredible experience for me. And I think I left while we're a couple years ago while there's this little going, there's still selling this wonderful dog food has lots of health benefits for the dogs. But it's just, you know, I have been focused on the product. Ever since then, because that is the next step in evolution here, and the problems have not been solved. Very well, I, you know, I'd like to hear what you guys think of the Impossible campaign. Selling science doesn't work very well in my opinion. I love the Impossible Burger, I eat to live at home and the sales are going up the price dropping, but these are, who cares about the what those nerds say, I am not sure that's gonna resonate with most people, and I think I would like to challenge anybody listening to think of how you can appeal to everybody, even people who really do not care or trust science. 

    We need to sort of learn how to speak to people emotionally, and that emotional tone will set how people accept this technology, and all these other things, the technology is better for you. You just have to get them to feel like it is and so the last thing I'll say about that is it has to be a very positive method message. My favorite campaign in the whole field is only. It's like milk was made for humans. It just turns the whole question on its head, and then they don't even talk about how you make ugly, which is actually a somewhat technical process. I just, I think we all need to learn from companies like Oatly, from their examples.

    Rosie Wardle: Yeah, I like Oatly’s case study. Kai-Brit, do you have any examples of companies that you've seen and you think they’re doing things right in terms of how they sell products to consumers?

    Kai-Brit Bechtold: Yeah. But, maybe before I say some companies that I think are doing quite a good job, I would speak about more general topics like the various challenges because these are the most crucial topics to speak about also coming from just basics, a consumer demand for products that are tasty. You know, if a product is not tasty, and if a consumer tries it, and she / he doesn't like it, it won't be bought again, obviously. So, taste has to be overwhelming, no matter which products we're talking about. And this is a major challenge for several plant-based foods. Of course there are a lot of good ones out there already, but we still need to improve.

    Ron Shigeta: So, Kai-Brit, coil you give an example of products, an example of a class, very difficult to get to taste good? What's a category of plant-based food that you wish tasted great?

    Kai-Brit Bechtold: Cheese alternatives. Here in Europe, I can say. And then we come to the second topic after taste, price. Cheese alternatives are a great example. We have, I would say, two kinds of cheese alternatives. Either we have cheese alternatives that are quite artificial that mostly consists of oil and starch, and sorry, I don't like the taste at all, most of them, not all but most, and in my opinion, they have such a long ingredient list, you know, then we come to another topic: clean labels.

    This is all confusing for the consumer. So, of course, they might be fine in terms of price but the taste is not really good. This is the first group of cheese alternatives. And then the other one... They have a great taste based on fermented nuts, which is really tasty, but they are really high in price, and this won't impress consumers, especially not flexitarians, and if we want to change the world. 

    It's about flexitarians, you know, here in Germany we have 55% of people being flexitarians, we have just 1% vegans. So, what is the most lucrative target group for companies, it's about flexitarians and they want to have tasty products being fine in terms of price so they have to be at price points, similar to conventional counterparts. So these are the biggest challenges in my opinion, taste and price, and then we can speak about many other topics but first price and taste needs to be convincing for flexitarians. Yeah, the average consumer. To keep it short. 

    Ron Shigeta: Definitely right about the cheese.

    Kai-Brit Bechtold: Yeah. And then we can also speak about other challenges like fish alternatives, you know, we see amazing growth rates on purchase of official alternatives here in Germany, and they are already provided in these counters, which is overwhelming because if something is offered as this country's ID leader. This means it's going mainstream. But here we have other challenges because people complain. Well, the profile and attrition of the profile is not that good, it needs to be high in omega three fatty acids in iodine and so on. Generally speaking, the products need to be the same like conventional counterparts to be convincing. This is what is also important to know.

    Rosie Wardle: And so if you or any of the panel could, I guess name. One thing that would accelerate the shift towards the products that consumers want to buy and want to eat, and at a price point that they will will accept it, what would you say I mean is it just a case of this industry is still very nascent and we need far more capital far more research, far more activity in general to kind of get us to that next level, or do you think there are other specific missing pieces I guess to this puzzle to really kind of accelerate the shift?

    Vi Nguyen: I think government policy, you know policy shifts to regulation, really accelerate your space, I mean, we've seen that, you know, Singapore was the first country in the world to allow for the sale of lab, meat, you know, just to consumers and that was such big news because everyone was kind of waiting, you know, at the edge for that to happen, who was which country is going to allow that first and hopefully you know that will open the doors for other jurisdictions to follow. And that's been quite exciting to see. And there's been a great reception on that, and we're seeing a lot more investments into the manufacturing of all different alternatives in Asia. 

    Many facilities are opening up. But you know what Kevin was saying about price, I think from an Asian perspective I would say that it's, it's, we come from a different angle in that yes it's very essential, and I think that establishing a stable, consistent product comes from creating that supply chain and all plays out of that and I think a lot of the large commodity players always need to get in on that because you know they control so much of that supply chain, especially in plant-based you we are still, we're still seeing most of the plant-based products in the water being made from wheat and soy, particularly soy, but that is still the dominant player there only because it's been there for so long. 

    There's nothing to say that the others don't measure up in many aspects the potential raw ingredients that could be used. It's just that soy is sort of established and with that comes price stability. So, you know, if you want to be able to allow people to, to use it, you have to help establish that and p is getting there in terms of units work beyond immediate using, but it's still so it's still such a small percentage of the market still, and I hope to see that really increase.

    Ron Shigeta: It's kind of a problem, they'll be because, you know, the thing you may think about wheat and soy is that they are affordable. I think that another problem, it's hard to hit the price point as well. And so we really need to evolve those alternative proteins, sort of markets to achieve the kind of scale where the prices are actually accessible and people can work with them. I mean Beyond Meat it still hasn't lowered its price point. And you can still buy a walk up at Safeway near my house, cheaper than you can buy it for me, and I know that's a big factor.

    Vi Nguyen: And you can imagine like in Asia we have a lot of population here, particularly in the less developed countries that are still buying for the width market, they're not, you know, this is this whole plant alternatives such as Beyond Meat is kind of an urban thing you know is this for the more affluent, who live in cities who, who are exposed to this at the marketing of the movie. The consumers are much more developed, I guess in that way, and more educated, but we have masses of population in rural areas, or even within the urban centers were shopping at, you know the wet markets will find those live chickens that are going home and, and this is a fact, in Asia, is that a lot of the cheap traditional proteins are still providing the necessary nutrients for, you know, to prevent things like stunted growth in children. And how do you argue against a form of you know a $4 chicken that is, that's all the family can afford, to a $20 burger. Or maybe, plant-based products. So that price, price issue is quite important.

    Christopher Kong: You know it's like it's quite interesting how we've also centered around price I think yeah price is definitely important and I think one way of tackling that challenge is to create scalable systems, Right, because fundamentally or theoretically at least, there's no reason why pop these proteins should be any more expensive than animal based proteins, you think about just how much work goes into keeping your pet dog right that same amount of work is this necessary to look after, you know, a cow, right, if not more, because it's such a large animal to feed in terms of, you know, as you mentioned earlier the antibiotics and the nourishment, etc etc in the care, whatever care that they do get right is expensive, but it's just the machine that the animal protein industry has evolved into through many, many generations and many many decades of investment and growth has allowed for it to create to the s such scale that protein comes at a ridiculously low cost. 

    On the topic of sort of scalable systems I think back to your point about sort of the brutal community, we also need to think about decentralized systems. And I can, you know, you may, you may be able to see where I'm going to create a scalable and decentralized, you need something, especially from a plant-based perspective. I think fermentation is a very unique solution to those two attributes. The scale of which fermentation can operate is massive. We already have use cases of fermentation outside of the alternatives, right they already operate at a massive massive scale.

    Let's think about cheese right, let's think about this, think about why, you know, these are huge, huge industries that use these beans specifically using very precise fermentation at an industrial scale. And we think about decentralization. Decentralization comes from, I guess, from twofold right the centralization of the input. So, I like creating systems that can use local inputs and don't need to be so reliant on global commodity sort of systems, as well as also, I guess this this idea of, like, what's the word, but like you know box models where models that can work in closed loops that can sort of, instead of, Yeah, they can sort of function independently of other units and fermentation as well, is one of those things you know think about the diversity of feedstocks in fermentation is absolutely vast, and the actual, you know, investment required to centralize fermentation is relatively low. 

    So, we focus on template mutation in Indonesia. The template is widely consumed. It originated there 300 years ago, you know Tebay in Indonesia is considered a poor man's food product. Now, in fact I think the ex prime minister or president of Indonesia, tortures people not to attempt a nation. And in that you say, don't be a coronation aspire to adopt Western lifestyles, 10 day in Indonesia source for silk sells for 50 cents a kilo. That's 50 cents for 200 grams of protein. There's no other source of protein that cheap of that quality right in terms of bioavailability and terms of sensory policy as well as a taste and versatility and Tempeh can be used, using Tempeh fermentation to be applied to any proper substrate, those soy is what's most conventional because soy is something that is grows very, very well in Indonesia, but you can make, you know 10 out of living beans if you grow in Italy, you can make it out of brown nuts if you grow in Africa, you can make out of sorghum, or whatever it is that you grow if you live in rural parts of South America. 

    So I think it's, yeah, we are the world's first because it's very poorly understood but hopefully, hopefully I fermentation, and I guess, in our case heavy fermentation, could be a potential solution to meet the price, the price issue that you mentioned. Hi. But I think the other challenge, which you mentioned was sensory qualities and the education of people around. It's interesting that you mentioned that I think it's very very important for what we've actually discovered through our own research, with our own consumer panels is that, at least maybe non-cheese right as I'm talking about specifically the alternatives here is that, generally speaking, the consumer base thinks that the alternatives taste what tastes good.

    In fact, a lot of flexitarians adopt plant based proteins, specifically because they are because they taste good. Right. And the really common formats that are way more convenient to prepare for the eating meal say than animal based proteins. So there's already a consensus there probably is protein meat alternatives, whose good, I think, is about. So now let's stop driving the price down. It's about also offering consumers healthier choices to allow them to rationalize the creativity that's been into these products, right, because you know it's going to take a while for the plant based industry to grow, to achieve the same scale as, as the meat industry. So in that time, we need to offset that sort of gap in price point. By focusing on, I think, predominantly that help us deal with the message, and make sure that that resonates and it's a Ron's point so I'm just like going on now because, quite a while but rod to your point about educating people about, you know the science versus the the health benefits I completely agree. 

    I think taking the scientific approach has not worked. If you look at our website we don't talk anything about the fact that our food tech business, because that's not important. No one cares. No one cares. Apart from the customers really. I was gonna say investors care, consumers don't care. Yeah. There can be investors who care about defensibility but consumers just want the best value. Consumers just want products that are good for them. They're reliable and consistent.

    You can market the most scientific product in the world but if you don't, if you're not able to deliver on the value, deliver Cincy deliver on the emotional, right, and emotional messages, which is what truly drives purchasing intent, more so than anything, then you're not going to sell people when they shop through when they go to shopping malls, they purchase with first order thinking. So, it's only a very specific, very limited number of consumers that actually take the time to understand what's actually what they're actually buying, they go off of the first impression. And, yeah, I don't know much about Impossible Burger’s campaign, but if they're looking to tap into that second quarter of thinking, then it's not nearly going to be as effective as that first order, sort of got impulse. Yep, decision making.

    Rosie Wardle: There is a question in the chat from the audience that maybe we can talk about. We mentioned Singapore earlier. I think it was the first jurisdiction to approve cultivated meat. And the question is, to anyone on the panel, do you believe that an international consensus about these products from a regulatory perspective would help to drive things forward. Do you think that's a likely scenario or, I guess, how do you see the kind of regulatory approach to these new technologies and novel foods, evolving from your different regions?

    Ron Shigeta: I just want to say... I think Singapore. It's amazing. It's an amazing plan, they've got there, I was just hanging out with some Singaporeans last night, and they're planning to sort of become a global hub for food technology. It seems to be working, because the US is not going to be the leader in regulatory sort of process for this, by the time they move the US moves everybody else will follow. But there'll be some major markets established, and I wish every country would take initiative like Singapore does, you know, I just think it's brilliant.

    Vi Nguyen: I think we did it as a necessity of survival, we'd say fees security's a big issue here, it's definitely the agenda. And you know like really such a it's such a small island to you that we were I think, 10% of the mental weight, everything else is important it's why it's so darn expensive, but it's look I wish the whole world could get disincentives and almost any issue, I think those would be gone. And then that takes time. I mean look at climate change alone right like how long has it taken, and the still debate. I think that you'd be, it's kind of wishful thinking to wait for that. I think that a lot of the government's will represent their population and it's a lot of self national interests at hand. I think if you look at just even like commodities in that market and a movement, and then you know you've got tariffs and things like that, it depends on so many factors, There's a lot of politics, and you know, I know that in certain lobby groups and in countries that are very, very strong. For instance, you know the major lobbyists in, was it the, the French Ministry of Agriculture said that we will never allow for so cultured meats because it's not very serious about this.

    Ron Shigeta: I just want to throw something out there's another thing that is driving Singapore and some of the other countries that are upcoming. And that's something we haven't talked about. It sort of falls on what Chris was saying is that there is a potential through fermentation to create food independence, which doesn't seem possible otherwise, the idea that Singapore could grow all of its own food is definitely part of their statement. And I wish people could, like, just think about that for a second, like an island country covered entirely by city would be able to feed itself, with minimal import, like that's pretty crazy.And that talks about the aggregate technology in a way that's special.

    Rosie Wardle: Absolutely, I agree. Kai-Brit and Chris, do you want to add something from a European perspective because obviously, historically, the US been, I guess more conservative on these new technologies, but we are seeing a few examples I mean even the UK now leaving Brexit are kind of reviewing their national food strategy and seem to be kind of formal outcomes aren't published yet but they seem to be looking at these technologies, I guess, much more favorably and kind of trying to understand how the UK could become a bit more forward thinking in this but what are you seeing from Europe perspective? 

    Kai-Brit: Yeah, I think, as well coming back to the general topic about worldwide regulations, I really what we said but I don't think that this will be really possible, even though food security is a major topic in the world, but you're speaking about Europe, I would say we have quite strict regulations here, and they really saw different depending on the countries and so on. And I can say also, for instance for Germany and many other countries in Europe, we have many lobby groups in the meat and dairy industry. We've just recently had the challenge. Here is quite a political discussion about that, the labeling of plant milk here, which is totally forbidden in Europe.

    And it was even more strict. These products should not even be still allowed to be offered in package sizes and packages that look similar to conventional Milligan so on. So really strict regulations, and it's a lot of political work in Europe as well, at least to get the whole plant-based development pushed forward. And I feel like in other parts of the world, for instance in the US, I'm not living there but I have the impression that it's somehow easier to get along with the regulations and so on.

    And, yeah, this is what I can say for Europe at least and especially for a country like Germany, which has the most inhabitants of Europe, what challenges we are facing. Another issue is, for instance, taxation, we have higher taxes on old drinks, we are not allowed to call them “oat milk” than on conventional milk. And this is that you see what is going on you know and this is because of the whole lobby groups of meat and dairy industry.

    Ron Shigeta: Yeah, you know why the US is so much more open, because we're so much. We're so unpredictable. Like we didn't get anything if someone stands up and does the right thing. We're like, “Yeah, that's great” or “no, that's all.”

    Kai-Brit: Germans mentality is different you know they're skeptical, like, like the party pooper. You know… It's much harder to convince them.

    Ron Shigeta: That you're 55% flexitarian number blew my mind though. Amazing. 

    Kai-Brit: And then you see, wow... Finally, we're on the right track. 

    Christopher Kong, Ron Shigeta, Kai-Brit and Rosie Wardle [mixed conversation]: So, I mean, yeah, like, 55% is amazing but it's even higher in the UK I think it's like 75% or something, it's yeah it's ridiculous. I think 75% of people 18 And above self identify as flexitarian. Whether or not 75% of people know what flexitarianism is, is another question, what they said in the last years, Chris. I don't know exactly where it was two years ago. It was like, 18 months ago that was 31 but I can believe that it's the scrolling because 31 is insanely high as well. I mean, the retailers here over the last, like year, two years, like the plant based aisle is just booming, it's incredible to see. This is what I read in the data actually, by the way that the UK was at some point, I would call it, overriding Germany and so on, which is pretty cool. I was like okay. Yeah, because the Netherlands are really really strong already in the plant based business, I would say, but I, from what I read in data I have a feeling like the UK is proceeding fast, so I just want to say Europe is struggles because its culture is so deeply tied to the tradition of its food, except for the UK and, but we have no food. No food tradition.

    Ron Shigeta: I want to tell you guys a story, I believe, while I was at Giannopoulos I was invited to go to Sao Paulo, Brazil, the most meat, producing country in the world for beef, and I walked into the grocery store, and I can see the price of beef was rising. And the restaurants were serving less beef. And I thought, Well, if that can happen here, it can change anywhere and you know you have a present tomorrow. Making the veggie burger is a very popular $300 million company in a country where people don't have money. It's really, it can change anywhere I'm very optimistic.

    Rosie Wardle: Love that Ron, I think that's a great note to end on, and a very positive one. Thank you all for your contributions.

    Kai-Brit: May I add something just to promote something? Because I was really overwhelmed to see this paper from Kearney, they always made predictions about plant-based and cultivated meat. Business will develop, and it's, they just brought this out and it's so amazing to see the difference depending on the region in the world, which is the most promising meat alternative, you know, we will have in the next 10-15 years. A higher percentage, according to them here in Europe on plant-based meat but in Asia, for instance, it will be more about cultivators, you know, and I feel like, yeah, if you want to see more about predictions, just check this amazing report out. 

    Rosie Wardle: So this is a new one from AT Kearney?

    I think so because they were at our new food conference. I was in a panel discussion there as well. And yeah, we discussed this a lot, so can you put a link in the chat. 

    Rosie Wardle: Fantastic, wonderful. Thank you very much. I hope you all enjoy this symposium.

    About this welcome opening:

    Date: 06/08/2021

    Panelists: Ron Shigeta, Dr. Kai-Brit Bechtold, Vi Nguyen, Christopher Kong

    Panel Moderator: Rosie Wardle

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