Redefine Meat’s stand at SIAL this week was not challenging to find. The Israeli start-up was located smack-bang in the centre of the meat hall, a two-tiered stand towering over its conventional meat neighbours.
“We wanted to make a statement, and it’s by chance that we are in the middle of the meat hall,” Redefine Meat co-founder and CEO Eschar Ben-Shitrit told FoodNavigator at the event. “We have all the meat companies around us.”
It was in this setting that Redefine Meat celebrated two major announcements. The plant-based pioneer has secured a distribution partnership with Giraudi Meats, a distributor that specialises in ‘exclusive’ high-end cuts. It is also launching a swathe of new products to its New-Meat portfolio.
Striploin and tenderloin made with additive manufacturing tech
Redefine’s New-Meat range is made up of plant-based beef and lamb flank cuts, as well as ‘culinary-grade’ ground beef, sausages, premium burgers, and lamb kebabs.
Days before SIAL 2022 in Paris, the start-up unveiled a ‘major product expansion’ with the addition of five new products to its New-Meat range. These include two new premium cuts – Redefine Tenderloin and Redefine Striploin – and a new category of ‘pulled’ meat alternatives: Pulled Beef, Pulled Lamb, and Pulled Pork.
The plant-based tenderloin and striploin are made using Redefine Meat’s additive manufacturing technology. The tenderloin has ‘just the right gradations in colour and texture’, while the striploin, cut into strips, is a ‘tender cut’ with ‘delicate grill notes’.
Additive manufacturing is not to be confused with 3D printing technology, explained Ben-Shitrit over a tasting at the event. “3D printing is a technology usually used in plastics. We developed a version of 3D printing to create our meat, and we much prefer to call it additive manufacturing. It’s very different to what the consumer associates with 3D printing.”
In the consumer’s mind, 3D printing is conducted with small machines, at a small scale, and with an emphasis on shape, he told FoodNavigator. Redefine Meat’s technology, on the other hand, uses ‘big’ industrial production machines for food grade ingredients and materials.
“3D printing only gives you shape. In plastics, the shape is everything. In food, the texture and flavour and mouthfeel are much more important.”
Currently just 10% of Redefine’s products on the market are made using additive manufacturing, with the remainder accounted for by reconstituted and pulled products. This is in part due to the impact the process has on Redefine's ability to manufacture at scale. “If we develop a batch of our kebab product that is 1 tonne, the equivalent batch in additive manufacturing would be 10kg,” the CEO explained.
“Now we have a product that using additive manufacturing can yield 25kg an hour. We hope that by the beginning of next year, we’ll be able to do 40kg an hour.”
The decision to leverage additive manufacturing to develop plant-based tenderloin and striploin products came down to identifying a gap in the market. The premium products in a cow are flank, striploin, tenderloin, and ribeye – the latter of which Redefine Meat has yet to develop, but suggested is in the pipeline.
“Everything a cow can do is in our pipeline, but some [cuts] are more difficult than others.”
Entering the ‘trending’ pulled meat category
For the most part, Redefine Meat uses the same ‘building blocks’ in all its products, with just the process that changes. These ingredients include soy and pea proteins, chickpeas, beetroot, nutritional yeasts and coconut fat.
“It doesn’t look like it, but the [ingredients] for our sausage product is probably 99% the same [as our others], just with different colours and flavours and casing,” explained Ben-Shitrit.
This is also true for Redefine Meat’s new Pulled Meat range, which unlike the company’s premium cuts, is not made with additive manufacturing technology. The new line opens up a ‘brand-new plant-based category’ in foodservice, according to the start-up, ‘fulfilling an unaddressed market need from chefs for high-quality pulled meats’.
The added advantage for chefs is that unlike conventional pulled meat products, Redefine Meat’s alternatives can be cooked within minutes – rather than hours.
The decision to develop the pulled meat line was driven by market demand, suggested Ben-Shitrit. “The restaurants that we work with, but especially catering, wanted something they can produce at large scale. Whole [pulled] meat is a popular option,” he told this publication.
Indeed, pulled meat is trending, not least due to rising meat prices. “When meat prices are increasing like they are, people want to take a low-quality meat cut and make an elevated dish out of it. But in plant-based, there are not enough good [whole meat, pulled] solutions.”
Redefine’s new Pulled Beef, Pulled Lamb, and Pulled Pork products, as well as its plant-based tenderloin and striploin are now available for the foodservice segment in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Israel.
Giraudi deal to see New-Meat sold in France, Italy, Greece and Sweden
At the same time, Redefine Meat is announcing a ‘major’ partnership with meat importer Giraudi Meats to ‘rapidly accelerate’ adoption of its New-Meat line across Europe.
Monaco-headquartered Giraudi sells ‘exclusive’ high-end meat, such as Angus and Kobe beef, to Europe’s foodservice sector. It is in a unique position, in that Giraudi has a presence in 30 countries, with a marketing and distribution network in hospitality totalling over 300 meat distributors and wholesalers.
The importer also owns a chain of Beefbar restaurants across Europe, where Redefine Meat’s premium cuts will also feature on menus.
“Our strategy is to focus on meat. We are a meat company [just like any other]. But we need to reach consumers and restaurants, and don’t want to have our own distribution – that is not our profession,” explained Ben-Shitrit.
The decision to sign a distribution deal with Giraudi was in part influenced by the importer’s ‘exclusive’ nature, suggested the CEO. “They don’t do just regular meat. They do exclusive meat. And as you can imagine, you don’t find exclusive meat in regular retail. They distribute to restaurants – some that they own – and they also distribute directly to distributors in smaller countries. And of course butchers, but again, not your standard butcher.”
As per the agreement, Giraudi Meats will distribute Redefine Meat’s New-Meat line in France immediately, followed by Italy, Greece, and Sweden later this year, with ‘dozens’ more countries to follow.
From Giraudi’s perspective, the importer has observed demand for more flexitarian products from ‘meat-lovers’ fast growing. “We believe that this level of quality, combined with the product versatility across beef, lamb and pork, New-Meat will enable us to drive significant new revenue streams in the high-end meat market,” said Giraudi Group CEO Riccardo Giraudi.
Price and scale: ‘We will continue to grow until we reach full capacity’
Redefine Meat first reached the market one year ago in Israel. Now, the company is selling its products into 1,000 restaurants across Israel and Europe and is ramping up production.
Working from a ‘tiny’ pilot factory in Israel, the company was able to test the market, recalled Redefine Meat CEO Ben-Shitrit, before launching on a small-scale into Europe – in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK.
At the same time, the start-up took over a meat factory in the Netherlands. While initially at pilot scale, the site is now at commercial production scale. “While we don’t have unlimited capacity, our capacity will grow more than fifteen times this month. And we will continue to grow until we are at full capacity – which will be 500 tonnes a month,” we were told.
“We are moving from 15-20 tonnes a month to 15 tonnes a day,” added the CEO, explaining that scale-up will allow the company to move into new markets in new countries – and develop new products – at-scale.
As Redefine Meat scales, its price tag will come down. As it stands, its products are ‘expensive’, we were told. “But it’s not as expensive as meat at a scale that is slightly larger than our scale,” said the CEO.
Further, as the price of meat increases, Redefine Meat will become more competitive, Ben-Shitrit continued.
But the start-up is unconvinced price is the most important factor for consumers of plant-based. “There is nobody today who doesn’t consume plant-based meat because it’s expensive… If it were cheaper, the people who buy it today would be more of it. But in order to convert more people, we need to improve the quality.
“What we’ve observed in Israel is that when people switch from animal meat to plant-based meat, it’s because of the taste. The second factor is nutrition – so if you make a product cheaper by lowering the nutritional quality, they won’t like it.
“We focus on taste and texture first, then nutrition, and then price.”