Meat That Matters
November 15 2022|
The story of two entrepreneurs on a mission to impact global communities with shelf-stable plant-based protein. High Time Foods empowers chefs with a nutritious, shelf-stable, cuisine-agnostic, plant-based meat-alternative that’s better for people and the planet.
It’s High Time for Change
Having grown up in a family of business-owners in India, Aakash Shah was no stranger to the world of startups. He’d already built and successfully exited his ghost kitchen startup by the time he began his MBA in Boston. His experience, however, witnessing the tremendous waste created by meat production, processing, and preparation in restaurants would leave a lasting impression on him. Surrounded by the realities of food insecurity brought on by climate change, he felt it was high time for him to do more for people and the planet.
The Future is Plant-Based
The knowledge that current food production has an effect on the environment is not new. According to an article in the Atlantic, food production accounts for about a quarter of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Research shows that even reducing our meat consumption by 25% could have a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gases. Market trends reflect that consumers are catching on and shifting their consumption habits. The global sales of plant-based dairy and meat alternatives reached $29.4 billion in 2020, and could increase to $162 billion by 2030.
Connecting Over Food and Planet
During his MBA, Aakash would connect with his future co-founder, Damian Felchlin, over their passion for food that was better for people and for the planet. Damian grew up in a small town in Switzerland where people’s connection to nature was deeply integrated into all aspects of life. Having spent time working in the food import industry in the US and advising over 20 food companies throughout his career, Damian was also eager to support food solutions that could slow or prevent climate change, rather than contribute to it. A friendship between the entrepreneurs would soon turn into a perfect business partnership.
Thinking Beyond the Burger
Both Damian and Aakash were well-aware of the success of the multi billion-dollar plant-based food industry and the market teeming with meat alternatives, but they had always felt something was missing. The chefs and food service providers they had worked with and their vegan, vegetarian, or even “flexitarian” friends trying to reduce their meat consumption were tired of cooking and eating the same thing: plant-based burgers or nuggets. As Aakash recently shared during his pitch for the Techstars Boston Demo Day, food is so much more than just burgers and nuggets. “Food is multicultural and diverse. When you think of food, you think of tacos, dumplings, meatballs, kebabs.” He then invites the audience to imagine a world where all of these foods could be plant-based.
Multicultural Solutions that Empower Chefs
Together, Aakash and Damian have done more than just imagine a world of better plant-based food – they are working to build one. Taking feedback and learnings from over 50 chefs, they spent months creating a minced chicken alternative that’s actually chef AND consumer-approved. Unlike many products on the market, their minced chicken is made of ingredients you can actually pronounce, like wheat, pea protein, and mung beans. Because of its moldability and versatility, the plant-based meat can be easily adapted for any cuisine and any recipe that might call for minced chicken. Therefore, chefs won’t have to compromise their cultural roots or their creativity in order to create plant-based versions of their customers’ favorite menu items.
A Greater Impact
Helping chefs provide delicious plant-based meals to their customers is one way that High Time Foods is already having an impact. They launched at Phinix Mediterranean Kitchen, an award-winning Boston-based catering company, and can now also be found on the menu at the popular Mexican food chain, Boloco. While they started their journey serving the local Boston community, their ultimate goal is to have a global impact. Most of the current plant-based protein options are designed for a North American market. Not only do many plant-based meat alternatives only come in the form of burgers and nuggets, but they also require refrigeration. In a world where an estimated 3.5 billion people do not have access to reliable electricity, High Time Food’s shelf-stable plant-based chicken alternative is poised to provide a critical source of nutrition to areas without a cold supply chain.
When asked about the future of High Time Foods, their vision is clear:
“We know that in the future most of our protein will come from plants. We are building products for a future in which everyone can access nutritious plant-based protein.”