Israeli food-tech startup SavorEat is developing an automatic system for the production of various types of plant-based meat alternatives.
The company creates hamburgers at the push of a button. The hamburgers are made and prepared by a ‘robot chef’ in front of the consumers’ eyes. The purpose is to give the customer an eating experience that is as similar in taste and texture as possible to eating meat of animal origin, according to the consumer’s preferences and nutritional choices. Consumers always have the same experience of taste and texture when they come to order the hamburger portion they love most.
SavorEat offers benefits such as lower labor costs, vegan and allergen-free products, and the opportunity to customize dishes based on the customer’s tastes.
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In mid- January 2022, SavorEat successfully concluded the first commercial reveal event at BBB Herzliya. “The results were very promising”, says the CEO of SavorEat, Racheli Vizman proudly.”
Just a beginning of the Phenomenon
Vizman’s vision is very clear: “The growth rate in the meat alternatives market has been dizzying in recent years. It has risen by 43% compared to meat itself. Heavy meat-eaters will only me the transition if we create attractive enough alternatives.”
The dynamic CEO adds that another compelling factor relates to the price of its products. ‘‘We are in the world right now producing alternatives from plants or fermentation. That’s still just the beginning of the meat replacement phenomenon”.
Racheli Vizman is quite new to the foodtech industry but not far at all from entrepreneurship. She graduated from Ariel University with B.A. in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology and got her M.A. in International Business Management at Kellog School of Management at Northwestern University and Tel Aviv University.
Before the age of 23, Racheli Vitzman set up her first startup in engineering, in the fields of biotech, healthcare, and medical equipment. Ever since and along 16 years of her career both in the private and public sector, she has worked at medical technology companies in various management positions. The last one was a medical device company Beyond Air where she was COO.
A company was born
SavorEat was born out of a terrible medical episode Vitzman has had seven and a half years ago. “As a result,” she told Jewish Business News, “I had to make some radical changes regarding my diet-mainly regarding sugar, salts, carbohydrates, and fats (meat). I ate almost just zucchini and lettuce. Before, I did not pay so much attention to what I put into my mouth, whether it was good for me or not.”
Soon she lost a lot of her weight. “I am immediately recognized by my erupting energy. I have great joy of life, and I also make sure that people around me feel it too. But back then,” she continue with her story, “I got really depressed by my situation. I realized how significant nutrition is to physical and mental health.”
There comes the point where she has made a decision to engage in disease prevention. “I realized that maybe we should try to produce a product that is customized in order to save us from symptoms like diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disease,” she says. “It really excited me to develop something that no one has done yet. I identified a huge window of opportunity.”
There is now a flourishing, creative period that has quite a few players in the Food Tech market with known players.
Today meat alternatives take a share of only 1%. Israel is number 2 in the world in the number of players involved in this market. This is still a new trend. The expectation is the demand will grow to 10%.
During her market research and forecast of trends in the coming years, she has noticed that scientists are talking about food tech but hadn’t yet brought solutions.
How did you start your journey?
At first, I had no idea how to apply the vision to a technological essence. I did not know how to solve it technologically. But then I met my partners who are two distinguished professors from the faculty of agriculture in Rehovot (Hebrew University), Prof. Oded Shoseyov, a prominent entrepreneur, and Prof. Ido Braslavsky. I convinced them that the world is going in the direction of meat alternatives, building a better ecological world, and producing products from plants or other substitutes. From there, it evolved while we were brainstorming about the concept. Our team’s interpersonal connection has been excellent, to this day.
In 2018 we founded the meat alternatives company, SavorEat.
I was fascinated by the idea of building technology for production. We have developed it and made it possible.
What about raising money? How difficult was it?
It is not difficult for those who have good technology, product, business model, and strong network.
Printing meat production sounds very technical and daunting somehow…
I don’t see it this way. I am trying to be careful of 3D wording. It’s just stressing people out. By using the words ‘digital production’, we define the products through software. It enables us to play better with the ingredients and personal taste.
Name the advantage of 3D meat production compared with conventional ones?
The food is sophisticated because we produce the dish according to a personal taste and is ready to eat on the spot. Everything is done systematically and controlled. The consumer always has the same experience of taste and texture. That is very important to the customer. Since it is difficult to find a skilled workforce today, in restaurants, the technology also provides huge savings in manpower costs.
So, the Corona pandemic has given you a booster?
The corona intensified the manpower problem. I came across restaurants in the U.S that did not open at certain hours because they had no manpower. Our technology is easy to use. It is automatic working by software. There is no need to take a course to produce our product.
How much did you raise so far and do you plan an IPO in the U.S?
The company is listed on the Tel Aviv stock exchange. Eventually, we intend to issue stock in the US as well. But we should go step by step. In total, we raised about $20 million with government grants.
Do you aspire to connect with a giant company like McDonald’s?
We started in the US market. It takes time and certainly not a few months. We have an agreement with SODEXO US – they provide a combination of on-site food and facilities management services that involve, among others, US campuses. You mentioned McDonald’s. Changing even just for the French fries takes two to three years to go through all the decision-making process. As soon as we start with smaller chains, 100, 200 branches, I guess it will then also interest the big companies”.
What is your main target audience? Uniqueness?
“Carnivores who are looking for alternatives. Yes, they call them, flexitarians. The dish flavored according to your taste does not exist at all in any other platforms. This is our uniqueness. This sets us apart from other players in the market today. We do not have direct one-on-one competition. This leaves us room for maneuver, for collaborations with other players of meat alternatives. We actually have a kind of platform where you can incorporate additional elements. We allow mushrooms, fermentation, and other non-meat ingredients.
Your next move?
We are working on an egg substitute. We are not talking about the shape and appearance but the functionality of the egg mainly targeted to the industry (B2B). This is still in the product development stage.
But, we not only produce food but also harvest extremely accurate data on consumer behavior. It is a big asset. We know at any given moment, how many hamburgers customers ate, who ate, when was it, how many love our products, what extras they order and much more.