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The Vegetarians at the Gate

on 2019/1/2 9:58:21 ( 730 reads )


UNITED STATES, December 18, 2018 (Bloomberg): During a busy lunch service in the cafeteria of one of Silicon Valley's largest cloud-computing companies, the vegan chef Chad Sarno turned up a gas burner and slowly poured a bottle of white wine into a steel saucepan filled with chopped onion, capers, vegetable stock, and al dente linguine. He tossed the mixture with a flick of the wrist, lowered the heat to a brisk simmer, and added a handful of flakes of Good Catch, a plant-based tuna substitute made of chickpeas, soy, lentils, beans, and oil flavored with an algae extract. He plated a snack-size portion for a woman named Maisie Ganzler, who was waiting to taste the results. Sarno, who founded Good Catch two years ago with his brother, Derek, was visibly anxious as he presented the dish. Ganzler is the head of strategy at Bon Appetit Management Co., a high-end subsidiary of Compass Group Plc, a catering giant that feeds more than a million people daily, including at Apple, Facebook, and Google. A nod from her would be huge for Good Catch, potentially bringing its food to the palates of some of the world's most influential eaters.

Chris Kerr, who'd organized the August tasting, was watching intently from across the table. Kerr is the co-founder and chief investment officer of New Crop Capital, a New York venture firm with stakes in 33 vegan food companies, including Good Catch, meal-kit producer Purple Carrot, and Beyond Meat. As the locus of vegan eating shifts from musty whole-foods stores to, well, Whole Foods stores, Kerr has become a ubiquitous tastemaker, seeding promising companies, attracting additional investors, and matchmaking startups with food giants such as Cargill Inc. and Maple Leaf Foods Inc. that are determined to hedge against declines in meat consumption. To all of them, Kerr makes the same overarching pitch: The vegan revolution is here, and there are fortunes to be made. So-called alternative proteins are the fastest-growing segment of the food industry, and overall sales of vegan items in the U.S. rose 20 percent from 2017 to the middle of this year, reaching $3.3 billion, according to Nielsen.

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