I’m taking over the weekly Food Tech News post, and this week I bring you both plant-centric and meaty news. Money is being pumped into cultivated meat research, a plant-based burger company signed a partnership with a football team, and tomato plants can now tell you if they are feeling stressed. Oh, and the world’s smallest gum company raised $1.2 million in funding.
InnerPlant Launches “Living Sensor” Plants
InnerPlant, based in Davis, California, announced the launch of the InnerTomato™ this week. The tomato plants are fed a protein that amplifies the natural signals a plant releases to warn neighboring plants of different stressors. A farmer can use an iPhone, drone, or satellite to take a photo of the plants, and through augmented reality, will be able to see if the plant is a certain color. Different colors signal if the plant needs water, is stressed, or under attack from a certain disease or pest. This is InnerPlant’s first proprietary plant.
UC Davis Receives Funding For Cultivated Meat Research
UC Davis recently received a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to research cultivated meat. One of the main goals of this five-year grant is to develop methods to amplify stem cells efficiently. Researchers aim to create methods that enable sustainably lab-grown meat to be an option for feeding a rapidly growing world population. This is the first major grant in the U.S. for cellular agriculture.
The World’s Smallest Gum Factory
Copenhagen-based True Gum just raised $1.2 million (USD) from a German VC Oyster Bay. True Gum makes plant-based gum that is free of petroleum ingredients (which are found in many gum brands), and instead uses a sustainably-sourced tree sap, called chicle, from South America as the main ingredient.
Planterra’s Brand, OZO, Partners With Denver Broncos
OZO, a brand of Colorado-based Planterra Foods, just signed a three-year partnership with the Denver Broncos. Planterra is a subsidiary of JBS Foods, the largest beef and pork processor in the world. OZO’s products include plant-based ground beef and burger patties made from pea protein, and are currently available in 12 U.S. states. As part of the partnership, OZO will be advertising at the Mile High Stadium and serving up its vegan burgers from its traveling food van.
The last time we brought up the Denver Broncos and the Mile High Stadium on The Spoon, it was to announce the installment of a beer-pouring robot at the stadium. Vegan stadium burgers and beer robots might be convincing enough to get me into a football stadium during a pandemic.
Tesco and Olio Team Up to Fight Food Waste
And in some non-meaty but still-sustainable news, Tesco and food-sharing app Olio announced this week they have partnered to fight food waste. Olio volunteers (of which there are around 8,000) will pick up surplus food at Tesco stores then upload it to the Olio app. Food is then distributed for free to households in need and community groups looking to help.
Tesco is launching this food-drive-like initiative across all 2,700 of its U.K. stores. The company said it was able to redirect 36 tons of food — which would have otherwise gone to waste — through an earlier trial of the program.