‘We want to offer seafood lovers a healthier and more sustainable option': Start-up unveils 3D-printed plant-based salmon
Austrian-based Revo Foods announced on Facebook it will host what it believes is the 'world’s first' public tasting event for its 3D-printed, plant-based ‘Salmon with Attitude’ at a restaurant in Vienna on 6 March.
“The future of seafood has arrived!” it wrote. “After countless of hours spent on R&D, we are happy to announce that the world's first 3D-printed plant-based seafood is here!”
The company is the result of a student project looking at ways to commercialize vegan alternatives to salmon and tuna in Europe.
Revo Foods CEO Robin Simsa told FoodNavigator there is growing demand among consumers for products that taste like fish but avoid question marks over seafood’s sustainability and welfare.
“We believe that our products offer a clear advantage on two aspects: health and sustainability. Unfortunately, salmon from industrial aquaculture is heavily polluted with heavy metals, microplastics, PCBs and other harmful substances. The large use of antibiotics and growth hormones in aquaculture leads to accumulation of these substances in the meat of fish,” she told us.
“Regarding sustainability, unfortunately industrial salmon aquaculture leads to the nitrification and acidification of the oceans, and fish feed consists to 30% or more of wild-caught fish, therefor also contributing to overfishing.”
Plant-based seafood: The next big trend in plant-based protein
What’s more, the current offerings in the plant-based seafood market focus on products such as fish sticks and not those, such as salmon, with more complex structure.
“We want to offer all seafood lovers a healthier and more sustainable salmon,” said Simsa. “Unfortunately, there are very few alternatives on the market yet, and since salmon is the most consumed fish in the world, it is time to change that.”
The company’s ‘Salmon with Attitude’ is high in protein, high in Omega-3 and is made with 11 ingredients including pea protein, algae extracts, plant oils and citrus fibres. The company was unable to reveal the other ingredients.
Revo’s 3D printing process allows the extrusion of different plant-based ingredients, or ‘food inks’, through different print heads. With this special process it has achieved the complex appearance of salmon fillets, which show the realistic distribution of orange/red meat tissue and white connective tissue.
“We tested thousands of different recipes until we found one which could recreate the texture, mouthfeel, taste and nutritional content of salmon extremely well,” noted the CEO. “While we constantly try to improve our products, we believe that we have a really amazing salmon analogue already and received fantastic customer feedback from different tastings.”
The texture challenge
She said the biggest challenge in formulating the product was the texture. “Getting the texture right is extremely difficult for seafood products. We have now found a great 3D food printing process which allows us to work with very mild conditions, therefore also preserving the high vitamin and Omega-3 fatty acid content.”
The company’s products (it makes both a ‘smokey’ and a ‘creamy’ salmon) will launch next month in Vienna. “We will enter the market in late summer with our early products and we want to quickly expand to other markets as well. For our first 3D food printing production facility, we have calculated a production of 15 tonnes per month, but those can be quickly upscaled later on.”
She added the customer feedback was encouraging so far. “Customers overwhelmingly love our product, especially the taste and texture. Many cannot believe that our salmon is made of plant, and not of animal meat. Also, we get great requests from all over the world from people who would like to try our products, which is a fantastic customer feedback for our idea to make seafood healthy and sustainable again.”