As a Global Meat Shortage Looms and Consumers Turn Away From Meat, Nova Meat Reveals 3D Printed Pork

During a week when the world is experiencing supply problems which have seen Tyson boss John Tyson stating in the NY Times that the “food supply chain is breaking,” Italian bioengineer Giuseppe Scionti tells vegconomist that his startup Nova Meats has developed realistic 3D plant-based pork with the texture and appearance of pork meat.

The 3D printed product, created by the same team that made the world’s first 3D printed steak, has been named “pork skewer 2.0” and has been created in “a moment of the need for flexibility and adaptability in the proteins market. [During a] global disruption in pork meat supply, we decided to develop a  specifically a skewer prototype.” Scionti tells us that he and his team have developed this working remotely, using biomimetic micro-extrusion technology, through custom 3D printing machines.

We are undoubtedly living in interesting times when it comes to the market for conventional meat. The demand for plant-based pork is surging in Asia, and right now we are potentially just weeks from international meat shortages, given the closure of slaughterhouses in US and Brazil. At the same time, as we have seen in these weeks of pandemic, sales of plantbased meats are soaring, as consumers are more interested than ever in healthy plantbased alternatives. Even mainstream outlets like the Financial Times are reporting that the pandemic is causing a global shift towards plantbased living.

NovaMeat pork skewer
Image supplied by NovaMeat
Scionti tells us that, in terms of ingredients, the pork is created with a “composition containing pea isolate, rice isolate, extra-virgin olive oil, brown seaweed extract, beet juice concentrate and natural aroma. At the moment, we are testing alternative ingredients (proteins, fibers and oils) to tune the flavorings and improve sustainability.”
“Demonstrating that our technology works with a variety of ingredients is aimed at supporting biodiversity, to fight unsustainable monocultures and deforestation practices. For our internal tests we test each ingredient with different providers, we avoid GMOs, soy, or gluten, and we spend more budget to select ingredients of premium quality. Our goal is to demonstrate that our technology works at small- and later at large-scale, so that manufacturers using this technology will be able to select a variety of ingredients, to provide a wide array of tools able to mimic different types of meat and seafood.”
We asked when we are likely to see printed pork on the market – not so long ago a reasonable answer might have been “when pigs fly”. But not so in May 2020. “Once we feel that the taste is there, we will launch on a small-scale in collaboration with top chefs first, to create not only a fake meat, but the successor of meat instead, which can be healthier, better tasting and more sustainable for the environment. Then, we’ll focus on scale up with the funds from our next investment round in fall 2020.”
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