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Paleo statement on Vow 'mammoth meatball' – "Claiming our tech as their invention is highly unethical"

Paleo statement on Vow 'mammoth meatball' – "Claiming our tech as their invention is highly unethical"

March 31, 2023

Paleo, a European food-tech scale-up, is considering legal action against Vow for passing a 'mammoth meatball' as its own invention while knowing that the technology (mammoth myoglobin) was developed two years ago by Paleo, with patent applications ongoing.

On 28 March , a 'mammoth meatball' was presented by Wunderman Thompson and the Australian startup Vow in Amsterdam at the NEMO Science Museum. The 'meatball' contained a mammoth protein (myoglobin) and was presented as the world's first showcasing this protein.

This claim is false, according to Paleo, a Belgian precision fermentation company, which claims it has already developed that myoglobin technology two years ago and filed patent applications at that time. Paleo is now considering legal action.

Paleo is developing meat and fish proteins as food ingredients, but without animals. It developed a portfolio of proteins of different species, including the famous mammoth.  

“When we learned about the event, we were surprised," explained Hermes Sanctorum, CEO of Paleo. "We sent out a press release nine months ago to announce that we developed the exact same mammoth protein (myoglobin), based on our fundamental research and innovation."

“When Vow claim that no one has tasted mammoth myoglobin, this is simply not true. We developed the mammoth myoglobin and we tasted it in our lab."

The aromatic profile of the mammoth protein is stronger than that of other species, which means it smells and tastes meatier. Moreover, its red color is more vibrant, opening opportunities for using less additives. Paleo submitted patent applications that have been under review and publicly available to competitors for almost a year.

Paleo contacted Vow before the event. In response, Vow’s legal team claimed that the mammoth meatball “was not food” and dismissed Paleo’s claims. It is clear that Vow was well aware of Paleo’s patent applications, but according to Paleo chose to ignore this fact to pursue PR value for its own brand.

“Our breakthrough in creating myoglobin for mammoth – and also beef, lamb, tuna, chicken and pork – was significant and took hard work to bring about. To see this breakthrough claimed by a third party rubs us the wrong way. Further, the suggestion that its 'mammoth meatball' is 'not food' is clearly ridiculous."

"At Paleo, we are in the business for ethical reasons," concluded Sanctorum. "We want to decrease meat consumption by increasing the taste of alternatives to meat. Ethical business also means you respect your peers and you don’t make false claims. We are currently considering all legal options to safeguard our reputation as innovators and our intellectual property.”

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