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Tender Food and Tufts University to Explore Hybrid Meat Products Made with Cultivated Cells and Plant-Based Meat

Boston-based Tender Food, a food tech startup that creates steaks from plant proteins, announces that it has been awarded a grant of $999,986 by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore over two years the potential of new hybrid meat products combining cultivated animal cells with plant-based meat.

With the R&D funding, Tender Food will collaborate with the Kaplan Lab at Tufts University Center for Cellular Agriculture (TUCCA) to determine if cultivated cells enhance the flavor, aroma, and nutrition of the company’s plant-based meat. The goal is to develop nutritious, tasty meat alternatives that appeal to consumers. Tender Food will also explore the viability of bringing these novel hybrid products to the market.

Dr. Luke MacQueen, co-founder and CSO of Tender Food commented, “We’re excited for this opportunity to collaborate with the Tufts University Center for Cellular Agriculture, to explore the emerging field of cellular agriculture, and to find out if cultured animal cells can improve plant-based meats.”

Tender Food will explore the potential of new hybrid products combining cultivated animal cells with plant-based meat.
© Tender Food

Better alternatives to meat

Founded by Harvard engineers, Tender Food leverages next-generation manufacturing and innovations in material science to create healthier alternative meat whole cuts, including chicken breasts, pulled pork, and steaks. 

The company has developed a novel plant-based fiber-spinning tech that transforms plant protein into fibers. The food tech says its alt meats have textures and cooking properties indiscernible from animal meat, with high protein nutritional profiles without additives or fillers.

In 2022, Tender Food raised $12 million in a seed round that included Natalie Portman, amongst other VCs, to scale production for its manufacturing lines. The company supplies alternative meats to food service clients and partners with restaurants to help them launch vegan versions of their meat-forward dishes. 

Dr. Christophe Chantre, co-founder and CEO of Tender Food, shared, “Creating delicious and affordable alternative meats is critical to our fight against climate change, but we need better tools to make that happen. We’re grateful for NSF’s support in helping us develop these groundbreaking food technologies.” 

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