JOY FOOD: THE PLANT BASED CHICKEN MADE IN ITALY

JOY FOOD: THE PLANT BASED CHICKEN MADE IN ITALY

Plant-based, plant-based, and still plant-based, some months ago this was a hot topic in food tech, as even discussed it in this previous article. It was an interesting and widely discussed topic in food innovation environments, but not so much in mass media

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The plant-based topic is becoming mainstream largely due to announcements and press releases of some food behemoths like Burger King with Impossible Whopper and Nestlè with plant-based meat developments, and finally what has been defined as "IPO of the year" closed by Beyond Meat.

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And because of the growth of the world pioneers, Beyond and Impossible, beyond any doubt the market leaders, the market can be considered somehow almost saturated. Thanks to the innovation brought by their products, and the huge amount of money raised, followed by strong marketing campaigns, Beyond and Impossible aim to rule the plant-based burger market for a long time in a contest that can be compared to Coca Cola vs. Pepsi or McDonalds vs. Burger King, but definitely and obviously much more balanced.

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Of course, both companies haven’t entered some markets, but who actually would be able to compete with such behemoths in the field of plant-based burger? Just some days ago, to further expand its business, Beyond announced the launch of a brand new product, the Beyond Beef, exclusively for the retail market that aims to gain more market shares thanks to its high versatility.

NEW FRONTIERS OF PLANT-BASED: SEAFOOD AND CHICKEN

For such reasons, in looking forward to cell-based meat that will allow us to have not just burger but also pork loin or lamb chops and even seafood, completely slaughter-free, experts and investors are now arguing on what could be the next plant-based trend. Will it be chicken? Or fish?

About the latter, the US-based company Good Catch Food can be considered as the absolute pioneer of the so-called plant-based fish.

“Good Catch Foods develops and manufactures vegan, plant-based food substitutes for seafood. The company offers plant-based and fish free shredded tuna, salmon, filets, patties, and crab cakes made with pea-proteins and legumes” (source: Bloomberg).

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And what about chicken? Plant-based chicken at the moment can't be considered as a big trend, but it aims to be one of the greatest topics for the next years in meat analog environments. And the ground zero of this next plant-based evolution could be Italy. Yes, Italy, the land of good food, but even the land where innovation, by most part, is still seen as a freak, a creature that squirmed out of the mind of Stephen King or Mary Shelley. In the heart of Italy, Perugia, a small and nice Italian town halfway from Florence and Rome, is the seat of Joy Food.

The company develops meat analogs (chicken, bacon, and beef based on soy) using a technology similar to Beyond Meat one, selling them through its brand Food Evolution. We reached Alberto Musacchio, founder and owner of Joy Food, to discuss the present and future of plant-based and Joy Food.

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  • Alberto, what do you think about all the hype on plant-based generated mainly by Beyond Meat IPO?

"Obviously it gives me great pleasure as this hype is generating more awareness on sustainability and animal welfare matters even by the "bad guys" of international finance who are starting to invest in meat analogs. The pleasure for me is double considering that I have been a vegetarian for 40 years, and I’ll let you imagine what it means to be vegetarian 40 years ago. With this statement, I would like to point out that the meat analog market is not addressed only to vegans and vegetarians but looks more to flexitarians. The vegan movement can anyway support and assist in creating more hype and grant more visibility to plant-based products."

  • Can you briefly describe Joy Food technology?

“Food Evolution is the only brand in Italy producing meat analogs using a unique technology with huge investments as it’s not easy to create meat analogs from powder.

Starting from soy powder, the technology allows the creation of a vegetal fiber similar to meat. The process involves the "stretch" of the protein cell into a "meat strand" with high protein content, low carbs, no gluten that's later flavored with natural flavors to obtain chicken, bacon, and beef.

Of course, we don't want to compare ourselves to Beyond or Impossible, but we can state that our products are surely more clean, healthy, and structured."

  • What’s your business model?

“The product has been conceived for the retail market and we have also requested  from foodservice and for a private label from some big players.

Undoubtedly what can make the difference on the market and what customers truly appreciate is the fact that I and my family, as stated above, have been vegetarian for 40 years, we are not “last minute vegetarians,” so we know our chickens, that are plant based, in this case (he laughs, editor’s note).”

  • You actually have a venture round open, what’s the structure of the round? How will the funds be used?

“We plan to scale up the production to increase capacity and expand the brand, both in Italy and internationally. Particularly, in our beloved country, we would like to create more awareness, not just around our brand, that's obvious, but also around the whole plant-based and meat analog movement and the benefits it could bring to our lives. On the international market that is more aware of this concept, we could focus exclusively on branding.

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