Israeli start-up Redefine Meat plans to launch 3D printers to produce plant-based steaks mimicking real beef next year in a bid to win a slice of the fast-growing alternative meat market.
Plant-based meat products are becoming increasingly popular with consumers worried about animal welfare and the environment.
Based in Rehovot south of Tel Aviv, Redefine Meat will first market test its "Alt-Steak" at high-end restaurants later this year before rolling out its industrial-scale 3D printers to meat distributors in 2021.
"Our technology can create whole-muscle cuts just as a cow can produce that in a much more efficient way, with a lower cost and of course it's much better for the environment. So we are introducing a new category. We can do the entire cow, not only one part of the cow, that is actually a side stream. Stakes, roast, slow-cooking, grilling, everything that an animal can do we want to do the same or even better," Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, chief executive and co-founder of Redefine Meat, told Reuters.
He says the 3D printer mimics the structure of the muscle of the animal.
It can currently print 3-6 kg (6.6-13.2 pounds) of meat an hour but the machines it will launch will be able to print 20 kg (44 pounds) an hour next year and eventually hundreds, at a cheaper cost than real meat.
Founded in 2018, the company raised $6 million last year in a round led by CPT Capital, an investor in Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. It also received funds from Hanaco Venture Capital and German poultry group PHW.
Israel has numerous alternative and cultured meat start-ups. Aleph Farms developed lab-grown steak and expects to have a biofarm operational in late 2022. Meat-Tech 3D is combining 3D printing with the lab meat process.
Spanish competitor Novameat is also working on 3D-printed plant meat, including a whole-muscle pork cut developed during the coronavirus crisis that disrupted pork supply, in addition to steak.
At a Tel Aviv steakehoue, diners welcomed the idea of replacing meat with plant-based solutions, "as soon as the taste will be as good as regular meat", said 31-year-old Doron Zemour.
"We don't see a reason that this cannot be on the table of everybody in every country around the world. This is the biggest problem we face today as humanity and this is the best way to fight climate change, to deliver healthier solutions and food to the entire population of the planet.," said Ben Shitrit, before taking a bite out of the 3D printed steak.