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The Better Meat Co. has finished building its huge fermentation plant that will churn out “thousands of pounds” of its new superfood mycoprotein ingredient called Rhiza. The new facility will also serve as its R&D and corporate headquarters, as the B2B sustainable ingredients startup begins to offer its animal-free protein to food businesses developing alternative meat products.
Sacramento-based startup The Better Meat Co. has completed its new 13,000-square-foot fermentation facility that will produce Rhiza, its newest mycoprotein ingredient that is cheaper than beef, contains all the essential amino acids and can be used in ground and whole-cut meat alternatives. Built in a former play park for children, the enormous new plant has been developed under stealth since the startup’s inception in 2018.
Rhiza now joins Better Meat’s range of sustainable protein ingredients and enhancers for plant-based and meat food producers, made from crops like peas, algae, bamboo and psyllium.
The new mycoprotein ingredient is the company’s first whole food fermentation-based product that can be grown 365 days a year and harvested “within just hours”. According to Better Meat, who describes the product as a “superfood ingredient”, Rhiza has a neutral flavour but can provide a meatier texture for plant-based alternatives compared to extrusion plant protein isolates.
Rhiza offers a cost-effective opportunity for food companies seeking to improve sustainability while giving their customers that meaty experience they crave.Paul Shapiro, CEO, The Better Meat Co.
“Its versatility as a ground meat replacer or whole muscle cut meat replacer is unmatched,” said the company, clearly tapping into the growing trend of whole cut meat analogues in the alternative protein world, with players like Atlast and Meati Foods gaining traction for their mycelium-based bacon and whole-muscle jerky respectively.
The technology that Better Meat is using is biomass fermentation, which sits within the fast-growing fermentation alternative protein category, but is different from precision fermentation, the tech that startups like Perfect Day are using to create bioidentical versions of animal proteins.
Biomass fermentation has been used by alt-meat legacy companies like Quorn, who uses the process with filamentous fungi to make its line of chicken-free analogues. Another player in the same sector is Aqua Cultured Foods, who claims they are the first to use the tech to make whole cut seafood alternatives.
Better Meat says that Rhiza, on its own, already contains more protein compared to eggs, more iron than beef, more fibre than oats and is free from all the main allergens and GMOs. Plus, it’s minimally processed compared to existing plant-based meat ingredients, making it particularly suitable for food producers looking to gain an edge in the competition by rolling out healthier products as the clean label movement picks up speed.
We’re excited to incorporate it into our plant based crab cakes, as well as other innovative plant based seafood products coming out later this year.Monica Talbert, CEO, The Plant-Based Seafood Co.
What’s more? It’s cheap, says Better Meat CEO Paul Shapiro, who argues that offering a cost-efficient yet sustainable alternative for food companies will be key to making the biggest impact on the food system.
“If we’re serious about lessening humanity’s footprint on the planet, we need to get serious about our food-print, and that means reducing our reliance on animals for food,” says Shapiro. “Rhiza offers a cost-effective opportunity for food companies seeking to improve sustainability while giving their customers that meaty experience they crave.”
The company already has a few clients lined up who are set to produce alternative meat products using Rhiza. One of them is Virginia-based The Plant-Based Seafood Co., who are gearing up to launch a vegan-friendly crab cake using Better Meat’s mycoprotein.
“We’ve been very impressed with the quality and versatility of Rhiza,” revealed The Plant-Based Seafood Co. CEO Monica Talbert. “We’re excited to incorporate it into our plant based crab cakes, as well as other innovative plant based seafood products coming out later this year.”
All images courtesy of Better Meat Co.