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There’s no shortage of plant-based meatballs, sausages and burger patties on store shelves nowadays. But now, consumers are looking for more—and food brands know it. For many, the next “frontier” of vegan meat will lie in whole-cut products that mimic the texture and mouthfeel of meats like steak. And one new startup says it’s here to help fill the void.
Based in Israel, Alfred’s FoodTech has developed a new production platform dedicated to manufacturing whole-cut meat alternatives. Using protein layering and nutrient embedding technology, the company says that its platform can make tailored whole-cut vegan meat alternatives with the same fibrous texture as the real deal.
The startup, headquartered in Modi’In, was launched just earlier this year. Its technology is able to construct continuous tissue-like structures to form a final whole-cut product. Clients can use the platform to produce tailor-made products, customising everything from the ingredients used, to the shape and desired fibrous texture.
So far, the company has prototyped plant-based deli meats and chicken nugget alternatives using its manufacturing technology, made using pea protein and canola oil. But the firm, which is being fuelled by $1.3 million in seed funding, says it can also incorporate other cell-based ingredients to produce hybrid proteins too—and is already in talks with some cultured meat firms as well as “various international food companies”.
“Our tech uses only simple ingredients, such as pea protein and canola oil. Yet we can still custom-design compositions for food companies using protein sources of their choice, including cell-based ingredients,” shared co-founder and CEO Ronny Reinberg.
Reinberg’s grandfather, Alfred, worked in the meat industry—and Alfred’s FoodTech is an ode to continuing a family tradition, but reimagining it with sustainable new technologies.
“With Alfred’s versatile technology, any food company can easily create alternative products that give consumers the exact experience of real meat and poultry,” the company tells Green Queen Media.
“We create an emulsion containing all the raw ingredients and, with our new proprietary process, bind them together in a way that masks the sandiness and aroma of proteins and creates a continuous like structure. The technology is scalable with a very affordable unit cost.”
Making whole-cut analogues a reality
Reinberg says the mission of Alfred’s is to make it easier for brands across the food industry, whether it be a startup or large CPG companies, to develop the products that consumers are increasingly demanding.
“Plant-based whole-cut products that resemble meat are the ‘Holy Grail’ of the industry,” the CEO explained.
Together with co-founder and COO Rafi Shavit, the company’s technology was created to be scalable and easily integrated into existing food processing infrastructure. This means shorter time-frames from product development to getting items to market.
“We were founded with the goal of bolstering food companies and innovators within the alternative protein landscape,” says Shavit, who described Alfred’s platform as an enabling “engine” for other food brands to create better-tasting products for the mass consumer.
Achieving whole-cuts is the next step for brands, shared Shavit, especially if they are to keep mainstream flexitarians motivated to minimise their meat and dairy intake. Current statistics show that the number of flexitarians globally has skyrocketed, making up as much as 42% of the market.
The whole-cut mission
Alfred’s isn’t the only startup working on whole-cut meat alternatives, though it stands out as one of the few focused on offering a B2B solution to help other brands manufacture these products.
Fellow Israeli food tech Redefine Meat recently launched a range of vegan meat products in collaboration with restaurants in the country, ahead of its plan to put out a 3D printed whole-cut meat range by the end of 2021.
Over in the US, players like AtLast and Meati Foods are leveraging fungal mycelium to create whole-cut meats, with the former famous for its cult favourite vegan bacon alternative, while Meati is known for its beef-like jerky and realistic plant-based chicken fillets.
All images courtesy of Alfred’s FoodTech.