By the year 2050 we will have 10 billion people on our planet - a sixth of whom will be in India. If we want to feed all 10 billion of us in a sustainable, healthy and just way, we need to reimagine how we source our food. Feeding ourselves cannot come at the cost of global health, worsening greenhouse gas emissions, excessive land, water and resource use, zoonotic diseases, antibiotic resistance, and needless suffering. Last season, we brought you a ringside view of the next food revolution that is rethinking the future of protein. Companies like Memphis Meats, Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat and JUST Egg had a blockbuster year making meat, eggs, and other animal-sourced foods from plants, or cells, or other ingredients that are delicious and nutritious for us, and vastly better for the planet. The Covid-19 pandemic has only made the importance of protein diversification evident. If you want to be part of the future of food and work on solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time, join the Good Food Institute’s Varun Deshpande and Ramya Ramamurthy on Season 2 of Feeding 10 Billion
S02 E10: Plagues, Pestilence, Smart Protein: Our Resilient Food Future
In the final episode of Feeding 10 Billion Season 2, we contend with some of our enduring questions - what will humans eat in a world that is rapidly warming and exposed to the worst effects of climate change? And how do we preserve our links to tradition and the foods we love to eat in this new world? A dystopian future threatening those traditions is already rearing its head in a multitude of ways. Alternating extreme weather cycles like drought caused by water scarcity or floods caused by sudden storms are already stripping the soil of its ability to sustain us. While we stay in to fend off the worst pandemic our generation has seen, we’ve also witnessed biblical proportions of pestilence ravaging our crops. This year, parts of East Africa, Iran, and India witnessed their most disruptive locust swarms in decades, while the UK’s unprecedented weather reduced wheat yields to their lowest levels in 40 years, threatening to convert it from an exporter to a net importer. If we want to prioritise food security, we will need all the answers we can find - all technologies, communities, and platforms that can help us build a more resilient food supply.
Today’s guest is an entrepreneur working on exactly the kind of foods that can enable us to reverse - or, at the very least, withstand - the ravages of climate change and public health crises. Thomas Jonas is CEO and cofounder of Nature’s Fynd, a company whose story is as fascinating as any science fiction you’ve ever read - it involves NASA, space exploration, and the world’s largest supervolcano. Nature’s Fynd has big plans for fueling the planet sustainably with complete protein from fungi - learn more on the season finale of F10B.
Biblical, on steroids, and across generations: The coming food and nutrition crash can be averted if we act now to counter the COVID-19 crisis, IFPRI Blog
Climate crisis: Extreme weather means UK faces worst wheat yields in 40 years, farmers’ union says, Independent
Beyond vegan burgers: next-generation protein could come from air, methane, volcanic springs, Reuters
Do These Tiny Organisms Hold the Key to Lab-Grown Food? Bloomberg
Food Startup Takes Microbes From the Volcano to the Table, The Wall Street Journal
Nature's Fynd (formerly Sustainable Bioproducts) raises $80m to grow food from microbes, Food Navigator USA
NASA’s Small Investments in Small Businesses Pay Big Dividends, NASA
For Further Reading:
Sustainable Bioproducts Makes Animal-Free Meat with Volcano Microorganisms, GFI Blog
Beyond Plants: Using Fermentation, Fungi, Algae, and Bacteria to Create Novel Proteins and Ingredients, The Good Food Conference, 2019
S02 E09: Building the Bio Revolution
We tend to focus on the fact that in the year 2050 we will have to feed 10 billion human beings on this planet but we won’t be the only species we have to worry about. We are currently witnessing an unprecedented loss of biodiversity as climate change makes this planet inhospitable for all species. We need to find a way to feed not just ourselves but also ensure other species thrive on Earth without being too extractive from nature. It is clear that biotech is going to be key to this transformation, and will rule the world just as software did for the last few decades. And there are a few people building the future of food at the vanguard of this development.
Our guest this week is one of the most prolific investors, and early stage funders of numerous biotech companies in the alternative protein space. Ryan Bethencourt is the CEO of Wild Earth that makes pet food from fermentation-based protein. He is also a partner at Babel Ventures, an early stage consumer biotech venture capital fund. As the co-founder, and CEO of incubators, and seed funds like IndieBio (an SOS Ventures backed accelerator, and early stage seed fund), Berkeley Bio Labs, a startup incubator, and sector builder, as well as the head of life sciences at the XPRIZE foundation, Ryan has funded well over a 100 companies. The list includes notable alternative protein companies like Shiok Meats, Memphis Meats, New Wave Foods, Clara Foods, Finless Foods as well as Mumbai’s plant-based egg company, Evo Foods. Ryan’s aim overlaps with ours at GFI India - we want to positively impact the lives of billions of people, and animals!
Berkeley Bio Labs
Why Wild Earth Cofounder Ryan Bethencourt Is Applying The Science Of 'Vegan Biohacking' To Pet Food, Forbes.
Eat For The Planet #71 - Ryan Bethencourt: Reinventing Pet Food and Building the Post-Animal Bio Economy, EFTP.
This biotech startup is growing protein-rich vegan pet food in a lab, FastCompany
Shiok Meats takes the cultured meat revolution to the seafood aisle with plans for cultured shrimp, TechCrunch.
Tour the San Francisco lab that’s growing meat in a petri dish, CNBC
A foodtech EVO-lution: this startup is set to disrupt India’s plant-based food market with its ‘clean’ egg substitute, YourStory
For Further Reading:
Ryan Bethencourt’s writing on Medium.
Ryan’s videos on the Singularity University page.
What does it take to create a conducive environment for scale-up of new protein companies? Future of Protein Summit, YouTube Channel.
S02 E08: Conquering the Valley of Death
What seemed like science fiction just a few decades back, is increasingly becoming a reality. Early research pioneered by NASA on how to feed astronauts in long haul missions to planets like Mars brought closed loop systems and fermented ingredients to the spotlight. These systems don’t rely on limited natural resources, and could potentially be key to feeding 10 billion sustainably by 2050. And those fermentation machines? They’re none other than microorganisms like bacteria, yeast, and microalgae, which can make nutritious protein from little more than air, CO2, and water! Our guests this week are both accomplished PhD’s - one is from the investment side of the equation while the other is a biotech scientist who has turned entrepreneur. Ritu Verma is co-founder and managing partner at Ankur Capital, a firm that is funding ideas for the next billion, while Ezhil Subbian is CEO and Co-Founder of String, a synthetic biology company which makes microbial protein from methane. Ritu has backed Ezhil’s vision with the catalytic capital we keep talking about on this show. In developed startup ecosystems like Silicon Valley, academia partners with investors and entrepreneurs to leverage technology transfer and fuel innovation. In India, those pathways are still being built out - but before that happens, we need focussed intervention in the form of grants, funding and other incentives from the government to create those cradles of scientific enterprise within universities and other players. Ezhil and Ritu are the perfect guests to tell us more. Listen to find out what it really takes to scale biotech innovation in emerging markets.
The Bio Revolution: Innovations transforming economies, societies, and our lives, McKinsey
Why Software is Eating the World, Marc Andresssen, Wall Street Journal
FSSAI manpower shortage: Govt sanctions nearly 500 additional posts for food regulator, FirstPost
For Further Reading:
Bridging the Valley of Death between Innovation Funding and Market Adoption: Forbes
S02 E07: Tackling Malnutrition with Smart Protein: A Glimpse of the Future
Smart protein, if done right, can be a big win for the planet. By now, hopefully, it is clear that foods that replace animal-sourced meat, eggs, and dairy tend to use fewer resources, do not contribute to rising greenhouse gas emissions, and diminish the risk of zoonotic diseases and antibiotic resistance. But equally exciting is the sector’s potential to tackle issues that we grapple with and mention on Feeding 10 Billion all the time - like malnutrition. India faces the tremendous challenge of being home to a third of the world’s total stunted children, and half of all under-5 child mortality in the country is due to undernutrition. Poor nutrition in the first 1000 days of a child’s life is crucial to tackling this issue, as is a young mother’s health. Irrespective of whether they feed their kids breastmilk or formula, (and face guilt over whatever they choose), if mothers are grappling with anemia or poor nutrition, their kids do not have access to the nutrients they so badly need. Meanwhile, over 10% of cow’s milk production globally is actually absorbed by the infant nutrition market. Our guests this week, (which is timed perfectly with World Breastfeeding Week), have a solution that could allow mothers to feed their children actual human breast milk without worrying about a baby’s ability to latch, their own nutrition, or supplementing inadequate feed with formula made from animal-sourced milk. All while giving their babies the nutrients they desperately need. Michelle Egger is the CEO, and Co-Founder of BioMilq, while Leila Strickland is the CSO, and Co-Founder. They are a women-owned, science-led, and parent-centered infant nutrition company producing breast milk cultivated from cells!
Turtle Tree Labs
Cellular Physiology: Cellular physiology is concerned with the mechanism of transport of nutrients, ions, and water into and out of the cell, as well as how cells communicate with each other through signaling pathways, or respond to external cues.
Epithelial/ Epithelium (Intestinal, Kidney, Corneal, Mammary): Membranous tissue composed of one or more layers of cells separated by very little intercellular substance and forming the covering of most internal and external surfaces of the body and its organs.
Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO, also known as human milk glycans): Sugar molecules that are part of the oligosaccharides group and can be found in high concentrations exclusively in human breast milk.
Bill Gates’ climate-change investment firm bets on lab-produced breast milk, CNBC
BIOMILQ Could Be The Next Major Food Disruptor: Getting Real About Entrepreneurship With Co Founder And CEO Michelle Egger, Forbes
Breakthrough: Two women producing breast milk - outside the body, Medium
The Business Case for Investment in Nutrition, Chatham House
WHO and UNICEF warn of a decline in vaccinations during COVID-19, WHO
Overview of Malnutrition in India
WHO on Nutrition and Breastfeeding
For Further Reading:
Feeding Lessons to tackle malnutrition, Frontline
Unfolding the Human Milk Microbiome Landscape in the Omics Era, Frontiers in Food Microbiology
Breastfed Right: How Shrirampur’s Babies Escape Malnutrition: IndiaSpend
S02 E06: Building a Food Innovation Ecosystem
The Beyond Meat IPO in 2019 marked an inflection point not just for the global alternative protein ecosystem but the fledgling Indian innovation ecosystem as well. Calls to offer capital, R&D and entrepreneurial talent started pouring in. But the best things take time, and building something entirely new takes much more. An innovation ecosystem takes patient capital, collaborative partners, supportive incubators, and years of developmental research being translated from the university to the market via entrepreneurs collaborating with researchers. While these components exist in every market, in India, the ecosystem is still embryonic. Each of these elements - research, incubation, capital infusion, product development, industry collaboration, and finally market launch takes enormous effort and has to be built from scratch. Connections between these players have to be forged, and we’ve played matchmaker for technology transfer, talent pool development and connecting catalytic capital or corporations to the right companies. Today’s guest Shardul Dabir is GFI India’s Innovation Specialist. Shardul has been thinking of food systems since his teenage years, and offers some innovative answers for how we can grow the early stage Indian ecosystem in smart protein.
Shardul’s Blog: The India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge: Unlocking talent bottlenecks
The India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge
GFIdeas India Smart Protein Innovation Community
Food Pathshala Essay Competition - 2016. Blog by Shardul
For Further Reading:
Innovators' Lightning Showcase: Hear from the most promising Indian entrepreneurs in new protein at the Future of Protein Summit 2019.
For more on our GFIdeas India Webinars check out our YouTube page.
S02 E05: Beyond the Burger - Decoding what Consumers Want
Understanding what consumers want has been the holy grail for innovators across industries for decades. In the U.S. and other countries, products like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods demonstrated that a huge and viable market exists for burgers made from plants for people who love their meat. In the U.S. consumers love their burgers and eat three a week, but in India could a similar case be made for our biryanis (which we consume at the rate of 1.6 every second as per Swiggy data from 2019)? The key in India to understanding consumer behaviour is to look at what they buy and how they act rather than what they profess to do in market research. This is because the large swathe of flexitarians in India are guilty non-vegetarians and so far we have not had concrete data points about this cohort to help formulate precise products for them. Indians are not a homogenous consumer group either; our cuisine varies every 100 kilometres. On this episode of Feeding 10 Billion, GFI India’s Corporate Engagement Specialist Dhruvi Narsaria and our Market & Consumer Insights Specialist Rajyalakshmi G, tell us about the important cues for consumer insight and what need-states innovators need to cater to, when they develop alternative protein products in India.
Study from Penn State University that confirms the first wave of products are meant for meat-eaters
EAT Lancet Report on how we can feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries?
Our annual per capita meat consumption as per the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
73 Percent of Urban Rich Indians are Protein Deficient: 11 High-Protein Foods, NDTV
In 2019, Indians ordered 95 biryanis per minute from Swiggy: Report: Livemint
From meat and fish to vegetables: These 9 charts show how India eats, Hindustan Times
Mintel: Tackling the sedentary lifestyle: 64% of Indians say they don't exercise.
A Survey of Consumer Perceptions of Plant-Based and Clean Meat in the USA, India, and China in the Frontiers Sustainability in Food Systems Journal
IPSOS study on today's views that will shape tomorrow's food
BCG Turn the Tide Consumer Report
Lokniti-CSDS-KAS Survey: Mind of the youth, Indian Express
For Further Reading:Plant Protein: An Indian Consumer Perspective - by Dhruvi Narsaria at the Future of Protein Summit 2019
Feeding 10 Billion, Season 1 Episode 1: Inside the Revolution
You can follow Dhruvi Narsaria @dhruvi.narsaria on Instagram and @dhruvinarsaria on Linkedin
& Rajyalakshmi G on Linkedin