Bringing Home the (Plant-Based) Bacon

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The world is moving towards clean food sources. (Image: Hooray Bacon)

Plant-based protein has taken to the market, influencing consumer behavior and demand for the products.

While Impossible Meat and Beyond Burger are the first movers in this space, there is more room for growth and innovation in this sector. One such company, Hooray Foods, is doing just that. Hooray Foods is making plant-based bacon that is designed to look, cook, and taste just like the real thing.

Sri Artham, the Founder of Hooray Foods, has taken some time to answer some questions regarding Hooray Foods and his observations about being part of this exciting sector.

What’s your story?

About two years ago, I had left my previous startup. I worked on labor issues in our food supply chains for almost a decade and thought it was time that I worked on environmental issues in our food supply chains. I learned about how much our food has an impact on the world.

In 2018, with the wildfires in California, I realized I wanted to work on climate change, and agriculture has a big contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. From my previous experience, I knew that when we change what we eat, we can change the world. At that time, I had also stopped eating beef because the Impossible Burger was available.

That’s when I decided I wanted to get into plant-based meat. There were a bunch of companies working on getting cows and chicken out of the food system. However, there weren’t as many companies working on pigs. So I decided I wanted to start a company that would displace pigs from the food supply chain.

Why does this matter and what is the impact?

Pigs are the number two contributor, after cows, to greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. And pork is the most consumed meat by weight in the world. There’s a huge amount of consumption impact there. When you switch from animal meat to plant-based meat, you reduce the emissions by around 85%, when it comes to pork.

The biggest source of emissions in the in the pork supply chain is from the feed. It takes a whole lot of fertilizer, which is a petroleum byproduct, to create feedstock for pigs.

What are the current trends in the sector?

We’ve already seen an amazing trend — people are shifting towards plant-based foods, and people are trying to eat less meat. I hope that trend continues, especially as the sector creates better meat alternatives. This growth will continue if we produce better products and educate consumers. This change can only happen if there is both supply and demand of plant-based food.

We have to get to a place where plant-based analogs are comparable in price or lower in price than their animal counterparts. This seems feasible because those people have to raise a whole animal, slaughter it, and process it. The one thing holding plant-based meat from price parity is the scale, which will take at least a few years to get to.

What does regulation/policy look like?

In the short term, the biggest regulatory issue is naming conventions. There are some debate as to whether or not you can call plant-based meat “meat”. The Plant-based Food Association is working with the government on the naming conventions of plant-based products.

For the longer term, there might be a shift in subsidies for agriculture. Right now, commodities, crops like corn and wheat, get a lot of government subsidies. I hope that those subsidies change to support other crops, perhaps even plant-based meat as well. The Good Food Institute has been lobbying for more research funding from the government.

Outlook

Plant-based foods are a growing trend. As time goes on, there will be more and more innovations and products in the sector. Hooray Foods entered the market strategically, by looking at the big players in the sector and identifying an area with fewer competitors. Yet, because Hooray Foods is within the trending market of producing plant-based meat, the path to entering the market is carved out. New products in the plant-based food market should take a similar strategy, as the future will likely entail many plant-based alternatives.

This story has been featured in The Impact, an email newsletter that covers the latest news in the renewables and cleantech space. Check it out and subscribe here.

Impact Investment Analyst at One World | Startup Weekend Facilitator | Climate Tech Enthusiast

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