How many years away is an alternative protein product that is accessible, affordable, nutritious and environmentally sustainable?
Nutritious, delicious, environmentally sustainable plant-based meats are available now. Working to collapse the cost, but already hitting prices significantly less than those funded with hundreds of millions. Making these food broadly accessible is in the works. My company, Hungry Planet, has taken initial efforts in this front by serving over 1mm meals using our premium plant-based meats to public K-12. More to be done. But, it can be done.
I think this question is too general - what kind of product are you talking about? We have had plant protein products available for centuries - tofu, tempeh, seytan. I guess you are asking about alternative protein that tastes like animal product? I think the answer very crucially depends on the type of product and the discussion should include milk and eggs as well as meats and fish.
I think another answer is that unprocessed plant protein (beans, etc.) is is accessible, affordable, nutritious and environmentally sustainable. The question is how to convince people to increase the share of these in their diet.
@GalinaH, good point! Our focus is on white meat alternatives: chicken and fish.
I understand that it’s easier to mimic red meat than white meat with cell- or plant-based alternatives.
@ToddBoyman, is that your experience as well? How does it affect the timeline?
The importance of this question goes to the design of the prize competition. We don’t want to organize an XPRIZE for something that is likely to happen in the market on its own in the next few years. We want to set an audacious goal for the teams that will eventually participate in the competition – but also a realistic goal.
@NickOttens, white meats aren’t more challenging than red meats, they are simply different. Because most conventional white meats (chicken, turkey) sell for less per lb than red meats, the initial economics aren’t as interesting for most plant-based companies to pursue. Additionally, most consumer view conventional white meats as healthier and as less environmentally harmful. Add it up, and it simply isn’t the first priority problem for most plant-based meat companies to focus on if they have VC investment.
Yves Potvin is a plant food visionary that has done very well, both with products, and economically for himself. His last exit was Gardein. When we discussed opportunities for my duckweed protein, he told me, “if you can make it taste like nothing, I can make it taste like anything!” He found a way to get the substance and texture to mimic popular foods. That was the trick. I hope to work with him in a move away from the main ingredient he has worked with, soy. https://gardein.com/
The product may not be perfect, but was good enough to fetch $154 million from Pinnacle.