- Redefine Meat, an Israeli startup launched last year, completed a $6 million funding round led by CPT Capital. It also included investments from Hanaco Ventures, the PHW Group and Israeli angel investors.
- The company plans to use the money to finish developing its 3D printing system to produce plant-based meat alternatives. The goal is to enter mass production in 2021.
- Redefine Meat is using proprietary 3D technology to deliver animal-free meat with the same appearance, texture and flavor as the conventional version — but without the "huge environmental cost" of raising and processing beef cattle, according to the company's website.
Redefine Meat's strategy could disrupt the meat industry if it can scale up and distribute 3D-printed steaks and other plant-based alternatives as planned. The company said its products mirror animal-sourced meat in every way but are made from natural, sustainable and more affordable ingredients. The products also claim to have a 95% smaller environmental footprint and contain no cholesterol, hormones or pathogens.
That's a tall order for 3D-printing technology, although Redefine Meat must have made a convincing case to attract $6 million in a seed funding round. One major incentive for these investors is the size of the market for meat alternatives, which, according to Barclays, is expected to reach $140 billion annually by 2030. This would account for about 10% of the total $1.4 trillion global meat industry. And as consumers increasingly care about the environmental impact of their food, this investment could be a smart one.
Another potential asset could be the company's claim that its 3D technology offers distributors and retailers the opportunity to design how they want the meat. The company advertises that it can respond to seasons, changing demands and consumer preferences with its 3D technology.
This spring, Redefine Meat tested its alternative meat on unsuspecting diners at a restaurant in Israel, The Spoon reported. Included as part of "an elegantly plated kebab," diners allegedly had no idea they were eating a 3D-printed plant-based product. When diners were told the kebab was really made from plants, 85% of them ranked it as meat-like, founder and CEO Eshchar Ben-Shitrit told the publication.
While that response may be promising, it's hard to tell whether the majority of carnivores and flexitarians will welcome a 3D-printed meat alternative. It may sound a bit too high-tech or costly for some people, and it may be tough for them to accept that a food product can be printed.
A few years ago, widespread 3D food printing seemed almost inevitable, but this expectation may have been tempered by the reality of trying to scale up the system while adding fresh ingredients and making it available in home kitchens at an affordable price.
Still, 3D food printing can produce intricate shapes for pastas, confectionery and desserts and may prove to be a desirable and labor-saving method for restaurants or busy home cooks. According to Research and Markets, the 3D food printing market could hit $425 million by 2025, for a compound annual growth rate of 55% between 2018 and 2025.
Some big food companies have tried the technology. PepsiCo has created 3D-printed plastic prototypes of potato chips to get feedback from consumer focus groups. Barilla sponsored a contest to create a 3D-printed pasta, and Mondelez used the technology to make Oreos with customizable creme patterns and flavors. Meat could be the next trend to hit 3D printing if Redefine Meat is able to commercialize it.
For Redefine Meat, success hinges on whether it can produce realistic plant-based meat alternatives that look good, taste realistic, aren't too expensive and appeal to those who want to support a more sustainable food system. The company now has $6 million to try to make that happen.