The Green(wise) Journey

In this blog, we look at the journey of Russian plant-based meat startup Greenwise from our second cohort. Learn about how they got started, burst onto the Russian food market, and what the team is up to now.

Picture this: it’s March 2019 and we’re in Berlin. Dressed in their Greenwise company aprons, co-founders George, Julia, and Tim are running hurriedly to hand out samples of their plant-based jerky to eager attendees of the New Food Conference, Europe’s first conference to focus exclusively on alternative proteins. This would be the trio’s international debut in the food innovation space and the beginning of their relationship with ProVeg. 

Just a few weeks later, Greenwise would join our second cohort of startups, along with ten other promising companies. Among the batch, the startups all had different products and services, but they shared a common mission. They work to reduce the global consumption of animal-based products and joined the Incubator to improve and scale their businesses.

The Greenwise team: Artem Ponomarev, Julia Marsel, and George Zheleznyi

In a diverse cohort comprised of plant-based companies from New Zealand, Hong Kong, Italy, and Germany, Greenwise represented Russia. According to a recent survey, only 1% of the Russian population follows a vegetarian diet and over one third believe excluding meat from your diet is harmful to health. Despite this, the Greenwise vision was clear from the beginning: to become the leading players in plant-based products in Russia. 

Riding the protein wave

The Greenwise team creates products that don’t just imitate the taste and consistency of animal meat but are also versatile and affordable. By using plant proteins, including soy and wheat, they developed a product line of plant-based beef, chicken, and lamb jerky. These snacks contain up to 65% protein. The company’s production facility in the Russian Kaluga region uses innovative technology to create a high-fibrous structure. This helps to gives their meat alternatives chewiness and the texture of conventional meat.

100% Plant-based jerky products from Russian startup Greenwise 

When George, Julia, and Tim came to ProVeg Incubator, they wanted us to help them refine their business strategy. They were clear about their mission, had an attractive product, and were confident that they were the right team to execute.

During the (then) four months of our programme, the team operated between Moscow, where they were based, and Berlin. While with us in Berlin, they attended our exclusive workshops, connected with peers and expert mentors, and worked closely with our Incubator team to build their business. We also took them to exhibit at Seeds & Chips in Milan, Italy. This fair is the world’s leading food innovation summit, where companies can showcase products and validate ideas.  

Up, up, and away…

At the end of the programme, Greenwise pitched their startup in front of high-profile investors at our Demo Day closing event. Here, they surprised guests with a brand new product – Greenwise burgers – demonstrating their technological capabilities and making a clear statement that favorite foods can be made deliciously from plants. The judges awarded Greenwise second place for products and innovation. 

Plant-based burger patty from Greenwise launched at the ProVeg Incubator Demo Day in 2019

Since graduating from the Incubator, the team has continued to push forward and are becoming the rising stars of plant-based meat in Russia. In August 2019, they announced their market launch with a roll-out of their products in over 1,000 Russian stores. To date, their products can be purchased at over 2,000 locations throughout Russia. Their product line has also expanded and now includes three plant-based alternatives: high-fiber vegan meat, dried vegan meat, and vegan ham.

Almost a year since their first showcase, the grass is looking a lot greener over on the Greenwise side. However, we like to think that their journey is just beginning. The team continues to strive towards its goal, to consolidate themselves as key players in the plant-based industry in Russia and beyond. And in this way, move closer to the mission that brought them to ProVeg Incubator in the first place: to remove animals from the food system and create a fairer, healthier, and more sustainable system for us all.

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