Sat, 27 Feb 2021

Faux meat goes high-tech, restaurants show interest

Robert Besser
22 Feb 2021, 11:25 GMT+10

With rising demand for meat alternatives bringing venture-capital investors and even food giants such as McDonald's and Nestle to the table, startups are moving beyond faux burgers and chicken nuggets to 3D-printed meat.

This week, Israel's Redefine Meat raised US$29 million in funding to build a large-scale pilot factory that will produce 3D-printed beef cuts, ranging from rump to brisket.

"We want to change the belief that delicious meat can only come from animals. We have all the building blocks in place to make this a reality," CEO Eshchar Ben-Shitrit told Bloomberg.

Redefine Meat is using proprietary 3D-printers and plant-based "ink" to "print" a complex layering of muscle and fat to produce meat that has the same flavor and texture as prime beef.

"Our meat today, versus some other cuts of meat, are the same. You cannot distinguish," said Ben-Shitrit.

The startup, which is targeting steak houses and restaurants in Israel, Europe and Asia, said it expects to start sales later this year.

Company officials also said it has signed with distribution partners in Israel, Germany, Singapore and Switzerland.

According to data from Dealroom, Redefine Meat's latest round of Series A funding, which was led by Happiness Capital and Hanaco Ventures, is the highest for any alternative meat startup.

The funding is "a major step toward becoming the world's largest alternative meat company by 2030", Ben-Shitrit said.

Redefine Meat is not the only startup to have jumped on the plant-based meat bandwagon.

Last week, Israeli startup Aleph Farms announced it has successfully cultivated the world's first slaughter-free ribeye steak.

Meanwhile, CEO of Barcelona-based Novameat Tech, Giuseppe Scionti, recently unveiled plans to raise funds to scale up production and sell 3D-printed vegan meat to restaurants in Europe this year.

While rising environmental and health concerns have led to a boom in demand for faux meat, more needs to be done to enhance the taste of alternative protein products and make them more competitively priced when compared to regular meat, said market watchers.

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