New School Foods unveils scalable muscle fiber and scaffolding technology
Plant-based seafood producer, New School Foods, has announced its proprietary, scalable technologies for the plant-based meat industry, capable of producing whole-cut fish alternatives that look and cook just like ordinary seafood. The company also announced US$12 million in seed funding from global investors including Lever VC, Blue Horizon, Hatch, Good Startup, Alwyn Capital, Joyance Partners, as well as grants from multiple agencies, including Protein Industry Canada.
For three years, New School Foods CEO, Christopher Bryson, invested heavily in academic R&D projects with some of the world’s leading food science universities, and identified a scalable platform that delivers a number of firsts for the meat alternative industry:
1. Muscle fibers, made from plants: Replicates the diameter, length, strength and structure of fish muscle fibers to deliver the same texture and mouth-feel.
2. Whole-cut Scaffolding: Filets that combines directionally aligned muscle fibers with plant-based connective tissue, fats, colors, and flavors.
3. Raw-to-Cooked: Unlike nearly all other products in the market that are pre-cooked by production, New School Foods’ cold-based processing technology creates a filet that starts raw and transforms like fish upon cooking.
4. Scalable by design: Unlike many other new food processing technologies, New School Foods’ process uses off-the-shelf equipment from adjacent industries, providing a superior ability to scale more globally.
The alternative proteins market at large has yet to tackle the biggest opportunity: whole cuts, which represent a majority of meat sales in North America. Whole cuts come with a host of complex challenges like texture, connective tissue, muscle fibers, and other macrostructures that exist in animal proteins.
Whereas established production methods like High-moisture Extrusion use high temperatures that pre-cooks the food and denatures the proteins, New School Foods’ technology uses a series of cold-based processes, yielding a product that is 'raw' and transitions to cooked, keeping the cooking experience as close as possible to ordinary salmon.
“The next frontier of meat alternatives is whole cuts, and from day one we understood that New School Foods needed to solve two heavily connected issues: the quality of the meat alternatives in-market, and the limited toolkit our industry uses to produce them,” commented Chris Bryson, CEO & Founder of New School Foods. “What’s generally available for consumers now are rubbery, ground, pre-cooked products that will not convince the average customer to change their lifelong habits.”
New School Foods will continue focusing on research and development, using the US$12 million raised in seed funding to expand the team of food scientists, scale up its scaffolding technology, and build out a research and production facility.
“We invested in New School Foods because they recognized that the existing production technologies in the plant-based meat industry are insufficient for creating a whole-cut product that consumers genuinely want to eat,” added Nick Cooney, General Partner at Lever Ventures. “Their technology is unlike anything else we’ve seen in the industry in terms of truly mimicking the texture, mouthfeel, and experience of cooking and eating whole cuts of meat.”
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