Investing in the Future of Food

Chocolate minus cocoa? Peanut butter minus peanuts? Voyage Foods wants to ‘decouple’ food from its source material to ease negative environmental, social implications

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Investing in the Future of Food Sustainability

Climate change, labor shortages, inflation and strained supply chains threaten manufacturers’ and suppliers’ ability to ethically source, safely produce and efficiently deliver the foods consumers want at prices they can afford -- but what if there was a way to reproduce today’s top foods by swapping out problematic ingredients with ones that are more sustainably and equitably produced, and just as nutritious and delicious?

The founder of food-tech startup Voyage Foods​ says he has found a way to do just that by using patent-pending technology that can recreate any non-fibrous food with real ingredients at an accessible price and without negative environmental or social implications.

“At its most primitive level, what we’re really trying to do is decouple food and food products from their source material. How do we make X without the traditional input for X? So things like cacao-free chocolate, coffee bean free coffee beverages and peanut free peanut butter,”​ founder Adam Maxwell told FoodNavigator-USA.

He explained the goal of swapping source ingredients is to “fill the delta between supply and demand curves”​ and improve accessibility of products as climate change, labor challenges and supply chain struggles hinder traditional production of much-loved foods.

To achieve these ambitious goals, Voyage Foods’ combines data analytics to identify viable alternative ingredient combinations and analytical chemistry, sensory and flavor science and food matrix chemistry to replicate the flavor, function and nutrition of the original food.

Voyage Foods skips ‘scary chemicals,’ favors traditional processing

Maxwell stressed that the company isn’t using any “scary chemicals,” but rather real ingredients, such as grape seed fat, sunflower meal, sugar, salts and natural flavors to replicate traditional chocolate but without the cacao. Likewise, he said, the company uses the same processing techniques used by the original foods to reproduce the function, mouth feel and other attributes of the original product in a non-threatening manner.

While Voyage Foods’ technology can be used to recreate any non-fibrous food, it is focusing first on making chocolate without cacao, coffee without coffee beans, and peanut butter without peanuts. The last of which is slated to hit food service and retail in November.

“Our go to market strategy will be launching with some select foodservice partners and really targeting on the allergen-free side,”​ such as schools, hotels and large venues, and conscious consumers, he said.

‘My hope is that we launch at least one product in a new category every year’

Much of Voyage Foods’ progress to date has been made possible by a $6m seed fundraise that closed in February, which was led by Valor Siren Ventures and Horizons Ventures. But to bring the products to shelf and further build out manufacturing capabilities, the company is currently raising its Series A round, which should close soon with double-digits.

“My hope is that we launch at least one product in a new category every year for the next five years,”​ so that we can demonstrate the health benefits and the capacity and capability of this technology, Maxwell said.

At the same time, he added, Voyage Foods will remain a mission-driven food company that believes in and does the right thing.

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