Can plant-based meat be wholesome? This foodtech startup says sure

Barcelona’s food-tech startup Heura has unveiled its new patent-pending technology that aims to make meat substitutes without the lengthy and sometimes daunting list of ingredients. The company says it’s the first scalable technology of its kind, bringing “superior” nutritional value to plant-based foods.

The data is clear – if we are to stop global warming, we must revolutionize our food systems. About 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases come from livestock.

In addition, research has shown that processed red meat is carcinogenic. This means that what we put on our plates matters to the health of both the collective and the individual.

However, the initial enthusiasm for vegan meat alternatives has waned somewhat, with the stock of one of the most eponymous alternatives, Beyond Meat, losing over 60% of its value in the past year alone.

Visit us at the TNW conference on June 15th and 16th in Amsterdam

Here are four reasons why you can’t miss it

Companies behind the fake meat revolution are often criticized for over-reliance on artificial additives, with long lists of unpronounceable ingredients. In addition, the ultra-processed products are often devoid of essential nutrients.

“I think the category’s worst enemy is bad products,” called Heura’s co-founder Marc Coloma. “We see that there has been a sort of gold rush in this category, with many products being launched super-fast without meeting consumer expectations.”

Patent-pending thermomechanical technology

Most approaches to making vegan meat substitutes involve some form of trial and error. Manufacturers are experimenting with different blends of binders and additives, as well as plant-based proteins, to see what works.

Enter Heura’s patent-pending technology. Thermomechanical engineering uses heat and mechanical energy to shape or modify the properties of a material. This, according to Heura, allows for the production of plant-based meat substitutes with higher-quality inputs and a shorter list of ingredients.

Historic day at Heura: Today we filed our first patent (of many to come) and we couldn’t be happier. #Successor

— Heura Foods #FoodActivists (@HeuraFoods) April 25, 2023

We have not been able to get the exact details of the actual breakthrough. During the launch of the project platform, dubbed Good Rebel Tech, last year, the company’s Science and Technology Director, Isabelle Férnandez, said: specified The,

“Rather than focusing on the extraction and isolation of proteins from legume seeds, we are exploring ways to harness the functionality of whole plants in their naturally occurring structures.”

The focus for the time being is on delicatessen products, cheese and whole meat products. And as anyone who’s eaten in Spain can attest, these are far more popular categories than the most commonly substituted burger patties.

But protein?

The company has already developed two products using the technology: a Frankfurt-style sausage and ham slices, both made from soy protein. The Frankfurters have a protein density of 72%, the “ham” 70%. Heura hopes to have both products available by the end of Q4 2023.

List of ingredients for the Frankfurter? Water, Soy Protein Isolate, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Radish, Carrot and Paprika Flavor Concentrates, Lemon Juice from Concentrate and Vitamin B12.

You may have noticed that like so many fake meat products, it doesn’t contain coconut oil. This is due to another milestone that Heura’s R&D department achieved last year when they succeeded in replacing the saturated fat alternative with a 100% olive oil-based analogue.

Successful equity crowdfunding

Heura Foods was founded in 2017 in a co-working office in the center of Barcelona. The first customer was a small local business in the Poble-sec neighborhood. The startup has raised €36 million so far – including an equity crowdfunding campaign that raised her €4 million in just 12 hours. In 2022 the company achieved sales of 31.4 million euros and in 2023 it grew by 44% in the first quarter compared to the same quarter last year.

In addition, Heura has tripled its market share in Spain in the last three years and has agreements with retail groups in Austria, Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK.

Could owning a patent in an otherwise fairly rambunctious Western meat industry with low barriers to entry attract more investors to Heura’s cause? We’ll enjoy a cruel frankfurter (or two) while we wait to find out, thanks a lot.

Comments are closed.