Fungi-based fat alternative unveiled by Swedish startup

2 Dec 2021

Sweden’s Mycorena mycoprotein startup recently announced it has developed a fungi-based fat ingredient that recreates the mouthfeel and taste sensation of an animal-based steak. The company said its innovation will “take plant-based meat to a new level”.

Taste and texture remain two sticking points for manufacturers working with plant-based meat alternatives. A 2019 white paper from ingredients company Kerry noted that taste remains the number one hurdle for the adoption of plant-based substitutes. As, fat is a key component of taste, startups and established companies alike have been working to tackle this persistent issue, and Mycorena is looking to fungi as an option.

Fungi-based fat alternative unveiled by Swedish startup
Courtesy of Mycorena

The startup says its new ingredient provides a similar experience to animal fat when cooking and eating plant-based meat. While products containing this novel additive are not yet available, the company is implementing it into its current food applications, such as mycoprotein-based burgers, chicken filets and whole cut meats.

“We want to integrate our customers into our beta-testing program as soon as possible, where they can get access to test our solution already within the next few months,” the company CIO Dr. Paulo Teixeira said in a statement.

Currently, the majority of plant-based protein options contain vegetable-based oils, such as coconut oil and rapeseed oil. While these substitutes are vegan, they do not function like animal fat. Due to their lower melting point, these vegetal fats leech out of the meat early during the cooking process, do not marble and leave cooked plant-based products dryer than their animal counterparts. Other companies have looked to cultivated fat to solve this problem – cultivated fat is an alternative that is created from a base of harvested animal cells that are then grown in a lab setting – but not all consumers consider this workaround to be a vegan alternative.

Mycorena is looking to provide a vegan alternative that behaves like animal fat in order to enhance the flavor of vegan products. Its efforts have drawn attention and support. This summer, Mycorena raised $9 million, turning it into a well-funded vegan food-tech company that has one of the largest investments in the Nordic region.

Founded in 2017, Mycorena has made significant strides in its growth. The company is already constructing a new manufacturing facility in Sweden, which it says will produce “several thousand tons” of its Promyc mycoprotein product by 2022. Once it has ramped up production, the startup intends to enter into partnerships with other food companies worldwide to offer an alternative to the meat analogs that are currently on the market.

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