Whole-cut salmon analog poised to scale up alt-protein market
06 Feb 2023 --- New School Foods is unveiling its proprietary and scalable technology, capable of producing whole-cut fish alternatives that “look and cook” like ordinary seafood, according to the business. The technology focuses on producing fish analogs in the form of whole cuts, which the company claims remains the most significant untapped space within the alternative meat market, as the ‘majority of meat sales’ in North America are whole cuts.
“The next frontier of meat alternatives is whole cuts, and from day one, we understood that New School Foods needed to solve two heavily connected issues: the quality of the meat alternatives in-market and the limited toolkit our industry uses to produce them,” says Chris Bryson, CEO and founder of New School Foods.
“What’s generally available for consumers now are rubbery, ground, pre-cooked products that will not convince the average customer to change their lifelong habits.”
Bryson’s technology platform focuses on appropriating elements of whole-cut meats while maintaining inherent scalability. The Canadian company’s whole-cuts are constructed from plant-based ‘muscle fibers,’ which replicate fish fibers’ diameter, length, strength and structure, recreating fish meat texture and mouthfeel.
The ‘muscles’ are aligned with plant-based connective tissue, fats, flavors and colors and transform during the cooking process in the same manner as normal fish, replicating the experience of cooking salmon, its closest analog.
Expansion of this technology will continue following a US$12 million investment in New School Foods from investors including Lever VC, Blue Horizon, Hatch, Good Start-up, Alwyn Capital, Joyance Partners, and grants from multiple agencies, including Protein Industry Canada.
“We invested in New School Foods because they recognized that the existing production technologies in the plant-based meat industry are insufficient for creating a whole-cut product that consumers genuinely want to eat,” adds Nick Cooney, general partner at Lever Ventures.
“Its technology is unlike anything else we’ve seen in the industry in terms of truly mimicking the texture, mouthfeel, and experience of cooking and eating whole cuts of meat.”
New School Foods says its technology is ‘scalable by design’ as it uses off-the-shelf equipment from adjacent industries.
Fish analogs are in high demand within the alternative protein market, with many start-ups producing plant-based or cultivated protein fish in the hopes of hooking consumers.
Vgarden, a food tech start-up based in Israel, released its vegan tinned tuna made using pea protein. The tuna analog is designed to satisfy the appetites of the growing pool of sustainability-driven consumers by bringing to the table its creative response to the issue of the overfished and rapidly declining ocean populations of wild tuna.
The product has the same appearance, texture and flavor as the canned kitchen staple, according to Vgarden.
Similarly, ImpacFat recently introduced its new fish oil alternative at Singapore’s Big Idea Ventures Demo Day showcase. Creating the product involves removing stem cells from the fat tissue of edible fish species and then expanding them in a bioreactor before converting them to mature fat cells, which are then incorporated into food products.
ImpacFat hopes its fish oil alternative will provide the taste and texture missing from various alternative meat products.
Replicating the taste of fish is also a target for researchers developing the unique aroma of salmon using plants to support the development of alternative sustainable seafood products.
The work was led by Dr. Rosenvald, head of protein research, sensomics and meat alternative development at Estonia’s Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies . The research aims to help address Europe’s dependence on imported seafood and meet the growing demand without harming marine ecosystems.
By James Davies
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