Reflecting on Expo West
By Ravi Jhala
Last week, several members of our team spent an incredible few days back in person on the floor at Expo West. Amid the seemingly insurmountable challenges our global population has faced and continues to face, we saw an energizing tenacity for creating a food system which will support generations to come. It was the best of what Expo West stands for. And it left us feeling optimistic about the many collaborators on our mission to create a more sustainable tomorrow.
After spending some time reflecting on what we heard, we wanted to take a moment to share what we see as our three biggest takeaways, which will help inform our path and growth from here.
The resounding refrain we heard at Expo West was: we all have the same goal. The climate challenge we face is too large for any one solution, and it’s too urgent for any one industry or company to tackle on its own. If we’re going to meet this head on, we heard from so many of our friends, new and old, there’s a need for multiple solutions to help create a sustainable next chapter for our food system. We need to celebrate, support, and share with one another.
What does this charge us with? For one- we feel a renewed vigor in scaling our collaborative business model. We’ve set ourselves up not to keep the impact of our technology to ourselves, but to share it as far and wide as possible. We offer our ingredient to companies big and small who want to use our protein as a tool in their own sustainability mission — including our partners Natreve and N!ck’s and brands Brave Robot and Coolhaus who were there with us last week . And we offer our state-of-the-art facilities and expertise to a broad base of food, life sciences, and biopharmaceutical customers who want to create their own kinder, greener offerings.
Beyond an invigorated commitment to our approach, it also showed us how many more potential partners we have both in formal business endeavors and in collaborative thinking. We know that not everyone welcomes our technology — and that’s okay. If they are working on a kinder, greener tomorrow, we celebrate that deeply mission-aligned work. And we will continue doing the same.
Diverse Future of Food
Another important point we heard, which is intrinsically tied to our first takeaway, is: a sustainable future food system is a diverse one. There is no one silver bullet: the needs of our consumers are too diverse, and we need to work towards more sustainable offerings for every single one.
What we saw beautifully represented at Expo West this year is that the sustainable future of food will be one where animal-free proteins live alongside sustainably grown and produced plant-based products and traditional products from producers using regenerative, ethical farming practices. It’s why we can’t do this alone. We are taking our animal-free piece of the puzzle and running full speed ahead at scaling its impact as far as possible. And we are counting on our counterparts in the plant-based and traditional industries to do the same.
Transparently Moving Forward
For our final takeaway, we heard a resounding agreement on our shared path forward being a transparent one: people want to deeply understand what they feed themselves and their families. We continue to admire Expo West’s commitment to transparency. They opened a dialogue about the opportunity of this long-standing technology to affect change in our food industry. By engaging biotechnology in the conversation, they empowered their community to continue to make informed decisions about what they want to eat for themselves and for our planet. We were so glad to be able to answer questions and share what kinder, greener means to us.
Expo West reaffirmed for us that we should continue to show up and to share. We’ve taken the first steps in diving deep on what we do on our owned channels and everywhere we show up externally. In sharing data on every aspect of our process to understand its impact in our lifecycle assessment. In proactively giving full access to our technology and our protein for analysis by the FDA. We’ll continue to share openly until people are as comfortable with our protein as they are with the other food solutions our technology has enabled for decades — rennet in cheese, probiotics, citric acid, amino acids, and more.
And even so, we know there will always be people who opt not to eat foods made with our protein. That’s why we need sustainable producers of plant-based and traditional options. Our friends in those industries will be there to meet the needs of those consumers.
Where should we be by Expo West 2023?
This year’s event sparked dialogue and underscored more than a year’s worth of challenges. What do we hope for by next year? We hope that every company represented there has continued to scale their impact, learn from one another, and share openly about what this means to and for consumers. We hope that consumers have begun to understand that they don’t ever need to compromise the future of our planet — we are all hard at work making sure every consumer has access to foods which meet their preferences, budget, nutrition, and dietary needs, while securing the same for their children and grandchildren. And we hope that at Expo West 2023 we’re engaging in a meaningful dialogue about how we support the many workers it took to produce those sustainable products. We’re all getting started now to make meaningful strides on these significant conversations in 52 weeks.
We can’t wait to see what our kinder, greener collaborators do in a year.