Food science labs around the world are aiming to take over the meat industry with alternative protein options, but a new competitor has entered the market: an ambitious and well-resourced 24-year-old entrepreneur named Kim Le. Le’s fledgling company, called Prime Roots, is planning to launch its alternative meat products in early 2020 and will add its items to shelves already occupied by major companies like Impossible Foods and Tyson.
While alternative proteins do address the meat industry’s unsustainable impact on the environment, many of them rely on GMO and lab-grown methods to produce proteins. Prime Roots markets its products as sustainable, non-GMO, whole food-sourced “superproteins.”
Unlike most corporations, Prime Roots uses a unique, democratic process for selecting the three products that will be available in 2020. It invited its “community of eaters” to vote on the products via the company’s website. The website also boasts promo codes, giveaways and “ambassadors-only events” for potential consumers interested in taking a more active role in the company’s sustainability and promotional efforts.
Months before the products are actually available, the website invites visitors to read-up about alternative proteins and “join the superprotein revolution.”
Le, a recent UC Berkeley graduate, developed the idea for Prime Roots during her time in college. The daughter of famous Vietnamese chef Chi Le, Kim spent her whole life around food and went to university specifically to learn more about fermentation science. She got her start as an entrepreneur through UC Berkeley’s Alternative Meat Lab housed at the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. Her company then began to grow and become a reality through support from IndieBio. Since then, Le has amassed over $4 million in investments through both True Ventures and the Collaborative Fund.