Exploring the holy grail of alt-meat: whole-cut plant-based meat and seafood

Exploring the holy grail of alt-meat: whole-cut plant-based meat and seafood

By
Louise Burfitt
June 15, 2021

🍽️ What is it?

  • Standing in the plant-based aisle of the supermarket, you’ll notice the ever-increasing range of vegan burgers, mince, balls and nuggets on sale. We’re increasingly spoiled for choice when it comes to processed plant-based products.
  • But if you’re on the hunt for a plant-based steak, chicken breast or salmon fillet, the pickings are noticeably slimmer. In fact, they’re basically non-existent in the lives of the everyday supermarket shopper.
  • But that doesn’t mean vegan steaks aren’t in the making - far from it, in fact. A hard-working gang of alt meat startups are busy beavering away at so-called ‘whole cuts’ of alternative meat - from ribeye steaks to filet mignon to bacon

🤔 Tell me more…

  • There’s a reason why whole cut meat substitutes are a far less common sight than veggie burgers and mince: making full cuts of meat is a whole lot trickier. 
  • Whole cuts of conventional meat have a unique texture, mouthfeel and taste, thanks to the complex interplay of muscle, fat, blood vessels and connective tissue. It’s a great deal easier to recreate a burger, which has already undergone processing. 
  • But that hasn’t stopped ambitious food tech pioneers from trying (and, in many cases, succeeding) to replicate the juicy joy of a perfect steak, and similar.

🤷 Why?

  • Though most plant-based products launch as burgers, meatballs or similar, the majority of conventional meat sold today is ‘whole cut’ - think bacon, pork loin, steak. About 60% of beef sold in the US is whole cut (sirloin, chuck, ribs, etc.). So it makes sense that perfecting animal-free whole cuts could hold the key to winning over loyal consumers of meat as we know it. 
  • New technologies are also quickly catching up with the desire of plant-based meat makers. Advances and innovations in 3D printing, fermentation and cell-based technology mean that making whole cuts is becoming more accessible, allowing more alt meat producers to get in on the action. 
  • The growth of plant-based meats is old news, but despite their meteoric rise in popularity, few animal-free meat products have fully replicated the sensory experience of tucking into a plate of steak frites or cutting into a tuna steak. And that’s what whole-cut alt meat makers are trying to do: emulate the mouthfeel, crust, juiciness and complex interplay of flavours and textures that makes whole cuts of meat and seafood so irresistible. 
  • Many alt meat makers in this space also believe that burgers, balls and the like have had their time and space. That’s now a crowded market, but whole cuts in the plant-based sector are a relatively unsaturated segment so there’s lots of room for new companies to grow into.
Meati Foods Whole Cute Steak from mycelium. Source: Meati Foods

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • When it comes to whole cuts, it’s all about making the perfect meat-free steak. A raft of companies are battling it out to make the most juiciest, most realistic cruelty-free steak substitute. There’s Nova Meat in Spain, Aleph Farms and Redefine Meat in Israel, and Meati Foods in the US (pictured above). 
  • Many are harnessing the power of 3D printing to do so: the technology is able to imitate the texture of actual meat, ensuring a more lifelike texture and mouthfeel that should appeal to meat lovers as well as vegans longing for a steak. Earlier this year Redefine Meat raised $29m to launch their 3D-printed steaks commercially. 
  • Strange though it may sound at first, fungi is also fuelling the ‘whole cut’ meat trend. Colorado’s Meati Foods and New York’s Atlast Foods are both using mycelium to culture their whole-cut meat alternatives. So are Innomy (Spain) and Kinoko Labs (Germany) and the Better Meat Co, who just opened a giant fermentation plant where they plan to produce their plant-based mycoprotein on a huge scale.
  • Meanwhile, Barcelona’s Libre Foods are on a mission to create an entire range of meats from whole-cut steak to poultry to seafood with the help of fungi filaments. Why are mushrooms so hot in this segment? Likely because the fibrous texture of mycelium can mimic that of real meat. 
  • There’s also a host of companies working on whole-cut seafood - tuna steak, shrimp, calamari and fish fillets to name but a few. Aqua Cultured Foods are using microbial fermentation to recreate whole-cut seafood, while Blue Nalu are using cell-based methods to achieve the same end product. Austria’s Revo Foods are taking the 3D printing route and the UK’s Seabloom are also working on whole cut seafood, with the latter focused on recreating tuna in plant-based form.
  • A handful of companies are also busy perfecting the technology whole-cut alt meat producers need to make their products a success. MeaTech specialise in cellular agriculture and 3D printing technologies and recently announced plans to open a pilot chicken fat cellular production plant in Belgium. Spanish company COCUUS, meanwhile, are pioneering industrial-scale 3D printing solutions that can be used to scale up production of alt meats. 
  • Governments and universities are also starting to recognise the potential benefits of whole cut alternatives that are more sustainable and better for public health. Last year, the Good Food Institute awarded American scientists funding worth $4m to develop plant-based alternatives to whole chicken, pork and beef. 
View the database of 20+ Companies here

👀 Who? (23 companies in this space)

  • Aleph Farms (whole-cut steak substitute, Israel)
  • Aqua Cultured Foods (whole-muscle cut seafood alternative using microbial fermentation, USA)
  • Atlast Food Co (whole-cut meats including meatless bacon, USA)
  • Better Meat Co (mycoprotein for use in alternative meats, USA)
  • BlueNalu (whole-cut plant-based seafood, USA)
  • Blue Ridge Bantam (whole-cut turkey, USA) 
  • Chunk Foods (whole cuts made from plants, Israel)
  • COCUUS (2D/3D laser printing, bioprinting and robotics for production of whole-cut meats, Spain)
  • Green Rebel (Beefless Steak and Chick’n Steak from shiitake mushrooms and soy protein, Indonesia)
  • Higher Steaks (cell-based pork belly & bacon, UK)
  • Innomy (mycelium-based tech to recreate muscle in plant-based meats, Spain)
  • Juicy Marbles (whole-cut filet mignon made from plants, Slovenia)  
  • Kinoko Labs (whole-cut meat & fish alternatives grown naturally from fungal mycelium, Germany)
  • Libre Foods (mycelium whole-cut meats, Spain) 
  • MeaTech (cellular agriculture & advanced 3D printing tech for whole-cut alt meat production, Israel)
  • Meati (mycelium-based whole-cut meats, USA) 
  • Nova Meat (plant-based whole-cut pork & steak, Spain)
  • Nowadays (extrusion to create whole cuts of plant-based chicken, USA)
  • Redefine Meat (3D-printed, whole-muscle meat, Israel)
  • Revo Foods (whole-cut plant-based seafood, Austria)
  • Rival Foods (plant-based whole cuts, Netherlands) 
  • Seabloom (whole-cut plant-based tuna, UK)
  • Umiami (proprietary fermentation to create whole-cuts of plant-based meat, France)
  • Walding Foods (meat alternative based on a tree mushroom, Germany)

📈 The figures

  • Investors have been busy backing plant-based cuts over the past year, with large funding rounds secured by Chunk Foods, Atlast Food Co and Meati in the last twelve months. 
  • Meanwhile, global, plant-based meat retail sales exceeded $4bn in 2020.
The world’s largest ever cut of whole plant-based meat, made with 3D printing. Source: Novameat

 🖨 Case study: Novameat

  • Spanish startup Nova Meat makes plant-based meat alternatives using advanced 3D printing techniques and cutting-edge tissue engineering technologies. 
  • Nova’s 3D-printed beef steaks are made from a meat fibre matrix created using a blend of pea and rice proteins, water and vegetable oil, and are designed to fully replicate the way real meat behaves when cooked and tasted. Last spring, they also debuted their 3D-printed pork muscle cut.
  • Founded in 2018, the startup is driven by its desire to solve four key challenges when it comes to plant-based meat substitutes: texture, appearance, taste and nutrition. NovaMeat 1.0 perfected the texture, while NovaMeat 2.0 focused on appearance. Taste and nutrition are the next challenges, and the focuses of NovaMeat 3.0 and 4.0.
  • In February of this year, the company unveiled the world’s largest ever cut of whole plant-based meat. They’ve also received vital funding from New Crop Capital, who’ve invested in big-name companies like Beyond Meat and Mosa Meat, as well as the Spanish government. 
  • The founders say their guiding principle is the environment, as they hope their steaks will reduce the shockingly high water usage and greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat production. 
  • Future plans? Selling their steaks to the restaurant industry before too long is first on the agenda, but the company is also keen to partner with cultured meat companies to advance scaling up and produce their products more efficiently.
Ultra-tender plant-based filet mignon. Source: Juicy Marbles

🥩 Case study: Juicy Marbles

  • Slovenian startup Juicy Marbles aren’t doing anything by halves: their first product is the premium of premium cuts among meats, ultra-tender filet mignon. 
  • The company creates its signature product using its patent-pending Meat-o-matic Reverse Grinder 9000, layering soy protein and linear fibres to recreate the muscle texture of real meat. 
  • The raw steaks are then marbled with sunflower oil - an industry (and world) first. This also gives them a rich, fatty taste that will be familiar to steak lovers.
  • Yet as the company’s filet mignon is made from soybeans, it’s much easier on the stomach than ordinary steak. That’s to say nothing of its planetary benefits - of course, no cows are necessary for its production!
  • Accessibility is super important to the company, which now ships its steaks across Europe and the US. Unlike many plant-based steak companies, who are pursuing a B2B strategy, Juicy Marbles sells to home cooks - the founders believe the plant-based revolution starts at home and are aiming to inspire ‘adventurous home cooks, not willing to sacrifice on flavour, nutrition or creativity’. 
  • Currently, the plant-based steaks are sold at a ‘symbolic’ price of $150 per steak - out of reach for almost all average-Joe consumers. But the company is busy scaling up production, with the aim of speedily bringing the cost into line with that of the meat you’d pick up in the supermarket. Their long-term goal is to sell their product at a price point below conventional meat to make their product even more irresistible to consumers.

👍 The good

  • Creating a truly realistic plant-based version of steak, chicken, pork or similar could be a game-changer in the drive to change meat consumption habits among consumers. If there’s a cheaper, more sustainable, healthier alternative, why wouldn’t shoppers make the switch? 
  • Whole cuts are good news for diehard vegans, too, and those already signed up to plant-based or flexitarian diets - offering more choice and more realistic alternatives to conventional meat.
  • Plant-based whole cuts are also much easier on the planet than the factory farming needed to mass-produce steaks and the like. We know that cows aren’t exactly doing wonders for the health of the Earth, so wouldn’t it be great to take them out of the equation - while satisfying consumer desires to continue eating the foods they love? 
  • For those new to plant-based meats, whole cuts will offer an easier route into cooking with meat substitutes. We all know how to fry up a rasher of bacon or chuck a steak in a pan - so making the switch could be easier for wary consumers to make.

👎 The bad

  • Bad news is: recreating that bacon sandwich isn’t easy. Recreating conventional whole-muscle products like pork and beef is complex and we likely still have a way to go before these alt meats are lining the supermarket shelves in the way that veggie burgers already do. 
  • Cost is also currently a major barrier, as we’ve seen from Juicy Marbles’ ‘symbolic’ pricing. However, the price per steak should fall as the technologies used become more widely available and companies scale up. 
  • Similar to arguments against plant-based meat more generally, there’s a question of how widespread availability of whole-cut meat substitutes would affect farmers who rear livestock for a living. 

💡 The bottom line

  • The most coveted steaks in the world are incredibly expensive and environmentally intensive to produce, reserved for the rare few who can afford them. Imagine if whole cut meat substitute makers could make the very best meats available to everyone?
  • In many ways, realistic whole-muscle cuts of meat are the ultimate hurdle for the plant-based meat industry, and the road to get there doesn’t look like an easy one. But for those who eventually succeed, the pay-offs look likely to be huge.

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🍽️ What is it?

  • Standing in the plant-based aisle of the supermarket, you’ll notice the ever-increasing range of vegan burgers, mince, balls and nuggets on sale. We’re increasingly spoiled for choice when it comes to processed plant-based products.
  • But if you’re on the hunt for a plant-based steak, chicken breast or salmon fillet, the pickings are noticeably slimmer. In fact, they’re basically non-existent in the lives of the everyday supermarket shopper.
  • But that doesn’t mean vegan steaks aren’t in the making - far from it, in fact. A hard-working gang of alt meat startups are busy beavering away at so-called ‘whole cuts’ of alternative meat - from ribeye steaks to filet mignon to bacon

🤔 Tell me more…

  • There’s a reason why whole cut meat substitutes are a far less common sight than veggie burgers and mince: making full cuts of meat is a whole lot trickier. 
  • Whole cuts of conventional meat have a unique texture, mouthfeel and taste, thanks to the complex interplay of muscle, fat, blood vessels and connective tissue. It’s a great deal easier to recreate a burger, which has already undergone processing. 
  • But that hasn’t stopped ambitious food tech pioneers from trying (and, in many cases, succeeding) to replicate the juicy joy of a perfect steak, and similar.

🤷 Why?

  • Though most plant-based products launch as burgers, meatballs or similar, the majority of conventional meat sold today is ‘whole cut’ - think bacon, pork loin, steak. About 60% of beef sold in the US is whole cut (sirloin, chuck, ribs, etc.). So it makes sense that perfecting animal-free whole cuts could hold the key to winning over loyal consumers of meat as we know it. 
  • New technologies are also quickly catching up with the desire of plant-based meat makers. Advances and innovations in 3D printing, fermentation and cell-based technology mean that making whole cuts is becoming more accessible, allowing more alt meat producers to get in on the action. 
  • The growth of plant-based meats is old news, but despite their meteoric rise in popularity, few animal-free meat products have fully replicated the sensory experience of tucking into a plate of steak frites or cutting into a tuna steak. And that’s what whole-cut alt meat makers are trying to do: emulate the mouthfeel, crust, juiciness and complex interplay of flavours and textures that makes whole cuts of meat and seafood so irresistible. 
  • Many alt meat makers in this space also believe that burgers, balls and the like have had their time and space. That’s now a crowded market, but whole cuts in the plant-based sector are a relatively unsaturated segment so there’s lots of room for new companies to grow into.
Meati Foods Whole Cute Steak from mycelium. Source: Meati Foods

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • When it comes to whole cuts, it’s all about making the perfect meat-free steak. A raft of companies are battling it out to make the most juiciest, most realistic cruelty-free steak substitute. There’s Nova Meat in Spain, Aleph Farms and Redefine Meat in Israel, and Meati Foods in the US (pictured above). 
  • Many are harnessing the power of 3D printing to do so: the technology is able to imitate the texture of actual meat, ensuring a more lifelike texture and mouthfeel that should appeal to meat lovers as well as vegans longing for a steak. Earlier this year Redefine Meat raised $29m to launch their 3D-printed steaks commercially. 
  • Strange though it may sound at first, fungi is also fuelling the ‘whole cut’ meat trend. Colorado’s Meati Foods and New York’s Atlast Foods are both using mycelium to culture their whole-cut meat alternatives. So are Innomy (Spain) and Kinoko Labs (Germany) and the Better Meat Co, who just opened a giant fermentation plant where they plan to produce their plant-based mycoprotein on a huge scale.
  • Meanwhile, Barcelona’s Libre Foods are on a mission to create an entire range of meats from whole-cut steak to poultry to seafood with the help of fungi filaments. Why are mushrooms so hot in this segment? Likely because the fibrous texture of mycelium can mimic that of real meat. 
  • There’s also a host of companies working on whole-cut seafood - tuna steak, shrimp, calamari and fish fillets to name but a few. Aqua Cultured Foods are using microbial fermentation to recreate whole-cut seafood, while Blue Nalu are using cell-based methods to achieve the same end product. Austria’s Revo Foods are taking the 3D printing route and the UK’s Seabloom are also working on whole cut seafood, with the latter focused on recreating tuna in plant-based form.
  • A handful of companies are also busy perfecting the technology whole-cut alt meat producers need to make their products a success. MeaTech specialise in cellular agriculture and 3D printing technologies and recently announced plans to open a pilot chicken fat cellular production plant in Belgium. Spanish company COCUUS, meanwhile, are pioneering industrial-scale 3D printing solutions that can be used to scale up production of alt meats. 
  • Governments and universities are also starting to recognise the potential benefits of whole cut alternatives that are more sustainable and better for public health. Last year, the Good Food Institute awarded American scientists funding worth $4m to develop plant-based alternatives to whole chicken, pork and beef. 
View the database of 20+ Companies here

👀 Who? (23 companies in this space)

  • Aleph Farms (whole-cut steak substitute, Israel)
  • Aqua Cultured Foods (whole-muscle cut seafood alternative using microbial fermentation, USA)
  • Atlast Food Co (whole-cut meats including meatless bacon, USA)
  • Better Meat Co (mycoprotein for use in alternative meats, USA)
  • BlueNalu (whole-cut plant-based seafood, USA)
  • Blue Ridge Bantam (whole-cut turkey, USA) 
  • Chunk Foods (whole cuts made from plants, Israel)
  • COCUUS (2D/3D laser printing, bioprinting and robotics for production of whole-cut meats, Spain)
  • Green Rebel (Beefless Steak and Chick’n Steak from shiitake mushrooms and soy protein, Indonesia)
  • Higher Steaks (cell-based pork belly & bacon, UK)
  • Innomy (mycelium-based tech to recreate muscle in plant-based meats, Spain)
  • Juicy Marbles (whole-cut filet mignon made from plants, Slovenia)  
  • Kinoko Labs (whole-cut meat & fish alternatives grown naturally from fungal mycelium, Germany)
  • Libre Foods (mycelium whole-cut meats, Spain) 
  • MeaTech (cellular agriculture & advanced 3D printing tech for whole-cut alt meat production, Israel)
  • Meati (mycelium-based whole-cut meats, USA) 
  • Nova Meat (plant-based whole-cut pork & steak, Spain)
  • Nowadays (extrusion to create whole cuts of plant-based chicken, USA)
  • Redefine Meat (3D-printed, whole-muscle meat, Israel)
  • Revo Foods (whole-cut plant-based seafood, Austria)
  • Rival Foods (plant-based whole cuts, Netherlands) 
  • Seabloom (whole-cut plant-based tuna, UK)
  • Umiami (proprietary fermentation to create whole-cuts of plant-based meat, France)
  • Walding Foods (meat alternative based on a tree mushroom, Germany)

📈 The figures

  • Investors have been busy backing plant-based cuts over the past year, with large funding rounds secured by Chunk Foods, Atlast Food Co and Meati in the last twelve months. 
  • Meanwhile, global, plant-based meat retail sales exceeded $4bn in 2020.
The world’s largest ever cut of whole plant-based meat, made with 3D printing. Source: Novameat

 🖨 Case study: Novameat

  • Spanish startup Nova Meat makes plant-based meat alternatives using advanced 3D printing techniques and cutting-edge tissue engineering technologies. 
  • Nova’s 3D-printed beef steaks are made from a meat fibre matrix created using a blend of pea and rice proteins, water and vegetable oil, and are designed to fully replicate the way real meat behaves when cooked and tasted. Last spring, they also debuted their 3D-printed pork muscle cut.
  • Founded in 2018, the startup is driven by its desire to solve four key challenges when it comes to plant-based meat substitutes: texture, appearance, taste and nutrition. NovaMeat 1.0 perfected the texture, while NovaMeat 2.0 focused on appearance. Taste and nutrition are the next challenges, and the focuses of NovaMeat 3.0 and 4.0.
  • In February of this year, the company unveiled the world’s largest ever cut of whole plant-based meat. They’ve also received vital funding from New Crop Capital, who’ve invested in big-name companies like Beyond Meat and Mosa Meat, as well as the Spanish government. 
  • The founders say their guiding principle is the environment, as they hope their steaks will reduce the shockingly high water usage and greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat production. 
  • Future plans? Selling their steaks to the restaurant industry before too long is first on the agenda, but the company is also keen to partner with cultured meat companies to advance scaling up and produce their products more efficiently.
Ultra-tender plant-based filet mignon. Source: Juicy Marbles

🥩 Case study: Juicy Marbles

  • Slovenian startup Juicy Marbles aren’t doing anything by halves: their first product is the premium of premium cuts among meats, ultra-tender filet mignon. 
  • The company creates its signature product using its patent-pending Meat-o-matic Reverse Grinder 9000, layering soy protein and linear fibres to recreate the muscle texture of real meat. 
  • The raw steaks are then marbled with sunflower oil - an industry (and world) first. This also gives them a rich, fatty taste that will be familiar to steak lovers.
  • Yet as the company’s filet mignon is made from soybeans, it’s much easier on the stomach than ordinary steak. That’s to say nothing of its planetary benefits - of course, no cows are necessary for its production!
  • Accessibility is super important to the company, which now ships its steaks across Europe and the US. Unlike many plant-based steak companies, who are pursuing a B2B strategy, Juicy Marbles sells to home cooks - the founders believe the plant-based revolution starts at home and are aiming to inspire ‘adventurous home cooks, not willing to sacrifice on flavour, nutrition or creativity’. 
  • Currently, the plant-based steaks are sold at a ‘symbolic’ price of $150 per steak - out of reach for almost all average-Joe consumers. But the company is busy scaling up production, with the aim of speedily bringing the cost into line with that of the meat you’d pick up in the supermarket. Their long-term goal is to sell their product at a price point below conventional meat to make their product even more irresistible to consumers.

👍 The good

  • Creating a truly realistic plant-based version of steak, chicken, pork or similar could be a game-changer in the drive to change meat consumption habits among consumers. If there’s a cheaper, more sustainable, healthier alternative, why wouldn’t shoppers make the switch? 
  • Whole cuts are good news for diehard vegans, too, and those already signed up to plant-based or flexitarian diets - offering more choice and more realistic alternatives to conventional meat.
  • Plant-based whole cuts are also much easier on the planet than the factory farming needed to mass-produce steaks and the like. We know that cows aren’t exactly doing wonders for the health of the Earth, so wouldn’t it be great to take them out of the equation - while satisfying consumer desires to continue eating the foods they love? 
  • For those new to plant-based meats, whole cuts will offer an easier route into cooking with meat substitutes. We all know how to fry up a rasher of bacon or chuck a steak in a pan - so making the switch could be easier for wary consumers to make.

👎 The bad

  • Bad news is: recreating that bacon sandwich isn’t easy. Recreating conventional whole-muscle products like pork and beef is complex and we likely still have a way to go before these alt meats are lining the supermarket shelves in the way that veggie burgers already do. 
  • Cost is also currently a major barrier, as we’ve seen from Juicy Marbles’ ‘symbolic’ pricing. However, the price per steak should fall as the technologies used become more widely available and companies scale up. 
  • Similar to arguments against plant-based meat more generally, there’s a question of how widespread availability of whole-cut meat substitutes would affect farmers who rear livestock for a living. 

💡 The bottom line

  • The most coveted steaks in the world are incredibly expensive and environmentally intensive to produce, reserved for the rare few who can afford them. Imagine if whole cut meat substitute makers could make the very best meats available to everyone?
  • In many ways, realistic whole-muscle cuts of meat are the ultimate hurdle for the plant-based meat industry, and the road to get there doesn’t look like an easy one. But for those who eventually succeed, the pay-offs look likely to be huge.

How did you like today's Trends?

Love it 😁 Meh 😐 Hate it 🙁

🍽️ What is it?

  • Standing in the plant-based aisle of the supermarket, you’ll notice the ever-increasing range of vegan burgers, mince, balls and nuggets on sale. We’re increasingly spoiled for choice when it comes to processed plant-based products.
  • But if you’re on the hunt for a plant-based steak, chicken breast or salmon fillet, the pickings are noticeably slimmer. In fact, they’re basically non-existent in the lives of the everyday supermarket shopper.
  • But that doesn’t mean vegan steaks aren’t in the making - far from it, in fact. A hard-working gang of alt meat startups are busy beavering away at so-called ‘whole cuts’ of alternative meat - from ribeye steaks to filet mignon to bacon

🤔 Tell me more…

  • There’s a reason why whole cut meat substitutes are a far less common sight than veggie burgers and mince: making full cuts of meat is a whole lot trickier. 
  • Whole cuts of conventional meat have a unique texture, mouthfeel and taste, thanks to the complex interplay of muscle, fat, blood vessels and connective tissue. It’s a great deal easier to recreate a burger, which has already undergone processing. 
  • But that hasn’t stopped ambitious food tech pioneers from trying (and, in many cases, succeeding) to replicate the juicy joy of a perfect steak, and similar.

🤷 Why?

  • Though most plant-based products launch as burgers, meatballs or similar, the majority of conventional meat sold today is ‘whole cut’ - think bacon, pork loin, steak. About 60% of beef sold in the US is whole cut (sirloin, chuck, ribs, etc.). So it makes sense that perfecting animal-free whole cuts could hold the key to winning over loyal consumers of meat as we know it. 
  • New technologies are also quickly catching up with the desire of plant-based meat makers. Advances and innovations in 3D printing, fermentation and cell-based technology mean that making whole cuts is becoming more accessible, allowing more alt meat producers to get in on the action. 
  • The growth of plant-based meats is old news, but despite their meteoric rise in popularity, few animal-free meat products have fully replicated the sensory experience of tucking into a plate of steak frites or cutting into a tuna steak. And that’s what whole-cut alt meat makers are trying to do: emulate the mouthfeel, crust, juiciness and complex interplay of flavours and textures that makes whole cuts of meat and seafood so irresistible. 
  • Many alt meat makers in this space also believe that burgers, balls and the like have had their time and space. That’s now a crowded market, but whole cuts in the plant-based sector are a relatively unsaturated segment so there’s lots of room for new companies to grow into.
Meati Foods Whole Cute Steak from mycelium. Source: Meati Foods

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • When it comes to whole cuts, it’s all about making the perfect meat-free steak. A raft of companies are battling it out to make the most juiciest, most realistic cruelty-free steak substitute. There’s Nova Meat in Spain, Aleph Farms and Redefine Meat in Israel, and Meati Foods in the US (pictured above). 
  • Many are harnessing the power of 3D printing to do so: the technology is able to imitate the texture of actual meat, ensuring a more lifelike texture and mouthfeel that should appeal to meat lovers as well as vegans longing for a steak. Earlier this year Redefine Meat raised $29m to launch their 3D-printed steaks commercially. 
  • Strange though it may sound at first, fungi is also fuelling the ‘whole cut’ meat trend. Colorado’s Meati Foods and New York’s Atlast Foods are both using mycelium to culture their whole-cut meat alternatives. So are Innomy (Spain) and Kinoko Labs (Germany) and the Better Meat Co, who just opened a giant fermentation plant where they plan to produce their plant-based mycoprotein on a huge scale.
  • Meanwhile, Barcelona’s Libre Foods are on a mission to create an entire range of meats from whole-cut steak to poultry to seafood with the help of fungi filaments. Why are mushrooms so hot in this segment? Likely because the fibrous texture of mycelium can mimic that of real meat. 
  • There’s also a host of companies working on whole-cut seafood - tuna steak, shrimp, calamari and fish fillets to name but a few. Aqua Cultured Foods are using microbial fermentation to recreate whole-cut seafood, while Blue Nalu are using cell-based methods to achieve the same end product. Austria’s Revo Foods are taking the 3D printing route and the UK’s Seabloom are also working on whole cut seafood, with the latter focused on recreating tuna in plant-based form.
  • A handful of companies are also busy perfecting the technology whole-cut alt meat producers need to make their products a success. MeaTech specialise in cellular agriculture and 3D printing technologies and recently announced plans to open a pilot chicken fat cellular production plant in Belgium. Spanish company COCUUS, meanwhile, are pioneering industrial-scale 3D printing solutions that can be used to scale up production of alt meats. 
  • Governments and universities are also starting to recognise the potential benefits of whole cut alternatives that are more sustainable and better for public health. Last year, the Good Food Institute awarded American scientists funding worth $4m to develop plant-based alternatives to whole chicken, pork and beef. 
View the database of 20+ Companies here

👀 Who? (23 companies in this space)

  • Aleph Farms (whole-cut steak substitute, Israel)
  • Aqua Cultured Foods (whole-muscle cut seafood alternative using microbial fermentation, USA)
  • Atlast Food Co (whole-cut meats including meatless bacon, USA)
  • Better Meat Co (mycoprotein for use in alternative meats, USA)
  • BlueNalu (whole-cut plant-based seafood, USA)
  • Blue Ridge Bantam (whole-cut turkey, USA) 
  • Chunk Foods (whole cuts made from plants, Israel)
  • COCUUS (2D/3D laser printing, bioprinting and robotics for production of whole-cut meats, Spain)
  • Green Rebel (Beefless Steak and Chick’n Steak from shiitake mushrooms and soy protein, Indonesia)
  • Higher Steaks (cell-based pork belly & bacon, UK)
  • Innomy (mycelium-based tech to recreate muscle in plant-based meats, Spain)
  • Juicy Marbles (whole-cut filet mignon made from plants, Slovenia)  
  • Kinoko Labs (whole-cut meat & fish alternatives grown naturally from fungal mycelium, Germany)
  • Libre Foods (mycelium whole-cut meats, Spain) 
  • MeaTech (cellular agriculture & advanced 3D printing tech for whole-cut alt meat production, Israel)
  • Meati (mycelium-based whole-cut meats, USA) 
  • Nova Meat (plant-based whole-cut pork & steak, Spain)
  • Nowadays (extrusion to create whole cuts of plant-based chicken, USA)
  • Redefine Meat (3D-printed, whole-muscle meat, Israel)
  • Revo Foods (whole-cut plant-based seafood, Austria)
  • Rival Foods (plant-based whole cuts, Netherlands) 
  • Seabloom (whole-cut plant-based tuna, UK)
  • Umiami (proprietary fermentation to create whole-cuts of plant-based meat, France)
  • Walding Foods (meat alternative based on a tree mushroom, Germany)

📈 The figures

  • Investors have been busy backing plant-based cuts over the past year, with large funding rounds secured by Chunk Foods, Atlast Food Co and Meati in the last twelve months. 
  • Meanwhile, global, plant-based meat retail sales exceeded $4bn in 2020.
The world’s largest ever cut of whole plant-based meat, made with 3D printing. Source: Novameat

 🖨 Case study: Novameat

  • Spanish startup Nova Meat makes plant-based meat alternatives using advanced 3D printing techniques and cutting-edge tissue engineering technologies. 
  • Nova’s 3D-printed beef steaks are made from a meat fibre matrix created using a blend of pea and rice proteins, water and vegetable oil, and are designed to fully replicate the way real meat behaves when cooked and tasted. Last spring, they also debuted their 3D-printed pork muscle cut.
  • Founded in 2018, the startup is driven by its desire to solve four key challenges when it comes to plant-based meat substitutes: texture, appearance, taste and nutrition. NovaMeat 1.0 perfected the texture, while NovaMeat 2.0 focused on appearance. Taste and nutrition are the next challenges, and the focuses of NovaMeat 3.0 and 4.0.
  • In February of this year, the company unveiled the world’s largest ever cut of whole plant-based meat. They’ve also received vital funding from New Crop Capital, who’ve invested in big-name companies like Beyond Meat and Mosa Meat, as well as the Spanish government. 
  • The founders say their guiding principle is the environment, as they hope their steaks will reduce the shockingly high water usage and greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat production. 
  • Future plans? Selling their steaks to the restaurant industry before too long is first on the agenda, but the company is also keen to partner with cultured meat companies to advance scaling up and produce their products more efficiently.
Ultra-tender plant-based filet mignon. Source: Juicy Marbles

🥩 Case study: Juicy Marbles

  • Slovenian startup Juicy Marbles aren’t doing anything by halves: their first product is the premium of premium cuts among meats, ultra-tender filet mignon. 
  • The company creates its signature product using its patent-pending Meat-o-matic Reverse Grinder 9000, layering soy protein and linear fibres to recreate the muscle texture of real meat. 
  • The raw steaks are then marbled with sunflower oil - an industry (and world) first. This also gives them a rich, fatty taste that will be familiar to steak lovers.
  • Yet as the company’s filet mignon is made from soybeans, it’s much easier on the stomach than ordinary steak. That’s to say nothing of its planetary benefits - of course, no cows are necessary for its production!
  • Accessibility is super important to the company, which now ships its steaks across Europe and the US. Unlike many plant-based steak companies, who are pursuing a B2B strategy, Juicy Marbles sells to home cooks - the founders believe the plant-based revolution starts at home and are aiming to inspire ‘adventurous home cooks, not willing to sacrifice on flavour, nutrition or creativity’. 
  • Currently, the plant-based steaks are sold at a ‘symbolic’ price of $150 per steak - out of reach for almost all average-Joe consumers. But the company is busy scaling up production, with the aim of speedily bringing the cost into line with that of the meat you’d pick up in the supermarket. Their long-term goal is to sell their product at a price point below conventional meat to make their product even more irresistible to consumers.

👍 The good

  • Creating a truly realistic plant-based version of steak, chicken, pork or similar could be a game-changer in the drive to change meat consumption habits among consumers. If there’s a cheaper, more sustainable, healthier alternative, why wouldn’t shoppers make the switch? 
  • Whole cuts are good news for diehard vegans, too, and those already signed up to plant-based or flexitarian diets - offering more choice and more realistic alternatives to conventional meat.
  • Plant-based whole cuts are also much easier on the planet than the factory farming needed to mass-produce steaks and the like. We know that cows aren’t exactly doing wonders for the health of the Earth, so wouldn’t it be great to take them out of the equation - while satisfying consumer desires to continue eating the foods they love? 
  • For those new to plant-based meats, whole cuts will offer an easier route into cooking with meat substitutes. We all know how to fry up a rasher of bacon or chuck a steak in a pan - so making the switch could be easier for wary consumers to make.

👎 The bad

  • Bad news is: recreating that bacon sandwich isn’t easy. Recreating conventional whole-muscle products like pork and beef is complex and we likely still have a way to go before these alt meats are lining the supermarket shelves in the way that veggie burgers already do. 
  • Cost is also currently a major barrier, as we’ve seen from Juicy Marbles’ ‘symbolic’ pricing. However, the price per steak should fall as the technologies used become more widely available and companies scale up. 
  • Similar to arguments against plant-based meat more generally, there’s a question of how widespread availability of whole-cut meat substitutes would affect farmers who rear livestock for a living. 

💡 The bottom line

  • The most coveted steaks in the world are incredibly expensive and environmentally intensive to produce, reserved for the rare few who can afford them. Imagine if whole cut meat substitute makers could make the very best meats available to everyone?
  • In many ways, realistic whole-muscle cuts of meat are the ultimate hurdle for the plant-based meat industry, and the road to get there doesn’t look like an easy one. But for those who eventually succeed, the pay-offs look likely to be huge.

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🍽️ What is it?

  • Standing in the plant-based aisle of the supermarket, you’ll notice the ever-increasing range of vegan burgers, mince, balls and nuggets on sale. We’re increasingly spoiled for choice when it comes to processed plant-based products.
  • But if you’re on the hunt for a plant-based steak, chicken breast or salmon fillet, the pickings are noticeably slimmer. In fact, they’re basically non-existent in the lives of the everyday supermarket shopper.
  • But that doesn’t mean vegan steaks aren’t in the making - far from it, in fact. A hard-working gang of alt meat startups are busy beavering away at so-called ‘whole cuts’ of alternative meat - from ribeye steaks to filet mignon to bacon

🤔 Tell me more…

  • There’s a reason why whole cut meat substitutes are a far less common sight than veggie burgers and mince: making full cuts of meat is a whole lot trickier. 
  • Whole cuts of conventional meat have a unique texture, mouthfeel and taste, thanks to the complex interplay of muscle, fat, blood vessels and connective tissue. It’s a great deal easier to recreate a burger, which has already undergone processing. 
  • But that hasn’t stopped ambitious food tech pioneers from trying (and, in many cases, succeeding) to replicate the juicy joy of a perfect steak, and similar.

🤷 Why?

  • Though most plant-based products launch as burgers, meatballs or similar, the majority of conventional meat sold today is ‘whole cut’ - think bacon, pork loin, steak. About 60% of beef sold in the US is whole cut (sirloin, chuck, ribs, etc.). So it makes sense that perfecting animal-free whole cuts could hold the key to winning over loyal consumers of meat as we know it. 
  • New technologies are also quickly catching up with the desire of plant-based meat makers. Advances and innovations in 3D printing, fermentation and cell-based technology mean that making whole cuts is becoming more accessible, allowing more alt meat producers to get in on the action. 
  • The growth of plant-based meats is old news, but despite their meteoric rise in popularity, few animal-free meat products have fully replicated the sensory experience of tucking into a plate of steak frites or cutting into a tuna steak. And that’s what whole-cut alt meat makers are trying to do: emulate the mouthfeel, crust, juiciness and complex interplay of flavours and textures that makes whole cuts of meat and seafood so irresistible. 
  • Many alt meat makers in this space also believe that burgers, balls and the like have had their time and space. That’s now a crowded market, but whole cuts in the plant-based sector are a relatively unsaturated segment so there’s lots of room for new companies to grow into.
Meati Foods Whole Cute Steak from mycelium. Source: Meati Foods

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • When it comes to whole cuts, it’s all about making the perfect meat-free steak. A raft of companies are battling it out to make the most juiciest, most realistic cruelty-free steak substitute. There’s Nova Meat in Spain, Aleph Farms and Redefine Meat in Israel, and Meati Foods in the US (pictured above). 
  • Many are harnessing the power of 3D printing to do so: the technology is able to imitate the texture of actual meat, ensuring a more lifelike texture and mouthfeel that should appeal to meat lovers as well as vegans longing for a steak. Earlier this year Redefine Meat raised $29m to launch their 3D-printed steaks commercially. 
  • Strange though it may sound at first, fungi is also fuelling the ‘whole cut’ meat trend. Colorado’s Meati Foods and New York’s Atlast Foods are both using mycelium to culture their whole-cut meat alternatives. So are Innomy (Spain) and Kinoko Labs (Germany) and the Better Meat Co, who just opened a giant fermentation plant where they plan to produce their plant-based mycoprotein on a huge scale.
  • Meanwhile, Barcelona’s Libre Foods are on a mission to create an entire range of meats from whole-cut steak to poultry to seafood with the help of fungi filaments. Why are mushrooms so hot in this segment? Likely because the fibrous texture of mycelium can mimic that of real meat. 
  • There’s also a host of companies working on whole-cut seafood - tuna steak, shrimp, calamari and fish fillets to name but a few. Aqua Cultured Foods are using microbial fermentation to recreate whole-cut seafood, while Blue Nalu are using cell-based methods to achieve the same end product. Austria’s Revo Foods are taking the 3D printing route and the UK’s Seabloom are also working on whole cut seafood, with the latter focused on recreating tuna in plant-based form.
  • A handful of companies are also busy perfecting the technology whole-cut alt meat producers need to make their products a success. MeaTech specialise in cellular agriculture and 3D printing technologies and recently announced plans to open a pilot chicken fat cellular production plant in Belgium. Spanish company COCUUS, meanwhile, are pioneering industrial-scale 3D printing solutions that can be used to scale up production of alt meats. 
  • Governments and universities are also starting to recognise the potential benefits of whole cut alternatives that are more sustainable and better for public health. Last year, the Good Food Institute awarded American scientists funding worth $4m to develop plant-based alternatives to whole chicken, pork and beef. 
View the database of 20+ Companies here

👀 Who? (23 companies in this space)

  • Aleph Farms (whole-cut steak substitute, Israel)
  • Aqua Cultured Foods (whole-muscle cut seafood alternative using microbial fermentation, USA)
  • Atlast Food Co (whole-cut meats including meatless bacon, USA)
  • Better Meat Co (mycoprotein for use in alternative meats, USA)
  • BlueNalu (whole-cut plant-based seafood, USA)
  • Blue Ridge Bantam (whole-cut turkey, USA) 
  • Chunk Foods (whole cuts made from plants, Israel)
  • COCUUS (2D/3D laser printing, bioprinting and robotics for production of whole-cut meats, Spain)
  • Green Rebel (Beefless Steak and Chick’n Steak from shiitake mushrooms and soy protein, Indonesia)
  • Higher Steaks (cell-based pork belly & bacon, UK)
  • Innomy (mycelium-based tech to recreate muscle in plant-based meats, Spain)
  • Juicy Marbles (whole-cut filet mignon made from plants, Slovenia)  
  • Kinoko Labs (whole-cut meat & fish alternatives grown naturally from fungal mycelium, Germany)
  • Libre Foods (mycelium whole-cut meats, Spain) 
  • MeaTech (cellular agriculture & advanced 3D printing tech for whole-cut alt meat production, Israel)
  • Meati (mycelium-based whole-cut meats, USA) 
  • Nova Meat (plant-based whole-cut pork & steak, Spain)
  • Nowadays (extrusion to create whole cuts of plant-based chicken, USA)
  • Redefine Meat (3D-printed, whole-muscle meat, Israel)
  • Revo Foods (whole-cut plant-based seafood, Austria)
  • Rival Foods (plant-based whole cuts, Netherlands) 
  • Seabloom (whole-cut plant-based tuna, UK)
  • Umiami (proprietary fermentation to create whole-cuts of plant-based meat, France)
  • Walding Foods (meat alternative based on a tree mushroom, Germany)

📈 The figures

  • Investors have been busy backing plant-based cuts over the past year, with large funding rounds secured by Chunk Foods, Atlast Food Co and Meati in the last twelve months. 
  • Meanwhile, global, plant-based meat retail sales exceeded $4bn in 2020.
The world’s largest ever cut of whole plant-based meat, made with 3D printing. Source: Novameat

 🖨 Case study: Novameat

  • Spanish startup Nova Meat makes plant-based meat alternatives using advanced 3D printing techniques and cutting-edge tissue engineering technologies. 
  • Nova’s 3D-printed beef steaks are made from a meat fibre matrix created using a blend of pea and rice proteins, water and vegetable oil, and are designed to fully replicate the way real meat behaves when cooked and tasted. Last spring, they also debuted their 3D-printed pork muscle cut.
  • Founded in 2018, the startup is driven by its desire to solve four key challenges when it comes to plant-based meat substitutes: texture, appearance, taste and nutrition. NovaMeat 1.0 perfected the texture, while NovaMeat 2.0 focused on appearance. Taste and nutrition are the next challenges, and the focuses of NovaMeat 3.0 and 4.0.
  • In February of this year, the company unveiled the world’s largest ever cut of whole plant-based meat. They’ve also received vital funding from New Crop Capital, who’ve invested in big-name companies like Beyond Meat and Mosa Meat, as well as the Spanish government. 
  • The founders say their guiding principle is the environment, as they hope their steaks will reduce the shockingly high water usage and greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat production. 
  • Future plans? Selling their steaks to the restaurant industry before too long is first on the agenda, but the company is also keen to partner with cultured meat companies to advance scaling up and produce their products more efficiently.
Ultra-tender plant-based filet mignon. Source: Juicy Marbles

🥩 Case study: Juicy Marbles

  • Slovenian startup Juicy Marbles aren’t doing anything by halves: their first product is the premium of premium cuts among meats, ultra-tender filet mignon. 
  • The company creates its signature product using its patent-pending Meat-o-matic Reverse Grinder 9000, layering soy protein and linear fibres to recreate the muscle texture of real meat. 
  • The raw steaks are then marbled with sunflower oil - an industry (and world) first. This also gives them a rich, fatty taste that will be familiar to steak lovers.
  • Yet as the company’s filet mignon is made from soybeans, it’s much easier on the stomach than ordinary steak. That’s to say nothing of its planetary benefits - of course, no cows are necessary for its production!
  • Accessibility is super important to the company, which now ships its steaks across Europe and the US. Unlike many plant-based steak companies, who are pursuing a B2B strategy, Juicy Marbles sells to home cooks - the founders believe the plant-based revolution starts at home and are aiming to inspire ‘adventurous home cooks, not willing to sacrifice on flavour, nutrition or creativity’. 
  • Currently, the plant-based steaks are sold at a ‘symbolic’ price of $150 per steak - out of reach for almost all average-Joe consumers. But the company is busy scaling up production, with the aim of speedily bringing the cost into line with that of the meat you’d pick up in the supermarket. Their long-term goal is to sell their product at a price point below conventional meat to make their product even more irresistible to consumers.

👍 The good

  • Creating a truly realistic plant-based version of steak, chicken, pork or similar could be a game-changer in the drive to change meat consumption habits among consumers. If there’s a cheaper, more sustainable, healthier alternative, why wouldn’t shoppers make the switch? 
  • Whole cuts are good news for diehard vegans, too, and those already signed up to plant-based or flexitarian diets - offering more choice and more realistic alternatives to conventional meat.
  • Plant-based whole cuts are also much easier on the planet than the factory farming needed to mass-produce steaks and the like. We know that cows aren’t exactly doing wonders for the health of the Earth, so wouldn’t it be great to take them out of the equation - while satisfying consumer desires to continue eating the foods they love? 
  • For those new to plant-based meats, whole cuts will offer an easier route into cooking with meat substitutes. We all know how to fry up a rasher of bacon or chuck a steak in a pan - so making the switch could be easier for wary consumers to make.

👎 The bad

  • Bad news is: recreating that bacon sandwich isn’t easy. Recreating conventional whole-muscle products like pork and beef is complex and we likely still have a way to go before these alt meats are lining the supermarket shelves in the way that veggie burgers already do. 
  • Cost is also currently a major barrier, as we’ve seen from Juicy Marbles’ ‘symbolic’ pricing. However, the price per steak should fall as the technologies used become more widely available and companies scale up. 
  • Similar to arguments against plant-based meat more generally, there’s a question of how widespread availability of whole-cut meat substitutes would affect farmers who rear livestock for a living. 

💡 The bottom line

  • The most coveted steaks in the world are incredibly expensive and environmentally intensive to produce, reserved for the rare few who can afford them. Imagine if whole cut meat substitute makers could make the very best meats available to everyone?
  • In many ways, realistic whole-muscle cuts of meat are the ultimate hurdle for the plant-based meat industry, and the road to get there doesn’t look like an easy one. But for those who eventually succeed, the pay-offs look likely to be huge.

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