Despite being bad in so many other ways, 2020 has been a huge year for alternative protein. According to the Good Food Institute, $1.5 billion has been invested in alternative protein companies in this year alone.
It can be difficult to keep track of all of the alternative protein companies and their innovations, and even more difficult to keep up with the main ingredients that are being used to create the products. So we decided to compile a list of the main ingredients being used by some of the biggest players in the alternative protein space to get a sense of what is actually coming to your plate. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it includes companies that have received a significant amount of funding this year and incorporate unique food technology into their products.
PEA PROTEIN – This legume-based protein contains nine essential amino acids, iron, and some B vitamins. Just a quarter cup of the pea protein contains 23 grams of protein.
- Beyond Meat – Available throughout the US and now China, Beyond’s products include alternative burgers, sausages, breakfast links, patties, and ground meat.
- Meatless Farm Co. This UK-based company launched in the US last year, and its alternative burgers, patties, links, and ground meat can be found in Whole Foods across the country.
- Good Catch Foods – Available in grocery stores throughout the US and now Europe, Good Catch produces alternative tuna and other seafood products from pea protein and five other legumes.
FUNGI/MYCELIUM – There are a variety of fungi that can be used to produce an umami taste in alternative protein products. Mycelium is essentially the roots of mushrooms, and provide a fleshy texture similar to meat.
- Meati – This company creates a plant-based steak out of mycelium, and raised $28M in its Series A funding round this Fall. In addition to steak, the company announced its newest product, “Chick’n” made from mycelium.
- Prime Roots – Koji, a type of fungus, is the main ingredient in this company’s alternative bacon, chicken, pork, beef, and turkey products.
- AtLast – Mycelium is the key ingredient in the company’s alternative bacon. The product’s launch will be sometime in 2021.
- Nature’s Fynd – Fy Protein is the name of the company’s fermented fungi protein product which is derived from a Fusarium strain flavolapis, a microbe found in Yellowstone National Park’s geothermal hot springs.
SOY PROTEIN – Seemingly the most common ingredient for alternative protein, soy has been used for years to create alternative protein products. Soy is high in protein with a neutral flavor, making it an easy ingredient to work with.
- Impossible Foods – Impossible Foods uses heme iron extracted from plants to give its alternative burgers and ground meat its extremely realistic flavor and texture. The products are available in grocery stores, restaurants, and retailers throughout the US and Canada.
- Omnipork – The company’s ground pork, luncheon meat, and strips were specifically developed for the Asian market. Although soy is the main ingredient, the products also contain a blend of mushrooms, pea protein, and rice protein.
- daring – Available in grocery chains like Sprouts, Gelson’s, and Bristol Farms throughout the US, the company produces several varieties (lemon herb, breaded, Cajun, and original) of soy protein-based chicken pieces.
- THIS – Based in the UK, THIS produces chicken chunks, nuggets, and bacon fortified with iron and B12.
- Hooked – A Swedish startup that created an alternative tuna (called Toona) and shredded salmon, and who recently received investment.
WHEAT PROTEIN – Wheat gluten, also called seitan, is typically extracted to use as an ingredient for alternative protein. Gluten is the protein in wheat that provides elasticity and strength in different doughs, and this helps form a diversity of meat analogs.
- Simulate – Formerly called NUGGS, the company’s main product is an alternative chicken nugget. This summer they announced a future product release of an alternative hot dog called DOGGS.
- Very Good Butchers – This Canadian company makes a plethora of alternative protein products like roast beef, steaks, and ribs from vital wheat gluten and a variety of vegetables.
PEANUT PROTEIN – This is a newer ingredient in the alternative protein space, and there is only one company we know of using peanut protein as a main ingredient. Peanuts are a fatty, high protein legume that provide B vitamins, iron, and magnesium.
- HaoFood – One of the recent finalists of the VWS Pathfinder competition, China-based HaoFood produces plant-based chicken products from peanut protein.
POTATOES – Not a major ingredient being used for alternative protein, but a potato is a versatile ingredient that contains vitamin C, potassium, iron, and fiber.
- Scandi Standard and Veg of Lund – These two Swedish companies have partnered to develop a potato-based chicken alternative. The product is not yet available and will be developed during the two year research project.
Know of another startup using a unique ingredient for its protein? Drop us a line and let us know.