Growing demand in the alternative meat sector is gaining traction and expected to surpass the $140 billion mark within the next 10-years. Even with all the new alternative meat products hitting the market, the food industry currently relies on analog technologies to develop and produce them. This is why Israeli startup “Redefine Meat” is on a mission to introduce a technological platform to develop, launch and scale the next generation of “Alt-Meat”. I’m told the group has recently unveiled the world’s first “Alt-Steak” plant-based products using a 3D meat printing technology, and from what I understand, the products are said to have the same texture, flavor, and appearance of beefsteak and can currently be produced in the volume and cost to enable a large-scale market launch. According to reports, market testing at select high-end restaurants will start later this year.

It’s hard for me to get my head around all of this, but Redefine Meat has digitally mapped more than 70 sensorial parameters into its products, including premium beef cuts’ texture, juiciness, fat distribution, and mouthfeel. Building the product layer by layer, the company’s proprietary industrial-scale 3D food printers can create sustainable, high-protein, no-cholesterol steaks, and according to all accounts, look, cook, and taste like beef. From what I understand, RM worked with leading butchers, chefs, food technologists, and close collaboration with taste experts Givaudan throughout the process. 

According to Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, CEO and Co-Founder of Redefine Meat, this unique process allows the company to achieve unprecedented control of what happens inside the matrix of alternative meats, meaning by using separate formulations for muscle, fat and blood, they can focus on each individual aspect of creating the perfect product. It’s worth mentioning, this technology could be a huge asset to the company as they pitch to distributors and retailers the opportunity to design how they want their meat. In fact, the company is already advertising that it can respond to seasons, changing demands and consumer preferences with its 3D technology. 

It is my opinion, animal compassion more than nutritional or perceived environmental benefits continue to drive interest and investment into this space. Regardless of the reasons, or our own personal opinions, the fact is this new wave of fake meat isn’t going away as companies are now having no problem getting investors to fund projects as they advance their message of reducing animal cruelty and working towards being a more viable solution with climate change, clean energy and reducing global warming. Like it or not, demand for fake meat is going to continue moving higher as these companies receive more investment money and are able to further fund technological advancements. 

I honestly don’t know how this will all play out for traditional livestock operations. I want to belive global demand for higher proteins will continue to push higher. Meaning we should continue to see strong global demand for U.S. livestock. While consumer demand for fake meat will continue to grow, I think it will be somewhat limited in scope at first to the more affluent. But once it becomes cheaper than traditional meat it will begin to really impact the traditional livestock operations. I don’t know if it will take 20 years, 10 years, or 2 years for the technology to advance to the point that fake meat tastes better, is cheaper to the consumer, more healthy, and better for the overall environment. Each step closer makes me a bit more nervous… *Note – Redefine Meat isn’t the only company attempting 3D-printed meat alternatives. Spanish company NovaMeat is working on 3D-printed steak and pork substitutes. NovaMeat CEO Giuseppe Scionti told Reuters his company’s product will be available “in selected top restaurants” in Europe this year, and will have a wider release in 2021. (Source: Reuters; Engadget; Resturant Tech News; Food Navigator; PRnewswire)

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