11:32- Unhealthy Meat Alternatives
11:32 - The Fermentation Process
20:14 - Getting the Bio Swiss Label
25:47 - Getting into the biggest Swiss retailers
32:04 - Participating in Venture Kick
Tobias Kistler is a co-founder of Luya, a foodtech startup creating deliciously sustainable vegan alternatives to meat. He holds an MA from the ETH Zürich and previously worked as a researcher at the Berner Fachhochschule.
Luya has found a way to provide meat alternatives which are both delicious and healthy through a clever use of fermentation, i.e., the process which brings us beloved foods like beer and bread. Luya also manages to be incredibly sustainable, because what they ferment to make their delicious paddies is okara, the leftover pulp from soybean pressing, together with chickpeas. The 24h fermentation process changes these two ingredients in terms of texture (making it elastic and juicy), taste (delicious) and bioavailability (high for all of its compounds, which make up a full aminoacid profile).
They source both their soybeans and their chickpeas from Switzerland and Northern Italy, and have managed to earn the coveted Bio Swiss Label. Adapting their product to match the Bio Swiss criteria meant being able to choose from a smaller pool of soybean/chickpea producers, and paying more for these raw materials, but this added cost is made up for by the fact that sporting a Bio Swiss label allows Luya to charge higher prices.
They had a relatively easy time getting into big supermarkets, since nowadays the current health and sustainability trends are pushing these companies to want to be on the forefront of food innovation.
Luya benefitted from funds from the Gebert Rüft foundation when they participated in the First Ventures program, in VentureKick, and in Innobooster (since these programs are all associated with the foundation). In between programs they also raised a bridge round with Gebert Rüft acting as an intermediary, and raised money from the VC fund Red Alpine.
“You want an ingredient that gives you freedom, that is a bit of a blank canvas for you to play with. That’s why chefs like using our product.”
“At the end of the day, when you come from a stressful day at work, you want to be able to whip up a nice meal that’s healthy and makes you feel good.”
To listen to more episodes on vegan alternatives, check out our conversation with Freddy Hunziker.
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