Planted Foods has been conquering Switzerland for a few years with a natural, plant-based meat alternative, which can now be found in most Swiss supermarkets. The Zurich-based start-up came first in the TOP 100 Swiss Startup Awards 2021.
The sustainable meat substitute is produced from pea protein, pea fibres and rapeseed oil. Mixed, heated and pressurised, the ingredients form a dough that can then be shaped into the desired form. The result is remarkably similar to meat; there are hardly any differences in taste or appearance. In a world where 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock farming alone, this is a clean alternative.
Inspired by existing plant-based products, just fewer ingredients
Co-founder Pascal Bieri came up with the idea of producing plant-based meat when he was living and working in the United States:
I got into the whole topic of plant-based meat as a consumer and kept eating it. But what bothered me about the American versions from the beginning was the list of ingredients that was a mile long. I wrote a WhatsApp message to my cousin Lukas Böni, who was doing his PhD in food technology at ETH Zurich at the time, with a picture of a vegan burger and asked him if it wasn't possible to make the whole thing with fewer additives.
Böni, also co-founder of Planted Foods, started researching – with success, as history shows. To this day, the products are constantly being developed further and the bite, taste and appearance refined. Having started with a plant-based chicken alternative produced in a small ETH laboratory, the start-up moved to a larger production site previously occupied by famous Swiss food company Maggi to cope with the increased demand.
Rapid growth leads to Top 100 Swiss Startup Award 2021
Only 4 years after the initial idea and 2 years after founding Planted Foods as an ETH Zurich spin-off, the company now produces around 500kg of vegetable meat per hour on its modern extrusion line. In 2021 the company successfully closed two financial rounds worth CHF 36 million. The new capital is being used to further expand Planted Foods products in European countries and to work on new plant-based meat products. Although the market for meat substitute products in Switzerland is still small, it is growing steadily. In 2016, sales amounted to CHF 60 million; last year, almost CHF 120 million. Various studies predict continued growth over the next 5–20 years, and there is definitely room for improvement: the Swiss meat industry has annual sales of about CHF 5.4 billion.
This successful path has not gone unrecognised in Switzerland. Planted Foods won the top prize at the Top 100 Swiss Startup Awards 2021 in September.