CEO of douxmatokA global food-tech company, a leader in sugar reduction with Incredo Sugar, the only sugar-based sugar reduction solution.
Investments have flown in Israel’s high-tech sector for years, accumulating a record-breaking $25 billion in 2021 alone. It’s no secret that the country is one of the hottest tech hubs in the world, earning itself the nickname “The Startup Nation.” With over 6,000 active startups, it is also the global leader in startups per capita.
Many factors have contributed to Israel’s success. The population of Israel is highly educated and highly entrepreneurial. In addition, compulsory military service provides a sense of responsibility and a solution-oriented mindset, as well as provides advanced technical training to many. Having spent more than five years in the military, I can certainly draw on those experiences and how they shape my character today.
Israel is responsible for some truly world-changing inventions like Waze, the world’s first USB drive and navigation app. However, in my opinion, one of the most exciting areas of the country’s technology sector driving innovation is food technology.
Some may wonder, how did Israel become such a hotbed of food tech innovation? Being surrounded by so many emerging startups and constantly hearing news of record-breaking investments, this entrepreneurial spirit and success-minded approach is very much ingrained in Israeli culture and society. In addition, government-backed food tech incubators are supporting investments in a growing category and encouraging eager entrepreneurs to enter the sector. Multinational food giants such as Coca-Cola, Danone, Nestle and Unilever have also invested their own dollars in Israel’s innovative food tech scene. Food technology also combines two of Israel’s strongest assets: agriculture and technical know-how. Israel has greatly advanced its agriculture sector over the past half century, and this information is now driving innovation in food technology.
Israeli food tech companies are working closely with leading food manufacturers and CPGs to develop alternatives as quickly as possible to meet the evolving needs of today’s consumer, driven by a desire for better foods for you . These emerging priorities are igniting a food revolution, and Israel is moving forward. As the CEO of a company operating in Israel’s growing food-tech space, I believe there are three key categories to food-tech advancements in Israel: the trend toward alternative sources of protein, Efforts to reduce ingredients and a sweeping shift toward more functional food.
Choosing alternative sources of protein
According to the Good Food Institute, a record-breaking $3.1 billion was invested in the alternative protein category in 2020 alone, and 2021 shows even higher growth. More than $600 million was invested in Israel’s alternative protein startup landscape last year, representing nearly 450% year-over-year growth.
Established alt-meat and alt-dairy brands such as Redefine Meat and Remilk are forging ahead through hi-tech 3D printing and fermentation technologies respectively. Up-and-comers are also eyeing investments including plant-based fish company Plantish and Alfred Food Tech, which is working to solve one of the alternative protein category’s biggest challenges: texturization.
As capital is flowing into the category faster than ever before, it demonstrates the resilience of market opportunities amid many highly volatile years. More plant-based, farmed and fermentation-derived protein alternatives are emerging every day. The innovation and developments seen in alternative proteins over the past two decades show just how exciting the future of food can be. Whether due to environmental reasons, dietary preferences or nutritional needs, consumer adoption for alternative proteins and the continued growth of the plant-based industry is undeniable.
Consumers have become increasingly aware of the health concerns associated with excess sugar consumption, such as obesity, diabetes and heart problems. As a result, many are looking for ways to reduce their sugar intake. In fact, 72% of respondents in a recent NielsenIQ study reported that they are taking action to limit or avoid sugars altogether. The same report found that demand for sugar substitutes is at an all-time high, but the main driver that turns people away from alternative sweeteners is the taste often associated with a substitute.
In addition, sugar also has a major functional role in many culinary processes. Sugar contributes to color, texture, mouth-feel, shelf-life extension, and more. Once it is removed or reduced, these characteristics are affected. Many sweeteners are not achieving or maintaining the flavor and functionality needs of today’s food products.
Thankfully, Israel’s ability to innovate has found the answer to deliver both taste and functionality – two key factors in consumer food choices. By using a sugar reduction solution, Incredo Sugar, which uses real cane sugar, food companies today are able to maintain the sweetness that consumers had come to expect, but a significant reduction in the sugar used. (up to half) with. (Full disclosure: Douxmatoc is the parent company of Incredo Sugar.)
Prioritizing functional ingredients beyond just nutritional value
It’s no surprise that consumers are looking more closely at ingredient labels and understanding nutritional value. But consumers are also now looking to ingredients to make sure their food choices can serve a dual purpose: They’re looking for ingredients that not only have high nutritional value but are also functional. Functional ingredients include vitamins, minerals, probiotics, antioxidants, fiber and more. Food-tech company Yofix is shaking up the yogurt category with its vegan and soy-free fermented plant-based yogurt options that also offer prebiotic and probiotic health benefits.
The role of technology in driving our food revolution amid growing consumer needs isn’t just “being good” – it’s essential. Science has given us lots of tools to create cleaner, better foods for both human and planetary health – foods that are still delicious but leave a light footprint. It is our role as stewards of this planet to create a better food system for the well being of animals, environmental protection and health of future generations. As leaders at the forefront of the future of food, we must embrace the technology and tools science has given us (like Israel has been doing for decades) to drive the food revolution taking place around the world.
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