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Impossible Foods Takes Huge Step Towards Plant-Based Domination

There was a time when it felt like plant-based foods made for great Facebook jokes to those outside of the community, but no one is laughing anymore.

The ubiquity of plant-based meat is now apparent, especially with Impossible Foods announcing this past Wednesday that they are collaborating with a meat processing company called OSI Group.

You’re probably wondering, “WTF does that mean?” Well, what it means is that they now have the capability to ramp up production of their Impossible meats as quickly as it is being demanded — which is a lot.

OSI Group operates over 65 facilities in 17 countries. That gives Impossible a tag team partner that can expand its plant-based product in a way we would have never thought possible.

“OSI has already installed equipment to make the Impossible Burger, and we’ll start seeing new capacity every week.” Senior Vice President of Product and Operations Sheetal Shah said.

Impossible Foods has been making waves for at least five years now, slowly popping up at restaurants across the U.S. from Umami Burger to Momofuku Nishi in New York. Then we started seeing them really pick up production by teaming up with White Castle, which gave them a taste of distributing to a pretty big chain. Then they announced that they would soon be producing Impossible Whoppers for ALL Burger Kings, and it made one wonder how exactly they were going to pick up such a huge production.

Teaming up with OSI now gives them the capability to sustain the demand that a chain like Burger King might bring, along with the possibility of getting into supermarkets the way Beyond Meat has.

In other words, having the plant based company join a global distributor opens the door for anything. We can start seeing Impossible Burgers at more chain restaurants, at more mom & pop restaurants, sports venues, and pretty much anywhere you normally see a burger.

Impossible Foods has found a teammate that can match its big dreams, and that is exciting news for the future of plant-based meats.

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Fast Food Health Plant-Based What's New

Arby’s Is Making A ‘Meat Carrot’ As A Middle Finger To The Plant-Based Meat Industry

With Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and more dominating the news waves with their plant-based meats, it was only a matter of time before someone came in with a counter to that trend.

Arby’s has finally added their two cents to the conversation. Instead of making meat out of vegetables, however, they’re making vegetables out of meat as a middle finger to those trying to do the exact opposite.

Photo courtesy of Arby’s

The meat peddler’s latest innovation is the Marrot, a “carrot” made entirely out of turkey. To get the desired shape and color, Arby’s wrapped turkey breast segments in cheesecloth, cooked them sous vide for an hour, rolled them in carrot powder, then roasted them for another hour, adding sprigs of parsley to give them that full carrot look.

By doing this, Arby’s claims they’re “taking a hardline stance as the champion of meats,” according to a press release, while showing that if plants can act as meat, meat can do just the same back to it.

They do look exactly like carrots, but what’s more mind-boggling is that by doing this, Arby’s managed to make meat more nutritious. Typically, a quarter pound of turkey contains 11 International Units (IU) of Vitamin A, not even a percentage of the recommended daily value. However, these Marrots contain 70% of the required daily value of Vitamin A, a massive spike compared to just plain old turkey.

Arby’s might actually be onto something big here as a result. Ninety percent of all Americans miss out on the recommended vegetable intake every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By giving them the vegetables they need (carrot powder, for example) in a form of food they love (meat), it could actually help boost vegetable consumption. Of course, that’s exactly what plant-based meat producers are trying to do anyway, but in a more sustainable fashion.

Could these faux carrots be a way to provide more nutritious pieces of meat to carnivorous consumers? Or, is their usage of plants to make meat better for you just proving what the plant-based industry has been showing us for a hot minute?

In either case, it’ll be interesting to see if this prototype ever gets a market test or launches nationwide in the near future.

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Grocery Health Plant-Based Science Technology What's New

Beyond Meat 2.0 Is Coming To Grocery Stores Nationwide This Month

For the past few months, Carl’s Jr. has been the sole purveyor of Beyond Meat’s new 2.0 burger patties, which have gotten rave reviews as to how close they are to real meat. While they’ve been rolling out in restaurants nationwide quietly over the past few months, we now have an idea as to when everyone will be able to cook the 2.0 patty as well.

Starting today, Beyond Meat 2.0 will begin rolling out to grocery stores nationwide, and it should be everywhere by the end of June. The burger patties will be available in new packaging, and ground beef should follow soon afterward.

Photo courtesy of Beyond Meat

The new patties are made with cocoa butter and coconut oil to give it the appearance of marbling, like you would find in ground beef. There’s also improvements made to the color, as apple extract has been added to help it brown without getting too much red from the beets inside. Beyond Meat has also changed the protein to be a complete source, meaning you’ll get all nine essential amino acids from eating this meat in adequate amounts. A combination of rice, pea, and mung bean protein is responsible for that nutritional upgrade.

Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown thinks that this version gets close, but still not all the way to animal meat. “I’m a pretty tough critic,” he told Foodbeast. “My number is gonna be lower than many, but I’d say we’re 65 to 70% of the way there.”

Brown isn’t just going to stop at this 2.0 version, however. He feels that plant meat will go the way of smartphones, in that it both provides more function than animal meat and can be continually upgraded.

“We’ve been consuming meat since prior to being homo sapiens, it’s part of the process of evolution that created the bodies we have and the brains we have,” he says. “I don’t think we’re gonna get it in 10 years, and that’s how long we’ve been working at this, so we need some more time, but I think we’re getting closer and closer.”

While the new 2.0 patties still come at a relatively high cost compared to ground beef, Brown also believes that will change rapidly as his company, which just went public, continues to scale.

“As we start to approach scale, we’ll be able to dramatically underprice animal protein,” he claims. When that does happen, it may only be a matter of time before plant-based meats become the norm.

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Entrepreneurship Plant-Based The Katchup

Beyond Meat Just Became The First Plant-Based Burger Producer To Go Public

In the past few years, we’ve seen plant-based meat go from a Silicon Valley pipedream to a revolutionary food that has already invaded mainstream fast food chains. Now, the disruptive industry is making Wall Street its next target, as Beyond Meat has become a publicly traded company.

Photo courtesy of Carl’s Jr.

Beyond Meat is now the first ever plant-based burger purveyor to ever go public, a major step forward in confirming that vegan meat substitutes are the way forward. Investors seem to think so too: Just hours after launch, the company has already more than doubled its share price, a feat only achieved by just over 20 other companies in the last two decades.

It’s clear that plant-based food has invaded the mainstream and become a core part of daily eating, whether it be as a vegan, flexitarian or just someone looking to cut down on meat consumption. Could this also be a sign that these substitutes aren’t just going to be a part of the status quo, but could one day dominate it?

That conversation merits discussion, especially with how Beyond Meat is skyrocketing up the charts today. With all of that in mind, myself, fellow Foodbeast Elie Ayrouth, and vegan chef Skyler Tanksley broke down what all of this might mean on Foodbeast’s The Katchup Podcast. Tanksley, who runs the kitchen at Orange County’s first-ever vegan diner, Munchies, had some particularly insightful thoughts into what a future where plant-based meats are the norm could be like.

Regardless of whether any of that comes true, one thing is for certain: With how Beyond Meat is already performing on the stock market, it’s only a matter of time before vegan meat becomes as commonplace as the real thing.

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Health Science Technology

Impossible Foods Wants To Make Whole Pieces Of Plant-Based Steak, Chicken And Fish

Impossible Foods just hit the ground running with the latest version of their trademark “bleeding” vegan burger. However, they’ve already got their sights set on what’s to come in the future, including whole cuts of steak made entirely from plants.

In an interview with The Spoon, CEO Dr. Pat Browne stated that his R&D teams were already starting work on these vegan steaks.

“Right now, the most powerful thing we can do is to make products that compete against the incumbent beef industry,” he said. They still need to workout how to get the “texture and anatomy” of steak compared to that of ground beef, but the company is “on the case.”

Plant-based steaks aren’t the only project in the works for Impossible Foods. In an interview with Foodbeast in 2017, Impossible Foods CFO and COO David Lee confirmed that the company also had projects for vegan chicken, fish, and dairy in the works. Dr. Browne touched on that briefly in his interview with The Spoon, saying that his team had already “cracked the code” on the flavor profile for fish.

These appear to be happening more in the future, though, as the Impossible team wants to work on their “most disruptive” products, which are the aforementioned steaks and the Impossible Patty 3.0, which is already in development.

It’s mind-boggling to try and figure out how one can replicate the texture, marbling, and consistency of a whole cut of steak using just plants. But Impossible Foods has already exceeded everyone’s expectations when it comes to beef burgers, so who’s to say they can’t have lightning strike twice?

Categories
Animals Food Policy Food Trends Products Science

Missouri Becomes The First State To Ban Vegans From Calling Meat Alternatives ‘Meat’

It’s only been a few months since France’s controversial ban on how meat alternatives could be marketed was enacted. Their new law prevents companies from describing something as “meat” that’s predominantly made from plants.

Other factions have taken the opportunity to jump on board with what France is doing, including Missouri, who just became the first U.S. state to impose a similar, more overarching ban.

vegan meat banPhoto: Peter Pham // Foodbeast

Missouri’s new law, which was passed in mid-May and takes effect today, forbids “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested livestock or poultry.” That includes cultured or lab-grown meats on top of those that are predominantly plants. Those who violate the law can be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned for up to 1 year, according to USA Today.

The language within the new law means that any vegan form of meat can’t be called as such anymore. Titles like vegan meatballs, plant-based bacon, or even lab-grown beef are no longer legal in Missouri, meaning that if those companies want to sell their products there, they have to be renamed if they violate the law.

Behind the law is the Missouri Cattleman’s Association, who backed the bill with reasonings that include protecting local ranchers and preventing customer confusion when shopping.

Interestingly, beef has actually been on an upswing in recent years despite the prevalence of plant-based products. The USDA predicts a record 222.2 pounds of beef and poultry will be consumed by each person in 2018, a number that hasn’t been this high since 2004. It’s also improbable that there’s a ton of consumer confusion when it comes to labeling, as companies clearly state whether their “meat” products are made from plants or not.

Plant-based producers aren’t going quietly in this battle, though, as Tofurky and The Good Food Institute (a plant-based advocacy group) have already launched a lawsuit against the state, saying that the law is an attack on their freedom of speech and commercial speech. They also claim that Missouri’s new legislation is unconstitutional for that reason.

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Health Science Video What's New

We Tried The ‘Beyond Sausage’ And Could NOT Tell It Was Vegan

Beyond Meat recently dropped their newest plant-based meat product, the Beyond Sausage, and it’s got the sizzle, snap, texture, and flavor of a real frankfurter.

beyond sausage

The new vegan sausage is made with a combination of rice, pea, and fava beans that supply protein and texture. Trace amounts of beet juice are present to give the links a meaty appearance, and coconut oil supplies the rich fatty notes associated with sausage. To provide a sausage’s signature snap, an algae-based casing is wrapped around the plant-based meat.

The Beyond Sausage is soy, gluten, and GMO-free, and supplies 16 grams of protein per link. A typical 100-gram bratwurst has 12 grams of protein, so in terms of gains, the Beyond measures up to its meaty counterpart.

Foodbeast got the opporutnity to taste Beyond Meat’s link at Würstkuche, a Los Angeles alcove for artisanal sausage. There, the vegan frankfurters come in three flavors: Hot Italian, Sweet Italian, and Bratwurst. Beyond Meat supplies these for the restaurant, who then grills them before serving them up with a variety of toppings, like caramelized onions and peppers.

In terms of flavor, each of the three tasted exactly like the real deal. The aromatic notes of the Bratwurst were present, as was the appropriate heat and herbs for the Hot and Sweet Italian. The snap isn’t as pronounced as that of a traditional sausage, but it’s still satisfying to sink your teeth into. Texture-wise, it’s very close to a real link of meat (although cooked ground meat is a little firmer than the Beyond Sausage). Overall, all of us were quite impressed with how the sausage turned out.

The Beyond Sausage is available at Würstkuche and two locations of Veggie Grill in Los Angeles. All three locations of Rosamunde Sausage Grill in the San Francisco Bay Area also sell it, and Beyond Meat will be announcing more locations around the nation via Instagram as it comes.


Photos by Peter Pham // Foodbeast.

Categories
Health News Technology What's New

UC Berkeley is Giving $10K to Students That Develop Novel Plant-Based Meats and Seafood

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Photo: Abby Dernburg

Whether you’re a fan of it or appalled by the idea, it’s become clear that plant-based meats are one of the key food trends for 2017 and for years to come. Highly innovative food tech companies have created plenty of plant-based meat products that are now beginning to mimic their real counterparts, like Impossible Foods’ plant-based bleeding burger, or New Wave Foods’ revolutionary vegan shrimp.

As the industry moves to developing new plant-based meats, they’re turning to a new, interested, and growing source of talent to make it possible: college students. Specifically, UC Berkeley students.

The Good Food Institute, a major advocate of plant-based and alternative meat products for the betterment of the world, has teamed up with UC Berkeley’s Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SCET) to develop a Challenge Lab course and a competition centered around the development of plant-based proteins.

The Challenge Lab course is entitled “Innovative and Sustainable Plant-Based Protein: How to Produce More and Better Plant-based Meat,” and lasts all semester. It’s designed for teams of students of any educational background to create the next wave of plant-based foods in a delicious, affordable, and sustainable capacity.

Third-year nutrition student Hailey Zhou, who is in the course, told Foodbeast that teams in class aim to “develop a product (line) and a business model to accelerate the growth and innovation of this market segment, and hopefully create some impactful product to consumer choices taking a different look at plant protein sourcing and the production process.”

Throughout the semester, the class meets in four hours of lecture and eight hours of group work each week to develop their plant-based concepts, leading up to a massive pitch competition in front of plant-based meat experts with a $5,000 cash prize.

VegNews.VeganShrimp

Photo: VegNews

Additionally, a special competition course dedicated to the development of new plant-based seafood products will also be run by the same team of the Good Food Institute and SCET will begin March 10th. This “Innovation Collider” course specifically focuses on using proteins beyond pea or soy protein to develop new plant-based seafoods, and can be taken for a couple of semester credits.  Undergrad and graduate students are invited to apply to compete by March 1st, and are also eligible for another $5,000 cash prize.

Students in the course and competition are both educated on current meat analogs in the industry, but challenged to use innovative protein sources and raw materials that aren’t heavily used to develop the latest plant-based meats and seafood. Zhou’s team, for example, is exploring the potential of underused plant like microalgae, kelp, or ancient grains such as millet to develop their products. Zhou made it clear though that plant proteins weren’t the only source for their innovation:

“Not only can we contribute to a more balanced agriculture and cultivation through sourcing, we can also look into upcycling food/ag waste or by products, and look at processes from fermentation to extrusion to explore potential to unlock nutrients and revive the discarded food.”

These ideas and many more will be necessary to develop the solutions expected out of these courses, but the students are up to the challenge. They want to not just create the next plant-based burger, but have an idea on how to create everything from vegan “scallops” to vegan “chicken.”

It will definitely be interesting to see what amazing plant-based products come out of these Berkeley courses — and who comes away with the cash prizes.

Those prizewinners could be the next big CEOs or trendsetters in the future of plant-based meat — and of sustainable food.