Maple Leaf Foods Is the Latest Food Giant to Explore Mycoprotein

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Canadian protein giant Maple Leaf Foods has joined forces with mycoprotein meat producer, The Better Meat Co. The partnership will bring Better Meat’s tech to Maple Leaf’s plant-based subsidiary, Greenleaf Foods.

Over the summer, Maple Leaf Foods announced it was cutting its plant-based business by 25 percent as demand failed to meet expectations. Third-quarter sales this year for the $45 billion meat giant’s alternative protein sector dropped more than nine percent to $43.6 million.

Diversifying its portfolio

But the declining sales aren’t deterring Maple Leaf from its meatless explorations as the new partnership details.

“We are looking forward to working with The Better Meat Co. as we continue exploring alternative protein ingredients to allow us to further diversify our portfolio of delicious, sustainably produced plant-based food,” Jitendra Sagili, Chief R&D and Food Technology Officer at Greenleaf Foods, said in a statement.

“Our current portfolio of over 50 plant-based items, which includes plant-based sausage, chicken, hot dogs, tempeh, and cheese, primarily leverages soy and pea protein ingredients. Working with The Better Meat Co. opens up new opportunities for us to innovate with other potential protein sources.”

Courtesy Better Meat

California-based Better Meat uses the Rhiza mycoprotein to create a meaty, sustainable protein with more iron than beef and more protein than eggs. According to Better Meat, Rhiza can enhance the texture and production yields in plant-based meat while also improving the nutritional profile.

“Rhiza mycoprotein is a versatile ingredient for use both as a meat enhancer and meat replacer,” said Better Meat Co. Executive Vice President of Operations, Doni Curkendall. “Greenleaf Foods’ expertise in all things protein makes them a stellar partner to showcase this powerful ingredient that will help build an even more sustainable protein industry.”

It may also perform more realistically than conventional plant-based protein; flexitarian consumers are driven to explore protein alternatives but often cite taste and texture as a reason they return to animal protein. Nielsen data from 2019 found 98 percent of consumers who buy alternative protein also purchase animal products.

Food giants explore fungi protein

The announcement follows Better Meat’s recent partnership with Hormel, the U.S.-based pork giant behind Spam. The two announced a working relationship last year.

Courtesy The Better Meat Co.

Other food giants are also exploring the fungi world for meat alternatives. Last year, Unilever partnered with Enough, the Scotland-based company that develops a biomass mycoprotein called Abunda. That partnership is bringing fungi-based protein to the Vegetarian Butcher range, the Dutch meat alternative company acquired by Unilever in 2018.

“We’re excited by the potential that this technology has for future innovations across our portfolio, and we can’t wait to launch more plant-based foods that help people cut down on meat, without compromising on taste,” said Carla Hilhorst, EVP of R&D for Foods & Refreshment at Unilever.


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