Bill Gates is into food. He’s spent millions backing genetically modified crops that will either feed or destroy the developing world, depending on who you talk to. And if a feature on his website is to be believed, Gates is really interested in using technology to transition humans away from meat, eggs, and heart-unhealthy sodium—and towards fake versions that taste just like the real thing.
In the Future of Food, a new interactive piece on the Gates Notes, Gates lists companies that he believes are "creating healthful plant-based alternatives that taste just like eggs, chicken, and other sources of protein." Take note: Beyond Meat, Hampton Creek, and Nu-Tek Food Science could be the big names in tomorrow’s food industry.
We first wrote about Beyond Meat, a startup backed by Obvious Corporation (an incubator created by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone and the company’s former VP of Product, Jason Goldman), last year. The company makes vegan meat products that feel and taste real enough that Stone told us, "For people who are actually repulsed by meat, they’re not going to like this."
The company’s first product—Chicken-Free Strips—contain soy, but future products could replace the controversial ingredient with things like lupin, barley, and mustard seed protein. You can find Beyond Meat products at Whole Foods throughout the U.S.
Hampton Creek Foods is responsible for an egg substitute called, appropriately enough, Beyond Eggs. The product looks like a grayish-green powder (it needs to be hydrated before consumption) and contains all sorts of egg-less matter, including canola, peas, and sunflower lecithin. But it reportedly tastes real—so real that Hampton is selling the Beyond Eggs product to two Fortune 500 companies, one of which doesn’t plan on advertising the fact that its products will be egg-free. We can’t blame them for wanting to make the switch—Beyond Eggs costs 18% less than the real thing.
You’ll be able to purchase Beyond Eggs on the company’s website soon. Stay tuned.
Nu-Tek is trying to solve a simple but overwhelming problem for high-blood-pressure-prone Americans (and people in general): high salt intake. The company sells a product, Nu-Tek Potassium Chloride (NPC), that supposedly tastes just like salt, but with 50% of the sodium content. Other Nu-Tek salt replacement products can blend with sea salt and regular salt. If you happen to work in the field of "sodium reduction product development," you can request a sample of Nu-Tek’s products here.
Skeptics might complain that these products are the epitome of food artificiality. Why try to meticulously recreate the taste and mouthfeel of chicken when the real thing is so readily available? To put it bluntly: If humans want to continue enjoying the real thing, we have no other choice. There have to be alternative, tasty protein options available for the 9 billion people who will soon populate Earth.
As for salt? Few people can deny that the world could use some help in the healthy eating arena. Even Solazyme, a renewable algae oil company, is getting involved in the space with healthy algae-based oils. There is a literal and figurative hunger for these products, and Bill Gates knows it.