How Would You Like Your Steak? 3D Printed, Please

Overview The alternative meat industry is a growing one, aimed at reducing climate change through plant-based meats. Going beyond the creation of ground meats and patties, 3D printing is set to create whole meat cuts, expanding the alternative meat market.

Food tech has played a growing role in resilience technologies. Alternative, plant-based meats from companies such as Impossible Foods — who debuted their products at CES 2019 and 2020 — are helping to mitigate climate change.

Though these plant-based options have started in ground meats and patties, new uses of technologies such as 3D printing are allowing food scientists and tech visionaries create alternatives for whole cut meats, reimagining vegan steaks that still offer the same flavor and texture as real steaks.

The Untapped Whole Cut Market

Whole cuts such as steak have high profits in the meat industry, but recreating the texture and flavor of whole cut meat in plant-based options has been difficult. Whole cut meats get their texture from the fiber and intersection of fat, muscle and blood, difficult to replicate with soy, rice, peas and vegetables.

Though options for plant-based patties have become more available and mainstream in the past few years, alternatives for whole cut meats that match the flavor and texture of real meat could help keen meat eaters make more significant changes in decreasing their meat consumption.

How 3D Printed Meat Works

A 3D printer, like the one used by Israeli startup Redefine Meat, layers and weaves together different components while printing to recreate the fibrous texture of real whole cut meats. The company’s proprietary recipe – which includes soy and pea proteins, coconut fat, and sunflower oil — helps create the unique consistencies and textures of fat, muscle, and blood.

Other companies are also leveraging 3D printing technologies to produce printed meat products from stem cells, reducing the need to slaughter or harm animals for meat consumption.

There may still be some time before 3D printed whole cut meats are in everyday grocery stores, but developments such as these mark a significant move toward a sustainable and resilient future.

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