90% Plants: Momentum Foods Says Its Hybrid Meat Can Create a More Sustainable Food System
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Saba Fazeli, the first R&D engineer at Beyond Meat, has launched Momentum Foods, a new brand focused on blended meat products — mixing plant-based meat with conventional.
Momentum Foods’ first products, which will be sold under the consumer-facing brand, Paul’s Table, include pulled pork and carne asada. But are consumers ready for blended meat?
The new meat products are about 90 percent plant-based, with ingredients such as soy and brown rice giving them environmental benefits similar to vegan products. But they also include key animal-derived meat ingredients, including collagen and fat, which “drive the sensory quality of the experience,” according to Fazeli.
In an interview with Fast Company, Fazelli says the brand aims to blend plant-based meat with animal components to provide consumers with a sustainable option that satisfies their interest in meaty-tasting products as well as options that can achieve price parity with animal meat products.
Fazeli is no stranger to food development; he was involved in developing and scaling Beyond Meat’s textured proteins, while Momentum’s co-founder Brice Klein worked for vertical farming company Plenty, where he led the commissioning of a multi-million dollar farm.
According to the company, most meat alternatives fail to deliver on cost and quality, and many consumers are not interested in products that taste worse, cost more, and are no healthier than the real thing.
Momentum says that by taking a hybrid approach, it can combine the “best parts of meat” with sustainable plant proteins to deliver products that taste good, are good for the planet, and are better for the consumer’s wallet.
Educating the consumer
The products are making their initial debut at stores across the Midwest and West Coast. But Momentum, which recently completed a session at the tech accelerator Y Combinator, is keeping the launch small, Fazeli says, because the hybrid meat concept requires more consumer education than strictly plant-based products.
“The difficulty of explaining the nuance concisely is definitely at the forefront for us,” says Fazeli. “It’s very easy to explain something is 100 percent meat or 0 percent meat,” he says, but that’s not the case with blended products.
“I think the groundswell surrounding plant-based really has paved the path for this to happen . . . if plant-based had not proliferated in the market and gotten into the minds of consumers over the last five to seven years, a solution like this would be a little bit too farfetched,” Fazeli says. “But now that folks are familiar with both the plant-based solutions and, of course, meat itself, putting them together seems like a logical next step to us.”
While several major food companies offer blended meat products, Fazeli believes that Momentum Foods could become even cheaper than conventional meat, making it easier for omnivores to make the smarter choice.
“The thought is that meat should be a special occasion, a once-in-a-while thing,” Fazeli told Fast Company. “And for the majority of folks, protein consumption should either be blended or plant-based solutions if we want to get to a sustainable future as the population grows.”