08 Aug 2022 — 70/30 Food Tech, a Shanghai-based alternative protein firm, is introducing ready meal items based on its in-house biomass fermented protein. This protein is a meat substitute based on mycelium, which has the texture and nutritional profile of shredded chicken.
The firm will be “the first” to introduce a mycelium protein product to the Chinese market, and it just closed an undisclosed angel round, led by global impact investor New Crop Capital.
The company’s innovation strategy lead, Eve Samyuktha, says: “We needed a meat replacement that is textured like meat but is also as natural and whole as the other components of our meal bowls. This biomass protein is ‘harvested’ with our in-house process and utility design.”
70/30 is a company in the portfolio of Dao Foods Investment, a corporation dedicated to developing alternative protein firms for the mainstream Chinese market.
A market for makeshift meat
Fermentation is recognized as the third pillar in the alternative protein business by the Good Food Institute (GFI), alongside cell-cultured and plant-based. According to GFI, fermentation has garnered US$435 million in venture funding in 2020.
“We sold over 25,000 ready meal products to over 1,600 customers in 2021 as part of our pilot test launch. We have gathered valuable data on how the average ‘996’ worker in cities makes their food decisions, and their expectations of plant-based food,” says 70/30’s co-founder and chief product developer, Mike Huang.
At their new Shanghai plant, 70/30 will enhance production capacity with their manufacturing partner, Shanghai Qingmei Green Food Group, a Chinese industry behemoth with a broad network of cold chain logistics.
70/30 will increase production and attain countrywide distribution of its healthy and delectable meal plans through this agreement in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The series will be released soon by the firm. A round of financing for increasing mycelium protein production, expanding the research and development staff and releasing new products designed for the Chinese market.
Mycelium: A food-tech frenzy
According to Mycorena, a food technology firm that uses fungal technology to develop goods and processes that promote global environmental sustainability, Fungi’s mycelium – the network of underground thread-like filaments that grows underneath mushrooms – contains up to 60% protein (dry weight) and 12% fiber.
This makes it a good source of protein, and, because mycelium is fibrous, it may be converted into a meat-like form with filaments that resemble animal muscle fibers.
As this alternative to meat becomes more popular in the food sector, an increasing amount of capital is being invested in research and development to improve and expand the technology.
A group of Danish scientists, for example, recently obtained funds to collaborate with chefs at Copenhagen’s two Michelin-starred Alchemist to develop a new seafood product by fermenting fungus on seaweed.
Diego Prago, head of research at the Alchemist, explained that the main goal of the project is to attempt to create a product that is good enough to be served at a fine dining restaurant, using natural ingredients with seaweed providing flavors of the sea and the mycelium adding to an attractive texture.
Furthermore, Bosque Foods recently debuted their whole-cut mycelium-based meat substitutes in Europe during a tasting event. Alternative pork filets in Vietnamese bao buns and alternative chicken filets were among the dishes showcased.
By Mieke Meintjes
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