Robert Downey Jr-Backed Mycelium Bacon Company Rebrands As MyForest Foods Ahead Of Major Scaling Plans
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US alternative protein startup Atlast Food Co, an offshoot of mycelium pioneer Ecovative Design, has undergone a transformation. The company has rebranded, now calling itself MyForest Foods in homage to the natural habitat of its chief ingredient, mycelium. The company says it wants to combine its mission of supporting a well-fed future with a deep respect for the environment that is allowing it to happen.
The rebrand comes shortly after news of a partnership with Canada’s Whitecrest Mushrooms. The two will be working together to enable MyForest Foods to significantly ramp up production of its signature whole-cut bacon alternative, MyBacon.
Bacon by any other name
MyForest Foods uses mycelium, a web-like root system from mushrooms, to create its bacon analogue. Since its inception in 2020, developments have been ongoing, leading to the creation of AirMycelium, a proprietary system for cultivating the root. The technology was created by parent company Ecovative. The cultivation method allows for controlled manipulation of the shape and thickness of the mycelium. This is what makes it ideal for plant-based whole-cut products.
Last April, MyForest Foods closed a successful $40 million Series A funding round. Backers notably included Robert Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition Ventures. Capital raised was earmarked for the production of the largest mycelium production facility throughout the U.S. This appears to have translated to an enormous vertical farm in New York that requires less than one acre of land. Full commercial capacity is slated to be three million pounds of bacon per year, with the figure expected to rise in 2023.
“Replicating Mother Earth’s magic, we simulate the forest inside our vertical farms; cool rains, evening fog, morning mist, and afternoon breezes create just the right environment for our mycelium to grow, weaving into delicate, precise, and tender whole-cuts for the world to enjoy,” Eben Bayer, CEO of MyForest Foods said in a statement. “The forest, philosophically and physically, is where we hail from, so this felt like a natural move. ‘From the forest. For the future,’ our new company tagline, captures our essence and purpose.”
Continuing to evolve
Just like the mycelium that powers its products, MyForest Foods has a lot of growing to do. The new vertical farm, tipped for official launch in the fall, will not be the last major construction project for the company. Infrastructure is already being put in place between the farm and a Saratoga Springs headquarters location. The scaling of premises has opened the door for potential new hires.
Presently, MyForest Foods MyBacon strips are only available from the Honest Weight Food Co-Op in Albany, New York. Following the rebrand, wider availability is slated for the latter part of this year. New brand materials are being rolled out now.
Perfecting vegan bacon
Referred to by many as the must-perfect vegan meat substitute, bacon continues to frustrate alt-protein developers. In a bid to replicate the fibrosity of meat, manufacturers are experimenting with increasingly new ingredients and techniques.
Libre Foods has chosen to prioritise mycelium development, just as MyForest Foods has. Based in Barcelona, the biotech operation has sought to corner the market in whole-cut development. Initially planning to focus on high-end steak cuts, it switched direction and focused on bacon instead. Awaiting European regulation, Libre has been unable to offer commercial samples featuring mycelium yet.
Most recently, French bacon manufacturer La Vie quietly secured $28.3 million in a Series A fundraising round. The brand has been backed by actress Natalie Portman, amongst others. The raise marks a historic moment as France’s largest-ever single raise for an alt-protein company.
All images courtesy of MyForest Foods.