Breakthrough for cultivated premium beef steaks
Swiss start-up Mirai Foods, which was featured in the January/February 2023 edition of Protein Production Technology International, has achieved a technological breakthrough for the cultivation of thick tender steaks. The company has developed what it calls a 'Fibration Technology', which allows for efficient cultivation of tissue that mimics conventional meat. Mirai Foods exclusively uses natural cells, in a completely GMO-free process.
This milestone underscores Mirai Foods' track record of success. "Other types of meat can already be produced in the lab," said Christoph Mayr, CEO & Co-founder of Mirai Foods. "A fillet steak is the ultimate challenge: it consists of different cell types, which – if combined correctly – result in a complex meat structure. This structuring process is technologically challenging, making steaks extremely difficult to produce. That's why Mirai Foods is taking an important step towards sustainable meat with the first cultivated beef tenderloin steak."
The shareholder structure also reflects the company's growth: along with several other investors, Zürich-based food and meat producer Angst AG, which sees Mirai as a future supplier for its diverse range of meat products, has now joined the company. In a seed round, international investors have already invested more than US$5 million in Mirai Foods (including FRIBA Investment, Skyviews Life Science, Ulf Claesson, PINC, Team Global).
The first cultivated tender steak comes from Mirai Foods' in-house developed bioreactor, 'The Rocket'; it embodies the Fibration Technology for which Mirai Foods has filed three patents. Long, fully mature muscle fibers are cultivated, which are then combined by enzymes and supplemented with cultivated fat tissue. After five days in the bioreactor, a tenderloin centerpiece is complete, from which steaks of almost any thickness can be cut.
Although competitors can only produce minced meat or very thin slices, Mirai Foods succeeds in naturally recreating real steaks with a thickness of one and a half centimeters and more. The Fibration Technology developed for this purpose not only enables better nutrition and taste, but also creates significant cost advantages in production.
"We have filed three international patents for this key technology," added Suman Das, CSO & Co-founder of Mirai Foods. "We can deliver a real alternative to conventional meat: Using our technology, one can prepare and eat a real steak - and know that no animal had to die for it and the climate is not harmed. Nutrition is a huge lever for greater climate protection and animal welfare: demand for meat is expected to double by 2050; conventional methods of meat production cannot meet this demand at all, and certainly not in a sustainable way."
Mirai Foods is one of only a few companies in the world working to offer natural meat produced in cultivators by multiplying muscle and fat cells without the use of genetic engineering. As a result, product development is geared toward the preferences of European consumers – while maintaining the highest standards of taste, quality and health. In the long term, the company aims to offer a wide range of meat varieties. For now, however, the start-up is focusing on premium beef, which has the largest environmental footprint of all meats.
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