From SOCAP Virtual: Entrepreneurs Are Minimizing GHGs Emissions, One Bite at a Time
Agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with livestock making up roughly 9% of all human-induced emissions. It’s an industry primed for innovations and change, and entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunity to create products to build a more sustainable economy.
At SOCAP Virtual, the CEOs of three food-tech firms shared how their companies are re-creating favorite foods in ways that are better for the health of the planet and people. All three are alumni of the Unreasonable Impact program created with Barclays, serving as examples of the need for “unreasonable” people to incorporate radical change in solving the world’s biggest problems. Jed Lynch, Head of Americas, Sustainable and Impact Banking at Barclays, said the Unreasonable Impact program was established in 2016 to help entrepreneurs scale solutions to environmental challenges.
Those entrepreneurs include Annie Ryu, Founder and CEO of The Jackfruit Company, which looks to grab a share of the $1.4 trillion global meat market with its plant-based product designed for a more sustainable economy. “What we’re about is a real plant that eats just like meat,” she said. “Jackfruit as a food is good for you, it’s good for farmers, it’s good for the planet.”
The Jackfruit Company prioritized connections with farmers as well as consumers as it developed its supply chain and product, she said. Previously, a majority of the jackfruit supply grown in India was going to waste, so the company is creating a market and new revenue stream for growers while reducing environmental impact.
The Every Company (formerly known as Clara Foods) is another innovator in the plant-based food market. Co-Founder and CEO Arturo Elizondo said the company is using fermentation to create proteins used to make the first animal-free egg. It’s another huge market opportunity, as more than 1 trillion eggs are consumed each year, creating an equally huge environmental impact.
“Eggs are incredibly inefficient to produce,” he said. “It’s challenging to have a product really have the taste, texture, and properties that we grew up knowing and loving. What is it going to take for the world to truly transition to a fully animal-free future? That’s where we come in.”
By adopting some of the fermentation process used to make insulin and some cheese, The Every Company saw an opportunity to bypass the animal production process and build a more stable supply chain and sustainable economy. “We are enhancing stability by using less land, water, and energy inputs,” he said.
Two events that upended everyday life — Hurricane Katrina and the COVID-19 pandemic — inspired Lisa Dyson to build on her science background and consider new ways to address the climate crisis.
“In thinking about these issues as a scientist, the question I had was how could I be part of the solution?” she said. She turned to technology that NASA used to feed astronauts on long space journeys. By using the carbon dioxide astronauts produce when breathing, NASA was able to create nutrient-dense cultures.
Her company, Air Protein, can produce air-based meats within days rather than the years it requires to raise animals — and with a cradle-to-plate negative carbon footprint as no sunlight or arable land are needed.
“If you look at the technology to make a steak, it takes two years, with lots of greenhouse gases being emitted along the way. Lots of land and water being used,” she said. “We’re able to create those textures and flavors in a better way. The industry is ripe for transformation.”
Watch ‘Food Tech CEOs, Minimizing Our GHGs Emissions, One Bite at a Time’
Lisa Dyson, Founder and CEO, Air Protein
Arturo Elizondo, Co-Founder and CEO, The Every Company (formerly Clara Foods)
Annie Ryu, Founder and CEO, The Jackfruit Company
Jed Lynch, Head of Americas, Sustainable and Impact Banking, Barclays