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Fourth trend: health

Innovation / -

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Allergies and intolerances and other food-connected pathologies are multiplying all over the world, and in doing so are creating target groups which offer considerable market potential. The startup projects in this strand focus on solutions for offering healthy and genuine foods, foods suitable for certain kinds of dietary problems which remain pleasurably palatable and easily available. The most significant sub-group here was seen to be the development of substitute products, where traditional animal protein contents are simulated by vegetal contents.


The food of the future? It doesn’t come from an egg

Innovation / -

Just Mayo è uno dei primi due prodotti commercializzati dalla start up Hampton Creek

Hampton Creek, the San Francisco start-up indicated by Bill Gates as among the most game-changing for the future of food, aims at replacing animal protein with that of plants. And thanks to an intense focus on taste, has managed to carve out a significant space also outside the vegan niche

Can a food revolution start from a mayonnaise without eggs? Yes, apparently it can, given the feedback received from Hampton Creek, the start-up founded by Josh Tetrick in 2011 and listed in 2013 by Bill Gates among the three companies that will shape the future of food.
The mission of Hampton Creek is clear and simple: to make food better or even more affordable, more sustainable, healthier, and (of course) tastier. And the first products that were made available on the website – a mayonnaise without eggs called  “Just Mayo” and cookies not containing dairy, cholesterol or allergens called “Just Cookies” and loved by Oprah Winfrey – literally sold out, with the press on several occasions naming it as one of the most interesting San Francisco start-ups of 2014. Entrepreneur Magazine included it in the list of 100 Brilliant Companies, CNBC in the Disruptor 50 list (featuring innovators who are revolutionizing the landscape), and Popular Science awarded it the Best of What's New 2013 Grand Award.
Where does Hampton Creek’s formula come from? Tetrick, the founder and current CEO, previously worked for seven years in sub-Saharan Africa. There, he had the opportunity to see close up a number of issues related to food sustainability. Once back in the US, Tetrick decided to devote himself to the mission of making a better choice of food more widely available and affordable, replacing animal protein with plant ingredients. So, thanks to a seed investment of 500,000 US dollars, in December 2011 he began his adventure. And Tetrick has a track-record littered with awards: he was included by Inc. Magazine as one of the top 35 entrepreneurs under 35, as well as Fortune Magazine that placed him in the top 40 under 40.

A well funded development
Today, the company is working on many other products, including the first scrambled eggs made from vegetables, but also on pasta, and even healthier food colorings and sugar. Maintaining a strong commitment to research as a key differentiator, would explain the greater degree of preference among consumers compared with many vegan alternatives on the market. "We have business partnerships with many chainstores around the world”, explains Morgan Oliveira, Hampton Creek Director of Communications, “including a big global foodservice company – Compass Group – and also major retailers such as Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, ShopRite, Dollar Tree and ParknShop".
The start-up – which now has 66 employees and still growing – is present not only in the United States and Hong Kong (Horizon Ventures supported by local tycoon Li Ka-shing), but will also debut in Canada, Mexico and Europe shortly. Hampton Creek has many other big names behind it besides Horizons, including Khosla Ventures, the Peter Thiel's Founders Fund,  and also private investors such as Marc Benioff of Salesforce and Eduardo Saverin, Co-Founder of Facebook.

Some challenging moments along the way
The success of Just Mayo in conventional stores (and therefore with members of the public who are not strictly vegan), was however also the source of the biggest headache encountered by the start-up: the lawsuit for false advertising threatened by the Anglo-Dutch multinational, Unilever, against the use of the term “mayonnaise” for a product containing no eggs, could in fact have seriously jeopardized the development of Hampton Creek. But the action was later withdrawn "in the name of our common commitment to a more sustainable world", closing the story that the American press had baptized the 'mayonnaise war'. Avoiding, this time, anyone ending up with egg on their face.

Cucina Mancina: a meeting point for 'left-handed cuisine'

Lifestyle / -

Tutti i 'mancini alimentari' della community di Cucina Mancina

A community of recipes, store locators, and soon, product tests for those who, by choice or necessity, have to exclude certain ingredients from their diet.

“Wrong”, “different” or “correctable” are all concepts that up until a few generations back were often associated with being left-handed and fuelled its inherent prejudices. Yet such prejudices are the inspiration behind Cucina Mancina (Left-handed Cuisine). The Puglia-based platform is dedicated to "left-handed eating”, serving all those who, by choice or necessity, have to eliminate certain ingredients from their diet (gluten, meat and fish, milk, eggs, fat, salt, sugar, etc.), and who often find themselves living a state of "exclusion ". It brings together a very particular set of consumers, of course, but it adds up to almost 50% of Italians. It is therefore a fascinating group for a start-up, as Flavia GIordano and Lorenza Dadduzio realized when they created the community
Since April 2013 when it was launched, the platform has been able to aggregate 26,000 unique users per month and 6,500 followers on Facebook, with a market share of 30 percent loyal readers. What does Cucina Mancina offer? First, a series of recipes validated by the nutritionist Elvira Greco and that can be filtered according to your needs; and second, a store locator to find stores that suit individual dietary needs.

"To get started, we were able to rely on a  grant of €70,000 from the Chamber of Commerce in Bari - says Flavia D'Amico, co-founder of Cucina Mancina -. With this investment, we were able to build the platform, creating all its services and strengthen our corporate identity. Today we have a very strong brand, which has garnered understanding and recognition among our readers." So much so that the community has expanded considerably and now has 250 authors or food bloggers, with registered profiles who share their recipes on the site.

A roll of honor
The credibility achieved in a few years by this microenterprise is evidenced by numerous awards: indeed, Cucina Mancina was ranked third in the Global Social Venture Competiton established by ALTIS (Alta Scuola Impresa e Società) at the Università Cattolica di Milano together with Intesa Sanpaolo Bank in recognition of the most innovative social enterprises.

"The GSCV Award accredited us as a company with a social impact – said  Lorenza Dadduzio, co-founder of Cucina Mancina – and  it's a definition that does us credit, as with our idea we wanted to bring to light the problem of food inclusion. "Cucina Mancina was then rewarded by the patron of fresh pasta Giovanni Rana as the best start-up in Italy and the best food start-up by "la Repubblica delle idee" (the Republic of ideas), while "Vanity Fair" has crowned it the best cooking site.

"Last month, the Mind the Bridge association - concludes Dadduzio - funded us for a month's training in San Francisco to learn how to do business along the lines of Silicon Valley: it was both memorable and invaluable for the development of our idea."

Reaching break-even
The next step now is the actual market launch, namely the proposal of company brands and products aimed at different categories of 'left-handed' people. "Our community will be involved to test and validate these foods, and we want to tell the story - ensures Giordano - The priority is to offer quality content and services, we are not just an e-commerce site with a blog. For this reason we have not until now wanted to give space to sponsorships: we still had to strengthen our proposal."
That the contents are truly the strongest point of this start-up is evidenced by the fact that, in just a few months, two books have been penned by Cucina Mancina: "Eat Different", published by Gribaudo, which has sold 2,500 copies in three months and "La Puglia che mangia differente” (Eating Different in Puglia), published by Unioncamere Puglia, offering a 'left-handed' version of many traditional recipes of Puglia.

Over a million people are already #FoodConscious. What about you?

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