Melt&Marble unveils “beef-like prototype” of non-animal fat with melting profile of meat
05 May 2022 --- Swedish business Melt&Marble, a specialist in precision fermentation to produce customized fats for plant-based foods, has revealed its non-animal fat with the properties of beef fat. Next, the outfit will upscale the fermentation and food divisions to facilitate process improvement and application testing.
“We use precision fermentation to produce animal fats via yeasts. Essentially we program yeasts to take in sugars and convert these sugars to fats. Similar to brewing, except that our yeasts produce fat instead of alcohol,” Dr. Anastasia Krivoruchko, co-founder and CEO, Melt&Marble, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“By engineering the metabolism of our yeasts, we can also program them to create very specific fat structures, for example, fats that mimic the structure of meat fats or dairy fats. The yeast strains we use and the engineering steps we take are proprietary,” she continues.
Variety of animal fats to grace the menu
The technology can also be used to produce other animal fats, which could be a game-changer in sustainable food production, notes the company.
The Gothenburg-based Melt&Marble also secured a €5million (US$5.3million) Series Seed financing round recently to scale-up production.
The round was led by Lever VC, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on technologies and brands in the alternative protein space, with participation from new investors Be8 Ventures and Good Startup and existing investors Nordic Foodtech VC, PINC (Paulig Incubator) and Chalmers Ventures.
Precision fermentation infuses flavor
The company’s precision fermentation platform is used to develop customized fats with molecular capabilities that mimic animal fat. Through this process, flavor is delivered and the buttery melt mouthfeel of animal fat is created.
As ever in this space, the price point can be a challenge.
“The main challenges going forward will be in decreasing the production costs. We will overcome these by further improving the efficiency of our production process, for example, through additional engineering steps, process optimization and scaling up the technology,” says Dr. Krivoruchko.
The ingredients will enable a major step forward in erasing the taste gap between conventional animal-based foods and plant-based alternatives.
“While most people accept that we must minimize our consumption of animal-based foods, plant-based alternatives face a big hurdle,” she adds.
Fermentation research and experimentation
The technology platform was borne from research by co-founders Dr. Krivoruchko, Dr. Florian David and professor Jens Nielsen at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.
The recent financing round will help to accelerate commercialization through R&D efforts, conducting extensive application tests and expanding the team.
“We have already conducted some tests on the properties of our fats, such as the melting profile and taste. The results are very promising. The next step will be extensive application testing across multiple products and matrices. We plan to do this internally and with customers,” Krivoruchko explains.
Does the taste stand the test?
Tests conducted on the latest prototype show that it displays beef fat’s gradual melting behavior, an essential property for achieving slow flavor release and lingering juiciness.
“Plant-based fats currently used do not feel, act and taste like animal-based fats. As a result, the food doesn’t taste as good, making it less attractive to consumers. As far as we’re aware, this is the first beef-like fat prototype produced via precision fermentation. It is a groundbreaking step toward making plant-based meat tastier,” adds James Caffyn, partner, Lever VC.
“Melt&Marble’s fermentation-derived beef fat will facilitate the step-change in product quality that companies in the space have been striving for, increasing the size of their addressable markets and accelerating consumer uptake,” says Caffyn.
By Inga de Jong
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