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Y Combinator alumnus Mooji Meats, which specialises in whole cut plant-based meats, has raised £3 million in a seed funding round. The Good Startup, Collaborative Fund, Lever VC and AgFunder all participated in the round.
Mooji says the funding will allow it to move away from the ground and sausage analogues common in the space. The company says that 70 percent of the conventional meat market orbits around whole cuts such as steak so animal-free alternatives in this format are key.
Recreating meaty cuts for plant-based brands
Mooji’s says its plants to better equip its lab, increase its manpower and cover existing operational costs. From here, the startup plans to interrogate scaling opportunities that will see its multi-nozzle technology compete with traditional extrusion systems. Blending the innovation of 3D printing with the cost-effectiveness of conventional extrusion is a priority.
“If you go to food tech conferences, it’s the number one topic everyone talks about. It’s really important to create real meat cuts for the industry,” Insa Mohr, CEO at Mooji Meats told Tech Crunch. “On the one hand, there’s 3D printing. They create really good, authentic mouthfeels, but it’s just too expensive. On the other hand, there’s cheaper technologies such as traditional extrusion, electrospinning and so on, which is really cheap, affordable and scalable. However the textures don’t score well when customers try it.”
Using foundation technology developed by Harvard, Mooji is improving the speed of production, cost and capacity to create a proprietary platform. Leveraging a new printing platform that allows hundreds of nozzles to print materials at the same time will, Mooji claims, be a gamechanger, as most existing variations use just one. The result is predicted to be realistic plant-based whole cuts that are produced with client price points firmly in mind. Mooji has already cited Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods as clients it would like to snare.
Vegan meat on the rise
The global plant-based meat market is expected to reach $21.23 billion by 2025. Increasing consumer interest in vegan food as a health driver, coupled with increased awareness of animal welfare is widely considered to be a major motivation. Alongside, pertinent reminders that plant-based foods are less impactful on the environment are resulting in a shift in consumer buying habits.
The latest IPCC report was clear in its recommendation that global populations need to embrace plant-based eating to meet net-zero ambitions and tackle the climate crisis. Alternative protein is specifically named in chapter five of the report.
The Good Food Institute (GFI) reports that 77 percent of agricultural land is needed for animal rearing, which accounts for 17 percent of the world’s consumed calories. Shifting to growing crops for plant-based consumption will see a greater calorific yield generated using less resources and creating fewer greenhouse gas emissions. On average, vegan meats use between 47 percent and 99 percent less land than conventional options and create 30-90 percent fewer emissions, the GFI confirms.
Getting more 3D printed vegan meat to market
Isreael’s Redefine Meat and SavorEat are already enjoying success with 3D printed meat products in the market. Mooji represents a potential levelling up for the rest of plant-based meat sector. It aims to have its first meat prototype completed within the next six months, with printers estimated to be available within 18 months. The startup claims to have clients on board already but has not confirmed any names. Market leaders in Europe and the U.S. are rumoured to be included.
Over in Hong Kong, Alt Farm is perfecting its 3D printing technique as well, focussing on vegan wagyu beef analogues. The startup, an offshoot of the Hong Kong University of Science and technology, has developed proprietary printing technology to faithfully recreate the marbled fat of conventional massaged beef.
Lead photo of Moohi Meats’ Insa Mohr and Jochen Mueller. Photo by Mooji Meats.