- Mush Foods launched its 50Cut mycelium ingredient to cut the amount of beef in hybrid products by 50%. The Israel-based company is part of the Strauss Group Kitchen FoodTech Hub.
- The company combines mushroom roots, known as mycelium, from three kinds of mushrooms in its ingredient blend. The ingredient can be customized to pair with the particular taste, texture, aroma and color of beef, as well as adopt the same ability to be formed.
- Mycelium is getting to be a more popular alternative protein option, with more companies using it to make products. Proponents say it is nutritious, sustainable, and more clean label than plant-based meat ingredients, as well as highly versatile.
As the plant-based meat sector first began to take off in 2019, large food companies added blended products to their offerings — made of some actual meat and some plant-based proteins. These blended products sought to appeal to picky flexitarians who wanted to cut down on their meat intake, but did not want to give up meat entirely.
Most of these offerings performed poorly on the market. In 2019 Tyson announced its Raised & Rooted brand of blended meat and plant-based offerings with great fanfare. Raised & Rooted is still available today, but only as a plant-based brand. Perdue’s Chicken Plus nuggets are still available, but they’re currently positioned as “hidden vegetable” options for children, not as a step between plant-based and meat options. The other blended plant-based/meat options on the market today are basically a cross between a meat burger and a ‘90s-style veggie burger. Most large manufacturers aren’t combining plant-based meat with traditional meat.
Mush Foods’ option could change that, as long as the market opportunity is there. Mycelium is high in protein and fiber. It has a natural umami flavor, but is easily adapted to different tastes. It’s clean label, and because it is made up of roots, it also has a fibrous texture like meat. Depending on how it is prepared, it can have a juicy texture, much like meat.
Mush Foods also upcycles side streams from other food processors to grow its mushrooms and mycelium, the company says. Mush Foods has a proprietary fermentation platform that recreates the natural underground growth conditions for mushrooms.
But the big question is whether consumers would want a product that is a blend of meat and mycelium. Meat analogs made from mycelium are just beginning to widely become available, so it’s unclear what consumer opinion of them will be.
It also depends on what kind of marketing is done to draw consumers to the products. Consumers have not been as enthusiastic about the plant-based meat space as of late. Sustainability concerns and health impacts both could be consumer selling points. According to a study last year from the Plant Based Foods Institute, Kroger and its affiliated data insights firm 84.51°, 54% of consumers said they switched to plant-based food for health reasons.