The future is plant-based

7 June 2021

Plant-based is the new goodies for the human body, mind and soul. Where science meets health, Veg of Lund and Sproud pioneers the field of Swedish food tech and showcase why a plant-based option is for the conscious consumer. Repping the vibrant south of Sweden, the two SCC members are challenging and disrupting the plant-based food sector and contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle with slightly unexpected components. We are used to soy, oats, and other protein sources, but Veg of Lund and Sproud lets us in on uncharted territories.

When we say food tech, we often refer to the innovation across the whole food value chain, from farm to plate to bin and everything in between. There is increasingly little doubt that plant-based options are becoming more and more popular and a real game-changer to reckon with. Two of the most significant shifts plant-based food has demonstrated are the developments towards transparency from food to mouth and the fact that non-animalistic options equal great taste. Maria Tegman, CEO and co-founder at Sproud, takes us to the very beginning of the early days of Sproud and what led their way towards change. “We quickly realised the importance of taste in order to cater to the greatest range of customers possible, and in turn, achieving the maximum possible positive impact on our climate.” This vision soon led them to the yellow split pea, a neutral-tasting protein treasure with a smooth texture and low carbon footprint.

Equally devoted to taste
When people think of plant-based, some might recognise it as the environmentally friendly option or rather, the option where taste is sacrificed for the greater good, but Maria disagrees. “Plant-based food and drink producers have a vast array of benefits to both the health of consumers and the planet; for example, plant-based products are low in saturated fats, as well as being more sustainable and crueltyfree. What’s great is with such a myriad of new innovative and great-tasting products, beyond meat and animalistic products available today, you’re not sacrificing taste at all. We at Sproud like to promote the idea that plant-based products are available for everyone whatever your dietary preferences are.”

Going back to the roots
Veg of Lund stems from Lund, the University of Lund and Professor Eva Tornberg’s potato patent. With the plant-based sector developing rapidly, the professor wanted to create a healthy product that benefited the climate without lagging behind on the taste. Thomas Olander, CEO at Veg of Lund, paints the picture and how the everyday potato entered their minds. “Eva came to think of the potato, which is sort of a unique crop. It is a very sustainable crop with a neutral taste profile. Rapeseed oil, together with a heat-stable emulsion of the potato, constitutes a brilliant base for many different food products.”

 

"What drives this plant-based development is the interest from the consumers."

 

Founded in 2016, Veg of Lund is deeply rooted in scientific food innovation to create the ultimate plant-based drink for a lifestyle where more people are mindful of what they eat and drink. As the protege of Veg of Lund and the World Food Innovation Award winner in 2018, My foodie is a nutritious organic smoothie bottled up in glass design with the potato patent as the base. Emerging from a strong food development and research sector at the University, Veg of Lund predicts prosperity. “I think that there is a widespread interest in the Swedish food industry and one thing you can definitely say about the industry is that it is fairly fast and innovative.” Consumers want to be amazed and surprised by unexpected elements. While flavour is crucial, experience goes well beyond the product itself.

Taste is king; experience is queen
Food tech is without a doubt an emergent sector exploring how technology can be leveraged to improve efficiency and sustainability in designing, producing, choosing, delivering and last but not least, enjoying food. Originating from Malmö, Sproud embodies Swedish youthfulness with slick, innovative packaging design and progressive energy. Just like Swedes are imaginative in music and fashion – Sproud is the answer in novel food. “We saw the emerging trend for plant-based, among the younger generation. The established industries answered too slowly, so Sproud was created as a lifestyle brand in 2018. We knew from the start that we wanted to create a plant-based product range.” As the yellow pea inhabits many benefits, such as minimum sugar / high protein content and being allergen-free, Sproud had the opportunity to test several different kinds of products before deciding on the hero product, the milk. “Our mission is to make the world’s best tasting, most sustainable and nutritious plant-based milk available for as many people as possible. When we produce Sproud, we use the dried yellow pea, mix it with water and add oil to get the creamy texture. Then we sweeten with agave and add vitamins”.

The concept ‘Veg of Lund is for everyone’ is the backbone of the company’s branding, meaning the foodie isn’t just only free from added sugars, gluten, lactose, soy, and allergens but also a filling and conscious choice, accessible to everyone. “What drives this plant-based development is the interest from the consumers, so it’s not just that you have an industry that is adapting fast but rather an industry that develops products based on genuine interest. A lot of consumers are vegetarian, some are vegans, and then you have flexitarians. So I think consumers of food tech, in general, have an interest in doing good.”

Green thinking: authenticity and transparency
An informed guess is that the food tech industry hasn’t seen the last innovative whiff of Swedish plant-based products. Both Maria and Thomas are certain this sector will continue to grow due to consumers’ increasing health and climate awareness. “In Sweden we are known for having a larger amount of LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability), which are described as a value driver for consumer group, which tends to be equal in values rather than demographic. This means being educated and aware of sustainability, health, music, food, travels etc. Consumers also value authenticity and transparent brands or companies.”

 

"There is a widespread interest in the Swedish food industry. You can definitely say it is fairly fast and innovative."

 

Sustainability and transparency play huge parts in food tech and are obvious key attributes for the conscious consumer driving the plantbased market. The reason for choosing the yellow pea derives from holistic green thinking, as it not only requires less water and land while growing compared to many other plantbased options, it also adds nutrients to the soil. Alongside a shelf life of 365 days, overall carbon emissions are driven to the ground by the sustainable production process. Thomas takes on a slightly more blatant approach and reasons that going into plant-based, apart from the well-being aspect, is not just one way but the way to move forward to cope with the climate issues we’re facing. The uniqueness of the potato is in the all-round nutrients as it serves up a fair amount of C-vitamin, fibres and protein, to name a few.

The future is plant-based
For Veg of Lund, opportunities are waiting up ahead. After landing the potato patent in late 2019 a successful introduction on the Stockholm Nasdaq First North followed in 2020. But the launch of Veg of Lund’s new potato milk was delayed along with other initiatives, by the pandemic’s repercussions. “We will now launch the potato milk during the first half of this year. Late last year, we also signed a contract with Scandi Standard to develop a plant-based meat alternative.” Thomas discloses that there are pending discussions on alternative development routes for the patent and the extra- (no-more)ordinary potato. There have been a few milestones in Sproud’s progressive history. The list of retailers is growing longer, and more loyal customers are lining up globally. A listing with Wholefoods California, an investment from London based private equity firm VGC and the first milk alternative to be Sugar Wise certificated have all been real game changers for Sproud. “We really hope to expand and grow in a great way in 2021 in the UK specifically. We have recently got a listing with Booths – a supermarket chain primarily based around the north of England - and we are fairly confident that we should be announcing another one in the coming months. We have quite a few things lined up, especially for the summer period, but we will keep that as a surprise for now!”

 

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