Atlast Food Co. is growing vegan bacon from mushrooms. It announced a small-scale launch of its product will occur later this year.
The startup is a spinoff brand from New York-based biotech company Ecovative. Ecovative uses mycelium—the roots of mushrooms—in its packaging, skincare, textiles, and apparel.
Atlast uses Ecovative’s extensive knowledge of mycelium to grow nutrient-rich fibers that replicate the “textures and mouthfeel” of meat.
The company is currently working with innovation consultancy Mattson to perfect its meatless bacon’s flavor, as well as to help commercialize the product.
“We’re building up our food expertise, but what we’re really experts in is growing mycelium, so we’ve been working with Mattson to help us on the flavoring side and to help us understand what we need to do to get a product on the shelf,” Andy Bass, Ecovative’s director of marketing, told FoodNavigator-USA.
He added: “the plant-based bacon alternatives are only about $30-$35 million of a $9 billion market. So we feel there is a big opportunity here, as there hasn’t been a lot of progress made on [meat-free] bacon that really targets meat-eaters.”
Growing Meat From Mushrooms
The startup’s innovative technology will enable other plant-based brands to explore a major section of meat products that have traditionally been unavailable to them: whole cuts.
Plant-based meat companies typically use soy, peas, or wheat to create processed meat-like products, such as nuggets, sausages, and burgers.
Atlast’s farming method uses a process called solid-state fermentation. It grows mycelium fibers to mimic tissue fibers so they closely resemble the texture of whole cuts.
First, it seeds gourmet mushrooms into trays. Then it places them into vertical farms that stimulate underground growth conditions. In just a matter of days, the mycelium is ready to be harvested and used as a raw ingredient for plant-based meat.
“We can grow meat-like mushroom tissues in gourmet sheets with various textures and structures at commercial scale in just nine days,” said Bass. “The material grows in giant slabs and you can then cut and slice it into any shape you want.”
In addition to its bacon, Bass told FoodNavigator-USA the company is working on other plant-based meat products.