Amir Zaidman Vice-President of Business Development / The Kitchen Hub

The food production and supply chain is breaking down. One need not look further than store shelves or grocery store receipts.

Fortunately, a tsunami of innovative Israeli companies is developing an array of protein, dairy and seafood replacements. Other Israeli companies are busy ratcheting up the health quotient of common consumables.

This fascinating podcast discusses issues such as:

  • What is the difference in plant-based and cell-cultivated protein replacements in terms of processes, regulatory pathways, capital intensity, scalability and consumer acceptance?
  • Are protein replacements compliant with kosher and halal strictures?
  • How do foodtech products rate in terms of taste?
  • Should production facilities be large—and few and far in between—to achieve economies of scale? Or should numerous smaller factories be placed closer to customers?
  • What does the retail price trajectory for foodtech products look like?

Among the intriguing companies mentioned during this podcast are Aleph Farms, Zero Egg, Imagindairy, Amai Proteins and Better Juice.

Amir Zaidman is the Vice-President of Business Development at The Kitchen Hub, Israel’s leading seed investor and technological incubator focusing on FoodTech. Amir has degrees in accounting, law and business. Amir has served on the Boards of a diverse array of FoodTech companies, including Nutritional Growth Solutions, an Australian Stock Exchange company.

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TODAY’S GUEST:

Amir Zaidman:

Vice-President of Business Development at The Kitchen Hub

Amir Zaidman is the Vice-President of Business Development at The Kitchen Hub, Israel’s leading seed investor and technological incubator focusing on FoodTech. Amir has degrees in accounting, law and business. Amir has served on the Boards of a diverse array of FoodTech companies, including Nutritional Growth Solutions, an Australian Stock Exchange company.

HISTORY:

1) Board Member, Chair of Audit and Financial Reports Committee –
Nutritional Growth Solutions

2) Board Member – Flying Spark

3) Board Member  – Various FoodTech Startups

SHOW NOTES:

00:00:59 – It’s not a single founder but maybe a team of two or three founders and that’s what we look at and that’s what we see.

Thanks for the opportunity to speak about the Kitchen Hub. So the full name is actually the Kitchen Food Tech Hub and it is a seed stage investor and technological incubator based in Israel investing in extremely early stage food tech ventures which are based in Israel.

Of course, it is owned by one of Israel’s largest food groups which is called the Strauss Group and it is a part of the incubators program of the Israeli Innovation Authority.

Now what we do, we look at ourselves as sort of companies builders because we go in at an extremely early stage sometimes the actual founders of companies. I’m going to go back to that, circle back to that in a second where there’s still really nothing much in the company.

We would like to see a technological proof of concept. But when I talk about an investment in an early-stage venture it typically would not yet be a company. If we’re lucky. It’s not a single founder but maybe a team of two or three founders and that’s what we look at and that’s what we see. And this is why we’ve built sort of mechanism or system to help grow start up from, I call it from zero to one.

00:09:48 – Typically it would be a CEO and a CTO and we secure the funding.

21 companies are alive and kicking, raised money and progressing towards being successful bringing products and services to the food market.

And just to touch more on one quick point, as I mentioned that sometimes we understand we are also a venture studio, which means that we create new ventures from the ground up. Typically it would be when we identified an unmet need or a very big problem in the markets and we say, okay, this is the problem we’re solving. We’re going to scout for technology.

And we look, we scout universities, academic research institution, etc. For for IP positions that are relevant for that particular issue. When we find something like that, we license it into a future company that we’re building. We are recruiting a team that we feel the adequate team to start such a company.

Typically it would be a CEO and a CTO and we secure the funding. And once we have the It, based on the technology and the right team and the funding, we launch a whole new start up from the ground up with the purpose of solving that issue that we’ve identified prior to that.

00:28:23 – It can be a variety of different technologies that are solving problems or adding value.

Food tech is relatively a new sector of venture investing. I would say it started roughly in 2014, more or less. Maybe there were a few trailblazers that started the revolution before that, but relatively early. It’s not necessarily has to do with food technologies.

It can be a variety of different technologies that are solving problems or adding value along the value chain of the food supply chain.

Okay, different aspects. It can be in the logistics, it can be in the packaging, it can be in better food the downstream at the end of the line. We can be in better protein manufacturing, production at the upstream at the beginning of the line.

So some of it is biotechnologies and some of it might be in chemistry, some of it might be in digital technologies for many different kinds but with the same purpose of unchaining some of the unleashing or maybe untangling some of the bottlenecks in the food supply chain and changing some of the broken ways, I would say, of the current food system, global food system.

The drivers are there’s a variety of drivers, I think. But what’s driving food tech now? What we see in recent years mostly is climate change and the environment.

00:34:47 – The startups that are grown in Israel have attracted the venture.

First of all, big segment is relative, of course. So I think suite is much bigger than it used to be. Several years ago. But in terms of the amount of money going into different tech sectors, it’s still relatively small.

I mean, you cannot even compare the amount of money going into food tech into the amount of money going into areas like cybersecurity or fintech or issues which are well established over the years. And they are attracting most of the venture money globally and in Israel.

So what I just said is relevant both on a global scale as well as on an Israeli scale. Israel is a small, full tech powerhouse.

The startups that are grown in Israel have attracted the venture. Well, you know what, I’m going to put a disclaimer on that because it really depends how you measure. There is a sector in food tech which attracts a lot of money.

Most of the money I would say, which is, I would call it in one phrase, delivery platforms that can be delivery from restaurants, it can be grocery deliveries, which can be milk it’s. And there’s tremendous amount of money that going into allowing consumers to make their lives easier in terms of bringing them their food faster, whether it’s from a restaurant or their groceries that are buying.

00:40:16 – Those are when you look at the human diet and you see where our sources of proteins are

, I’m putting the stuff that we talked about before aside for a second. The delivery platforms goes into alternative proteins. And when I say alternative proteins, I’m talking about a few different areas.

And I need to clarify that because it’s about both consumer products and ingredients. So both B to B and B to C, it’s about meat replacements, dairy replacements, egg replacements, and seafood and fish replacements. Those are when you look at the human diet and you see where our sources of proteins are. So it comes from eggs, dairy, meat and fish, fish and seafood.

When I say meat, of course, I mean all kinds, including poultry and different types of meat that we consume. So alternative proteins is both about creating proteins as raw materials and ingredients, as well as about creating finished goods, and both in terms of dairy, eggs, fish and meat.

All of them are relevant. And this is absolutely the major area where the most of the interest is there. And I’ll tell you why. You mentioned the crisis that we are now in. Maybe I should call it I don’t know. I want to say many crisis, but I don’t want to underestimate the crisis that is created by the war in the Ukraine.

00:48:46 –  The revolution that brought companies like Impossible Foods and beyond meat is the fact that we got so much closer to having alternatives.

we’ve been using plants to replace meat for several decades already. The main challenge was, until recently, that you could eat that sort of plant based burgers or patties or replacements for cutlets or whatever.

They just didn’t taste very good, and they weren’t even close to me tasting like the original thing. I’m not going to say the real thing, but the original thing.

The revolution that brought companies like Impossible Foods and beyond meat is the fact that we got so much closer to having alternatives that can convince meat eaters to skip a few meals a week and replace them with an alternative that is not bad.

It’s not as bad as it used to be. It’s much closer to what they are used to eating. And that is the major factor in changing this, is based on plants.

The cell cultivation technology is very different. It’s talking about creating something that is almost identical, but is using or is not using animals or animal farming to produce that meat.

So in a very broad stroke, what it says is, okay, let’s take a biopsy from, let’s say, a cow. It can be a pig, it can be a cow, it can be a chicken and grow the cells.

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