You could soon order your beef steak in 3D-printed form

Source: Release Date: 2020-07-06
Keywords:beef steak in 3D-printed form

Ordering a steak usually prompts the question: How would you like that cooked? But soon, your waiter might ask whether you want the meat cut from a cow or a printer.

Redefine Meat on Tuesday lifted the cloche on a plant-based beef steak made using industrial 3D printing technology, announcing that its food printers will hit the market as soon as next year.

"Today's announcement marks the start of a new era in alternative meat – the Alt-Steak era," said CEO and co-founder Eshchar Ben-Shitrit from Tel Aviv.

The steak simulacrum is made with soy, pea protein, coconut fat, sunflower oil as well as natural colors and flavors to imitate the real thing. The company says the steak looks, cooks and tastes like beef, with an extra perk: zero cholesterol.

Plant-based meat is having its moment as more consumers cut back or altogether quit animal flesh for ethical, environmental or health reasons. The alternative meat market could be worth 140 billion U.S. dollars by 2029, about 10 percent of the global meat industry, according to Barclays.

Supermarket aisles are now crowded with plant-based offerings next to cow cuts and pork parts. In restaurants, bleeding burgers and chicken-free nuggets are drawing crowds and driving sales.

Faux meat has come a long way from their bland and boring imitations from decades past with new and exciting concoctions fooling the taste buds and delivering the same sensory experience as eating meat from slaughtered animals. Still, the majority of what's on offer today is limited to plant-based meatballs, patties and sausages – different reincarnations of ground meat. Mince is easy to replicate, but anything beyond that has proven to be challenging.

 

A number of companies have turned to bio-engineering and 3D printing to replicate the fibrous texture and distinct appearance of muscle cuts. Redefine Meat thinks it has cracked the code and mapped over 70 sensorial parameters that control the texture, juiciness, fat distribution and mouthfeel of its product to mimic "premium beef cuts."

"By using separate formulations for muscle, fat and blood, we can focus on each individual aspect of creating the perfect Alt-Steak product. This is unique to our 3D printing technology and lets us achieve unprecedented control of what happens inside the matrix of alt-meat," Ben-Shitrit said in a press release.

Other companies are also working on developing convincing textured meats. Spanish company Novameat unveiled mock pork prototype using 3D printing technology in May, hot on the heels of exhibiting a whole muscle beef steak earlier in the year. Meanwhile, Atlast Food is trying to nail the fibrous texture of butcher-style meat cuts with the help of mycelium, the thread-like roots of mushrooms. The New York-based startup already has vegan bacon under its belt.

The meat printers that Redefine Meat plans to sell next year are able to print around 20 kilograms per hour, Reuters reported – not quite on par with the output of conventional meat processing facilities, but a leap from what the technology could allow for a few years back. Each machine costs upwards of 100,000 U.S. dollars, food tech website The Spoon has reported, but the price tag could go down as the technology matures.

The Alt-Steak will have a limited taste test with restaurant chefs at the end of 2020, with feedback informing tweaks to the machine and meat ahead of a wider market distribution in 2021.

(Cover: The Alt-Steak by Redefine Meat is printed layer by layer using 3D printing technology. /Redefine Meat)