The Shelf Life of Fake Meat?

Posted April 15, 2021 by Keith Seiz

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but are they correct? I recently attended the Future Food-Tech virtual conference, and there was a lot of talk about fake meat — whether it was coming from plant-based ingredients or grown in a petri dish.

During one roundtable I participated in, there was an in-depth conversation about the innovative manufacturing equipment and processing flows needed to bind proteins together to make plants mimic meat. It got me wondering why we were investing all of this time, money and brainpower into mimicking something when that same effort could be used to create something completely new?

I, like most Americans, have cut back on my meat consumption, especially meat produced in factory farms. I love the current crop of plant-based foods available at restaurants and supermarkets. An Impossible burger is nearly indistinguishable to my palate from the real thing, and Gardein meatballs have become a staple plant-based protein in my everyday lunches.

But thinking long term, are these products the answer to a continued shift away from meat? I don’t believe so. I think they’re more of a bridge food for traditional meat eaters to start shifting to a plant-forward diet. Long term, I think the food industry, from chefs to CPGs, needs to think bigger.

How do we create new proteins that don’t mimic meat but instead create entirely new eating experiences? How do we change the perception of a plant-forward diet from one that lacks meat to one that has something completely different that is better for us and our world?

I don’t have the answer yet, but I think it’s a conversation everyone in the food industry should be having. Let’s not look at product development from a narrow perspective of imitating meat, but instead from an innovative approach to creating an entirely new category of protein ingredients.  

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