London-based food tech start-up Adamo Foods has secured a total of $620k in funding and investment to advance its mission of developing ‘Europe’s first’ mycelium-based steak alternative.
The company has received a Smart Grant from Innovate UK and secured VC investment from Beeches Group.
“We’re working on an exciting new technology to take these products to the next level and are hugely grateful to our new investors for recognising its potential,” said Adamo Foods founder and CEO Pierre Dupuis.
“The funding takes us one step further on our mission to remove animals from our broken food system.”
‘Fibrous and meaty mouthfeel’
Adamo’s technology leverages the power of mycelia – the root-like structure from which fungi grow.
Adamo’s mycelium strain is high in fibre, a complete protein source, and is ‘inherently’ fibrous, which Dupuis explained delivers a ‘unique, muscle-like structure’.
The process from transforming Adamo’s mycelium strain into this ‘muscle-like’ structure is ‘complex’. “We optimise fibre growth during our entire process to create a really fibrous and meaty mouthfeel,” he told FoodNavigator. “Post fermentation, we ensure our mycelium fibres are perfectly aligned, and we simply add our natural seasonings.”
These flavourings combine with the natural umami notes of mushroom to achieve the right taste. The company also adds plant oils to help mimic the fatty profile of meat, but did not disclose details.
“In total, there are between five and eight ingredients, all natural,” said Dupuis. “We can’t reveal the exact formulation yet.”
Adamo Foods is focused on whole cuts – the term used to describe steaks and filets – rather than textured meat products such as burgers and nuggets.
Specifically, the start-up is developing what it claims to be Europe’s ‘first convincing beef steak alternative’.
Adamo Foods is not the first start-up to produce meat-free whole cuts in Europe, however. Redefine Meat, for example, launched its 3D printed steak earlier this year and Juicy Marbles’ plant-based filet mignon is also on the market.
For Dupuis however, it’s a question of definition. “It depends on how you define steak,” he told this publication. “Juicy Marbles’ product is more of a filet mignon, with a very filamentous structure that does not replicate a simple grilled steak (which we are creating).
“The same goes for Redefine Meat,” we were told. “The structure is more like a slow-cooked/stewed piece of beef – due to the long loose filaments of their 3D printing technology.”
That is not to say that these products are not good or realistic, he stressed, it’s just a different approach or definition of steak.
“We could also claim we are launching Europe’s first mycelium steak.”
Planning for a 2023 launch
Adamo Foods plans to pilot launch its first product in a ‘limited number’ of UK locations next year.
The start-up will start with foodservice channels, and once it has built strong brand equity across the UK and EU, it may consider expanding into retail.
It’s a ‘hugely exciting’ time in the alternative protein space, with meat alternatives ‘more popular than ever’, said Dupuis.
“But we see a huge gap in the market for realistic and healthy alternatives to whole cuts.
“Whole cuts represent 85% of the $1trn meat market but are virtually absent in meat alternatives. We’re aiming to change that.”