Israeli start-up working on technology to produce “Holy Grail” of plant-based whole cuts
14 Sep 2021 --- Israel-based Alfred’s FoodTech is boosting the alternative protein sector with new technology to produce plant-based whole cuts. The start-up has developed a versatile platform for whole-cut texturization to deliver plant-based meat alternatives that can answer the growing demand for flavorful, sustainable, animal-free products.
Alfred’s joined the food tech scene to solve one of the alt-protein movement’s key challenges: creating whole cuts that mimic their animal-based counterparts in terms of texture, mouthfeel and flavor tones, it states.
To date, the company has produced prototypes of deli meat and chicken nugget analogs.
A gap in the market?
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Ronny Reinberg, CEO and co-founder of Alfred’s, says flexitarian consumers do not have enough quality products to transition from animal to plant products.
“Whole cuts are 60 percent of all produced animal products, so there is a huge gap in supply to meet this demand. Whole cuts are the holy grail of alternative protein products, and no technology to date can scale its whole cut technology to be able to produce on a massive scale.”
More consumers will shift their diets to include plant-based products, but only if the quality and taste is right, Reinberg believes. “The tipping point will happen when affordability, availability, flavor and taste are the same as animal products. There will be a tremendous shift creating another agricultural revolution.”
The challenges of whole-cut plant-based products
Most meat alternative products contain a long list of ingredients and additives to achieve the same texture and aroma as meat and poultry.
The main challenge is minimizing ingredients and maintaining high protein while creating continuous, whole-muscle tissue cuts cost-effectively.
Various food technologies already serve the rapidly growing alternative protein scene. Extrusion or 3D printing is used to bind ingredients into desired fibrous forms.
Novel fermentation and scaffold technologies also are gaining ground. Recent examples include Matrix Meats, a start-up developing a customizable nanofiber scaffold system, and Aleph Farms, a food-tech company that grows meat cuts from beef cells using a 3D tissue engineering platform.
Industry’s “Holy Grail”
Alfred’s technology can build continuous tissue-like structures and can work with other existing technologies.
“Plant-based whole-cut products that resemble meat are the ‘Holy Grail’ of the industry,” asserts Reinberg.
“Our tech uses only simple ingredients, such as pea protein and canola oil. Yet we can still custom-design compositions for food companies using protein sources of their choice, including cell-based ingredients.”
With Alfred’s technology, any food company can easily create alternative products that give consumers the authentic experience of real meat and poultry.
Alfred’s technology can scale up outputs quickly, making it suitable for mass market-oriented food corporations, and can be integrated into existing food processing systems.
The company plans to establish a low-volume production site to serve initial market demand.
Rafi Shavit, Alfred’s co-founder and COO, says the company was founded to bolster food companies and innovators within the alternative protein landscape.
“We see ourselves as the engine that enables companies to achieve new organoleptic heights in plant-based protein alternatives. Our mission is to elevate the plant-based experience for the growing ‘conscious eating’ consumer market, notably, flexitarians aspiring to presume more plant-based lifestyles but still crave that sensation of biting into a beefy steak.”
“Building a resilient, scalable, safe food system is the core of Alfred’s strength,” continues Shavit. “We can produce animal-free products that are affordable, safe and kinder to our planet.”
By Elizabeth Green
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