As 2023 draws to a close, the editorial team at Future Alternative takes a look back at the stories that defined the trajectory of alternative proteins in Australia this year.
Cultivated meat was a ‘mammoth’ story
Australia cultivated meat brand Vow managed to generate unprecedented buzz for the alternative proteins and cell culture sectors with a landmark campaign centred around a woolly mammoth meatball the company developed using cells from the extinct animal.
Even after the noise from the campaign subsided, Vow still held the attention of the sector as the first company in ANZ to apply for certification for a cultivated meat product with Australia’s food regulator FSANZ — the company successfully passed the safety phase in December.
The industry eagerly awaits the approval of Vow’s cultivated quail product, which would make Australia the third country in the world to approve commercial sale of cultivated meat, following Singapore and the US.
Significant investments and scale-ups in precision fermentation
Precision fermentation was still getting its legs in 2023, but momentum in the Australia sector increased amid a series of high profile investments and industry cooperations.
Eden Brew, for one, pulled in $25M in funding from a diverse range of investors including local VCs, celebrity musicians, and even gold medalist-winning Paralympic athlete Dylan Alcott.
Cauldron and Nourish also announced new funding milestones, both putting a portion of the raises towards collaborating with overseas biotech firms to scale production and expedite submission of their dossiers to regulators.
Aussie alt protein companies turn to crowdfunding amid VC winter
2023 was a year that saw numerous domestic alt protein and plant-based brands turn to crowdfunding as a new means to secure investment amid a dry venture capital season.
Among the companies that adopted this tool were Magic Valley, Flave, Soul Burger, and Sprout Organic. Campaigns were targeted at raising funds for objectives such as product development, overseas expansion, and building physical restaurants for sale of their products.
Australia’s first CellAg summit
Held in Sydney on 15 June by Future Alternative and Cellular Agriculture Australia, the CellAg Summit was the first ever conference dedicated to Australia’s cellular agriculture sector.
The event drew a 130 strong crowd comprised of leaders in precision fermentation and cell cultivation along with government representatives, academics, researchers, and investors.
Among the highlights of the event was a lively debate between Vow’s George Peppou and Monash University’s Paul Wood on the viability of the cultivated meat sector.
Australia plants its feet in the global insect protein industry
The viability of “insect robot” technology as a means to process food waste and generate protein was validated through a series of high profile projects and industry recognitions by NSW-based Goterra.
Besides assisting Melbourne Airport and Brisbane’s Howard Smith Wharves to process their food waste onsite, Goterra received a series of accolades highlighting its innovation, including Best Sustainability Startup, Top 100 Innovators, and an ACT Australian of the Year title for founder Olympia Yarger.