Hormel takes another step forward in plant-based meat substitutes

Hormel, a world leader in meat production, is taking its biggest step to date in the growing meat substitute market in partnership with a California company.

Austin’s Hormel Foods Co. and Sacramento-based Better Meat Co. announced the joint venture on Wednesday. The California food start-up has developed a meat alternative it calls Rhiza, an all-natural whole food mycoprotein produced by a potato-based fermentation process.

“It is essential that we give choices to our consumers. Plant-based products are one choice, traditional meat is another choice,” said Fred Halvin, vice president of corporate development at Hormel, in a statement. interview. He said the company “will continue to align our portfolio with consumer trends, and we believe plants are an important consumer trend.”

A June report from Allied Market Research, a global market research company based in Portland, Ore., Predicted the global meat substitutes market to grow to $ 8.82 billion in revenue by 2027, compared to $ 4.5 billion in 2019.

This growth is believed to be driven by multiple factors: growing consumer awareness of the health drawbacks of a high-meat diet, heightened concern about the implications of meat production on climate change and the advancement of the science of alternatives to meat.

At the same time, the demand for traditional meat products also continues to grow. “American consumers have never eaten more meat and poultry per person than they do today,” Wells Fargo agricultural economist Michael Swanson wrote in a recent blog post.

“The problem is that even though we need to reduce our dependence on animals for food, the demand for meat keeps increasing,” said Paul Shapiro, founder and CEO of Better Meat Co. He launched the ‘company in 2018 with a goal of creating a more sustainable food system by developing new alternatives that still offer carnivores what he called “the meat experience.”

Shapiro tried to describe the science in layman’s terms: “What we do is take microscopic mushrooms and feed them potatoes, he takes that potato and converts it into a mycoprotein that tastes like and a texture like meat. This process happens in a matter of hours. A cow, you have to feed her for a year before you can slaughter her for meat.

The company says the product contains more protein than eggs, more fiber than oats, and more iron than pork, chicken, turkey or beef.

Better Meat Co. previously partnered with Perdue Foods to create Perdue Chicken Plus, a nugget that is a blend of chicken and vegetable protein.

Hormel is investing in the partnership through its venture capital unit, called 199 Ventures, although it has not disclosed how much. The company created 199 Ventures two years ago as a financial incubator of forward-looking food products.

Bryan Kreske, chief executive of 199 Ventures, said it was too early to say what types of products could be made with Rhiza.

When asked if there could ever be a plant-based version of Spam, Hormel’s well-known canned meat product, Kreske said, “We have a lot of talented people in research and development. specific plans, but who knows? “

Hormel has already taken a step forward in the meat replacement business, with a line of plant-based pizza toppings for restaurants through Burke Corp., its restaurant subsidiary. And the company made a major foray into plant-based foods earlier this year with its $ 3.35 billion acquisition of the Planters nut brand.

Given the continued increase in demand for traditional meat, it’s unclear whether meat substitutes like Rhiza or more established brands like Impossible Burger will at any point reduce meat sales. Halvin from Hormel noted that alternative dairy products like oat milk, soy milk and almond milk now account for more than 10% of the total dairy market.

“Who knows if plant proteins can reach this level? Halvin said. “But the global segment, we see it as important.”

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