Voyage Foods captures US$36M to accelerate “allergen alternatives” to peanut, cacao and coffee products
06 May 2022 --- With a technology that enables endless possibilities “to recreate any non-fibrous food,” US-based Voyage Foods has attracted US$36 million in a Series A round of investments to develop alternative peanut, cacao and coffee products free of the top nine allergens. Adam Maxwell, CEO of Voyage Foods, explains the company's vision to FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Peanut allergies pose a grave health concern and have only risen in the past decade among children and adults. The Peanut-Free Spread provides an alternative for the millions of people who suffer from nut allergies that actually tastes and feels like peanut butter.”
Around 6.1 million US citizens have a peanut allergy, which corresponds to one in 50 children and adults, according to the company.
“We are not directly an allergen-free company. Voyage aims to solve human and environmental health problems through food, and allergies are just one pillar,” continues Maxwell.
In tandem with addressing allergies, the company hopes to create more sustainable and just food systems, by easing demand on the food staples.
The business is particularly worried about the “unjust food production conditions” in countries such as Ghana or Côte d'Ivoire. According to the company, another of its pillars is its focus on climate change, which brings unpredictable harvests or vulnerable crops.
The company will be using this round of funding and future rounds to grow, focusing on manufacturing R&D and sales. Concentrating on improving its production lines.
Peanut-free, cacao-free, coffee bean-free
The three products of Voyage Foods are plant-based and comparable in price to its traditional counterparts, according to Maxwell.
Its Peanut-Free Spread is made with roasted sunflower kernel, sugar, a mix of grain blends, sustainable palm oil, grapeseed, chickpea flour, natural flavors and salt. The product will launch in-store and with retailers in Q2 2022.
Cacao-Free Chocolate, made with sugar, an oil blend, grapeseed, defatted sunflower flour, sunflower lecithin, maca root, salt and natural flavors, is expected to commercialize by joining an undisclosed business partner in Q3.
Maxwell revealed to FoodIngredientsFirst that they have not decided on the formula for the Bean-Free Coffee but will likely have a base of rice hulls. The launch is expected for Q4.
“All of the products fit different needs, but I think the Cacao-Free Chocolate will be the most impactful on a global scale.”
Expanding on future products, the company sees more opportunities ahead.
“Similarly to our approach with our first three products, we’ll continue to address some of the most pressing issues currently present in the food system.”
“We’re thrilled to be working with dynamic investors who are committed to helping us create delicious versions of traditionally unsustainable food products that won’t be limited by climate change, humanitarian concerns, or immunological issues.”
Cacao, the dark chocolate market
According to Voyage Foods, cacao production has the largest water footprint of any crop and utilizes “problematic cultivation practices in the form of child and slave labor.”
“We’re future-proofing time-tested favorite foods so that we can enjoy them for years to come without having to worry about their impact on the environment and unjust labor customs that contributed to making them,” says Maxwell.
Products' life stories need to stand up to scrutiny, and companies engaging in honest and open communication with consumers are a part of Innova Market Insights Top Trends for 2022, Shared Planet.
The traceability of chocolate, nonetheless, is not a novel idea. Koa, a Swiss-Ghanian start-up, launched what they called a tamper-proof system based on blockchain to improve the transparency of cocoa transactions while raising the income for farmers – expecting to reach over 12,000 farmers in the next two years.
On child labor risks, Nestlé is offering financial incentives to farmers to reduce harmful practices and help the local woman. The company is also focusing on working toward regenerative agriculture practices. Mars and Barry Callebaut are also working to minimize cacao farmers' poverty.
By Marc Cervera
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