Hormel Partners With Better Meat Co. to develop animal-free products

22 Oct 2021

The venture arm of Hormel Foods Corporation, which is best known for its SPAM canned meat product, has entered into an exclusive partnership with The Better Meat Co. with the aim of launching mycoprotein-based products to the marketplace. Financial details of the partnership were not specified.

While there were also no specifics in the release as to what type of meat analog products the two companies will be trialing together, Better Meat did specify that it will be working with the Rhiza mycoprotein ingredient, which has “more protein than eggs and more iron than beef” as well as a meat-like texture. Rhiza is made from potato and sorghum inputs that undergo a fermentation process.

Hormel Partners With Better Meat Co. to develop animal-free products
Courtesy of The Better Meat Co.

Although Better Meat does not yet have any fermented plant-protein options on the market yet, this new partnership adds financial backing and possibilities to the R&D that this California startup has been working on since it was founded in 2018. Hormel also lends credibility to the idea of mycoprotein as a viable option for plant-based protein.

Currently, protein that is derived from fermented inputs is not commonly available on the market. Quorn is an exception. The U.K-based, Monde Nissin Corporation-owned company has spent more than three decades producing commercially available meat products from mycoprotein. The Plant Based Seafood Co. also said it is working with mycoprotein in the development of its plant-based crab cakes.

While this venture partnership with Better Meat gives Hormel access to a new emerging market within plant-based, the meat corporation is no stranger to the overall plant-based market. In 2019, it launched a plant-based meat and pizza topping line called Happy Little Plants. Initially, the company only offered a plant-based and mushroom blend for its “Unseasoned Plant-Based Ground Product,” but the line has since expanded and now includes vegan Italian sausage crumbles, pepperoni, and chorizo-style crumbles.

With previous experience in the plant-based category as well as ample history providing products for meat eaters, Hormel is no doubt looking to develop additional meat alternative options with The Better Meat Co. that are appealing to both those who do eat meat as well as those who don’t.

Straddling the line between carnivores and plant eaters is a balance that many major corporations are learning to keep since 98% of consumers who buy meat alternatives also purchase meat, a Nielsen study found in 2019. As products resulting from this collaboration will be made from a base of fermented potatoes, they will need to meet that standard of taste – an ongoing issue in the meat alternatives space – in order to convince consumers to purchase The Better Meat Co. products en masse.

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