Not Company SpA has come up with some innovative recipes for its meat and dairy alternatives, with the help of an artificial intelligence platform called Giuseppe. Ingredients in NotMilk, NotCo’s plant-based milk, include pineapple juice, cabbage juice, and pea protein. Their NotBurger contains beet juice powder, pea and rice proteins, bamboo fiber and chia protein concentrate. But Giuseppe’s work is never done, and the war in Ukraine is disrupting the supply of a key component in both products: sunflower oil.
Food scientists at the startup in Santiago have asked Giuseppe to find a replacement that can mimic the neutral flavor and other prized characteristics of sunflower oil, an ingredient in more than a third of all hamburgers, nuggets, sausages and other plant-based meats. alternatives, according to the Good Food Institute. The substitute could include a combination of different types of fats, but not unsustainable palm oil, says Matías Muchnick, the company’s 33-year-old co-founder and CEO. “What NotCo is trying to do is offer an industry-wide solution,” he says.
The AI platform, which has previously made recipe adaptations to enable NotCo to cope with pea protein shortages, gives the company an advantage as the growing industry faces constraints. More than 800 factories around the world will be needed to meet demand for plant-based protein by 2030, with construction and operating costs exceeding $27 billion, according to GFI estimates. “We need to be doing these things yesterday, to be able to look through the supply chain and figure out what bottlenecks might be occurring,” says Priera Panescu, plant specialist at GFI. “This kind of technology can help a lot with that.”
Backed by investors including billionaire Jeff Bezos, restaurateur Danny Meyer, and Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, NotCo was valued at $1.5 billion after a funding round in July 2021. It has partnerships with Burger King. , Shake Shack and Starbucks, and will soon introduce a joint venture with Kraft Heinz Co. to develop co-branded plant-based products. Since its founding in 2015, NotCo has expanded throughout much of Latin America, as well as Australia, Canada and the US This year it plans to launch products in Asia and Europe. In Chile, NotCo has captured a 5% market share of all burgers, according to the company.
NotCo’s goal is to create sustainable food products efficiently. “When you take the animal out of the equation and replace it with plants, everything becomes much more efficient, exponentially,” says Muchnick. Giuseppe has an extensive database that allows him to produce a formula to make a plant-based version of an animal product, taking into account aspects such as texture, taste, color and nutritional profile, says the director of technology and co-founder Karim Pichara. “All of those problems need the help of AI because without it, it could take years to find that formula.”