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Startup Innovation Challenge

Plant-based lupin protein innovation promises brighter future [Interview]

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Eighth Day Foods uses soil-friendly lupin to make its clean label, minimally processed protein that is ideal to make plant-based meat alternatives. Even Paul McCartney's former private chef is a fan.
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The sixth edition of the Global Startup Innovation Challenge, held at Fi Europe 2021, co-located with Hi Europe, in Frankfurt, gave startups the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a jury of R&D experts, investors, and major F&B industry company representatives.

Eighth Day Foods was one of the finalists in the Most Innovative F&B Ingredient or Processing Technology category, recognised for its pioneering innovation in plant-based foods. The company’s Lupreme™ product – sourced from one ingredient, sweet lupins – offers manufacturers a sustainable, ultra-low processed and healthy alterative to meat and seafood. 

We spoke with the company’s co-founder, Roger Drew, about the inspiration behind the startup, what makes its plant protein product unique and what the future holds. 

“The sector is moving towards plant protein as being celebrated for what it is, and not just an imitator of meat,” notes Drew. “More plant protein options are now available with minimal processing and minimal ingredients. People are looking at plant protein to be available in more than just burgers and sausages and mincemeat. Fi Europe presented an opportunity for us to further validate that we are dealing with real industry problems, and our success in this challenge has proven again that we are uniquely placed to help.”

Tapping lupin power

Eighth Day Foods was established in November 2020, with the aim of addressing the need to feed 8 billion people by 2030 with highly nutritious food, that also has positive environmental impacts. The company wanted to enable food producers to develop product ranges of exceptional quality, cheaper than meat-sourced products. It also wanted to make its inexpensive and simple production method available to communities in developing countries, to enable them to grow crops and produce food for themselves.

“As co-founders, Jen [Drew] and I have really been very lucky that our passions and skills are completely complimentary,” says Drew. “Jen is a passionate advocate for life transformation through food and fitness. She spent 15 years researching and experimenting with plant-based foods before she invented Lupreme™.”

Roger Drew, on the other hand, grew up as a farmer and learned very early that lupins are very kind to the soil.

“Having spent over 25 years travelling some of the world’s poorest countries, I gained a deep appreciation for food security. When I joined a family venture, I was determined to find a way to turn lupins, essentially a feedstock, into nourishing foods fit for human consumption. Until I met Jen and we started to experiment, I hadn’t realised the real power and potential of lupins.”

Overcoming challenges

The team behind Eighth Day Foods entered the market with their eyes open. “We recognised that plant-based food production faced challenges,” says Drew. “Plant-based foods tend to be expensive for consumers when compared to meat and fish, and forecasts suggest another two to three years before production cost parity will be reached. The supply chain and production processes are complex and multi-faceted, with manufacturers needing to source and combine ingredients from many suppliers. This can be costly and risky.”

Lupreme™, the company’s patented solution, uses only one ingredient to produce meat alternatives as diverse as user-ready products, clean-label blends, or hybrid cell-based products. Eighth Day Foods has spent three years perfecting a process that involves precision preparation and fermentation. From this, manufacturers can produce a wide array of products.

“In short, we offer all the efficiencies of meat industry production, with all of the benefits of plant-based protein,” says Drew.  

According to Sir Paul McCartney’s former private chef of 10 years, Scott Findlay, the product delivers optimal taste, mouth feel, aroma, juiciness, and structure.

“I’ve travelled all over the world using different plant-based products and I’ve yet to come across anything as versatile, delicious and easy to work with as Lupreme™,” Findlay explains.

Lupreme™ is a wholefood with medically proven benefits for health, diabetes, and weight management. Sweet lupins contain all nine essential amino acids and are an excellent source of unsaturated fats, natural emulsifying properties and the lowest glycaemic index of any seed regularly consumed by humans. They also deliver up to 43% protein, 30% dietary fibre and low carbohydrates.

“Our strategy now is to roll out global manufacturing capacity to meet projected product demand, starting in 2022,” says Drew. “The first year has been used to build a pipeline of global leads, bring together an experienced management team and advisory board, and to design the manufacturing process. In February 2022, we will open our innovation centre in Melbourne and announce our first customers.”

In late December 2021, Lupreme™ was awarded as the best new protein at the World Plant Based Food Awards in New York. Company representation has also been secured in both the USA and Europe, with a second innovation centre planned for mid-2022. Production facilities in both the USA and Europe are planned to follow in either 2022 or 2023, depending on demand.

“It is also our ambition to finish the 2022 calendar year with the launch of the Eighth Day Foundation, a not-for-profit fighting world hunger,” adds Drew.  
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