Today Boulder, CO-based startup Emergy Foods announced the release of its first alternative meat brand, Meati Foods.
Meati Foods will focus on making whole cuts of meat from fermented fungi, also known as mycelium. Unlike most plant-based meats, Meati Foods’ offerings are free of pea, wheat, and soy. According to Emergy Foods CEO Tyler Huggins, who I spoke with over the phone today, opting for mycelium allows Meati to mimic the look and mouthfeel of whole cuts of protein, such as steak and chicken breast, which is difficult to do with other proteins.
In addition to better being able to replicate the texture of meat, mycelium has some inherent nutritional benefits. “It has the same protein profile of meat, and the same quantity [of protein] as chicken or steak,” Huggins told me. It also comes with fiber, which traditional meat doesn’t have.
At first Meati Foods will sell to high-end restaurants in order to build their brand. Huggins said that their products will likely be priced on par with traditional meat at these spots. As they scale he expects they’ll be able to match wholesale meat prices for chicken and beef, They plan to move into retail soon, but are currently limited by production capacity.
Founded in 2016 by two PhD students, Emergy Foods announced back in July that it had closed a $4.8 million funding round and currently has a team of 10.
If you want to try Meati’s realistic-looking steaks, you might not have much longer to wait (provided you’re in the Colorado area). Meati is preparing for a beta launch at the end of 2019 and is expecting to launch in restaurants in early 2020.
Emergy Foods isn’t the first brand to leverage mycelium as a magical ingredient to mimic meat. Prime Roots uses ‘shroom roots to make a variety of animal product alternatives, from bacon to crab cakes to chicken breast. Though it chiefly sells in Europe, alt-meat giant Quorn uses fermented fungi as the base for its wide array of products. There’s also Atlast Foods, a spinoff of Ecovative, which makes mycelium-based scaffolding for use in a myriad of meat alternatives, both plant-based and cell-based.
Based off of their product offerings and target demographics, it looks like Prime Roots will be Meati Foods’ biggest competitor. When I asked Huggins how he’ll differentiate himself, he said that Meati uses a “unique strain of mycelium” which can really accurately imitate meat.
Both companies are looking to begin selling their products in early 2020, so soon we might be able to put both products to a taste test. But with demand for protein alternatives on the rise, there’s plenty of room for more than one player in the fungi-meat game to put down roots.