Plant based meat company turn to animals for taste

In what some may consider a nod to a stalled market, an Australian manufacturer has launched a new half meat- and half plant-based product described as the next evolution in food.

Food technology business, Harvest B, has filed a patent on the product which it says is a world first. 

"For those who don't want to go to a plant based diet purely because of taste, here is a halfway point where they can experience something but still have a positive impact," contributing designer Daniel Mullette said.

"Rather than saying it's an either or, we're trying to address that different people want different things."

The plant protein manufacturers launched in Sydney in December of 2022 with the founders' mission to replace animal protein with a novel plant-based approach, while adding value for Aussie grain growers.

But taste and texture have been a major challenge for the plant-based meat market in Australia.

"I wouldn't say that it's not working in plant based meat but there is maybe a ceiling with how many consumers are converting," the company's CEO and co-founder Kristi Riordan said.

"Many, many, many people love to cook meat," she said.

Daniel Mullette and Kristi Riordan
Harvest B launched in Sydney in December 2022.

Harvest B's new diced beef and lamb "complimentary" dish is available for sale from April. 

"We're actually taking advantage of that great flavour that people know and love from animal protein," she said.

"It looks like meat, it tastes like meat but because we're blending the animal and the plant together, we've got a more holistic nutritional profile." 

The product is just one of a rising number of alternative meat choices on offer.

The latest data from the alternative proteins council shows a 15 per cent rise in the number of alternative meat products over the past three years, with almost 300 products available to buy.

But the data doesn't reveal how well the goods are selling.

That information is expected in a new state of the industry report due in the coming months.

"There are still new products coming into the market," the council's head Jennifer Thompson told AAP.

Beyond Meat products (file)
There's been a 15 per cent rise in the number of alternative meat products in three years.

In 2019-20, Australia’s plant-based meat sector generated $185 million in sales and Ms Thompson said the industry continues to grow.

And in a significant step for food manufacturing, Australian company Vow this week received approval in Singapore to serve cultured meat products derived from Japanese Quail.

The lab-developed product is believed to be the first of its kind approved anywhere in the world and comes after more than a year of regulatory assessments.

"It's a huge milestone," Ms Thompson said.

"It certainly adds weight to the commercialisation and validity of the emerging industry."

While Australian regulators are yet to decide whether the lab created quail can be eaten here, Vow CEO George Peppou said the Singaporean approval represents a shift for the cultured meat industry.

“We believe the future of cultured meat is not in replicating what already exists but in creating deliberately different foods designed for meat-eaters,” Mr Peppou said.

Meanwhile the latest blended meat offering from Harvest B shows the company has  identified an opportunity in the market according to Ms Thompson.

"It's growing the pie, that's economically great for Australian farmers and great for the country," she said.

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