An Argentine startup is the "owner" of the secret food ingredient of the future: the Tomorrow Food case
The clock is in countdown. At present, there are almost 8,000 million people in the world and the figure increases every minute. When it reaches 10,000 million there will be no turning back: the planet will be in an environmental catastrophe.
While leading scientists believe the deadline will be 2050, events could be brought forward if precautions are not taken. Electric cars will eliminate part of the problem, but it will take time until they achieve mass.
Within this framework, there is a sector that could undergo its own transformation to significantly reduce the use of natural resources: livestock. According to the United Nations National Organization, if the cows formed a country, it would be the third in greenhouse gas emissions, after China and the US.
In addition, the agency estimates that the demand for meat will increase by about 80% by 2050, precisely, the year proposed as the "ecological Armageddon".
The richest men on the planet have already taken note of all this. To the point that personalities such as Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos (Amazon number one) have been investing millions of sums in startups that design foods with plant ingredients (using algorithms) to replicate flavors, textures, aromas with marked accuracy:- Jeff Bezos, at the top of the Forbes ranking ($ 113.1 billion), put $ 30 million in NotCo, a Chilean firm that reproduces milk, ice cream and plant-based mayonnaise- Bill Gates, second with US $ 105.6 billion, disbursed in the main US firms in the sector - Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Just - that create foods that are traditionally made with animal ingredients using only plants and a strong dose of artificial intelligence (IA)The choice of the dish to start the plant-based revolution is not random: minced meat accounts for almost 45% of the use of the 62 million tons of beef consumed on the planet.
For this, foodtech startups (acronym for food, food; and technology, technology) seek to generate the perfect vegan medallion, saving:- 96% of land, which could be occupied with forests that reduce the greenhouse effect- 89% carbon emission- 87% water
The secret of food 4.0 is in Argentina
In this context, a group of entrepreneurs from the Argentine city of Pergamino has become the first company in Latin America to create the base product from which many of the foods of the future are developed.
Two years ago, entrepreneur Gonzalo Segovia traveled to Cebit, a technology fair that takes place every year in Germany. Some soybean "crispies" ended up being the trigger of what was going to be their next venture: the European country imports the oilseed and then the finished product arrives in Argentina.
"How are we in Parchment, standing on soybeans, unable to add value to the raw material?" Asked Segovia, who accumulated more than a decade of work in the food industry and noted that the demand for protein from peas grew as a replacement for soybeans and animals.In addition, the green legume is very chosen by companies and consumers "because it does not contain allergens such as soy, nor is it genetically modified," he says.
"3.5 tons of peas are needed to produce one of protein isolates. That is, they are exported for the value of US $ 900 and only one protein isolate is imported, au $ s4,000," says Segovia in dialogue with iProUP .
This is how he summoned César and Agustín Belloso (father and son), who worked in protein isolates from pastures, and joined the chemical engineer Guillermo Lentini. Together, founder Tomorrow Foods, to create the "secret" ingredient of versions 4.0 of meats, dairy and other foods.
"It is a powder that has a 90% protein concentration and allows the creation of substitutes. For example, meat (such as the Beyond Meat hamburger), the dairy made by Notco; functional drinks and food and sports nutrition supplements" , remarks.
The partners contributed $ 280,000 to launch the initiative, to which they added another $ 200,000 from Grid Exponential, a venture capital that invests in biotechnology projects; and $ 300,000 through an accelerator contest organized by the Secretariat of Entrepreneurs and SMEs.
The company obtained collaboration from national and international institutions. And it already has its first prototype, so that it is working against the clock to take it on an industrial scale and start marketing it to food producing companies. "We made contact with national and multinational companies, both of the 'new era' (in reference to the foodtech) and the 'traditional ones,' warns Segovia.
Each company that visits Tomorrow Food brings a sample hamburger and a formulation to produce it. "The ingredients industry works that way when you want to sell your input: you have to go with the finished product and a base recipe to evaluate its preparation," he says.The company not only emphasizes product quality, but also its sustainability, an increasingly frequent demand among the younger generations that is becoming an industry standard.
"We are about to implement a system of traceability by blockchain so that our clients identify the establishment and the lot, and verify that it was produced in a sustainable way," says Segovia.
The businessman explains with an example how far the interest goes: "Recently, in England, an Argentine food was taken out of the market because the authorities detected in its composition a type of soybeans that were produced in Chaco fields that were deforested."
"Argentina is extremely efficient in terms of agricultural production. Even in most regions they have a positive balance in carbon emission," he says.
In addition to the pea, the company is obtaining protein isolates from other vegetables to offer a complete portfolio for future foods.
"Currently, we are tested with protein from mung beans, which Just uses to make mayonnaise or liquid egg substitute, in high demand in the US Also for chickpea, lentils, rice and other vegetables," says Segovia .
In addition, there is a great opportunity in the region: Latin American foodtech consulted by iProUP often complain that inputs are scarce - due to lack of scale - and expensive, since the vast majority must be imported. But Tomorrow Food says its product is very competitive.
"It is feasible to be competitive by adding value. Mercosur, every time it matters, has to pay taxes of 14%. It is not economical, but it is up to 30% compared to the US and 10% compared to China, which it is of lower quality. We have all the opportunities to compete equally with the great players, "said Segovia.
In this way, it expects to close 2020 with sales close to 70 tons of pea protein isolate, which will ensure a turnover of between US $ 400,000 and US $ 600,000.
Of course, the first market to attack, after Argentina, will be Brazil. "One of the strong legs is the business opportunity at a regional level. The food market in that territory is four times higher than ours and there is no zero production of peas due to the weather," he is excited.
And he closes: "We are the first company in Latin America to get the isolate. And we do it for two reasons: the environment, since producing a kilo of protein saves resources; and health, because these foods do not have cholesterol, antibiotics or hormones. "
Thus, Tomorrow Food opens the way to the country to become the largest "vegetable refrigerator" in the region. And contribute so that Argentina's tradition as a food supplier remains in the 4.0 era.