Novameat eyes mass market with 3D printed vegetarian steak

Barcelona-based bioengineering startup Novameat has announced plans for its 3D printed plant-based ‘steaks’ to enter the mass market next year.

The startup showcased its latest 3D printer at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress recently, which the company says is capable of 3D printing a vegetarian steak that mimics the texture and taste of beef or pork.

After several years of development, the company is now reportedly planning to sell its alt-meat products directly to consumers and restaurants that harbor an interest in producing plant-based meat in 2022. 

Novameat's 3D printed Pork 2.0 skewers. Photo via Novameat.
Novameat’s 3D printed Pork 2.0 skewers. Photo via Novameat.

Developing plant-based steaks with 3D printing

Established in 2018, Novameat is the brainchild of Founder and CEO Giuseppe Scionti, who has been working as a researcher and assistant professor in the field of tissue engineering for more than a decade. 

Scionti’s vision was to provide an alternative to other meat-free food products that effectively mimicked the texture and taste of meat, while decreasing the negative impact of animal farming on the environment. 

In 2014, he co-authored a patent for the development of “smart” biomaterials containing magnetic nanoparticles which involved combining tissue engineering and bioprinting with modern gastronomic strategies to create “a hi-tech system able to generate foods with a high protein content and a fibrous appearance, just like meat.”

After years of material development, Scionti created a reddish paste made up of ingredients such as rice, peas, and seaweed protein which contain amino acids with nutritional properties, that could then be shaped into a fillet using a customized 3D printer. The steak is then “cooked” to further enhance its texture.

The company’s bioengineering and 3D printing technology capabilities have since improved substantially, with the startup’s current products including its plant-based “Steak 2.0” and “Pork 2.0” offerings produced using additive manufacturing. 

Ultimately, Novameat is aiming to recreate the muscle fibers of animal meat using 100 percent plant-based ingredients. The company will look to sell its steaks to consumers and businesses like restaurants next year in a bid to enter the alt-meat mass market. 

The 3D printed steak. Photo via Giuseppe Scionti.
Novameat’s 3D printed steak developed in 2018. Photo via Giuseppe Scionti.

Advances in 3D food printing

Although the technology is still very much in the development phase, and there is some skepticism regarding the scalability of food 3D printing, there have been several advances in the past year within the sector. 

Last year, food 3D printing startup Redefine Meat unveiled its first industrially printed vegan steak product, Alt-Steak, to be market-tested at select high-end restaurants before becoming available to the market at some point this year. In February, the company raised $29 million in Series A funding to support its commercial launch and expand its alt-meat portfolio, and announced plans to become the “world’s biggest alt-meat company by 2030.”

Elsewhere, fellow Israeli food-tech startups SavorEat and MeaTech have recently announced developments of their own. SavorEat raised $13 million in its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange while MeaTech successfully printed a centimeter-think cultured beef structure for the first time. 

Last month, MeaTech filed a provisional patent application to the US Patent Office (USPTO) for a novel bioprinting method that allows for “exceptional” control of multi-layered bioink printing and could allow for highly advantageous bioprinting resolutions in its meat-emulating products.

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Featured image shows Novameat’s 3D printed Pork 2.0 skewers. Photo via Novameat.