Meat from mycelium: Fungi fueled startup Meati Foods raises $50m make Holy Grail of alt meat: whole cuts
The “significantly oversubscribed” round – which also featured participation from Prelude Ventures, Congruent Ventures, and Tao Capital – will help Boulder, CO-based Meati Foods expand its team and build out its almost-80,000sq ft ‘Urban Ranch’ production facility, which will have the capacity to produce millions of pounds of 'meat' by 2022.
Unlike most players in the meat alternative space, who use extruded soy, peas, or wheat protein, Meati Foods is seeking to stand out in a category dominated by processed products, such as burgers and nuggets, by using a naturally occurring strain of mycelia, the filamentous-like root structures of mushrooms (although the strain Meati is using doesn’t have a mushroom ‘cap’), said founder and CEO Dr Tyler Huggins.
At scale, Meati’s growing process can produce the meat equivalent of 4,500 cows every 24 hours, and requires less than 1% of the water and land compared to conventional industrial meat production, according to the company.
‘We have a PDCAAS score of 1, which is similar to eggs and milk’
Inherently high in protein and fiber, the fungi can be grown highly-efficiently in fermentation tanks fed with a carbon source like sugar, said Huggins, who said fungi-based chicken breasts, steak and jerky are in the final stages of development right now, with pork tenderloin, deli meats and other products to follow.
4.5 ounces of Meati steak offers 25g complete protein, more than one third of the daily fiber needs, and an array of essential vitamins and minerals, Huggins explained to FoodNavigator-USA in a recent interview: “[Meati] has got no inherent flavor and it’s bright white with long fibrous filaments that mimic muscle structure. It’s also really high in protein. We’re at greater than 60% by weight protein and we have a PDCAAS score of 1, which is similar to eggs and milk; there are few single plant-based proteins like this."
When it comes to growing conditions, he said, “We’re a little different to Atlast [which grows mycelium in trays via solid state fermentation to create white meaty slabs that can be cut and sliced] as we’re using a submerged fermentation process, so we’re growing our mycelia in a process similar to brewing beer in fermentation tanks, so the speed of growth is incredible, we’re talking about a 18-hour batch time.
“As we harvest it we can realign the fibers in different orientations, making chicken breasts or beefsteak, which is harder if you’re using solid state approach. We harvest using a mechanical process, and it’s a whole food, so we’re not extracting proteins.”
“The pace of progress at Meati, in terms of both product and business development, has exceeded our expectations. We are not aware of any other product on the market that can match the nutrition, texture and price versatility of Meati. Meati is creating a new category of food.”
Lucas Mann, co-founder and managing partner, Acre Venture Partners