• v2food officially launches (L-R): Main Sequence Ventures' Phil Morle; CSIRO's Mary-Ann Augustin; Competitive Foods Australia's Jack Cowin; v2food CEO Nick Hazell, and Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews.
    v2food officially launches (L-R): Main Sequence Ventures' Phil Morle; CSIRO's Mary-Ann Augustin; Competitive Foods Australia's Jack Cowin; v2food CEO Nick Hazell, and Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews.

v2food, the collaboration of CSIRO, Main Sequence Ventures, and Competitive Foods Australia – the company behind Hungry Jack’s – officially launched in Sydney last night, highlighting to investors the plant-based meat start-up could be Australia’s next big export.

From foundation to national launch within eight months, v2food is a result of the backing from both government and industry to develop a sustainable solution with a plant-based meat alternative, with the new industry expected to be worth $6 billion by 2030 in Australia alone.

CSIRO research and development, along with Jack Cowin's Competitive Foods Australia, and Main Sequence Ventures, a part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, provided funding and support to launch the new company, as well as helping to commercialise the business.

“I think the exciting part of v2food here is that it’s an opportunity to grow this into, not just an Australian business, but as a big picture, this could become an international business,” said Competitive Foods Australia chairman and CEO Jack Cowin.

“We’ve got the raw materials, we can produce a product that is very competitive… if we can use the grains for our farmers to grow and turn it into protein and make that a competitive product – as beef gets more expensive – we’ve got a lower cost product that will be able to supply the nutrients and protein people need.”

v2food is being led by former Masterfoods and PepsiCo research director Nick Hazell, who told Food & Drink Business that v2food is recognising the first version of our food system no longer works when projected into the future.

“If you look at it on a global scale, you need both [meat and plant-based producers],” said Hazell.

“We can’t stop eating meat, but we can’t grow another meat industry. So, it’s not about a win-lose situation, there’s a role for all to play in our diets and in supplying food for the planet.”

“Another thing from an Australian perspective is that Australia exports most of the meat we produce, and this could be a phenomenal export story for Australia. We could be exporting plant-based meat to the world, grown in Australia with sustainable agriculture so I see it as a positive.”

The plant-based food is produced by extracting protein from legumes and turning it into a texture similar to meat, then bringing it together with flavour systems which mimic the same in meat.

Hazell told F&DB the product behaves the same as meat, where “it’ll cook, sizzle and smell like meat and you don’t have to relearn your cooking”.

“v2food is about making plant-based meat tasty and affordable for everyone… You’ll be able to buy it in the supermarket, at fast food outlets, and in restaurants, and it’ll be an alternative,” said Hazell.

“If you want to do something because you’re concerned about meat consumption for whatever reason – whether it is sustainability or other reasons – this will offer you a choice. It’s easy because it tastes good, or better, and it’ll be the same price, and our research suggests there are a lot of people looking for that.”

At the launch, Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology said there is a great opportunity for Australia to be part of the emerging plant-based meat alternative market, with nearby nations interested in what can be supplied.

“Our produce is considered very clean and very green, particularly by our nearest neighbours and they are very interested in what Australia can supply to them,” said Andrews.

“Twenty five per cent of all Australian manufacturing is food or food related. This is not a competition with meat-based food and plant-based meat substitutes – the pie is large enough for everyone to be a part of it.

“It is a significant opportunity for Australia to develop key manufacturing and development opportunities for this particular product.”

v2food is expected to appear in supermarkets, restaurants and cafes throughout the remainder of year and into early 2020.

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