Bacon lovers, take note. Berkeley, CA-based Mission Barns plans to run curbside taste tests of its cell-based bacon product outside San Francisco and Oakland restaurants in August (h/t Food Navigator).
Mission Barns gets its product by combining cell-cultured pork fat grown in bioreactors with plant-based protein. To do that, the company isolates cells from the animal, in this case the pig, and puts them in a warm cultivator where they grow just as they would inside the animal. Cells are then fattened and the tissue is harvested to create the “meat” portion of Mission Barns products.
On its website, Mission Barns says its process for creating “meat” is more sustainable than conventional livestock farming in terms of land and water use as well as greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also more humane, since the animal doesn’t actually have to be slaughtered to get the cells.
As with all meat alternatives, though, taste is what will ultimately convert many consumers. To that end, Mission Barns is looking for “bacon lovers, experts, and aficionados” for this upcoming taste test, which is the first ever from the company. Potential “tasting consultants” must fill out an application. Once accepted, participants can sample the bacon in exchange for providing feedback to Mission Barns.
The company also told Food Navigator that it is testing new products with other food companies, including “one of the largest pork producers in the world.”
Mission Barns has competition in the bacon realm from Higher Steaks, a UK-based startup that recently announced its lab-grown prototypes for bacon and pork belly.
Overall, cell-based meat companies have received quite a bit of funding since the pandemic started surfacing some of the uglier realities of the conventional meat industry. New Age Meats recently raised an additional $2 million for its plant-based pork, while Integriculture nabbed $7.4 million in May and BlueNalu garnered $20 million in February.
This investment activity isn’t likely to slow. For the entire alternative protein category, investment has already surpassed the $1 billion mark, with more than $290 million of that going towards cell-based meat, according to a recent report from FAIRR.
Price parity still being an issue, it will be a while yet before consumers start actually bringing home the cell-based bacon. Mission Barns upcoming taste test should tell us more about how devoted bacon fans will react to cell-based versions of their favorite meat.