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Veganism and Plant-based Food Startups in Korea

The Korean government is dedicating more resources to help food entrepreneurs find the tools they need to succeed. One example is the A+ Startup Center run by the Foundation of Agriculture, Tech, Commercialization, and Transfer. They hold a yearly business incubation meeting and the theme this year was veganism. The Korean language event was called Be건- 자연과 우리를 위한 건강한 식탁 (Vegan- Food for our health and nature).

“To Love or to Eat?” Lecture by Vegan Film Director Yun Hwang

The session began with a 40-minute presentation from vegan film director and author Yun Hwang. Ms. Hwang built a career examining the relationship between human and non-human animals. She recently published a book for the local market called 사랑할까 먹을까 or Love them or eat them? Her presentation featured a great rundown on the many ethical, environmental, and health reasons to reduce or eliminate animal products from our diet. She also described the great progress she sees around the world and even here in Korea. She discussed the Innovation and Sustainability Conference, which was held in Seoul in 2018 and featured speakers from some of the world’s best plant-based and clean meat food startups. She also mentioned Beyond Meat, which recently launched in the Korean market through an exclusive partnership with Korean food manufacturer Dongwon F&B.

Trends and Implications of Alternative Animal Products by Dr. Lee Jeong Min

Dr. Lee of the Korea Rural Economic Institute gave a brief presentation about the history and future of meat replacement products in Asia. He mentioned that products like tofu, tempeh and seitan have been around for a long time but that they only appeal to a small segment of the population. In order to go mainstream, we need to develop really delicious plant-based products that appeal to consumers as much as animal-based products. He introduced some trends that are happening abroad and mentioned companies like Ocean Hugger Foods, a vegan sushi company, and The Good Dot, a plant-based meat company based in India.

Plant-based Food Startups in Korea

There were six startups introduced at the event and all of them are active in the domestic plant-based food space. Links and English name provided where available.

The Plant Eat (더플랜잇)

The Plant Eat is a food tech startup that recently secured roughly 1.3 million dollars in its series A investment round. See the video below to learn more.

We recently ran into The Plant Eat team at the Vegan Festa in January 2019

Zikooin Company (지구인컴퍼니)

The Zikooin Company has a variety of food related initiatives including making food products out of ugly, un-sellable fruit, a plant-based meat alternative made from brown rice and nuts, and biodegradable food packaging.

A Milky (아밀키)

A Milky offers plant-based beverage products such as Another Milk (almond and cashew base), a coffee/breakfast drink called Another Coffee, guilt-free chocolate called Zero Chocolate and plant-based ice cream.

Vegut Lab ( 버거트랩 )

Vegut Lab produces 100% plant-based, lactose and gluten free yogurt in coconut, almond and soy. Certified vegan.

The Paradigm Lab ( 더패러다임랩)

The Paradigm Lab researches and develops food products that are perfect for sustainable living. Products include Vegan Protein TM, (free of animal ingredients, soy and wheat) and The Cereal Project

편안함 (no link or English name available)

Develops cheese, butter and crackers based on years of experience in fine dining.

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