As plant-based protein alternatives expand in variety, many hope to become suppliers to major restaurants and national chains. To do this, they must be able to produce their product en masse. While outlets like Impossible and Beyond have broken into fast food, higher-quality chains are still looking for vegan meat providers.
Meati, an alternative meat manufacturer receiving investments to produce their “steaks” and “cutlets” on a massive scale, might be what these businesses are looking for. The company, initially called Emergy, was founded in 2016 by Tyler Huggins, Ph.D., and Justin Whiteley, Ph.D. The two have experience in environmental conservation, entrepreneurship, and material science.
The firm’s product formula uses mycelium, a compound found in mushrooms, to imitate the texture of meat. To create these products, the company uses fermentation tanks to grow mushroom roots, then harvests the tiny fibers. According to the firm, no growth hormones, pesticides, or antibiotics go into the mixture.
Why use a mycelium-based formula? The answer is simple. “One key reason for why we chose our mycelium is due to its natural nutrition — our classic cutlet has 17 grams of complete protein, 8 grams of dietary, and a plethora of micronutrients, with no fat or cholesterol,” company representatives told Garden & Health via email.
It takes about four days to create the signature steaks and cutlets. They’re flavored with salt, pepper, and other flavors. Meati uses oat fiber, fruit juice, vegetable juice, and lycopene, a compound that gives tomatoes their red color.
Meati has been undergoing serious funding rounds. The innovative company has raised over $150 million in Series C funding to expand its business operations, including opening a new “mega ranch” in Boulder, CO. The production plant has allowed the firm to make its products faster and for a burgeoning market.
Led by Revolution Growth, some other investors include Chipotle, the popular Mexican food chain. Though it hasn’t integrated Meati’s products into the menu yet, it is trying to add more plant-based alternatives to its ingredient list.
“Meati is poised to be the leader in this large and growing category with a capability to produce plant-based meats in whole-cut form with a clean ingredient list,” said Fazeela Abdul Rashid, a partner at Revolution Growth who joined the firm’s board last year, in a press release. “The company is meeting an unmet demand for products that are delicious, healthy, and good for the planet.”
The line of proteins is available in more than 7,000 locations in the U.S. and can be bought on Amazon. Meati made its retail debut in July 2022 after it made record sales with its online order system.
Two reasons Meati stands out from other plant-based competition are its taste and texture; it’s not like pea or soy-based products. Mark Wilson at Fast Company found the mycelium-based formula to be quite good, with the cutlet standing out the most for him.
Plant-based meats are a viable solution to reducing methane emissions from the beef industry. Methane is just as harmful to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Cows are some of the biggest methane producers in the world, and their slaughter can be just as detrimental as their maintenance. It will take time for consumers to come around to plant-based alternatives, but Meati is confident it will happen.
“The continued growth and momentum that Meati is experiencing underscores how differentiated and scalable our products and vision are,” said Huggins in a press release.