Beef jerky is a salty, chewy, and high-protein snack best eaten on road trips. However, with one in four Americans reporting that they have cut back on eating meat, several companies are offering plant-based alternatives to classic beef jerky by using ingredients such as soy, wheat protein, mushrooms, and more.
Moku Foods is a Hawaiian-based start-up that produces plant-based jerky made from mushrooms to create a texture similar to traditional beef jerky. The company recently raised its first round of funding with participation from Siddhi Capital, Vanterra Capital, KBW Ventures, Mana Ventures, and Barrel Ventures.
The amount of funding was not disclosed, but I spoke with Moku Foods CEO, Matt Feldman this week to learn more about the company and its plant-based jerky products. Feldman started developing jerky made from mushrooms in his home kitchen with the goal of creating a sustainable jerky alternative made from clean label ingredients. When asked about the sustainability aspect of using mushrooms over beef, Feldman said “If you compare one bag of Moku Jerky to beef jerky, you’re saving 12 square feet of land, 107 gallons of water, and 11 pounds of methane.”
Moku Foods’ jerky is made from marinating and cooking King Oyster mushrooms, which have a naturally meaty texture. Feldman said the product is cooked several different times to achieve a chewy texture similar to beef jerky. The mushroom jerky is both soy and gluten-free and comes in three flavors: Original, Hawaiian Teriyaki, and Sweet & Spicy. Each serving contains 4 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.
Another company making jerky from mushrooms is Pan’s Jerky, which appeared on an episode of Shark Tank at the end of last year. Akua uses a combination of kelp and mushrooms to create its vegan jerky. In addition to consumers avoiding beef jerky because they are choosing to eat less meat, one may choose to avoid it because beef jerky can also contain an unhealthy amount of sodium (which acts as a preservative) and saturated fats. On the other hand, mushrooms are low fat, still contain a decent amount of protein, and provide a variety of vitamins and minerals.
At the moment Moku’s mushroom jerky is only available on the company’s website and Amazon, but it will soon be available on Thrive Market. A pack of six, 1.5 oz bags of mushroom jerky retails for $40. Feldman also said that plant-based jerky is just the first product from the company, and it plans on developing other product lines in the future.