Ocean Hugger Foods, the creator of Ahimi (the plant-based answer to sashimi), recently announced its expansion to Whole Foods Market locations across the country. Earlier this year, Wicked Kitchen launched mushroom-heavy plant-based meals in more than 600 Tesco locations in the UK.
What do the two have in common? While tech is enabling critical solutions to the problems surrounding meat production and consumption, Ocean Hugger and Wicked Kitchen are among the wave of innovators that are stepping in to fill a growing whitespace in the market for authentic texture with a short ingredient list and low-tech production.
GFI’s SciTech team has dubbed this emerging category “nature’s mimics of meat,” and it includes underutilized meat replacements like lion’s mane mushroom (see in the header image above), jackfruit, and in Ahimi’s case, tomato—ingredients that require minimal processing to match meat’s flavor and texture.
As some consumers clamor for clean label products, the potential for startups in this sector is trending up. Finding whole-food products that require little manipulation simplifies things on the production side, in many cases lowering initial capital and equipment requirements. Simultaneously, these products often require less energy and other resources to produce than products with more ingredients, creating an eco-bonus for these meat mimics.
While this sector comes with its challenges (scale up, product consistency, and so on can be barriers here as much as anywhere), we believe there are myriad untapped opportunities to leverage the flavors and textures nature has provided and deliver these products in a fresh way to meet the global meat demand with animal-free options.
To learn more about how The Good Food Institute supports entrepreneurs, scientists, and startups creating novel plant-based meats, check out what we do.
[Header image: Wicked Healthy's lion's mane 'shroom steak]