Can a 3D-printed steak made entirely of plants be the answer to sustainable meat? A Spanish startup company is counting on it.
Giuseppe Scionti, founder and CEO of NovaMeat, has the ability to make a 100-gram steak in 30 minutes using peas, seaweed and rice — and it costs just under $3.
Why is this steak different from products already on the market, like the Impossible Burger or the Beyond Burger? According to Italian inventor and bioengineer Scionti, the texture of a burger is worlds away from the texture of a steak or a chicken breast.
Scionti claims that what he’s done with plant protein nanofibers precisely recreates the structure of animal proteins. His 3D-printed steak cuts and feels like a real hunk of animal meat — with the same nutritional profile. And he plans to recreate a faux chicken breast in the same way.
Scionti took on the mission of creating a quality 3D-printed beefsteak because he wants to create meat that’s environmentally sustainable, plentiful and inexpensive. He developed the steak while working as a postdoctoral researcher in tissue engineering at the University in Barcelona.
“I used raw materials that don’t have a negative impact on the environment,” Scionti told Business Insider. “I tried not to choose, for example, avocado or quinoa, as increasing the demand for foods that need to imported would have a detrimental impact on the environment.”
If the world turns to 3D-printed meat, the elimination of factory-farmed cows, chickens, turkeys and pigs could reap huge rewards in reducing one of the factors driving climate change. Add to the mix the ability to nourish a hungry, underfed world and this technology starts looking better and better.
Scionti’s got the steak’s texture and nutrition down, but the final hurdles are taste and appearance. He announced
At the moment, our products can mimic the texture and a simplified appearance of beefsteaks and chicken breast meats, but achieving products that are able to simultaneously mimic the texture, the appearance, the taste and the nutritional properties of specific pieces of fibrous meat is not trivial.
The price of $3.00 per 100 grams, or 4 ounces, is astonishingly good — especially considering what goes into producing one of these steaks. Once mass production begins, that price is expected to drop even further. NovaMeat’s patented product should be available within three to five years.
And NovaMeat isn’t the only company turning to 3D printing as a means of producing faux meats:
- JUST, Inc. says 3D printing will factor into its production of “clean meat” — cell-based, lab grown meat — which is expected to be in stores by 2019.
- Aleph Farms, an Israeli clean meat startup, is using 3D technology to create “slaughter-free” steak that provides “the full experience of meat with the appearance, shape, and texture of beef cuts”
- Jet Eat, another Israeli startup, says it’s using 3D printing technology to make realistic vegetable-based steaks. The company is aiming to make its product available by 2020.
As for NovaMeat’s future, Scionto notes that it will be “fundamental to scale up the production, to bring it to the supermarkets and to the rural areas of the planet, where meat substitutes are most needed.”
Indeed, we need 3D-printed meat in a way we’ll never need things like 3D-printed guns. If we can feed the world while reducing agricultural impacts and freeing farmed animals from their lives of misery, why wouldn’t we?
Here’s wishing Giuseppe Scionti and others like him great success. The future of our world might just depend on it.