We are partnering with NX-Food

ProVeg Incubator is delighted to announce a new partnership with NX-Food, to accelerate innovation in the plant-based space!

NX-Food stands for Next Generation Food and is a food innovation hub of the wholesaler METRO. The hub was founded in March 2018 and is based in Düsseldorf, Germany, covering topics such as alternative protein sources, sustainable food solutions, food waste reduction, and vertical farming. The team works on innovative and functional food concepts for gastronomy and also for end consumers. We spoke with Valerie Karahan, Digital Marketing and Communications Manager, to bring you more information about NX-Food and how we’ll be working together.

What is the mission of NX-Food and how is it working to achieve this?

“Food is no longer just about the taste and fulfiling our basic needs. It brings numerous additional functions: improves our health, helps us be more productive, directly impacts life expectancy and quality, and constitutes an important part of The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Diets are becoming lifestyles; our food choices manifest our values and priorities. Advances in food technology are providing innovative solutions to minimise food waste and environmental pollution, as well as find new protein-rich replacements.

Our mission is to enrich and inspire the food system, encourage innovation, promote sustainable living and move with change. We open the door to new, ingenious tastes and make them accessible to the general public. NX-Food’s responsibility at METRO is to introduce innovative and trendy food products to METRO customers. With its Startup Shelf Programme, NX-Food educates METRO customers on food trends and organizes startup food tastings for store visitors.”

NX-Food team, credit: NX-Food

Can you tell us about some of the most exciting startups that NX-Food has worked with?

“Our story started with the first wholesale listing of an insect-based product in Germany. In March 2018, we presented cricket pasta from Plumento at METRO Germany Startup Shelves, just three months after the new EU directive on novel food came into force.

Since then, we have test-listed more than 70 startups from eight countries. Some companies have a charity mission or work with sustainability topics. Unverschwendet and DÖRRWERK for example make products from “saved” fruits and vegetables, while HALM produces glass straws to reduce plastic consumption and Lycka buys one meal for a school kid in Burundi for every sold product.

We are always excited to discover products with a unique concept — like basil syrup Blütenrein or plant-based burger patties Moving Mountains. However, the most popular products combine a somewhat familiar taste with a twist, convenient packaging, and a well-defined niche. Flavored popcorn from Wildcorn, Uwe non-alcoholic craft beers, and caramelized almonds by BiteBox performed extremely well in our programme.”

Why are NX-Food and ProVeg Incubator working together? 

“ProVeg Incubator has successfully hosted three plant-based and cultivated food startup cohorts, with a fourth coming in spring. NX-Food has also been cooperating with innovative food and beverage products for almost two years and has over 800 startups in its community.

As we both work with many European startups, the companies will benefit from mutual cooperation and knowledge sharing. We also see ProVeg Incubator as a reliable partner when it comes to sustainability topics. Plant-based products have a positive impact on the food system and global health. As NX-Food works with professional gastronomy customers, it is our task to educate them on the long-term consequences of their food choices and also demonstrate the benefits of sustainable alternatives.”

NX-Food startup shelf, credit: NX-Food

How will NX-Food and ProVeg Incubator collaborate?

“The main purpose of our partnership is to jointly accelerate food innovation in the plant-based space. We will establish an ongoing exchange to share insights, co-organise national and international projects, and also promote deal flow. This will include facilitating access to each other’s programmes for startups.

NX-Food will invite ProVeg and its startups to our Meetup series — Rising Spoon and FoodTech Meetup —  in Berlin and Düsseldorf. We will also be there for the Incubator Demo Days and the New Food Conference in Berlin this April!

NX-Food experts can join the ProVeg Incubator mentor panel and share their experience in the food industry. Last but not least, we will also rely on ProVeg Incubator expertise when selecting plant-based products for our Startup Shelf Program or other programmes and events that we organise in future.”

ProVeg Incubator focuses on plant-based and cultivated products, while NX-Food considers all food innovations. What will this difference mean for the collaboration?  

“Ask any food expert for the most prominent food innovation trends, and plant-based and cultivated products will top their list. Most large corporates are producing plant-based milk and meat substitutes in-house or investing in independent brands and R&D teams.

Every FoodTech accelerator has at least one startup per cohort that works on plant-based products or cultivated meat or seafood. In fact, the current NX-Food Startup Shelf consists exclusively of plant-based products: Swiss-Philippine coconut spread SAGANÀ, Italian plant-based meat from Food Evolution, Pulled Oats from the Finnish food brand Gold&Green, and seaweed wraps from the Dutch company Seamore.

While the scope of startups we work with is broader, ProVeg Incubator has significantly more experience and much deeper familiarity with plant-based and cultivated products. This will be a valuable asset to our collaboration.”

Moving Mountains, plant-based burger

How can startups get involved with the NX-Food Startup Shelf Program? 

“We accept applications from the food startups on an ongoing basis via our website. At the moment, startups can apply for a listing at our partner METRO Germany and METRO Austria stores. All the eligibility requirements are listed on our FAQ page.  We are passionate about food-tech and are always eager to discover new products and also meet food enthusiasts. If you want to get to know us, introduce your product, share your ideas, attend one of our meetups, invite us to your event, or organize something cool together, drop us a message at [email protected]!”

NX-Food cooperates with the German Institute for Food Technology (DIL), Wageningen University and Research and Kinneret Academic College. This is in order to be up to date with progressive food solutions. With the Fraunhofer Society, NX-Food is researching the vertical farming industry. As of 2019, NX-Food along with METRO is one of the founding members of the new Association for Alternative Protein Sources (BALPro).

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