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🍏 Proteins from & for the Planet

My Climate Journey

Photo by LikeMeat / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Jason Jacobs
Guest: Kimberlie Le | CEO & Co-Founder | Prime Roots
Category: 🍏 Sustainable Food

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[4:08] “At Prime Roots, we're […] making meat from koji. And koji is a beloved traditional Japanese fungi. If you've had miso or soy sauce, you've had koji before. It's actually what is used to biotransform the soy into umami rich paste or umami rich sauce […]. We've said okay, so koji can power transform these materials, what about in and of itself, so pure koji. […] Koji grows this mycelium that is really fibrous and well textured, identically to the texture of animal muscle fiber. It also obviously produces these umami rich compounds that are also found in meat. And so what we do is we grow the koji in a liquid culture […] [to get] this texture of chicken breast. So from there, it's really this building block to build any type of meat and any type of seafood. […] So whether it be bacon or lobster, it's just a matter of tuning the fat, the flavor, and the color to really get it to a place where it resembles the meat that we know and love.

[7:15] “We were learning that animal agriculture accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than all of transportation combined. […] There's so many reasons why to eat less meat, and just really learning about the inefficiencies, like why do we have to feed an animal 40 calories, just to get one out? That's 39 perfectly good human food calories just wasted. So I really started to think about first principles, how could we solve this problem in a more efficient way? How can we solve this problem in a way that actually checks all the boxes for us as meat eaters that will actually want to make these simple swaps.”

[13:36] “At the end of the day, taste wins and product wins. […] I was shocked that over 90% of the products I tried were still “bad”. […] I just felt that there weren't that many products that really met me where I was as a meat eater. […] So it's really thinking about the functionality and the experience of meat, that’s something that I think not very many companies have.”

[18:34] “Because we're building a whole new category of koji meat […] what we have to do […] for the first few years of life is validate that koji meat and koji protein could truly be a platform. And so to do that, we had to create a lot of different protein form factors. […] We now know we can make everything from really a lobster texture, that's a lot more fun to a bacon texture. We know that we can tune the flavors. […] We can tackle every single vertical within the protein space and that is a trillion dollar industry. […] And so the exercise we've gotten through more recently […] is really the focus of where we're going to be applying our technology.”

[26:13] “We actually started in seafood. It was a huge whitespace, it still is a huge whitespace. […] We were just prototyping […] [with] different flavors of salmon. And it was great. […] But as we were testing the product, we're seeing [that] it's pretty polarizing […]. The way you experience an alternative seafood product differs so much based on whether or not you eat seafood frequently. We saw that if you had fish two or three times a week, a certain level of “fishiness” was noticeable and you liked it versus like that same level for someone who rarely eats fish was like a turn off. And we're like, we can't win here. There's so many different interpretations. And then half the people we talked to just didn't like seafood. It's a huge market, though. […] Seafood is [about] 40% of protein consumption.”

[40:12] “In 10 years, it's really [about] flipping the narrative between alternative and conventional in our categories. […] If you look at plant based dairies not that long ago, they were like single digits percentage penetration. Now it's almost 20%. And if you look at […] the things that have happened, it's better product, better functionality, better taste. But also, if you walk into a Blue Bottle Coffee today, the default is […] oat milk. […] The fact that the conventional, the default option at a coffee chain […] is an alternative milk, that's what I want us to be at hopefully sooner than even 10 years from now. Why does it have to be called alternative meat? It's just meat. […] We want to really flip that narrative to have the “alternative”, or hopefully the koji meat, being a big part of that transition and the shift towards flipping the narrative.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google (Original Title: "Startup Series: Prime Roots")
🕰️ 52 min | 🗓️ 02/03/2022
✅ Time saved: 50 min

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