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Slovenian food tech Juicy Marbles has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first 100% plant-based, whole cut filet mignon that bears the fatty marbling found in a real cut of animal-based steak. Developed using their patent-pending “reverse grinder” technology, the startup has been able to recreate the texture, look and taste of filet mignon by layering fibres made with only plants and nothing else.
Juicy Marbles has debuted the world’s first line of plant-based marbled steak, starting off with an analogue of the most prized cut of meat: an “ultra-tender” filet mignon. The Ljubljana-based startup, which recently graduated from the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator, says that they’ve managed to develop such a hyper-realistic version of the premium steak through its patent-pending “Meat-o-matic Reverse Grinder” technology.
What it does is align and layer fibres made from plant-based ingredients from the bottom up, which helps to form a whole cut of steak that mimics the muscle texture and marbling of real meat – something that existing plant-based brands have yet to offer, with burgers, sausages and shredded-style vegan alternatives currently dominating the shelves.
The biggest challenge was getting the right fibre alignment and intramuscular fat structure – the marbling.Luka Sincek, Co-Founder, Juicy Marbles
At the moment, the plant-based tenderloins developed by the startup are available to consumers through its “steak-testing” program on its direct-to-consumer website, selling for around US$147.50 per 600 gram package, which “feeds about 4 people, or 3 really hungry ones”.
Speaking about the product, Luka Sincek, who co-founded Juicy Marbles with Tilen Travnik and Maj Hrovat, said: “The biggest challenge was getting the right fibre alignment and intramuscular fat structure – the marbling. The most expensive steaks in the world are known for their lush marbling. It takes a lot of energy and a rare breed of cow to attain that.”
“With plant meat, we control it and, thus, over time, can scale up our steak production and bring down the price. Eventually, we’ll be able to make the most premium meats attainable for everyone,” Sincek continued.
The allure of meat is not just texture or flavour, it’s also [the] simplicity of preparation. A sprinkle of salt, sizzle on the pan, and boom – you have a tasty protein on your plate.Vladimir Mickovic, Chief Brand Officer, Juicy Marbles
The main ingredients used to create the raw-looking steaks are soy protein, wheat protein and sunflower oil, as well as natural flavourings and beetroot powder. Juicy Marbles recommends putting it on the pan for just a few minutes to develop a brown crust and seasoning it while the centre of the steak remains supple.
“The allure of meat is not just texture or flavour, it’s also [the] simplicity of preparation. A sprinkle of salt, sizzle on the pan, and boom – you have a tasty protein on your plate,” said Vladimir Mickovic, chief brand officer at Juicy Marbles.
It’s already won over self-identified flexitarian and meat-lover Ken Kornbluh, who described the plant-based filet mignon as having a “great texture, flavour, mouthfeel and even smell”.
We can’t expect a necessary global diet shift towards plant-based without a wide variety of plant meats.Tilen Travnik, Co-Founder & CEO, Juicy Marbles
According to the food tech, people like Kornbluh are exactly who they’re aiming to target – people who can’t quite turn away from meat, simply because there have yet to be sustainable, healthy and cruelty-free alternatives that can compete on the taste and sensorial experience of biting into a whole cut slab of meat.
“We can’t expect a necessary global diet shift towards plant-based without a wide variety of plant meats that will not only enable the continuation of culinary traditions, but also enable a well-balanced and wholesome diet,” said co-founder & CEO Travnik.
While Juicy Marbles is the first to develop a plant-based marbled filet mignon, it’s by no means alone when it comes to the race to diversify the plant-based meat market with whole cut products. Meati Foods, for example, is using fermentation technology to develop mycelium-based beef steaks, while Rival Foods has recently set its sights on creating vegan-friendly fibrous whole cut chicken alternatives.
All images courtesy of Juicy Marbles.