Honey : To BEE or not to be, Pasta Révolution, Smart Kitchen, Carob Chocolate…
In the spotlight
🍽 Multisensory enchantment is on the menu.
Designing memorable culinary experiences, isn't that the quest of every chef? But beyond the taste, multi-sensory dining experiences are all the rage.
Hi-tech experiences. In the last few years, a lot of emphasis has been put on the possibilities of technology to showcase the brand. As early as 1997, the champagne house Ruinart transformed the static dinner table into a 3D mapping experience, allowing the discovery of its brand history. Since then, other concepts have followed suit. Ichina, for example, has just inaugurated its 360° virtual reality room. Goodbye heavy and cumbersome helmets, the group presents images diffused by eight projectors and a table equipped with sensors to create the first virtual reality restaurant experience in Silicon Valley. It’s a similar approach to those of Crave 4D and Atmos Immersive Dining.
With the rise of immersive technologies and metaverses, this type of offering seems destined for a promising future. This is the bet of the architect Veliz, who shared the images of the first restaurant designed for the metaverse on his Instagram. Named "Acantila," the latter should, according to its designer, "give the possibility to establish ourselves in different environments and controlled climates that will offer us the most personalized experience. In addition, thanks to sensors, we should be able to enjoy the best dishes of haute cuisine designed from the programming in collaboration with master chefs.” Hidden Worlds, on the other hand, presents itself as an underwater virtual adventure. Based in Miami, it allows its visitors to dine under the sea without having to put on a diving suit. With an "ocean-positive" menu, its goal is to inspire and educate visitors to protect the ocean floor.
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Hyperphysical Diners. And what if, beyond digital, the most memorable experiences came from culinary experiences that were more than down-to-earth? These meaningful concepts are meant to reconnect us with the beauty of the real world, as a bulwark against digital fatigue. Recent examples include the design studio Bompas & Parr. These "food architects" have developed a pop-up restaurant in Saudi Arabia that serves dishes on molten lava with the aim of shedding light on the country's history and heritage. In Iceland, Heffrence Teow's Framescape Greenhouse farm-to-table restaurant project offers a culinary experience where farming, ingredient processing and catering are all in one place. In Thailand, "Treepod Dining" offers guests a chance to sit in a bamboo pod atop a tree, with food served via a zip line. In Calgary, Foodies in the Park is rolling out a dome dining concept.
What’s next? This trend goes hand in hand with the growth of cultural tourism, which Allied Market Research estimates will grow at a CAGR of +16.8 percent between 2020 and 2027. What to expect? New destinations and places that rely on a strong local food culture to feed the mind and the palate. And the examples are coming thick and fast, including experiences in Nordic countries, such as oyster safaris in Denmark and Under, a Norwegian restaurant that allows travelers to dine underwater in a concrete shell created to serve as an artificial reef. Under offers visitors the opportunity to observe the marine ecosystem while enjoying an 18-course menu of seafood and wine pairings. And are you familiar with Nomadic's immersive dinners in the woods? "Our goal is to use food and nature to reconnect our guests with the world around them. Our restaurant has no boundaries other than the stars and the sky. Food is a universal language and through it we want to tell the story of our forest through the dishes we serve you," reads the website. The time to reconnect with nature has arrived.
🍯 Honey : to BEE or not to be.
Used by the Sumerians and Babylonians during religious ceremonies or for therapeutic purposes in Ancient Greece, honey has a place of choice in gastronomy as a natural sweetener. It must be said that it has many benefits! A source of vitamins, minerals, calcium and antioxidants, it is also a particularly energetic food thanks to its level of carbohydrates. In addition, it has many medicinal properties — antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, antiseptic... — thanks to the presence of antimicrobial peptides. Some varieties, such as Manuka honey, native to New Zealand and star of traditional Maori medicine, are also unique healing honeys.
It’s a valuable health food for which demand is growing: according to Grand View Research, the global honey market was valued at $8.58 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +5.2 percent between 2022 and 2030, a success that echoes the increase of the query "Honey" on Google, up 118 percent between April 2018 and April 2022. Same dynamics can be seen on social networks with 1.7 billion views for the "frozen honey" phenomenon on TikTok.
The craze is, therefore, undeniable. The problem? The market is facing three challenges: economic, environmental and ethical. First of all, consumption is increasing faster than production: in France alone, 70 percent of honey is imported. This is a real problem as the bee population is falling due to climate change, the mysterious colony collapse disorder (CCD), the massive use of pesticides and intensive agriculture. Several practices are also feeding the bad buzz — no pun intended — as some beekeepers choose to take all the honey, thus depleting the bees' necessary reserves during the winter, and replace it with sugar inside the apiary, thus weakening the insect. As a result of all these factors, honey is becoming more and more expensive and is subject to massive fraud: addition of sugar, falsification of origin... To fight this scourge, the regulations are changing: from July 1st, the labels on honey put in jars in France will have to clearly mention the countries where the product was harvested.
While bees play a major role in the environmental ecosystem as a key link in the pollination chain — their preservation is one of the United Nations' sustainable development goals — startups are multiplying in this niche, such as the Italian company 3Bee, which, thanks to IoT, is developing a connected hive capable of monitoring the health of the bees and helping beekeepers improve the management of their apiaries. This positioning is similar to that of the Israeli company Beewise, which markets robot-assisted hives, or the Irish company Apis Protect. Another interesting startup: Bumblebee AI offers AI-based pollination solutions to optimize yields by mimicking the natural pollination process and optimizing it with technology.
But these solutions do not fully meet the growing demand. From there, several avenues can be observed. First of all, we note the growth of fake honeys under the cover of vegan arguments and ethical considerations. Thus, Jack Berry offers the "No BEE Vegan Honee" based on inverted sugar syrup (editor's note: an edible mixture of two simple sugars), citric acid, perfumes and floral esters. Vegan Honey Company has created a vegan honey made from plants, fruits and roots from which nectar and pollen are extracted, with a little bit of raw sugar added. Other examples include Humble Honee — made from sugar cane juice, lemon and chamomile, Blenditup, made from apples, or Vegablum and its formulation mixing raw cane sugar and flower extract. While the purists might cry scandal, we have to admit that apart from the color and the consistency, we are far from honey... Especially since these alternatives have no medicinal properties, or almost none, while some smart folks like Plant Based Artisan reinforce their nectars with prebiotics in order to differentiate themselves and boost their selling points.
But there are other paths, still emerging, that could revolutionize the industry. The American company MeliBio is using synthetic biology, precision fermentation and plant science to create a molecularly identical honey. Another example is the Israeli company Bee-io — with six patents pending — which produces proteins within microorganisms using bioreactors and fermentation to mimic the production processes of bees. All these methods have the advantage of preserving the insects, the texture, the flavors, the nutritional value and the medicinal properties of honey. And that's not all. As Ofir Dvash, the founder of Bee-io, explains in this article: "Cultured honey contains no antibiotics, no pesticides, no chemicals, no toxins. It eliminates the need to use bees for its production while allowing for on-demand production, regardless of season, weather or climate change." A foolproof plan? After meat or fish, synthetic honey should also make its way onto your plates, and maybe even sooner than expected since the two startups mentioned above are aiming for a quick market launch.
To BEE or not to be … assuredly, that is the question.
🍝 The world is hungry for (neo) pasta.
After the pizza sector that we recently reported on, it's pasta’s turn to undergo a mini revolution. In 2020, 17 million tons of pasta were consumed, one million more than in 2019 and twice as much as ten years ago. Whether dry, fresh or canned, they have a place of choice on our plates. Boosted by the COVID crisis, this dynamic market is expected, according to Fortune Business Insights, to grow from $46.84 billion in 2022 to $77.83 billion in 2029, with a CAGR of +7.52 percent. But while demand is soaring, all is not so rosy as eating pasta becomes more and more expensive. The cause? Climatic hazards, the cost of oil, but also the price of nitrogen fertilizers, which has tripled in one year. Here is a focus on a sector where innovation is renewing the genre in depth.
Supply is exploding for wheat alternatives.
While the traditional pasta recipe relies on wheat, vegetable pasta — initially confined to organic stores and specialized brands — is multiplying all over the place. Several factors explain this boom, such as the increase in the price of wheat, the boom in anti-gluten diets and, in general, the rise of veganism and a healthier diet. Thus, the "pasta" is declining beyond imagination. Cybele’s offers paleo versions that are gluten-free, allergen-free, rich in vitamins and colorful: the purple version is made of red lentils, carrots, beets and potatoes, while the green version is a mixture of green lentils, kale, broccoli and spinach. Caulipower specializes in cauliflower linguine, with its tongue-in-cheek tagline, "They said it was impastable." Chickapea favors a composition based on lentils and chickpeas. More exotic, Tasty Jungle’s "pasta jungle" is made from breadfruit, which is very rich in protein, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B. Another example is Patagonia Provisions, which recently launched fusilli made from kernza, a perennial cereal native to Iran that, once planted, produces a crop every year without the need for reseeding. In other words, it's an environmentally friendly crop.
Sfoglini also offers fusilli with beet, spaccatelli with squid ink, macaroni with spelt, rigatoni with hemp, trumpets with porcini mushrooms, etc. To accompany these new flavors, the brand is also testing limited edition options through its pasta of the month club. And the trend has not left the giants of the food industry unaffected, such as Barilla and its "Veggie Spaghetti" line, while Monoprix, Carrefour and others have also released their variants via their own brands.
Sustainability, agro-ecology, upcycling and morphing pasta.
The question of sustainability is also at the heart of our concerns, as in the case of Papote, a French brand that relies on proximity and grows its wheat in a way that preserves the soil and biodiversity. On the upcycling side, Semolina has teamed up with ReGrained — which recovers grains from beer brewing — to launch a pasta brand based on recycled flour. Another avenue: researchers at the Morphing Matter Lab and Carnegie Mellon University have been looking at the diversity of pasta shapes and packaging to think about "morphing pasta" that could be packaged in a compact way to reduce waste. The idea? Formats — spirals, tubes and twists — that take shape once immersed in boiling water, an approach inspired by nature. "Many organisms, especially plant or tree seeds react to moisture or rain and transform," explains Lining Yao, founder of Morphing Matter Lab in 2017. More recently, researchers at a university in Israel have developed a technology to pre-program pasta to take on a specific shape when it is, again, boiled — an innovation that has every intention of moving beyond the research stage as a provisional patent application has been filed and an article has been published to find an operator for licensed commercialization.
3D-printed pasta is opening up to chefs and the wider public.
While three-dimensional printed food is still in its infancy, its promise is significant for the food world. Lynette Kucsma is co-founder and marketing director of Natural Machines, a company that makes a food printer called Foodini, used by NASA, among others. She believes that "in 10 to 15 years, 3D food printers will become a common kitchen appliance, just as your oven or microwave is today."
In any case, if there's one who believes hard in the possibilities of 3D, it's Barilla, which, back in 2017, launched BluRhapsody, a spin-off project born of the brand's R&D and the first start-up to emerge from Blu1877, its hybrid venture capital fund and innovation center. Recently, Barilla announced the commercialization of BluRhapsody with 15 models of premium pasta in the form of letters, butterflies, stars, hearts, shells and more, at prices ranging from 20 to 57 euros. If chefs are already using it to offer new experiences, it remains to be seen whether the average consumer will also want to embark on the adventure.
🤩 Hit the road Jack (fruit).
Does the jackfruit ring a bell? Native to South and South-East Asia (editor's note: the jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka), it has a taste somewhere between pineapple, mango and banana, but unlike these, it is much less common in Western fruit and vegetable stalls. The reason? Its ultra-perishable nature: it can only be kept for three days in unrefrigerated conditions and less than a week in a cool place. In addition, it is the largest fruit in the world growing on a tree: it can weigh up to 15 kilos! This makes it difficult to transport. And even if it manages to find a place in our markets, its exorbitant size is a concern, as is its price, while in its country of origin, this fruit is often stigmatized as "the fruit of the poor."
There are many explanations for why the jackfruit is so rare in our country. But things could be changing, especially with the rise of veganism. Indeed, one of the main characteristics of this fruit is its high protein level and its fibrous texture, similar to that of chicken. As a result, startups using jackfruit as a base for mock meat are growing in number: Nanka offers 100 percent vegan jackfruit steaks, as well as two products mixed with meat. Jack & Annie's is also capitalizing on this niche and recently closed a $23 million Series B round, while the British company Jack & Bry is taking it a step further by marketing the first unbreaded jackfruit fish fillet in collaboration with The Cornish Seaweed Company.
So it's only logical that searches are going crazy on Google with 1.2 million queries in April 2022, nearly double the number five years ago. The jackfruit market, meanwhile, is expected to reach $359.1 million by 2026 with a CAGR of +3.3% during the 2021-2026 forecast period.
What's next? The offer should diversify beyond meat and fish substitutes. Jack & Friends, distributed in the very select US Pop Up Grocer, offers a vegan jerky, for example, while PakChips offers a healthy version of chips. In France, La Vie Claire has developed and marketed products as part of an operation to raise consumer awareness of this "new" fruit. There are also a number of uses for jackfruit seeds: a single fruit can contain 100-500 edible and nutritious seeds. We can also expect a strong development in the functional food segment: a study published in June 2021 has indeed demonstrated the effectiveness of green jackfruit flour as an alternative to rice or wheat in patients with type 2 diabetes. In short, we have not heard the last of it.
👩🍳Smart Kitchen for the benefit of sustainability.
Sustainability is a macro-trend in food that we have already covered in this newsletter on several occasions, notably under the angle of recipes from food waste. Now, another angle is developing under the prism of tech. From new robots to smart objects and kitchen redesign: let's zoom in on some of these innovations.
The food waste composter. A new wave of intelligent and automated composting systems is emerging. The objective: to help the user transform their food waste into compost. Among the brands that are emerging are Lomi and Tero, which claims to be able to transform waste into compostable powder in three to eight hours. But we are still far from having exploited all the opportunities: soon startups may be able to collect this waste to create energy, petfood, or even other things. We are also thinking of the revalorization of food waste thanks to 3D printing as developed by the Dutch company Upprinting Food.
IoT and smart assistant. French startup Squikit has developed an IoT solution that includes a smart base — capable of recognizing and weighing food — linked to sensors embedded either on branded jars or on stickers to be stuck on one's own containers, all associated with an app. When food is about to expire, the app alerts the user and suggests appropriate recipes. The app also allows users to generate a shopping list based on their habits, which helps avoid compulsive shopping at the supermarket or buying duplicate products.
Rethinking the design of our kitchens. The Swedish appliance manufacturer Electrolux recently launched an explosive concept called GRO. In concrete terms, it is structured in modules — like Lego bricks but for the kitchen — with, among other things, a grain and pulse library or a plant gallery that ensures optimal conditions for storing fruit and vegetables. The GR Coach tracker, meanwhile, follows your eating habits to guide you towards sustainable choices.
What's next? Microwaves, ovens, robots... everything should, from now on, pass through the filter of technological innovations in the service of sustainability. Central to this quest, refrigerators should become even more intelligent by integrating, for example, an artificial nose to detect the expiration date of a food item, or vertical farming tools to grow salads inside the appliance. Change is on the way.
🍫 Carob, the rising alternative to chocolate.
The carob tree is native to the Middle East and produces a pod composed of a sweet pulp and brown seeds. Rich in sugars, fibers and tannins, minerals and trace elements, the carob tree gives birth to two products. From the dried and roasted pulp, carob powder is very similar to cocoa powder. Produced from the seed, the gum is used in the food sector and in other industries — cosmetics and pharmaceutical — as a thickener, gelling agent and binder.
In recent years, the number of players in the segment of carob as a substitute for chocolate is increasing. It must be said that unlike chocolate, it contains neither caffeine nor theobromine. Among the emerging players, WNWN Food Labs offers "chocolate" made from sustainably grown barley and organic carob. Here, the emphasis is on the brand's responsible approach, as it highlights the fact that more than a million children work in cocoa production in Ghana and the Ivory Coast (editor's note: about 75 percent of cocoa production comes from these two countries). In addition, there are problems of deforestation: WNWN Food Labs points out that over the last 60 years, Ghana has lost 80 percent of its forest cover, and Côte d'Ivoire has lost 94 percent. In Australia, The Carob Kitchen plays the nutritional assets card of carob and offers a range of products from powder to cereals through chocolates and syrup.
But beyond food for humans, the pet food segment also seems to be promising. Indeed, it should be known that chocolate is toxic for dogs that do not metabolize theobromine and, to a lesser extent, caffeine. As the phenomenon of anthropomorphism grows stronger, we can imagine many variations on this subject.
Short stories from the bar counter.
Back to the future of food @Vivatech. Thomas Lang, Chefclub’s CEO and co-founder, was invited to discuss with leaders of the foodtech ecosystem in France about the future of food at Vivatech. Replay here.
Curiosities of the month. Best Marketing Award for the beverage brand Confidence Drink launched by two Gen Z entrepreneurs. As its name indicates, this one intends to give people "the mental freedom they need to thrive." And beware of confusion: "Confidence is not an energy drink, Confidence is a drink that gives confidence" says the corporate promise. How can this prowess be achieved? With adaptogenic plants. As for barbecue lovers, this summer they will be able to discover the very first charcoal infused with beer, the "beercoal," an innovation from Miller Lite. Among other curiosities detected this month, mention goes to the brand Alice & The Magician and its library of rare flavors to "make ordinary drinks extraordinary." Pine wood, fireplace, wild lavender or even garlic truffle: the experience promises to be unique. Let's also mention HlthPunk’s organic, vegan and healthy sauces with psychedelic packaging, as well as Driscoll's Tropical Bliss high-end strawberries, spiced up with new flavors. Finally, we've spotted My Air and its anti-stress ritual made up of energy bars enriched with adaptogens and linked to a dedicated app that measures your stress while helping you manage it.
Junk food is fighting back. While the new brands on the market have never been so healthy, functional, low-sugar and low-sodium, is a little bit of a kick in the pants happening? In any case, going against the tide seems to be a strategy that can pay off in the long run and it is not the Ffups brand of chips that will tell you otherwise. Its slogan, "not healthy snacks," and its "not healthy" sticker on the front of its packaging and one of the customer reviews displayed in large on the homepage set the tone: "so unhealthy that I bought 15 bags for my family and friends. The bags were huge." If humor never hurts, it is also true that a little deviation — the famous cheat meal — should not make you feel guilty either. It remains to be seen whether other players will be seduced by this approach.
More experiential NFTs. We're now a long way — thankfully — from the first NFTs in the form of JPGs, without any utilitarian aspect... This month, mention for Thirsty Thirsty, a food and wine club presented as "the coolest on the planet" that intends to "celebrate ancestral agricultural lineages by regenerating the planet and promoting interconnection around food." The brand goes beyond free products to offer real experiences: workshops, skill sharing with industry leaders, private vineyard tours, ceremonial experiences in the Amazon... As of June 14, five days after the launch of these NFTs, sales were still lukewarm.
Ramen lifestyle. With 5 million Google queries in April 2022 for "Ramen" — an increase of +400 percent compared to April 2020 — Japanese noodles continue to gain traction. If the market is dominated by three Asian food conglomerates, namely Nissin, Nongshim and Toyo Suisan, new healthier and eco-responsible brands are emerging, like The Future Noodles, Noodie, providing non-fried noodles made with spirulina accompanied by a broth made of kale, bok choy and broccoli — or Immi. Yumi.
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