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Cubiq Foods is a Barcelona-based startup developing cultivated fats for alternative protein products. While many food techs are working on cell-based meats, Cubiq Foods is focused on cultivating healthier “smart” omega-3-rich structured fats, oils and other fatty emulsions for use in these new proteins. It hopes to be able to replace common saturated fats, such as coconut oil, that are currently used in both cultivated and plant-based analogues to replicate the juiciness of real meat that consumers desire.
Founded in 2018 by Dr. Raquel Revilla, Andrés Montefeltro and Jordi Bladé, Cubiq Foods is a startup developing a platform of cultivated fats for companies manufacturing alternative proteins and foods. The startup is the first company to create cell-based fats that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Two main products are slated to launch later this year. Their first, the Cubiq Smart Omega-3, is rich in DHA and EPA, which are omega-3 fatty acids that are associated with better brain functioning and lower blood pressure, making it a healthier replacement for existing oils used in alternative proteins without impacting the taste for food. Its second product, Cubiq Smart Fat, is designed to improve the flavour and taste of premium foods such as cell-based meats.
According to some reports, Cubiq Foods are already in talks with cultivated companies such as Mosa Meat for a potential collaboration.
Aside from cell-based fats, Cubiq Foods also converts liquid oils that contain unsaturated fats such as olive oil into a solid structured form, making it a suitable replacement for plant-based proteins that require coconut oil, which is high in saturated fats. Currently, coconut oil is widely used in plant-based meat products, including in both leading food techs Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods’ meat analogues.
With its “better-for-you” fats, the company hopes to be able to improve the healthfulness of plant-based and cultivated meat alternatives, while promoting products that are less resource-intensive and are slaughter-free.
For existing plant-based meat companies that are already on the market, using Cubiq Foods’ fat ingredients could help their brands fight criticism around health that they have struggled with in recent years.
Although Cubiq Foods’ platform has stayed relatively under the radar, it has received greater attention from investors in recent months – particularly as alternative proteins emerge as a crucial solution to unsustainable animal agriculture, which United Nations experts have identified as a key driver of novel zoonotic diseases.
In May, despite the ongoing coronavirus-induced economic volatility, Cubiq Foods announced that it had raised US$5.4 million in a round led by Blue Horizon Ventures and Moira Capital Partners, taking the startup’s total funding to US$18.4 million. In a release, the founders said that the capital will go towards delivering its products at industrial scale by the end of this year.
While not many food techs have focused on developing fats for use in alternative proteins, Cubiq Foods is not alone. Earlier this year, Boston-based Motif FoodWorks announced a research partnership to create a plant-based fat that has the attributes of animal-derived fats, which will help elevate the taste, texture and appearance of vegan meat and dairy alternatives.
For many vegan food techs, commercially available plant-based fat solutions typically do not cook, taste or interact with other ingredients in a way that animal-based fats do, and being able to replicate this is critical to produce plant-based meats and cheeses that mass consumers crave.
Lead image courtesy of Impossible Foods.