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FPP Chicago Speaker Interview: Udi Lazimy, Founder & Principal, Lazimy Regenerative Impact Partners

March 15, 2024

Founder of Lazimy Regenerative Impact Partners, Udi Lazimy details how his journey through sustainable sourcing began with mung beans and now encompasses strong relationships with suppliers across the globe

Udi Lazimy perfectly embodies that rather clichéd motivational phrase, ‘Be the change you want to see’. He became involved in food-tech after more than 10 years of working in federal conservation and sustainable agriculture policy advocacy. “I wasn’t seeing the change that I hoped for, and knew that I needed to join the private sector to move the needle on creating meaningful, substantial, positive change to the impact that the food system has on our planet.

“I started my MBA in Sustainable Business in San Francisco in 2015, and that same year I joined Hampton Creek, then a tiny food-tech startup. Fast-forward to three years later, and after traveling to over 80 countries to source unique protein-rich plants for Eat Just (which changed its name from Hampton Creek) to drive our automated research to discover and develop functional food applications for unique plants that I sourced, I brought mung beans from Inner Mongolia back to San Francisco. Thus, Just Egg was born, made with mung bean protein, which is today the most successful plant-based egg product in the world.”

After launching Just Egg and building the mung bean supply chain on a foundation of relationships with smallholder farmers around the world, Lazimy left to strike out on his own. “I now run an advisory and consulting business, Lazimy Regenerative Impact Partners,” he says. “We support both the largest plant-based food companies in the world, as well as the smallest start-ups, from Israel to the UK to the USA, in building sustainable supply chains, sourcing uniquely functional plant-based solutions, and developing business development strategies.”

He also runs a plant-based ingredient brokerage company, FUDI Ingredients, which leverages supply partnerships with growers and producers of crops and ingredients from around world to supply ingredients to food companies in the USA and elsewhere. “We also broker upcycled and surplus ingredients from large CPG companies, such as protein isolates, at steep discounts for use in the US market,” Lazimy adds.

Lazimy says that he works hand-in-hand with product developers to determine which unique proteins might work for their formulations and then building supply chains for them. “And perhaps most excitingly, I work with companies that are developing entirely new proteins that don’t yet have market presence, such as Rubisco, to build scaleable supply chains and marketing campaigns.”

Lazimy explains that he started his firm because most companies only have access to a very limited spectrum of conventionally, commercially produced proteins, such as pea, soy and, to a lesser degree, chickpea. “However, these proteins do not solve many of the problems that food innovators are trying to tackle, and new proteins are necessary. I also believe that we need to develop stronger relationships with farmers and more transparency in plant-based protein supply chains.”

I work with companies that are developing entirely new proteins that don’t yet have market presence, such as Rubisco, to build scaleable supply chains and marketing campaigns

And he seems to be filling this gap in the market nicely. Lazimy reports recent success stories involving helping a number of food-tech startups identify and source the right protein for their formulations, and “helping a very large CPG food company find buyers for its surplus proteins”, as well as developing opportunities to source Rubisco protein from agricultural residue, and co-authoring (with the Good Food Institute) a comprehensive report on the use of mung bean protein isolate in the food system.

Sustainability is at the heart of Lazimy’s work. He believes that economic incentives for both agriculture and food product innovation and market access need to be improved and strengthened. And he is calling for Increased funding and investment in formulation and product development as well. “Increased investment in public education about the benefit of alternative proteins is also important,” Lazimy says. “The private CPG sector should not have to bear the entire burden of educating consumers of the benefits of alternative proteins to our planet and societies, our health, and so on.”

With regard to the alt proteins industry itself and the issue of sustainable sourcing, Lazimy says that some of the biggest hurdles to overcome are the regulatory and policy challenges described above. “In many cases, it is simply too difficult to compete with high-yield, GMO or subsidized feed crops to produce sustainable crops,” he notes. “The economic headwinds that all CPG companies face (such as inflation, or consumer purchasing decisions) make it difficult for companies to lean into sourcing sustainable ingredients because they often have a price premium.”

Lazimy aims to help companies overcome these challenges by building custom supply chains that rely on relationships with all players in the value chain. “I also help companies tell the story of their ingredients so they can leverage the benefit of their sustainability for marketing purposes. And I help find innovative, highly economical sourcing relationships and programs that otherwise wouldn’t be available to buyers.”

What keeps Lazimy pushing for change is that he sees the huge potential that alternative protein has to provide meaningfully impactful solutions to some of our planet’s most pressing problems – “many of which are rooted in our demand for a very unsustainable system of sourcing protein for human consumption via livestock production,” he points out. “I have seen proteins and fats, otherwise derived from highly inefficient animal production systems, that have a tiny environmental impact but massive functional, nutritional, economical, sensory and social benefit to our planet and societies.”

Udi will be taking part in a panel in at The Future of Protein Production Chicago called, ‘Bridging meat science and innovation in alternative proteins, with a focus on hybrid and cultivated products', which takes place at McCormick Place on 24/25 April 2024. Book your tickets today to come and hear a further +85 speakers, 30 presentations, eight panel discussions and network with +400 other attendees. Click here

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, please email info@futureofproteinproduction.com

About the Speaker

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