Seattle-based plant-based meat startup Rebellyous Foods has announced they have developed a new patent-pending production system prototype that can produce plant-based meat at price parity with traditional meat.
The company claims the new system, which it calls the Mock 1S, will eventually reduce the cost of plant-based meat manufacturing by 95% through a combination of workforce reduction through automation, reduced energy consumption, and a 90% reduction in waste, and other improvements.
What makes the new Mock 1S system more efficient than traditional plant-based meat manufacturing? According to Rebellyous CEO Christie Lagally, the system is custom-designed for making plant-based meat, whereas traditionally, plant-based meat manufacturers utilize conventional food processing infrastructure that isn’t designed for the job.
“If you walk into a typical plant-based meat production facility, it would be exactly the same equipment as you would see in a typical meat processing facility,” said Lagally.
According to Lagally, plant-based meat production plants today utilize bowl choppers, tumblers, and conveyor belts that combine to texturize dry protein, emulsify the oils, water, and starch, and eventually mix it all together. With the Mock 1S, she says the system performs “just-in-time hydration” and emulsifies and mixes the dough at the right temperature in one automated process flow, all without using conveyor belts or wasted steps.
Lagally, who is a former Boeing engineer, had the vision for re-inventing plant-based meat manufacturing ever since she founded the company as Seattle Food Tech back in 2017. With this week’s announcement, she believes they’ve reached a significant milestone that will help her company to scale production of the company’s plant-based chicken and offer it at prices that are the same as you’d find from the likes of Tyson or other big-meat producers. Longer-term, she believes the system they have developed will allow them to produce their much cheaper than traditional factory-farmed animal meat products.
When I asked her if she planned to eventually offer her system to others to help them scale production, she said they might eventually go down that path, but for now, they’re happy to use it for their product.
“It’s not off the table. But I’ll tell you, that’s not our first goal. Our first goal is to deploy. We just deployed this new system, so we’ll start using it to make cost-competitive plant-based chicken we’ll scale it up.”
Lagally told me that with this milestone in the books, the company is now in fund-raising mode to help invest in scale-up of their production capability. The company plans on implementing the next-generation Mock system (the Mock 2) in their current production facility and begin to look for a new location in 2023 where they can ramp up production to meet the growing demand for their product.
And just how big is that demand currently?
“We are now in almost 600 retail locations. We will be announcing some new retail locations and about a month. We are serving 46 school districts ranging from northern Washington to the southern tip of California.”
While Lagally says they aren’t ready to show the Mock 1 off publicly – they currently have 5 patents pending for the system – you can see a walkthrough tour The Spoon took of the Rebellyous plant last year here to get a peak of their early thinking about how to reinvent plant-based meat manufacturing.