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"I wasn't aware it was a competition." Christopher Kong of the UK based start-up Better Nature was surprised when he was told that his presentation had won the EFIB 2020 Digital Start-up Pitch competition.
Editorial office / Brussels

Better Nature is a company with roots in Indonesia, where tempeh has been made for centuries: a meat substitute made from fermented soybeans. The company adapted the traditional recipe to modern times and now makes a complete product line based on soy, but also grains and proteins. The original fermentation time was reduced by 55% to just 18 hours, allowing the product to be efficiently produced on an industrial scale as well. The CO2 footprint of the product is 45% smaller than that of beef.

Kong points out that they hit the shelvers at the right time: plant-based meat became mainstream in 2019. Many new suppliers of meat substitutes have an eye for the taste and texture of their product, but overlook two aspects that consumers consider important when making their choice in the supermarket: an affordable price and health.

Conquering the market

By focusing more on these aspects, Better Nature has rapidly conquered the market in the UK. The product became commercially available in January 2020 and is now, ten months later, already available at 200 supermarkets. Within two months it was the third best selling meat-free product on Amazon UK. And during the corona lockdown, the company achieved a revenue growth of 4,500 percent.

The jury of the Digital Start-up Forum was impressed, said Cindy Gerhardt, director of Planet, who presented the prize virtually on behalf of the jury: “In such a short time they brought a range of products on the market; many other start-ups will envy it. The jury also believes that Better Nature beautifully combines a traditional dish with modern biotechnology, resulting in a healthy, clean label, high in protein, low in fat, vegetable and sustainably produced product.”

The prize consists of one hour of coaching with one of the experts from DSM or Planet.Bio.


The winner of the scientific posters presentations at EFIB was Sylvain Carcelle, business development manager of Bioréa (France), who developed the innovative ‘continuous airlift’ fermentation technology with which remarkably high cell concentrations can be achieved. Cindy Gerhardt: “The jury was very impressed by their fermentation system for chlorella, which has been active for six months without contamination, but also by the passionate presentation and expertise with which Sylvain was able to answer questions afterwards.”

EFIB 2021

The awards ceremony marked the close of EFIB 2020. EFIB is the leading European conference for industrial biotechnology, which took place digitally this week. Next year, EFIB 2021 is expected to take place physically again, on October 6-7 in Vienna, Austria. For more information, see the EFIB website.

Image: Better Nature