Exploring the rise of Latin America as a FoodTech destination

Exploring the rise of Latin America as a FoodTech destination

By
Louise Burfitt
March 15, 2021

🌎 What is it?

  • From arepas to empanadas, guacamole to chimichurri, Latin America is a region with a rich food history
  • As its vast population changes and the agri-food scene of Latin America’s many nations evolves, food businesses are responding to demographic changes and changing desires. 
  • Top trends include plant-based eating, alternative proteins, and a desire for more local foods that are sustainable and delicious.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • The term Latin America refers to a large and diverse region, generally meant to include the entire continent of South America as well as Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands where French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese is spoken. 
  • The region represents almost 15% of all agricultural trade worldwide. 
  • And consumers across Latin America are a huge market, with the region’s population estimated at 646.43 million inhabitants.

💡How did it start?

  • According to the UN, Latin America will make up 25% of global agricultural and fisheries exports by 2028.
  • So it makes perfect sense that firms and governments across this vast region are interested in making their farms, crops, food production and technology more efficient, more cutting-edge and more productive. 
  • The wealth of fresh food and an abundance of regional cuisines make Latam a natural foodie hub.
  • And a millennial demographic accounting for 30% of Latin America’s population is more open to new food trends has put the region at the top of the menu for innovative food businesses.

🔬 How is it shaping up?

  • Top of the menu? Plant-based fare has hit Latin America and is making major waves. This is big news given how much good old-fashioned meat is part of the region’s food traditions. 
  • In fact, a recent study found 90% of the area’s population were open to eating more plant-based foods.
  • Whether it’s NotCo’s plant-based milk or Pow Foods’ plant-based chorizo, both found in Chile, plenty of innovation is afoot in the sector.
  • Brazil, with its huge population, is a large market for plant-based innovation, as its residents seek healthier diets and alternative proteins, while 20% of Mexicans now identify as vegetarian or vegan. 
  • Brazil’s top plant-based meat company Fazenda Futuro has successfully launched on the homegrown market and is now expanding to Europe following a $21.5 million investment. 
  • And even some meat-focused companies are taking note of the trend: Outback Steakhouse, an extremely popular steak chain in Brazil, has introduced a veggie burger. 
  • Alternative proteins, linked to the plant-based trend, are also hot right now. Gricha, Griyum and the Costa Rica Insect Company are just three of the brands developing new proteins and flours using crickets.
  • A specific niche in the region is the raft of startups working on locally produced, non-GMO, organic options as consumers express their desire for healthier, more sustainable, more local foods.  
  • That includes LiveKuna, who are working directly with Ecuadorian farmers to produce organic snacks, Apptit in Sao Paolo (an online food platform for home cooks) and Noesunsuper, who curate local boxes of fresh food for shoppers.
  • In a similar move towards local production, vertical farming is growing in popularity in the region: check out Urfarm and Verde Compacto in Mexico and Pink Farms in Brazil. 

🤷‍♂️Why

  • The drivers for this diverse set of food trends across Latin America are as diverse as the region itself, though it’s possible to draw some general conclusions. 
  • As younger demographics across the region gain spending power, the food and drinks scene is undergoing a generational shift - more younger consumers are open to novel proteins, plant-based diets and innovative food tech. 
  • Awareness of health and sustainability is also growing, with a staggering 90% of those surveyed in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru eager to eat more plant-based foods. 
  • Health concerns are likely driven by rising levels of obesity. The WHO estimates that 200 million South Americans are now overweight or obese.
  • The region’s status as an agricultural powerhouse also makes it a good bet for a place where a plant-based shift could really thrive.
Source: Fazenda Futuro

👀 Who? (28 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • A transition towards plant-based diets in Latin America could create a stunning 19 million new jobs in the area by 2030. 
  • In terms of alt proteins, 60% of Chileans say they are willing to give insect empanadas a try while 63% of Brazilians surveyed said they were keen to cut down on their meat consumption.
  • Latin America’s plant-based protein market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.34% between 2020 and 2025.
  • Japan’s Softbank group plans to invest up to $1 billion in emerging Latin American companies, and is particularly interested in the food tech arena.
Source: Michroma

🌈 Case study: Michroma

  • michroma makes beautiful food colours using biotechnology.
  • The Argentinian startup is a pioneer in the alternative ingredients market with its range of innovative food dyes and colourants made using fungi. 
  • Founded in 2019, it’s already won a plant-based innovation award for Most Innovative Food or Beverage Ingredient.
  • The startup uses CRISPR, a type of gene editing, to alter fungi to produce non-GMO industrial strains that release colours in much improved quantities. 
  • Michroma says major pros compared to fruit and vegetable food dyes is their sustainability: as they’re made in a controlled factory setting, they have 100% traceability and much lower water, carbon and land-use footprints.
  • The startup hopes to bring its colours to market in the US within the next two years.
Source: The Not Company

🥛 Case study: The Not Company

  • The Not Company is a plant-based meat and dairy company based in Santiago, Chile that will soon be worth $250 million.
  • The company uses AI tech to reproduce animal foods by matching animal protein to its most suitable replacement among a database of thousands of plant-based ingredients.
  • NotCo, as it’s known for short, launched with a vegan mayo, but has since branched out to ice cream, meat substitutes and their signature vegan milk, NotMilk.
  • NotCo’s vegan burgers already sit on supermarket shelves in Argentina and Chile, but last year the brand also agreed a major deal with Burger King.
  • In 2020, the startup raised a stunning $85 million in its latest funding round. 
  • Although the company’s three Chilean founders met in the US, they chose to locate their HQ in Santiago to offer consumers in the region healthier food options.
  • Just last week, NotCo was named as one of the world’s most innovative food companies, and now has plans to expand its newly patented tech in the US.

👍The good

  • The Latin American region has major potential in the plant-based market due to its capacity for agricultural production - in theory, it’s a match made in heaven! 
  • For consumers concerned about cost and sustainability, the growth in food startups in the region is good news - a lot more choice closer to home is better for the environment and easier on the wallet.
  • Plant-based and alt protein shifts will also bring major health benefits to a region where obesity is a growing issue and COVID-19 has put health at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
  • If this plant-based shift takes place on a large scale, there could be a fantastic knock-on economic effect for the whole region with some saying it could lead to 19 million new job opportunities

👎 The bad

  • National food lobbies and meat producers in the region are already fighting the plant-based shift, so it won’t necessarily be an easy ride for young food brands
  • Mexican authorities have already prevented plant-based dairy producers from using traditional dairy words like ‘milk’ on their labelling.
  • The region is so vast that it’s easy to generalise, but the shifts are not being felt equally across Latin America. Richer countries like Brazil and Mexico are enjoying the most benefits, while less-developed nations like Bolivia, Nicaragua and Guatemala are less likely to reap the rewards of food tech innovation in the region. 
  • Brazil, a major player in the sector and the biggest economy in Latin America, has been hit hard by COVID-19 and there have been negative economic effects as a result. 
  • Unfortunately, the coronavirus situation has also shone a light on the deeply entrenched inequalities in Latin America - something that governments and food brands need to address and bear in mind when innovating in the region.

💡The bottom line

  • Latin America represents a vast and diverse market, with emerging niches in alt proteins, plant-based products & local, sustainable foods. This makes the region an interesting place for rising food brands, but powerful national food lobbies and extreme inequalities are potential challenges.

Become a FoodHack+ member to get unlimited access

  • Weekly 7-Minutes Trend Reports | Library of 60+ Reports
  • Proprietary FoodTech Database | Startups & Companies
  • FoodHack+ Insiders Community | Coming soon

🌎 What is it?

  • From arepas to empanadas, guacamole to chimichurri, Latin America is a region with a rich food history
  • As its vast population changes and the agri-food scene of Latin America’s many nations evolves, food businesses are responding to demographic changes and changing desires. 
  • Top trends include plant-based eating, alternative proteins, and a desire for more local foods that are sustainable and delicious.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • The term Latin America refers to a large and diverse region, generally meant to include the entire continent of South America as well as Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands where French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese is spoken. 
  • The region represents almost 15% of all agricultural trade worldwide. 
  • And consumers across Latin America are a huge market, with the region’s population estimated at 646.43 million inhabitants.

💡How did it start?

  • According to the UN, Latin America will make up 25% of global agricultural and fisheries exports by 2028.
  • So it makes perfect sense that firms and governments across this vast region are interested in making their farms, crops, food production and technology more efficient, more cutting-edge and more productive. 
  • The wealth of fresh food and an abundance of regional cuisines make Latam a natural foodie hub.
  • And a millennial demographic accounting for 30% of Latin America’s population is more open to new food trends has put the region at the top of the menu for innovative food businesses.

🔬 How is it shaping up?

  • Top of the menu? Plant-based fare has hit Latin America and is making major waves. This is big news given how much good old-fashioned meat is part of the region’s food traditions. 
  • In fact, a recent study found 90% of the area’s population were open to eating more plant-based foods.
  • Whether it’s NotCo’s plant-based milk or Pow Foods’ plant-based chorizo, both found in Chile, plenty of innovation is afoot in the sector.
  • Brazil, with its huge population, is a large market for plant-based innovation, as its residents seek healthier diets and alternative proteins, while 20% of Mexicans now identify as vegetarian or vegan. 
  • Brazil’s top plant-based meat company Fazenda Futuro has successfully launched on the homegrown market and is now expanding to Europe following a $21.5 million investment. 
  • And even some meat-focused companies are taking note of the trend: Outback Steakhouse, an extremely popular steak chain in Brazil, has introduced a veggie burger. 
  • Alternative proteins, linked to the plant-based trend, are also hot right now. Gricha, Griyum and the Costa Rica Insect Company are just three of the brands developing new proteins and flours using crickets.
  • A specific niche in the region is the raft of startups working on locally produced, non-GMO, organic options as consumers express their desire for healthier, more sustainable, more local foods.  
  • That includes LiveKuna, who are working directly with Ecuadorian farmers to produce organic snacks, Apptit in Sao Paolo (an online food platform for home cooks) and Noesunsuper, who curate local boxes of fresh food for shoppers.
  • In a similar move towards local production, vertical farming is growing in popularity in the region: check out Urfarm and Verde Compacto in Mexico and Pink Farms in Brazil. 

🤷‍♂️Why

  • The drivers for this diverse set of food trends across Latin America are as diverse as the region itself, though it’s possible to draw some general conclusions. 
  • As younger demographics across the region gain spending power, the food and drinks scene is undergoing a generational shift - more younger consumers are open to novel proteins, plant-based diets and innovative food tech. 
  • Awareness of health and sustainability is also growing, with a staggering 90% of those surveyed in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru eager to eat more plant-based foods. 
  • Health concerns are likely driven by rising levels of obesity. The WHO estimates that 200 million South Americans are now overweight or obese.
  • The region’s status as an agricultural powerhouse also makes it a good bet for a place where a plant-based shift could really thrive.
Source: Fazenda Futuro

👀 Who? (28 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • A transition towards plant-based diets in Latin America could create a stunning 19 million new jobs in the area by 2030. 
  • In terms of alt proteins, 60% of Chileans say they are willing to give insect empanadas a try while 63% of Brazilians surveyed said they were keen to cut down on their meat consumption.
  • Latin America’s plant-based protein market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.34% between 2020 and 2025.
  • Japan’s Softbank group plans to invest up to $1 billion in emerging Latin American companies, and is particularly interested in the food tech arena.
Source: Michroma

🌈 Case study: Michroma

  • michroma makes beautiful food colours using biotechnology.
  • The Argentinian startup is a pioneer in the alternative ingredients market with its range of innovative food dyes and colourants made using fungi. 
  • Founded in 2019, it’s already won a plant-based innovation award for Most Innovative Food or Beverage Ingredient.
  • The startup uses CRISPR, a type of gene editing, to alter fungi to produce non-GMO industrial strains that release colours in much improved quantities. 
  • Michroma says major pros compared to fruit and vegetable food dyes is their sustainability: as they’re made in a controlled factory setting, they have 100% traceability and much lower water, carbon and land-use footprints.
  • The startup hopes to bring its colours to market in the US within the next two years.
Source: The Not Company

🥛 Case study: The Not Company

  • The Not Company is a plant-based meat and dairy company based in Santiago, Chile that will soon be worth $250 million.
  • The company uses AI tech to reproduce animal foods by matching animal protein to its most suitable replacement among a database of thousands of plant-based ingredients.
  • NotCo, as it’s known for short, launched with a vegan mayo, but has since branched out to ice cream, meat substitutes and their signature vegan milk, NotMilk.
  • NotCo’s vegan burgers already sit on supermarket shelves in Argentina and Chile, but last year the brand also agreed a major deal with Burger King.
  • In 2020, the startup raised a stunning $85 million in its latest funding round. 
  • Although the company’s three Chilean founders met in the US, they chose to locate their HQ in Santiago to offer consumers in the region healthier food options.
  • Just last week, NotCo was named as one of the world’s most innovative food companies, and now has plans to expand its newly patented tech in the US.

👍The good

  • The Latin American region has major potential in the plant-based market due to its capacity for agricultural production - in theory, it’s a match made in heaven! 
  • For consumers concerned about cost and sustainability, the growth in food startups in the region is good news - a lot more choice closer to home is better for the environment and easier on the wallet.
  • Plant-based and alt protein shifts will also bring major health benefits to a region where obesity is a growing issue and COVID-19 has put health at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
  • If this plant-based shift takes place on a large scale, there could be a fantastic knock-on economic effect for the whole region with some saying it could lead to 19 million new job opportunities

👎 The bad

  • National food lobbies and meat producers in the region are already fighting the plant-based shift, so it won’t necessarily be an easy ride for young food brands
  • Mexican authorities have already prevented plant-based dairy producers from using traditional dairy words like ‘milk’ on their labelling.
  • The region is so vast that it’s easy to generalise, but the shifts are not being felt equally across Latin America. Richer countries like Brazil and Mexico are enjoying the most benefits, while less-developed nations like Bolivia, Nicaragua and Guatemala are less likely to reap the rewards of food tech innovation in the region. 
  • Brazil, a major player in the sector and the biggest economy in Latin America, has been hit hard by COVID-19 and there have been negative economic effects as a result. 
  • Unfortunately, the coronavirus situation has also shone a light on the deeply entrenched inequalities in Latin America - something that governments and food brands need to address and bear in mind when innovating in the region.

💡The bottom line

  • Latin America represents a vast and diverse market, with emerging niches in alt proteins, plant-based products & local, sustainable foods. This makes the region an interesting place for rising food brands, but powerful national food lobbies and extreme inequalities are potential challenges.

Become a FoodHack+ member to get unlimited access

  • Weekly 7-Minutes Trend Reports | Library of 60+ Reports
  • Proprietary FoodTech Database | Startups & Companies
  • FoodHack+ Insiders Community | Coming soon

🌎 What is it?

  • From arepas to empanadas, guacamole to chimichurri, Latin America is a region with a rich food history
  • As its vast population changes and the agri-food scene of Latin America’s many nations evolves, food businesses are responding to demographic changes and changing desires. 
  • Top trends include plant-based eating, alternative proteins, and a desire for more local foods that are sustainable and delicious.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • The term Latin America refers to a large and diverse region, generally meant to include the entire continent of South America as well as Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands where French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese is spoken. 
  • The region represents almost 15% of all agricultural trade worldwide. 
  • And consumers across Latin America are a huge market, with the region’s population estimated at 646.43 million inhabitants.

💡How did it start?

  • According to the UN, Latin America will make up 25% of global agricultural and fisheries exports by 2028.
  • So it makes perfect sense that firms and governments across this vast region are interested in making their farms, crops, food production and technology more efficient, more cutting-edge and more productive. 
  • The wealth of fresh food and an abundance of regional cuisines make Latam a natural foodie hub.
  • And a millennial demographic accounting for 30% of Latin America’s population is more open to new food trends has put the region at the top of the menu for innovative food businesses.

🔬 How is it shaping up?

  • Top of the menu? Plant-based fare has hit Latin America and is making major waves. This is big news given how much good old-fashioned meat is part of the region’s food traditions. 
  • In fact, a recent study found 90% of the area’s population were open to eating more plant-based foods.
  • Whether it’s NotCo’s plant-based milk or Pow Foods’ plant-based chorizo, both found in Chile, plenty of innovation is afoot in the sector.
  • Brazil, with its huge population, is a large market for plant-based innovation, as its residents seek healthier diets and alternative proteins, while 20% of Mexicans now identify as vegetarian or vegan. 
  • Brazil’s top plant-based meat company Fazenda Futuro has successfully launched on the homegrown market and is now expanding to Europe following a $21.5 million investment. 
  • And even some meat-focused companies are taking note of the trend: Outback Steakhouse, an extremely popular steak chain in Brazil, has introduced a veggie burger. 
  • Alternative proteins, linked to the plant-based trend, are also hot right now. Gricha, Griyum and the Costa Rica Insect Company are just three of the brands developing new proteins and flours using crickets.
  • A specific niche in the region is the raft of startups working on locally produced, non-GMO, organic options as consumers express their desire for healthier, more sustainable, more local foods.  
  • That includes LiveKuna, who are working directly with Ecuadorian farmers to produce organic snacks, Apptit in Sao Paolo (an online food platform for home cooks) and Noesunsuper, who curate local boxes of fresh food for shoppers.
  • In a similar move towards local production, vertical farming is growing in popularity in the region: check out Urfarm and Verde Compacto in Mexico and Pink Farms in Brazil. 

🤷‍♂️Why

  • The drivers for this diverse set of food trends across Latin America are as diverse as the region itself, though it’s possible to draw some general conclusions. 
  • As younger demographics across the region gain spending power, the food and drinks scene is undergoing a generational shift - more younger consumers are open to novel proteins, plant-based diets and innovative food tech. 
  • Awareness of health and sustainability is also growing, with a staggering 90% of those surveyed in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru eager to eat more plant-based foods. 
  • Health concerns are likely driven by rising levels of obesity. The WHO estimates that 200 million South Americans are now overweight or obese.
  • The region’s status as an agricultural powerhouse also makes it a good bet for a place where a plant-based shift could really thrive.
Source: Fazenda Futuro

👀 Who? (28 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • A transition towards plant-based diets in Latin America could create a stunning 19 million new jobs in the area by 2030. 
  • In terms of alt proteins, 60% of Chileans say they are willing to give insect empanadas a try while 63% of Brazilians surveyed said they were keen to cut down on their meat consumption.
  • Latin America’s plant-based protein market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.34% between 2020 and 2025.
  • Japan’s Softbank group plans to invest up to $1 billion in emerging Latin American companies, and is particularly interested in the food tech arena.
Source: Michroma

🌈 Case study: Michroma

  • michroma makes beautiful food colours using biotechnology.
  • The Argentinian startup is a pioneer in the alternative ingredients market with its range of innovative food dyes and colourants made using fungi. 
  • Founded in 2019, it’s already won a plant-based innovation award for Most Innovative Food or Beverage Ingredient.
  • The startup uses CRISPR, a type of gene editing, to alter fungi to produce non-GMO industrial strains that release colours in much improved quantities. 
  • Michroma says major pros compared to fruit and vegetable food dyes is their sustainability: as they’re made in a controlled factory setting, they have 100% traceability and much lower water, carbon and land-use footprints.
  • The startup hopes to bring its colours to market in the US within the next two years.
Source: The Not Company

🥛 Case study: The Not Company

  • The Not Company is a plant-based meat and dairy company based in Santiago, Chile that will soon be worth $250 million.
  • The company uses AI tech to reproduce animal foods by matching animal protein to its most suitable replacement among a database of thousands of plant-based ingredients.
  • NotCo, as it’s known for short, launched with a vegan mayo, but has since branched out to ice cream, meat substitutes and their signature vegan milk, NotMilk.
  • NotCo’s vegan burgers already sit on supermarket shelves in Argentina and Chile, but last year the brand also agreed a major deal with Burger King.
  • In 2020, the startup raised a stunning $85 million in its latest funding round. 
  • Although the company’s three Chilean founders met in the US, they chose to locate their HQ in Santiago to offer consumers in the region healthier food options.
  • Just last week, NotCo was named as one of the world’s most innovative food companies, and now has plans to expand its newly patented tech in the US.

👍The good

  • The Latin American region has major potential in the plant-based market due to its capacity for agricultural production - in theory, it’s a match made in heaven! 
  • For consumers concerned about cost and sustainability, the growth in food startups in the region is good news - a lot more choice closer to home is better for the environment and easier on the wallet.
  • Plant-based and alt protein shifts will also bring major health benefits to a region where obesity is a growing issue and COVID-19 has put health at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
  • If this plant-based shift takes place on a large scale, there could be a fantastic knock-on economic effect for the whole region with some saying it could lead to 19 million new job opportunities

👎 The bad

  • National food lobbies and meat producers in the region are already fighting the plant-based shift, so it won’t necessarily be an easy ride for young food brands
  • Mexican authorities have already prevented plant-based dairy producers from using traditional dairy words like ‘milk’ on their labelling.
  • The region is so vast that it’s easy to generalise, but the shifts are not being felt equally across Latin America. Richer countries like Brazil and Mexico are enjoying the most benefits, while less-developed nations like Bolivia, Nicaragua and Guatemala are less likely to reap the rewards of food tech innovation in the region. 
  • Brazil, a major player in the sector and the biggest economy in Latin America, has been hit hard by COVID-19 and there have been negative economic effects as a result. 
  • Unfortunately, the coronavirus situation has also shone a light on the deeply entrenched inequalities in Latin America - something that governments and food brands need to address and bear in mind when innovating in the region.

💡The bottom line

  • Latin America represents a vast and diverse market, with emerging niches in alt proteins, plant-based products & local, sustainable foods. This makes the region an interesting place for rising food brands, but powerful national food lobbies and extreme inequalities are potential challenges.

🌎 What is it?

  • From arepas to empanadas, guacamole to chimichurri, Latin America is a region with a rich food history
  • As its vast population changes and the agri-food scene of Latin America’s many nations evolves, food businesses are responding to demographic changes and changing desires. 
  • Top trends include plant-based eating, alternative proteins, and a desire for more local foods that are sustainable and delicious.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • The term Latin America refers to a large and diverse region, generally meant to include the entire continent of South America as well as Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands where French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese is spoken. 
  • The region represents almost 15% of all agricultural trade worldwide. 
  • And consumers across Latin America are a huge market, with the region’s population estimated at 646.43 million inhabitants.

💡How did it start?

  • According to the UN, Latin America will make up 25% of global agricultural and fisheries exports by 2028.
  • So it makes perfect sense that firms and governments across this vast region are interested in making their farms, crops, food production and technology more efficient, more cutting-edge and more productive. 
  • The wealth of fresh food and an abundance of regional cuisines make Latam a natural foodie hub.
  • And a millennial demographic accounting for 30% of Latin America’s population is more open to new food trends has put the region at the top of the menu for innovative food businesses.

🔬 How is it shaping up?

  • Top of the menu? Plant-based fare has hit Latin America and is making major waves. This is big news given how much good old-fashioned meat is part of the region’s food traditions. 
  • In fact, a recent study found 90% of the area’s population were open to eating more plant-based foods.
  • Whether it’s NotCo’s plant-based milk or Pow Foods’ plant-based chorizo, both found in Chile, plenty of innovation is afoot in the sector.
  • Brazil, with its huge population, is a large market for plant-based innovation, as its residents seek healthier diets and alternative proteins, while 20% of Mexicans now identify as vegetarian or vegan. 
  • Brazil’s top plant-based meat company Fazenda Futuro has successfully launched on the homegrown market and is now expanding to Europe following a $21.5 million investment. 
  • And even some meat-focused companies are taking note of the trend: Outback Steakhouse, an extremely popular steak chain in Brazil, has introduced a veggie burger. 
  • Alternative proteins, linked to the plant-based trend, are also hot right now. Gricha, Griyum and the Costa Rica Insect Company are just three of the brands developing new proteins and flours using crickets.
  • A specific niche in the region is the raft of startups working on locally produced, non-GMO, organic options as consumers express their desire for healthier, more sustainable, more local foods.  
  • That includes LiveKuna, who are working directly with Ecuadorian farmers to produce organic snacks, Apptit in Sao Paolo (an online food platform for home cooks) and Noesunsuper, who curate local boxes of fresh food for shoppers.
  • In a similar move towards local production, vertical farming is growing in popularity in the region: check out Urfarm and Verde Compacto in Mexico and Pink Farms in Brazil. 

🤷‍♂️Why

  • The drivers for this diverse set of food trends across Latin America are as diverse as the region itself, though it’s possible to draw some general conclusions. 
  • As younger demographics across the region gain spending power, the food and drinks scene is undergoing a generational shift - more younger consumers are open to novel proteins, plant-based diets and innovative food tech. 
  • Awareness of health and sustainability is also growing, with a staggering 90% of those surveyed in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru eager to eat more plant-based foods. 
  • Health concerns are likely driven by rising levels of obesity. The WHO estimates that 200 million South Americans are now overweight or obese.
  • The region’s status as an agricultural powerhouse also makes it a good bet for a place where a plant-based shift could really thrive.
Source: Fazenda Futuro

👀 Who? (28 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • A transition towards plant-based diets in Latin America could create a stunning 19 million new jobs in the area by 2030. 
  • In terms of alt proteins, 60% of Chileans say they are willing to give insect empanadas a try while 63% of Brazilians surveyed said they were keen to cut down on their meat consumption.
  • Latin America’s plant-based protein market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.34% between 2020 and 2025.
  • Japan’s Softbank group plans to invest up to $1 billion in emerging Latin American companies, and is particularly interested in the food tech arena.
Source: Michroma

🌈 Case study: Michroma

  • michroma makes beautiful food colours using biotechnology.
  • The Argentinian startup is a pioneer in the alternative ingredients market with its range of innovative food dyes and colourants made using fungi. 
  • Founded in 2019, it’s already won a plant-based innovation award for Most Innovative Food or Beverage Ingredient.
  • The startup uses CRISPR, a type of gene editing, to alter fungi to produce non-GMO industrial strains that release colours in much improved quantities. 
  • Michroma says major pros compared to fruit and vegetable food dyes is their sustainability: as they’re made in a controlled factory setting, they have 100% traceability and much lower water, carbon and land-use footprints.
  • The startup hopes to bring its colours to market in the US within the next two years.
Source: The Not Company

🥛 Case study: The Not Company

  • The Not Company is a plant-based meat and dairy company based in Santiago, Chile that will soon be worth $250 million.
  • The company uses AI tech to reproduce animal foods by matching animal protein to its most suitable replacement among a database of thousands of plant-based ingredients.
  • NotCo, as it’s known for short, launched with a vegan mayo, but has since branched out to ice cream, meat substitutes and their signature vegan milk, NotMilk.
  • NotCo’s vegan burgers already sit on supermarket shelves in Argentina and Chile, but last year the brand also agreed a major deal with Burger King.
  • In 2020, the startup raised a stunning $85 million in its latest funding round. 
  • Although the company’s three Chilean founders met in the US, they chose to locate their HQ in Santiago to offer consumers in the region healthier food options.
  • Just last week, NotCo was named as one of the world’s most innovative food companies, and now has plans to expand its newly patented tech in the US.

👍The good

  • The Latin American region has major potential in the plant-based market due to its capacity for agricultural production - in theory, it’s a match made in heaven! 
  • For consumers concerned about cost and sustainability, the growth in food startups in the region is good news - a lot more choice closer to home is better for the environment and easier on the wallet.
  • Plant-based and alt protein shifts will also bring major health benefits to a region where obesity is a growing issue and COVID-19 has put health at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
  • If this plant-based shift takes place on a large scale, there could be a fantastic knock-on economic effect for the whole region with some saying it could lead to 19 million new job opportunities

👎 The bad

  • National food lobbies and meat producers in the region are already fighting the plant-based shift, so it won’t necessarily be an easy ride for young food brands
  • Mexican authorities have already prevented plant-based dairy producers from using traditional dairy words like ‘milk’ on their labelling.
  • The region is so vast that it’s easy to generalise, but the shifts are not being felt equally across Latin America. Richer countries like Brazil and Mexico are enjoying the most benefits, while less-developed nations like Bolivia, Nicaragua and Guatemala are less likely to reap the rewards of food tech innovation in the region. 
  • Brazil, a major player in the sector and the biggest economy in Latin America, has been hit hard by COVID-19 and there have been negative economic effects as a result. 
  • Unfortunately, the coronavirus situation has also shone a light on the deeply entrenched inequalities in Latin America - something that governments and food brands need to address and bear in mind when innovating in the region.

💡The bottom line

  • Latin America represents a vast and diverse market, with emerging niches in alt proteins, plant-based products & local, sustainable foods. This makes the region an interesting place for rising food brands, but powerful national food lobbies and extreme inequalities are potential challenges.
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