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Talking alt-choc with Dr Johnny Drain, founder of WNWN Food Labs

Mar 22, 2022 By WGSN Insider
Food & Drink

With alternatives to meat and dairy products creeping into the mainstream, a growing number of companies are leading the charge to meet demand from conscious consumers.

One of them is WNWN Food Labs – led by founder Dr Johnny Drain (aka the ‘Walter White of Fermentation’), who works at the cutting edge of food and fermentation to deliver ecologically friendly solutions that will “feed the world of the future”.

Headshot of Dr Johnny Drain
Dr Johnny Drain/Stephen Kei

Dr Drain joins Carla Buzasi, WGSN CEO, and Jen Creevy, WGSN’s Head of Food & Drink, to share his team’s stake in the alt-choc movement and the areas they could be targeting next. We also discuss consumers’ growing awareness of the ethics of our food supply chains as well as the power of fermentation in the latest plant-based foods. So grab a planet-friendly snack and tune into this podcast episode…

WNWN’s chocolate bar
WNWN’s chocolate bar/WNWN Food Labs

Fermentation makes a comeback

“The crazy thing about fermentation, which is seen as this sort of new fad, is that most of the world’s favourite foods are fermented, and that includes chocolate and coffee, as well as obviously all these other stuff – beer, wine, cheese, butter, vinegar, miso, soy, sauce… Chocolate is fermented, so if you take a cacao bean and just roasted it, it wouldn’t taste like chocolate. Also, if you took a cacao bean and fermented it, but didn’t roast it, it wouldn’t taste like chocolate.”
– Dr Johnny Drain, founder of WNWN Food Labs

Koji grown on a courgette and black koji grown on waste sourdough bread
Left: koji grown on a courgette exploring vegetable charcuterie/WNWN Food Labs
Right: black koji grown on waste sourdough bread from Cub restaurant/WNWN Food Labs

Upcycling food waste

“The upcycling that restaurants are doing is incredible and also there’s lots of small innovator brands using upcycled fruit pulp. The amazing thing is that this is scaling up hugely, meaning that it is here to stay. One of the interesting things is that now it’s also going cross-vertical, so other industries are coming in and starting to use some of the food waste. In fashion, for example, sustainable dyes are being made out of food waste.”
– Jen Creevy, Head of Food & Drink

To hear the full discussion tune in to Episode 46 of our Create Tomorrow podcast, Talking Alt-Choc with Dr Johnny Drain, The Walter White of Fermentation, on Anchor, Apple and Spotify.

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