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Chilean food-tech startup pioneers vegan food technology

This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

Contxto – Not Company (NotCo) is revolutionizing the vegan food industry with cutting-edge technology capable of replicating traditional flavors, textures and colors purely from plant ingredients.

The goal: replace or supplement outdated forms of food cultivation, manufacturing and processing with sustainable alternatives.

Founded in 2015, the Santiago-based company joined the growing movement of venture capitalists who have invested more than US$9.5 billion into 2,100 eco-friendly trade deals.

NotCo gained notoriety for its “NotMayo” made entirely from basil, peas, potatoes and canola oil instead of eggs and vegetable oil. Also on the menu is NotCheese, NotYogurt, NotMilk, etc.

Today, these products are available in over 220 Chilean markets, plus a few in Argentina. There have even been deliberations about producing vegan chocolate for Hershey’s, Coca-Cola and Mars.

What makes NotCo stand out?

While the young food-tech enterprise works closely with food corporations, it’s clear that NotCo embodies the robust entrepreneurial spirit gaining momentum in Latin America.

We are a tech company, not a food company. We want to capitalize ourselves by developing products for other companies.

Matias Muchnick, CEO and Co-founder

At the core of NotCo’s success is their “Giuseppe” algorithm that codifies the molecular compositions of foods. Once the code is generated, the artificial intelligence can then identify other items with similar genetic structures.

This way, it’ll become increasingly easier for consumers to find healthy yet tasty alternatives to meats or animal products. Aligned with their mission, NotCo also aspires to distribute their products to developing countries grappling with malnutrition or food scarcity.

What are some trends in the vegan food market?

Veganism isn’t some temporary fad in the Western world – it’s a legitimate lifestyle that people strive to adopt. All you have to do is look at the growth in numbers. In the United States, sales of plant-based food foods surged by 20 percent between June 2017 and 2018.

Across the pond in Europe, the vegan food industry is becoming an even bigger force to be reckoned with. Meat substitutes experienced a 451 percent sale increase between February 2014 and February 2018.

Google searches related to veganism also quadrupled between 2012 and 2017, meaning that consumers seem serious about changing their dietary habits.

Figures are increasing slowly but surely in the Latin American meat-substitute market. Industry value staggered around US$144.86 million in 2017. Revenue is expected to grow to US$291.95 million by 2023, meaning it’s just a matter of time until veganism becomes a global sensation as more firms like NotCo pop up.

Companies that have historically sold meat or animal products now want to penetrate this new market. With that said, one of the biggest trends nowadays involves major corporations like McDonald’s introducing plant-based products to customers, such as the new “McVegan” burger.

Whether or not this product makes a big splash isn’t of importance – what’s more interesting is seeing companies create new products in response to the heightened demand for vegetable-based foods.

Check out NotCo’s latest update here! Spoiler alert: It involves Jeff Bezos.

– JA

Jacob Atkins
Jacob Atkins is a journalist specializing in Latin America. He studied journalism and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and has previously reported from Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. When he isn't writing he's most likely hiking or drawing.

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