While many people think fat is bad, it’s actually a critically important part of what makes many foods taste good.
That’s especially true when it comes to meat. The juiciness and wonderful mouthfeel you experience when you bite into a steak or burger is basically fat doing its job.
Makers of plant-based meat usually rely on coconut oil or cocoa butter to replicate fat and it does an ok job, but plant-based fat has a long way to go to become more animal-like in how it tastes and cooks.
Motif Foodworks, the food ingredient building-block spinout of Ginkgo Bioworks, wants to change that. The company just announced a new partnership with the University of Guelph where they will work over the next 12 months to find and develop ways to make plant-based fats more like the real stuff.
Their work will include making plant-based fat act more like animal fat so it solidifies at room temperature and recreates more realistic”marbling” in plant-based meat products. The company will also work on ways to make plant-based cheese more “meltable and elastic.”
Under the terms of the partnership, Motif has exclusive options to license or acquire any of the novel technologies developed during the 12 month period.
While partnerships like this usually fly under the radar, we’re still early in the game when it comes to plant-based meat, and the type of research Motif and the University of Guelph will be doing is critical to close the gap. Beyond, Impossible, and other plant-based household names have done a good job so far in making tasty replications of our favorite animal-based products, but the reality is we’re still firmly entrenched in the uncanny valley of fake meat where the end result is still at least 10 percent off from the real thing. That turns off many of those who would otherwise be converts to plant-based meat.
Hopefully this deal will help us close the gap and make the fake stuff tastier and more meat-like.