Bioprinted Meat and Fungi Could Result in New Hybrid Meat Products for MeaTech

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MeaTech (NASDAQ: MITC)’s Belgian subsidiary, Peace of Meat, a leader in cultured avian biomass, signed a deal with Scottish mycoprotein startup Enough to speed up market entry of hybrid alternative meat products that mimic farm-raised meat. This innovative initiative will combine Peace of Meat’s unique expertise in cultured avian development with Enough’s cutting-edge mycoprotein ingredient to create game-changing hybrid meat products. This new category combines plant-based ingredients and cultured meat for a meatier taste than fully plant-based choices and is a sustainable alternative to conventional meat.

According to the strategic joint development agreement signed by the companies, the hybrid product will incorporate Peace of Meat’s cultured chicken fat biomass and Enough’s proprietary Abunda mycoprotein, a fermented food ingredient rich in protein, and fiber, essential amino acids, zinc, and iron. While the cultured fat will naturally provide the signature flavors, aromas, and textures of traditional meat, Abunda will add nutritional value while giving the hybrid product an “outstanding” meaty texture.

Enough CEO Jim Laird suggests that the future of sustainable protein will include a mix of plant–fermentation and cell-based products. If the combination of the two processes is successful, it could be a real game-changer for the meat production industry, which is currently struggling amid a shortage of skilled workers––particularly butchers––and halted exports after a magnitude of supply chain issues during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Formerly known as 3F BIO, Enough is aiming to cultivate over a million metric tons of mycoprotein by 2032. This value is the equivalent of replacing five million cows and over one billion chickens or reducing more than six million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (the equivalent of planting more than 30 million trees). Since being founded in 2015, the food-tech startup has raised more than $70 million to accelerate the development of its high-quality food-grade protein Abunda, which is made by fermenting fungi using renewable feedstocks to make what it markets as the “most sustainable source of food protein.”

Enough’s proprietary Abunda mycoprotein is part of the chicken nuggets.

Enough’s Abunda mycoprotein helped make these plant-based chicken nuggets. Image courtesy of Enough.

However, as much as plant-based meats alone can benefit healthcare concerns, like cholesterol levels, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes rates, and reduce animal suffering on factory farms, cattle-based beef remains a top choice for consumers. According to the findings of a January 2021 report commissioned by the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, beef is preferred three times more than its plant-based counterparts, primarily due to its taste, appearance, price, and naturalness.

Vegan meats have been around for decades, mainly burgers. However, the next generation of these products is still developing, and since roughly nine out of ten people still include traditional meats in their diets, trying to convince them to switch might take a bit more than plant protein. Instead, hybrid meats could have a better chance of becoming a replacement for traditional beef, and MeaTech and Enough’s hybrid foods are slated to offer a meatier taste and mouthfeel, which is closer to conventional meat.

In fact, this new joint venture is what Peace of Meat CEO Dirk von Heinrichshorst calls a “milestone toward advancing our vision to use cultured fat biomass as an ingredient for developing delicious and innovative hybrid food products that better mimic farm-raised meat.”

A B2B supplier of cultured fat, Peace of Meat is sure that its tasty and texturing ingredient improves alternative proteins, like plant-based meats. MeaTech acquired the startup in 2021 to complement its proprietary 3D bioprinting technology for creating cell-based steak.

3D bioprinter at MeaTech headquarters in Rehovot, Israel

3D bioprinter at MeaTech headquarters in Rehovot, Israel. Image courtesy of MeaTech.

At a recent MeaTech tasting event in the Rehovot Science Park, the hub of Israeli food tech, guests from a Swedish delegation were served hybrid chicken nuggets that included Peace of Meat’s cultured chicken fat biomass. The feedback from attendees was unanimously positive, calling the hybrid dish “delightful.”

Ultimately, MeaTech plans to manufacture real meat cuts from cellular agriculture by incorporating its 3D bioprinting technologies into a pilot plant and R&D facility in Belgium–scheduled to begin scaled-up production of cultured chicken fat in 2023. The cultured fat production process will be designed to deploy technologies developed by Peace of Meat since one of MeaTech’s goals is to produce cultured chicken fat for use in potential industry collaborations.

Enough will also have its flagship pilot plant in the south of the Netherlands, not far from Peace of Meat’s facility. With the two companies being so close and signing a collaboration deal, their shared product vision and commercialization goals will eventually make this an ideal partnership for bringing innovative and sustainable new products to this extremely niche hybrid food market.

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