Ukrainian GreenGo plans plant-based expansion as “no fear” spirit overcomes war worries
06 Feb 2023 --- Start-up GreenGo, a Ukrainian plant-based business, is expanding amid the ongoing war in the country to further develop its tofu-based cheese. The business is planning to build a new factory close to the Polish border in order to bring its product to EU nations and beyond.
FoodIngredientsFirst attended a ProVeg incubator event in Berlin and talked to Bogdana Leonova, creative director of development and temporary CEO at GreenGo.
In the event the company showcased its ribeye steak, filet mignon, shrimps, salmon burgers and calamari cooked by the GreenGo team with the help of guest chef Gagan Tagri.
“Some investors are scared to put their money in Ukraine, as the war is ongoing. However, we believe in our victory and that war is not endless. The war is a frightening time, but it is also a time for opportunity for brave investors.”
GreenGo is the first Ukrainian start-up to participate in the ProVeg incubator’s funding program.
Ukraine competitive advantage
Even as the Russian invasion continues to rage, the company believes they hold a competitive advantage over other EU businesses due to Ukraine’s low costs and salaries.
GreenGo’s steak, which is already commercialized in Ukraine, is sold at a comparable price with premium American steak and boasts premium marbling and realistic cooking behavior.
Leonova reveals that they use 3-D printing technology to achieve its marbling.
GreenGo combines pea proteins – its main base – with soy and wheat protein and is working to implement fava beans in its products.
They currently commercialize beef ribeye steak, chicken and tofu-based cheese, as well as plant-based seafood such as shrimp, calamari and salmon burgers. GreenGo plans to incorporate tuna sashimi in its range and chicken breasts.
After GreenGo commercializes its products in the EU, the company plans to bring its alternative foods to the UK and the US.
Leonova notes that she is a flexitarian.
“Manufacturers like us support a new culture of consumption. We want plant-based products to be on the same menu, in the same supermarket and eaten at the same table as their traditional counterparts. With huge respect to the food habits of everyone.”
The consumer trend toward flexitarianism appears unstoppable. Karin Jenniskens, marketing manager for enrichment at Cargill, explained last week that around 30% of European consumers describe their diets as flexitarian. ProVeg International found that four of every ten consumers in Europe are either flexitarian, vegetarian, pescatarian or vegan.
Flexitarians regard texture as key, as they use the texture of animal-based products as a reference point.
“Industry has a gap in plant-based products’ unrealistic look and texture. While previous generations of plant-based products were not so good-looking, now the problem is that more and more have poor flavor, taste and unnatural cooking behavior,” explains Leonova.
Plant-based seafood opportunities
GreenGo believes plant-based seafood will have the fastest expansion rate among plant-based food alternatives.
The company plans to sell 1.1 million metric tons of plant-based seafood this year, 4.8 million metric tons in 2023 and 33.4 million metric tons in 2025.
GNT has also been focusing recently on plant-based seafood productions, including salmon steaks, smoked salmon, tuna steaks, tinned tuna, sushi and caviar.
Meanwhile, seaweed farming has been pegged as a sustainable alternative to land-based agriculture. IFF has developed a red seaweed flour to stabilize plant-based milk, while Cargill has developed its first seaweed powder.
Moreover, Vgarden, a food tech start-up based in Israel, has unveiled vegan tinned tuna made using pea protein.
By Marc Cervera
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