Today’s Solutions: November 29, 2021

Inside a lab in Rehovot, Israel, a 3D printer the size of an industrial refrigerator is busy printing plant-based steaks. 

Redefine Meat, the startup that developed the technology, sees it as the next step for the world of alternative protein: If companies like Impossible Foods have created plant-based burgers that are meaty enough to tempt omnivores, now the industry wants options for realistic whole cuts of faux meat.

The startup, launched by cofounders who met while developing digital printers at HP, created custom 3D printers that aim to replicate meat by printing layers of what they call “alt-muscle,” “alt-fat,” and “alt-blood,” forming a complex 3D model.

“Real meat is an extremely complicated product, where much of the sensory experience comes from the matrix,” says cofounder and CEO Eshchar Ben-Shitrit. “Meat is not just proteins, fats, and water…Beef, especially, is a product that has been ‘built’ for years by the cow.” (Other startups are also working on the challenge of making realistic cuts of meat, some through the use of mycelium, the root-like fibers in mushrooms.)

The company will be selling the printers to restaurants, which can tailor the digital recipe so “changes in the product come at zero cost or complexity,” he says.

Like other plant-based meat, the new product has environmental advantages; the team has calculated that it uses 90% less water and 95% less land, and emits 90% less carbon dioxide, than meat from a cow. The meat is also healthier, with less fat than meat and no cholesterol, but the same amount of protein and more fiber. The startup will begin testing the printers at restaurants later this year, and then plans to ramp up production for distribution in 2021.

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