Research shows vast swathes of the global population are turning to plant-based for a healthier diet, with vegan food associated with a wide array of health benefits. On the other hand, however, researchers have concluded that many consumers simply find processed animal-based foods too tasty to give up.
According to Phil Morle from plant-based industry investor Main Sequence; to “unlock the mysteries of fats and create animal-free fats” is “essential for the future of the industry”. Fat holds the key to flavour, and creating viable, healthy and tasty vegan fats is the latest innovation frontier.
With this in mind, vegconomist takes a look at the fattiest players in the alt meat sphere:
After being named by Unilever as the winner of its Innovation Challenge, French startup 77 Foods has continued to develop its plant-based fat using sunflower oil to create an adipose tissue that closely resembles pork fat. Through this development, 77 foods have created a “mind-blowing” plant-based bacon which 92% of participants in a blind test preferred to conventional pork bacon, according to the brand.
Hoxton Farms, the UK’s first cell-cultured fat startup, raised £2.7 million of seed round funding this year. Combining cell biology and mathematical modelling, Hoxton Farms is making cruelty-free and sustainable fat to replace conventional vegetable fats used by plant-based producers.
“We wanted to bring together our skills to address a pressing problem: how to satisfy a growing demand for meat without compromising on health, sustainability or animal ethics,” explains Ed Steele, Co-Founder of Hoxton Farms.
Spanish startup CUBIQ FOODS is developing clean cell-cultured fats and claims to be the first cultivated fat cell platform to produce high-quality omega-3’s. CUBIQ has raised €5 million in order to accelerate the production of its omega-3 healthy fats, based on cellular systems and the industrial development of healthier and novel fats.
“Cultured food, meaning food made from cultured cells, is scalable, sustainable, nutritious, and can be enriched in vitamins or essential fatty acids like omega-3,” Co-Founder Andrés Montefeltro told vegconomist in an interview.
Peace of Meat
Peace of Meat is a B2B supplier of cell-cultured fat which was recently acquired by Meat Tech 3D. Based in Belgium, Peace of Meat has developed a proprietary stem cell-based bioreactor technology to cultivate animal fats from chickens and ducks without harming the animals.
Peace of Meat recently revealed research that shows 68% of plant-based producers would be likely or very likely to use cell-cultured fat to improve the texture and mouthfeel of their products.
Australian fermented fat producer Nourish Ingredients has developed a fermentation process that recreates the molecular structure of animal fats in order to mimic proteins such as seafood, pork, beef, and chicken products. It recently raised US$11 million of investment from Horizons, the venture firm of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, as well as the Australian government’s Main Sequence Ventures.
Formerly known as Biopetrolia, Melt&Marble uses precision fermentation to make sustainable animal-free fats that are bioidentical to animal fats. The Swedish startup has recently secured €750,000 in seed funds to scale up its fermentation-based fat platform.
“Fat is key to the experience of eating a delicious piece of meat”, commented Anastasia Krivoruchko, founder and CEO of Melt&Marble.
“Because the properties of plant-based fats are different from those of animal fats, the experience of eating many plant-based meats has so far been subpar compared to the real thing. This is something we want to address. With our technology, we can create fats that are identical to animal fats, or even better! This could become a booster for the entire industry,” she continued.