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I took up the game of pickleball recently. It’s a lot of fun, and being the spry 40-something that I am, I was feeling pretty confident during my first match against a team of septugenarians.

Until they proceeded to destroy me.

My glaring ageism was a mistake that I won’t repeat. Just because someone is decades older than you, doesn’t mean you can count them out. If anything, you should be more wary of challenging them.

With apologies to my colleague, Catherine Lamb, for stepping on her Future Food newsletter a little bit here, lately I’ve wondered if the alternative meat startups will run into the same issue with their entrenched, corporate elders.

Beyond Meat and a band of young upstarts like Impossible Foods and Rebellyous are leading the charge for a new generation of plant-based proteins that taste and look like animal meat. Beyond’s stellar IPO and Burger King’s initial success with the Impossible Whopper have certainly put plant-based meat over into the mainstream.

But the olds are waking up and fighting back. Traditional meat companies left and right are rolling out their own plant-based meat products:

That doesn’t even include the companies that are dipping their toes into plant-based meat with blended meat+veggie products like Perdue’s Chicken Plus and Tyson’s Raised & Rooted.

If that weren’t enough, Catherine was at the Good Food Conference last week where year-over-year growth in plant-protein was the big theme, and the stage was filled with speakers from big name companies like JBS, Perdue, and ADM.

Will these established players be able to flex their big budgets, existing supply chains and marketing muscle to squeeze out the up-and comers? At this point, both Beyond and Impossible aren’t exactly young pups, and each has been doing a good job so far of making their brand stick. But have they built enough loyalty and enough of a “moat” around their product to protect themselves from the olds? It seems to me they have, but I live in a bit of a food tech bubble, so it’s hard to gauge what everyday people outside the industry will want.

If we are truly in a plant-based protein revolution (and we at The Spoon definitely believe we are), then we are at the very earliest stages. Over the next year we’ll see if the startup software-style iterating process taken by Beyond and Impossible is enough to keep their products ahead of the incumbents, or if the incumbents will be able to show why they’ve been around for such a long time.

Game on.

SKS Startup Showcase
OMG, you guys! Our flagship Smart Kitchen Summit: North America {SKS} is mere weeks away! (You did get your tickets, right?) It’s already on track to be our biggest event ever and that includes our Startup Showcase.

Each year we invite a handful of cutting-edge companies to come up on-stage and show the world what they are working on. This year’s crop of candidates did not disappoint and we have pulled together a fantastic lineup that we are pleased to announce today.

To give you a preview, the finalists include a 3D food printer that creates food personalized just for you, video backsplashes that teach you how to cook, a stylish connected blender and a home chocolate making machine–as Bill Hader’s Stefon on SNL would say, this show has everything.

Now you just have to make sure you’re there to see the future of food tech before everyone else does. Use code THESPOON25 to get 25% off your tickets to SKS. Reserve yours now before they’re all sold out!

Bees as a Pesticide Delivery Service
I can’t say the words “the bees” without thinking of Nicholas Cage in The Wicker Man. Memes notwithstanding, bees play a really important part in the food we eat by pollinating crops!

As if all the pollinating wasn’t enough work from those worker bees, Bee Vectoring Technologies (BVT) is giving them a new job–pesticide applicator. BVT’s system starts with a tray of fungicidal powder set outside commercial beehives. Bees pick up the powder when they walk across it as they exit the hive and release it when they shake the pollen off a flowering plant.

The company’s fungicide to fight botrytis (that grey moldy fuzz that appears on fruit like strawberries) just got EPA approval last week. With this go-ahead from the EPA, BVT can unleash those bees on commercial crops.

That is something definitely buzz-worthy.

Ugh. Sorry.

I’m going back to the pickleball court.

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