JUST partners with Brinc for Asian food tech accelerator
- In order to expedite discovery and prototypes of new kinds of food products, JUST CEO Josh Tetrick announced a partnership with Hong Kong-based global venture accelerator Brinc at the Food's Future Summit in Hong Kong, according to a blog post.
- Brinc will invest more than HK$500,000 ($63,755) per team. The teams will have access to JUST's pipeline of discoveries, and will be able to use the San Francisco-based company's data, tools and raw materials to develop products. Brinc's food technology accelerator program will also provide participants with learning and mentoring opportunities, access to the Asian market, and the chance to work with consumers to refine items. Finished products from the collaboration will have a "Made JUST" logo.
- “We’re thrilled to partner with Brinc to help grow a new crop of food founders in the world’s most populous region: Asia,” Josh Tetrick, CEO and co-founder of JUST, said in the post. “The task of building a more sustainable food system is so enormous that it requires the energies of a generation. Working with mission-driven partners who share our goal of facilitating large-scale, permanent adoption of healthy and more sustainable food is the only way we succeed.”
In today's food business, it's all about partnerships, support and working together. Several food companies ranging from Smucker to Kraft Heinz to Chobani have accelerators, incubators or partnerships to work with others who are developing new products, packages and concepts to change the food industry. The conventional wisdom is that the larger company in these situations has proven expertise in areas like research and development, marketing, distribution and data. The smaller companies or groups have new ideas, perspectives and energy.
JUST's entry into this sort of partnership looks a bit different in terms of goals and execution. The San Francisco-based company — which makes products like vegan eggs, dressings, spreads and treats, and is working on lab-grown meat — is a startup itself and does not have the business clout of Big Food. What it does have, however, is a unique R&D system and pipeline. The company invests research into plant and seed proteins, seeing what sorts of flavors and properties it can derive from different ways of processing them. Through this sort of process, the company found out that a mung bean protein isolate could be used to make JUST Egg, its new egg substitute.
Through this partnership, JUST is looking for some of Asia's best and brightest to help develop its findings into products. Not only does this bring a new set of people into figuring out new solutions with JUST's products, but it also helps the company build more of a consumer base in Asia. This is a smart move for any company. As the world's economies grow and shift, Asia's middle class is quickly growing and developing. According to a 2017 study by the Brookings Institution cited by US News and World Report, 88% of the world's next 1 billion people to enter the middle class will be Asians. By 2030, there will be 3.5 billion people in the continent's middle class — 65% of the world's total. But the Asian middle class is already outspending its counterpart in the United States — representing 17% of global middle class spending, versus 13% in the U.S.
JUST has a history of working with local populations outside of the United States to create products that they enjoy. The company developed a porridge product called JUST Power Gari, which is sourced, manufactured and distributed in Liberia. The product was designed as something inexpensive and nutritious for Liberians who don't have much money to spend — but that can eventually turn a profit. Thomas Bowman, JUST’s lead research chef and creator of the Power Gari product, told Food Dive earlier this year about the different ideas the company tried to develop — and its work with local people — to come up with the right product. The partnership with Brinc, which will create products that would be more immediately lucrative for JUST, will easily capture the tastes and preferences of Asian consumers.
This is another step forward in a future which Tetrick has said he hopes is full of partnerships. Earlier this year, the company partnered with Italian egg company Eurovo to produce and distribute JUST Egg there.
"We find stuff, we make our stuff, we put JUST on it," Tetrick told Food Dive this summer. "Then we find these forward-thinking companies around the world that have this exponential potential, we transfer the technology to them, and we ask them to go do their thing and hopefully we step back, and in a handful of years, we've done our part to make the food system a little bit better."
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