Startups have been leading the pack in creating next-generation plant-based meats. But there’s still remarkably little basic research on plant proteins and how to optimize them for this particular use, which means that each new team has to start from the ground floor, studying each plant’s characteristics and experimenting with novel formulations themselves.
The phrase “reinventing the wheel” comes to mind.
As we grapple with global concerns over food security and the disastrous environmental consequences of animal agriculture, it’s time for plant research to matter.
University researchers and private-sector players across the supply chain for plant-based meat agree – which I know specifically because they just launched an ambitious, four-year, public-private partnership titled “Plant Meat Matters.” This collaboration marks the world’s first initiative of its kind to study the appearance, texture, taste, and sustainability benefits of plant-based meat so that companies can scale up production to levels capable of disrupting the global meat supply.
“The development of meat-identical plant products could cause a food revolution – essential as current methods cannot meet the enormous demand for animal meat.”- Niko Koffeman, Manager of Marketing & Communications at De Vegetarische Slager, which is closely involved in the creation of the partnership.
Wageningen University and Research in The Netherlands is leading the charge to take its study of plant-meat production and move it into industry practice, where the information can make a deep impact on building a more sustainable food supply.
Wageningen is the birthplace of the Cuoetee Cell, a machine that uses shear-cell technology to produce improved plant-based meats. Check out GFI senior scientist Christie Lagally holding a steak produced by the Couette Cell during a visit to the production facility!
The research conducted through this partnership will lay the groundwork for innovations beyond just plant-based meat. By better understanding the functionality of certain plants, we can stop reinventing the wheel and start using it to take us to an improved food future, where we can formulate a variety of foods, such as milk, cheese, and eggs, out of plants, instead of animals.
Fun fact: Dr. Atze Jan van der Goot of Wageningen lectured at GFI and UC-Berkeley’s Plant-Based Meat Challenge Lab! Read more about the class here.
For more information on how The Good Food Institute is working to build a healthy, humane, and sustainable food supply, read up on what we do!