The Higher Meat Co. unveils mycoprotein fermentation line

Because it was based in 2018, The Higher Meat Co. has been utilizing extrusion expertise to show pea and algae proteins, bamboo and psyllium into components to boost each meat and plant-based merchandise.

However that is not all it has been doing. At the moment, Higher Meat is unveiling its 13,000-square-foot mycoprotein fermentation plant, in addition to a line of mycoprotein meat analog components. Your entire product line — and the massive manufacturing facility, inbuilt a former indoor moonbounce-type play park for youngsters — has been developed below stealth since 2018. CEO Paul Shapiro mentioned it’s seemingly one of many world’s largest complete biomass fermentation amenities, exterior of those utilized by Quorn, the U.Ok.-based fermented meat analog powerhouse.

Shapiro mentioned he has no thought how the demonstration-scale facility — a step down from the most important dimension of fermentation facility — and the corporate’s secondary product line stayed below wraps for therefore lengthy.

“I ponder that on a regular basis,” he mentioned with fun.

Whereas Higher Meat is headquartered in Sacramento, California — about two hours northeast of the meals tech hotspot in Silicon Valley — in the present day’s announcement is probably going to make sure it rather more consideration sooner or later.

Within the fermentation facility, Higher Meat can produce hundreds of kilos of mycoprotein meat substitute monthly. The corporate calls its product Rhiza, from the Latin phrase for root. In only a matter of hours, cells within the big fermentation tanks on the facility convert sorghum and potatoes right into a dough-like model of Rhiza. The completed Rhiza is harvested, dewatered and dried. Then oil, flavoring and a few coloration is added to make it a convincing animal-free substitute for rooster, beef or seafood.

The Higher Meat Co. workers on the Sacramento, California, fermentation facility.

Permission granted by Higher Meat Co.


Shapiro mentioned he is lengthy checked out fermentation as a greater strategy to construct the meat different business — and to do it rapidly and affordably. Whereas plant-based meat has been rising constantly, in the present day’s business has many challenges. There are giant startup prices to create extruded plant protein, and plenty of firms are working exhausting to get to cost parity with meat from animals. Plant protein must be remoted after which extruded to create a usable texture. A number of the extensively used plant-based proteins are comprised of frequent allergens like soy or wheat. Others, like pea, have off-tastes that may require flavoring options simply to be palatable. And as of now, no person has efficiently marketed a plant-based complete reduce of meat.

“In the event you attempt a pea protein extruded, it has a type of meat-like texture. However if you attempt our product straight out of the fermenter, it’s far meatier,” Shapiro mentioned. “And so by way of fermentation, not solely do I believe that with scale we will compete on value with with rooster, however the texture already is simply a lot extra advantageous.

“…That may be a actual profit from fermentation that you simply simply do not get if you’re counting on crops,” Shapiro continued. “Whenever you’re counting on microflora, you’ll be able to management the parameters of the fermentation to create that sort of a product.”

In a press launch, Higher Meat mentioned Rhiza is a whole protein with more protein than eggs, extra iron than beef and extra fiber than oats. It is freed from frequent allergens, in addition to clear label and non-GMO. It is low in fats, has no ldl cholesterol, and has a naturally impartial taste, in response to the corporate.

“By fermentation, not solely do I believe that with scale, we will compete on value with with rooster, however the texture already is simply a lot extra advantageous.”

Paul Shapiro

CEO, The Higher Meat Co.

With these new capabilities, Shapiro mentioned Higher Meat is at the moment excited about persevering with as a B2B ingredient supplier. Whereas it is ready to make analog variations of complete cuts of steak and rooster within the plant, the corporate’s plan is to promote these to producers trying to reduce down on the meat of their merchandise. Shapiro mentioned that Higher Meat’s company mission facilities on sustainability. By creating one thing that helps huge producers use much less meat, he mentioned, Higher Meat’s affect goes additional than if it made its personal CPG merchandise.

Nonetheless, Shapiro mentioned meals firms are at all times pivoting their focus, so there is no assure that Higher Meat branded mycoprotein steaks will not sometime seem on cabinets. And, he mentioned, a Sacramento restaurant that has assisted in plating the steaks for photographs has expressed curiosity in serving a number of the meat analog to patrons.

Rhiza will likely be utilized in The Plant Primarily based Seafood Co.’s plant-based crab desserts, in addition to in a number of the firm’s different meat-free merchandise later this 12 months, CEO Monica Talbert mentioned within the press launch concerning the facility. Whereas there aren’t any different definitive partnerships Shapiro might speak about but, he mentioned objects with Rhiza will seemingly begin showing on grocery cabinets and restaurant menus later this 12 months. Kevin Ladwig, president of Johnsonville Holdings-affiliated enterprise fund MSAB Capital, mentioned in a launch that the sausage firm is worked up concerning the prospects of Rhiza.

A Rhiza rooster cutlet.

Permission granted by Higher Meat Co.


The power, which is stuffed with fermentation tools that appears like large tanks and tubes, creates loads of product in a comparatively brief period of time. It is presided over by a big piece of paintings commissioned by Shapiro that options gods and goddesses of fermentation from totally different non secular mythologies, together with historic Greece, Rome, Egypt and Sumeria, the Celts, Japan and Kenya — in addition to a feminine scientist in an extended lab coat, who the corporate has dubbed Fermentia. They encompass the ability within the portray, which affords a blessing asking for his or her assist so Higher Meat can harness the facility of fermentation to heal the world. 

On a digital tour of the ability, Shapiro identified the tanks that sterilize the sorghum and potato, which turns into the meals for the fermentation course of. That goes to fermentation tanks, the place the product types. A window on the tank confirmed the fermentation course of actively foaming and effervescent. As a result of Higher Meat makes use of liquid fermentation, the method can occur comparatively rapidly. Shapiro mentioned his facility can flip round a fermentation tank in 10 hours, which is a fraction of the time it takes for different strategies. The most important draw back of liquid fermentation versus different strategies is the upper preliminary capital value, Shapiro mentioned.

This facility was funded by fundraising the corporate has already carried out. Higher Meat has raised a complete of $9.7 million to this point, which it capped after ending an $8.1 million seed spherical final summer season.

Even with the brand new product line, Higher Meat will proceed making its unique, “traditional” line of plant-based meat product enhancers, Shapiro mentioned. The corporate hopes to develop each affords. Finally, he’d prefer to construct the largest-scale fermentation facility — generally known as full scale — to additional ramp up capability, Schapiro mentioned.

“Proper now, the choices for individuals who need some sort of plant-protein components are pea protein, soy protein or wheat protein, and people all have limitations,” Shapiro mentioned. “We are actually providing a fourth ingredient that has simply inherent superiority to these merchandise, and so there is a sturdy demand from the restricted quantity of people that have already examined this product.”

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