Protein Production Technology International announces Meatless Farm's Karl Williams as first Editorial Advisory Board member
Future Proof Group Media, the publisher of Protein Production Technology International, which launches on 29th July, has revealed Karl Williams as the first of eight members of its Editorial Advisory Board.
Williams is the Global Technical Director at Meatless Farm and with 33 years’ experience in the food sector is eminently qualified to join the Board to help steer the content and quality of editorial within the soon-to-be-launched video-first B2B publication for the alt proteins sector – the world’s first dedicated technical magazine 100% devoted to the space.
“The food industry is an incredible place to work, and I have been fortunate to have worked in some great category areas, both in manufacturing and retail, having spent eight years at Marks and Spencer,” Williams explains. “Plant-based for me is very exciting and offers a different perspective as to how we tackle some of the long-term systemic issues revolving around how we feed an ever-growing population.”
But it’s not just the wider societal issue for Williams. “It’s another learning of how to produce products that appeal – understanding a new technological area of the food industry that unlocks so many exciting and future possibilities,” he adds. “My drive is wanting to understand and gaining new knowledge that I can share and use to support other food businesses in producing great products that appeal to customers.”
Williams was approached by Meatless Farm two-and-a-half years ago to head up its technical and product development function, developing and producing plant-based products. “It all started with mince, burgers and sausages and was quite a small sector of the food industry,” he recalls. “How time flies! And what an explosion of plant-based products we have in the sector today, not to mention new ingredients, new proteins and technologies. It’s a constantly moving area, which is growing week on week.”
And that’s exactly the notion behind the launch of Protein Production Technology International. The sector has transitioned from being an experimental offshoot of food, a chance for some to greenwash, into a burgeoning industry of its own. It needs its own dedicated platform. It just so happens that the publisher of this new magazine is going to disseminate the information to readers in a variety of ways, with video interviews forming the basis of the magazine’s articles – so you can watch, read and even listen to the very latest developments in this fast-paced, dynamic sector.
“Everyone wants to be involved in the sector and launching a new product is what keeps it exciting for customers,” Williams continues. “At Meatless Farm, we recently launched a chicken breast into retail and food-service. It’s received great reviews and is not like any other on the market, due to its texture.”
Of course, Meatless Farm’s Global Technical Director pays close attention to other developments in the industry, reinforcing the community spirit that seems to exist. “I think the white fish recently announced by Jack & Bry will be an interesting one to watch,” he notes.
Williams and his team have succeeded in achieving what many start-ups can only dream of – getting products into the mainstream, onto shelves. “Having a clear product offering and development cycle that reflects that of the retailers is really important,” he advises. “They have specific launch windows that they use for go-to-market opportunities. I think brands such as Meatless Farm play a vital role in driving customers to the retailers and this is critically important to continue the pace within the plant-based sector. They are all looking at brands to show them the next-big thing which excites customers and drives more value and volume. Launching products is always exciting but creating a plant-based company and seeing products on the shelves of supermarkets, not just here in the UK, but in Europe and the USA, is a pretty great achievement for the whole of the business.”
But succeeding in this marketplace is not without its challenges, as Williams points out. “Nutritional formulations, clean declarations and sustainability are three of the big challenges and key for the plant-based sector to resolve,” he cautions. “Having a product that is sustainable and nutritionally balanced is what everyone is striving for – making it clean in its ingredients it vital to success. There is a lot of talk about plant-based products being ultra-high-processed (UHP) and this along with sustainability are questions all customers are asking. Ingredients need to be developed that match the aspiration – these are not readily available but definitely a goal and a focus.”
Judging by the almost daily announcements of huge investments in the space, alternative proteins are seemingly a rewarding sector. But what are the risks that come with those potential rewards? “We have to be transparent about what we do in the industry and how we do it,” Williams says, citing recent newspaper articles and negative press. “With so much IP in the sector, though, manufacturers don’t want to share this. I also think that protein sources are a risk and developing these to match meat equivalents needs to be addressed and this links to health – obesity is a real risk so we have to make plant-based alternatives a healthier, more sustainable option for customers.”
In his role on Protein Production Technology International, Williams will be guiding the editorial team with an insider’s knowledge of more than three decades in food, more recently spearheading a successful plant-based brand. He is excited by the opportunity and especially by some of the innovations that will be featured as we move into a new era in food production. “I think we will see more whole cuts such as steak, joints, etc,” he predicts. “I think we will also see more added value, flavor options and complete meal solutions that support customer choice and innovate within this category. And lastly, I think more ‘ready-to-eat’ options are needed and the development of great-tasting products such as sliced cooked ‘meats’.”
The other seven members of the Board will be introduced to you all in the coming days. For now, welcome to the team Karl!
Protein Production Technology International launches on 29th July 2022. To subscribe for free, please register here
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