Cultivated fat is a potential popular addition to plant-based products

21 Jan 2021

Cultivated fat might be the next ingredient to melt the hearts of fans of plant-based products, with two-thirds of plant-based meat companies interested in incorporating the ingredient into their recipes, according to a survey Peace of Meat.

The company is already working to take advantage of this interest by creating fat from chicken and duck cells which it intends to commercialize through hybridized products that it is crafting in partnership with plant-based meat manufacturers. There are not yet any products available on the market. Peace of Meat is a cultivated fat producer that is a subsidiary of the cell-based meat provider Meat-Tech 3D.

Cultivated fat is a potential popular addition to plant-based products
Image via Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

Cultivated fat is an ingredient that toes a fine line. It is not vegan, but it is also not derived from animals. Instead, the fat is produced by growing animal fat cells in a nutrient solution. These cells are identical to those in a live land-roaming animal, but they do not require an animal to be killed. Peace of Meat’s survey underscores the appeal of having access to an animal product that has identical qualities to traditional components of animal ingredients but from an animal-friendly and sustainable source.

Creating plant-based products that have real animal fat incorporated into their recipes has the potential to help alleviate the No. 1 concern associated with plant-based protein: taste. Consumers primarily make their selection of plant-based substitutes based on taste, according to a 2019 white paper by Kerry. This is not surprising due to the fact that 89% of those consuming plant-based products are meat eaters, per an NPD study.

However, cultivated animal products still pose problems, including the fact that there are plenty of governmental and regulatory hurdles still in place worldwide that hinder the mass commercialization of these products. Despite the difficulties, progress toward approval is being made, and Singapore recently became the first country to approve a cell-based meat chicken product.

Companies and consumers remain undeterred in their interest in sustainable solutions to traditional animal husbandry. As a result, there is widespread interest in cultivated animal products, and particularly in cultivated fat. Last spring, Spanish cultured fat startup Cubiq Foods secured 5 million euros in funding for its omega-3 rich fats and San Francisco-based Mission Barns began testing its cultured pork fat in bacon strips.

Cell-based fats may even appeal to consumers that are more concerned with health than taste. Dieticians have routinely criticized plant-based burgers for not being as healthy as they seem with sodium and saturated fat contents that are the same as beef patties. By introducing cultured animal fat into the process, manufacturers will have the ability to selectively render the ingredient to feature more healthy fats, such as omega-3s, which can then transform plant-based burgers into an even more appealing better-for-you alternative.

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