One of the biggest hurdles for producing clean meat “steaks” is getting the 3D structure. Well 3D clean meat steaks may be a step closer with startup Ecovative throwing its hat into the ring. This startup has made a name for itself by persuading companies such as IKEA and Dell to swap styrofoam for mushroom based packaging. They now want to pivot their mushroom mycelium based technology into growing scaffolds for clean meat steak products.
As Eben Bayer, Ecovative’s co-founder and CEO, says. “If you look at plant scaffolding, you’re limited to the geometry of something like a spinach leaf,” and “With mycelium, we can make a sheet that’s many feet long and however thick. We can control the density. It’s this massive scaffold you can grow relatively inexpensively”. They’ve taken the first step along the way by successfully growing animal cells on the scaffold.
The entry of companies like Ecovative is a great step forward in that we now have an ecosystem of companies. In other words not every startup now needs to be completely vertically integrated from cell line to medium, to scaffold etc. Having companies dedicated to each link in the chain allows each to concentrate on what they doe best. This accelerates the industry by allowing parallel rather than sequential research.
It all makes 3D clean meat steaks one step closer.
They even suggest that companies like Impossible and Beyond Meat could benefit from a mycelial structure. They could “use our scaffolding and infuse it with their ingredients and flavourings,” says Bayer.
There are those who see cellular ag of meat as a niche product, but I firmly believe it has a major role to play in the future of food and feeding the planet.