Motif FoodWorks Launches Signature HEMAMI Plant-Based Protein After Gaining FDA Approval

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HEMAMI, the flagship food tech solution from Boston-based Motif FoodWorks has been granted Generally Recognised as Safe (GRAS) status from the U.S. FDA and is now being released commercially. The product is designed to add authentic meaty flavours and smells to plant-based products. Large-scale distribution is being rolled out while new company facilities are being developed. 

Created using precision fermentation, HEMAMI is a yeast-based heme protein that is identical to bovine alternatives found in connective tissue. It can be used to create any plant-based meat variety, including beef and chicken. Umami undertones and scent notes heighten a realistic eating experience for consumers.

Sustainable alt-protein in mind

The recent FDA acceptance comes as Motif FoodWorks participated as exhibitor at the Plant Based World Expo in New York, where visitors could taste products enhanced with their HEMAMI. The GRAS notification refers to HEMAMI being used within plant-based products to add flavour and aroma. Separately, a colour additive petition is still being considered. The product has been developed to support sustainable food systems. 

“Plant-based foods have the potential to drive a more sustainable future, but that doesn’t matter unless people actually eat them,” said Jonathan McIntyre, CEO of Motif FoodWorks, in a company statement. “HEMAMI enables a whole new taste and experience level for meat alternatives that a wider group of plant-based and flexitarian consumers will crave.”

A report published by Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication revealed that 67 percent of Americans would consider plant-based food, with one caveat: “if it tasted better”. Motif cites this as a driving force behind the creation of its protein tech. 

Funding the future of plant-based meat

Earlier this year, Motif secured $226 million in a Series B funding round. It was raised to increase R&D, scale, and commercialise production. The FDA recognition acts as confirmation that efforts have been stepped up and successful, as does the construction of new facilities.

A 65,000 square foot location is underway. Alongside an R&D centre, three pilot plants are being built, to maximise precision fermentation efforts and finished-product manufacturing. All items made at the Northborough MA facility will be used for sampling and validating. Once perfected, they will be outsourced to large-scale production partners. All plants are expected to be operational by the middle of 2022. 

“To execute on our holistic innovation process and rapidly develop and commercialise our proprietary technologies and products, we need to control the facilities and capabilities required to test, validate and scale our food-tech,” said McIntyre. “We look forward to the opportunities and innovation our new facility will bring to Motif and our customers.”

Heme by any other name

Heralded as a key ingredient in the development of realistic alt-protein, Motif is not alone in zeroing in on heme.

Earlier this year, Impossible Foods retained its FDA approval for heme use, despite objections by the Center for Food Safety. The soy-based GMO ingredient was flagged as a concern. A number of non-GMO alternatives have since been announced by other companies.

Chicago-based Back of the Yards Algae Sciences (BYAS) unveiled its algae-based flavouring heme back in May. It is spirulina-based and requires no genetic modification of fermentation. San Diego’s Triton Algae also announced its own heme product, used to create a vegan tuna. In this case, single-cell algae is grown in fermentation tanks. The tuna-appropriate heme is one of three variations developed by the company, each suitable for different food applications. ‘Essential Red’ has been earmarked for alternative meat and seafood analogues.

All images courtesy of Motif FoodWorks.


  • Amy Buxton

    A long-term committed ethical vegan and formerly Green Queen's resident plant-based reporter, Amy juggles raising a family and maintaining her editorial career, while also campaigning for increased mental health awareness in the professional world. Known for her love of searing honesty, in addition to recipe developing, animal welfare and (often lacklustre) attempts at handicrafts, she’s hands-on and guided by her veganism in all aspects of life. She’s also extremely proud to be raising a next-generation vegan baby.

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