In February 2017, The Good Food Institute and the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SCET) launched the world’s first course on plant-based meats at UCLA. Over one semester, students learn how to produce new meat substitutes and create their own business plan to take the idea further: a $5,000 scholarship is ready to finance the most original and sustainable idea. Another food revolution is underway?
If you enrol at the University of California, Berkeley, don’t expect normal food-tech classes. In this new chemical engineering class, undergraduates do not bother studying acids and bases, but they focus on something different: how to develop and market a new range of meat substitutes from plants. Over the semester, teams of students are called to make their own plant-based alternative, elaborate a business plan and pitch their findings to companies in the food-tech industry. The winning team will receive $5,000 aid and support from the university’s SCET to take the idea further.
In one of his recent visits to Berkley, Chef Dave Anderson, CEO of Outstanding Foods and former executive chef at Beyond-Meat, schooled the students on the challenges and opportunities of the thriving plant-based industry, with an eye to both the food industry and the environment. “A lot of people look at this as a problem: the growing population and the diminishing resources and the growing demand for meat products,” Anderson said. “As an entrepreneur, you can also look at it as an incredible opportunity.”
Surely, developing an alternative protein business offers the possibility to address some of our biggest global challenges while tapping into an enormous market opportunity. According to Lux Research, while the total protein demand will double to 943.5 million metric tonnes by 2054, the plant-based industry is set to grow by 14% annually before 2024, taking up more than a third of the entire protein market.
In this scenario, with developers racing to mitigate the negative environmental impact of existing protein supply chain, UCLA students have the unique chance to be at the forefront of the meat substitutes revolution and hit the ground running with their discoveries.