Disrupt the plate!

Written by:
Lauri Reuter
Founder & Partner, Nordic FoodTech VC

The entire planetary food system needs to be reinvented. As the world’s population keeps growing and consuming more, and nature’s resources are getting thinner, it is clear that food production can not continue to hold a “business as usual” mindset. What is needed is a more sustainable and resilient system – and there is simply no time to waste.

Startup companies such as Solar Foods are looking at this problem from a disruptive perspective, challenging a lot of the “truths” we have held to be self-evident. There are many rules – that we thought were fundamental – in the game that might now be changing. One of them is that food production on land requires fertile soil.

Since the dawn of time, humans have turned to animals or plants for sustenance. But what if there was a third way? – The introduction of microbe-based food products is one of those wild ideas that really grabs you: What if there is more than animals or plants in the future?

This is possibly a game-changing notion. The link between natural environment and food was considered to be self-evident, but is it? What if we were able to break that link and create food without placing a strain on the environment and without fear of natural disasters? That would certainly create more resiliency, and provide us with unprecedented opportunity.

It is the incredibly fast-developing technologies, urgent need for change and companies such as Solar Foods that inspired the launch of our brand new foodtech fund. With a capital of EUR 25 million, we are looking to promote the revolution of foodtech in the Nordics, for the better of the planet.

Transforming the global food system is very much on the agenda of many investors right now. For example, Silicon Valley is keen on startups and solutions which are constantly pushing the boundaries of all things related to food. Still, I have a feeling that in the Nordics there is a wealth of expertise that may run even deeper than in the US.

Radical innovation pursued by startups like Solar Foods is also significant because of its scalability: for a global problem, it won’t do to tinker around with local/regional solutions. In this day and age, it is noteworthy that the winning solution can surface from anywhere and be applicable anywhere – and then proceed to take the world by storm.

Still, the ultimate test for any food product is one of taste. If the food doesn’t charm the consumers’ taste buds, it probably doesn’t matter that it’s non-animal based, non-plant based and has the smallest carbon footprint in the universe. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Coronavirus has exposed, only too well, the vulnerability of the global food supply chains, as well as fragile state of our current food system. Nevertheless, since necessity is so often the mother of invention, this crisis can serve to open doors and windows into totally new kind of thinking.

Food for thought – and beyond.