Cyprus vegan start-up

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A Cyprus start-up company hopes to contribute to a food revolution, moving away from a meat-based diet to a more sustainable plant one, satisfying the taste buds of everyone.

The Mighty Kitchen, a food technology company using data modelling and materials chemistry, aspires to achieve that by producing delicious, fibrous, plant-based poultry products and ingredients.

Talking to the Financial Mirror, CEO of The Mighty Kitchen, George Vou, an entrepreneur in technological ventures, said he was driven to the sector by a strong belief the food system was not sustainable and needed changing.

Teaming up with The Mighty Kitchen CTO and co-founder Louiza Sophocleous, the duo is venturing to fix an industry that directly impacts human health, animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

Vou argued that the way the food industry is set up today, around meat consumption, the resources going into food, make the system non-sustainable.

“Besides the waste of land, and CO2 emissions created, there is also a waste of plant resources.

“Beef, Lamb and others require up to 40 calories to get one back and even chicken which is the most efficient needs 9 to get 1.

“We can convert one gram of pea protein and other ingredients into one calorie of food. With animal production, you deplete calories.

“From animal welfare advocates and eco-conscious consumers adopting plant-based diets to flexitarians, meat-eaters, and everything in between, growing demand for vegan food products has significantly boosted investor interest in the space.

He said the world is experiencing a seismic shift in eating patterns, with Millennials leading the charge.

Vou said the number of vegans in Europe has doubled to an estimated figure of 2.6 million, representing 3.2% of the population.

“However, when  including vegetarians, pescatarians and flexitarians, the group in total represent about 30.9% of the population – meaning that almost a third of all Europeans no longer consider themselves full meat-eaters anymore.”

Meat eaters want options

Asked why opt for meat substitutes and not for vegan foodstuff, Vou said that studies show that 95% of people looking for vegan options are meat-eaters.

“According to research company GlobalData, 70% of people globally are looking to eliminate or reduce their meat consumption.

“They still eat meat; turning to meat substitutes seems to be the next best thing.

The Mighty Kitchen aims to offer meat eaters the same experience with less planetary cost – much easier for someone to change what they buy than their habits.

The Mighty Kitchen has developed its own technology and recipes for its products.

“There are two parts to this. First, we combine ingredients and processes to create a base ‘putty’ that can be moulded into many different chicken products.

“Secondly, we have built a unique fats process which mimics animal fat mouthfeel and dispersion. This allows our products to be even closer to animal meat.

“We’re very close to the real thing. Confident that we can, sort of say, trick anyone with the taste and texture of our products”.

Asked how they could fund their venture, The Mighty Kitchen’s CEO said it involved a lot of bootstrapping, to begin with, followed by competition wins and grants.

“We received funds from Climate KIC, and then last year we were one of the winners of the SEED grants from the Research and Innovation Foundation here in Cyprus.”

The Mighty Kitchen has a variety of products ranging from chicken Gyros, nuggets and fillets to a series of ‘Asian Vibes’, with products available in some 20 shops and cafes across the island.

The Mighty Kitchen plans to hit supermarkets and restaurants islandwide in 2022 while working on deals with distributors in the UK, Spain, Portugal, and the UAE.

“Our goal is to rebuild a huge part of the food system.

“We are working on building up markets now and then introducing tools to help make our partners and customers’ lives easier – we will eventually work with production partners in multiple regions to localise this.”