Ep. 08: Dispatch from the Frontier of Food

Feeding 10 Billion

05-11-2019 • 54 mins

Through this season of Feeding 10 Billion, two names that have cropped up in nearly every episode are the pioneers of plant-based meats: Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Beyond Meat had the biggest IPO in North America in the last two decades this year. Impossible Foods was first served in Michelin starred restaurants in 2016 and is now making waves at chains like Burger King thanks to its plant-based beef burger being served as the Impossible Whopper - leading to BK’s best quarter in the last four years. On this special episode of Feeding 10 Billion, we feature a conversation between senior executives of these companies (Seth Goldman - Executive Chairman at Beyond Meat, and David Lipman - Chief Scientific Officer at Impossible Foods) and representatives of organisations like FAIRR, Centre for Biological Diversity and Institute for the Future’s Future Food Lab, along with Varun Deshpande, Managing Director at the Good Food Institute India. The conversation took place at a panel during the blockbuster second iteration of the Good Food Conference in San Francisco. With 900 people in attendance, the session focused on some of the weightiest issues surrounding plant-based and cultivated meat’s potential to address antibiotic resistance, global malnutrition and poverty, climate change and natural resource utilization. Of course, this is a massive undertaking that needs to balance business with issues such as biodiversity as well as global access to good food. The government, investors, companies, and even themselves - these panelists pull punches for nobody!

Show Notes- This episode features panelists from the panel: The “Why”: Mitigating Environmental and Public Health Risks at the Good Food Conference held in San Francisco this year. If you would like to look up the other panel discussions held at the event, you can find them on the GFC website.

If you want to learn more about how India fits into the puzzle of the global alternative protein’s dizzying growth, or are keen to collaborate and build this new protein sector as an entrepreneur, investor, food corporation or scientist, please do visit the Future of Protein website and register to attend. The event is on from Nov 11 to 12 in New Delhi and entry is free!


Beyond Meat is a ten-year-old company that had the biggest IPO in North America in the last two decades this year. Beyond makes meat directly from plants and its revolutionary food-tech products made out of proteins like peas, mung or fava beans, brown rice and sunflower and fas like cocoa butter, and coconut, sunflower or canola oil that replace burgers, sausages, mince or ground meat can be found in 58000 grocery stores in the US.

Impossible Foods which was formed in 2011 and was the first plant-based meat to be offered by Michelin restaurants in 2016 and soon made it to the menus of White Castle followed by Burger King last year. Impossible Burgers are made with 96% less land, 87% less water and 89& fewer green house gas emissions than burgers made from cows.

FAIRR - Established by the Jeremy Coller Foundation, the FAIRR Initiative is a collaborative investor network that raises awareness of the material ESG (Environmental, Social or Governance) risks and opportunities caused by intensive animal production. FAIRR helps investors to identify and prioritise these factors through cutting-edge research that investors can then integrate into their investment decision-making and active stewardship processes.

Centre for Biological Diversity : Based in Tucson, Arizona, is a nonprofit membership, this is an organization with approximately 1.1 million members and online activists, known for its work protecting endangered species through legal action, scientific petitions, creative media and grassroots activism

Institute for the Future's Future Food Labs: The Institute for the Future is a California, US–based not-for-profit think tank that was established, in 1968, to help organizations plan for the long-term future, a subject known as futures studies. IFTF’s Food Futures Lab identifies and catalyzes the innovations that have the potential to reinvent our global food system. We help stakeholders—multinational food companies, farmers, chefs, entrepreneurs, and more—make sense of emerging technologies, social behaviors, and scientific breakthroughs and take action toward a more resilient, equitable, and delicious future of food.

Honest Tea - a product mentioned in the podcast by Seth Goldman - is the top selling organic bottled tea brand in the US and was founded by Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff in 1998. It was sold to Coca Cola in 2011 and sales have been reported in the 100 million dollar range post acquisition.


  • Max Elder writes about the opportunities driving the future of affordable nutrition in the report titled Good Food is Good Business

  • Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index analyzes companies like Hormel and the Brazilian meat firm JBS, finding that many of the 60 largest in the sector aren’t taking the necessary steps to reduce their environmental impacts.

  • Amara’s Law by Roy Amara, the former president of the Institute for the Future, states that: We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

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