The summer days are going by fast, but it feels like the rate at which news is breaking in the food tech space is even faster. In this week’s Food Tech News roundup, we have pieces on chocolate being grown in a lab, a tasting room opening in San Franciso for cultured sushi, a new Canadian egg alternative, and a Russian plant-based company’s recent funding round.
Lab-grown chocolate in Switzerland
We live in a chocolate-crazed world, but unfortunately growing cacao for the production of chocolate can cause deforestation and make use of child labor. Some chocolate companies choose to source their cocoa beans from farmers and suppliers that use ethical practices, but this is not always the case. Scientists at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland may have found another option: growing chocolate in a lab. One of the food scientists had the idea to extract cell cultures from cocoa beans to attempt to produce a compound found in chocolate called polyphenols (important for the sensory effects in chocolate). Cocoa beans are cut into quarters and then incubated in a culture medium. After about three weeks a callus grows over the surface of the bean, which can be continuously be replicated. The new material is added to shaking flasks and mixed with suspension culture, and then multiplied in a bioreactor. The cultured cells can then be used to make chocolate.
The scientist said that there is currently no plan for commercial production of lab-grown chocolate. The process is considerably more expensive than conventional chocolate, and they will be continuing to study and compare the production processes of conventional and lab-grown chocolate.
Wildtype set to open a cultured sushi tasting room
Wildtype, a cell-ag company focused on seafood, shared that it will be opening a tasting room for cultured sushi in San Francisco. The tasting room will serve as an opportunity to educate consumers on the benefits of cell-based agriculture and provide transparency on this process. Wildtype is focused on creating cultured sushi-grade salmon, and it sources living cells from Pacific salmon. Its pilot plant will soon be capable of producing 50,000 pounds of seafood per year, with a maximum capacity of 200,000 pounds. The tasting room is expected to open in fall 2021.
Nabati launches a plant-based egg product made from lupin beans
Nabati is a Canadian-based plant-based brand, and this week it announced it is filing patents for its plant-based egg product currently being developed. The new egg product will be in liquid form, like Just Egg, and this is the first Canadian-made egg alternative product. Nabati is filing patents for the product in Canada, the United States, and Australia, with the intention to also eventually file in Europe, and China. The egg, called Nabati Plant Eggz, contains no cholesterol, 90 calories per serving, and six grams of protein. Lupin beans and pea protein are the main ingredients used, and the product is both soy and gluten-free. The new egg alternative is expected to be available for purchase sometime later this year.
Russian plant-based brand raises $1.5 million in Series A round
Welldone is a plant-based meat alternative company in Moscow, Russia, and this week it raised $1.5 million in its Series A round. The round was led by Phystech Ventures and Lever VC, and this new capital will be used to increase production and distribution, as well as bring Welldone’s products to new markets. Welldone currently produces alternative cutlets, burger patties, and minced meat made from a base of soy, coconut oil, and cellulose. Plant-based alternatives in Russia can be pricey, and Welldone has set the goal of reaching price parity with meat.