Plant-based seafood producer New School Foods has recently showcased its proprietary, scalable technologies that can produce whole-cut fish alternatives that look and cook like conventional seafood. In addition to demonstrating its tech for the plant-based meat industry, the company also announced $12 million in seed funding from global investors including Lever VC, Blue Horizon, Hatch, Good Startup, Alwyn Capital, Joyance Partners, as well as grants from multiple agencies, including Protein Industry Canada.
For three years New School Foods CEO Christopher Bryson invested heavily in academic R&D projects with some of the world’s leading food science universities and identified a scalable platform that delivers a number of firsts for the meat alternative industry:
- Muscle fibres, made from plants: replicates the diameter, length, strength and structure of fish muscle fibres to deliver the same texture and mouthfeel to diners.
- Whole-cut scaffolding: fillets that combines directionally aligned muscle fibres with plant-based connective tissue, fats, colours and flavours.
- Raw-to-cooked: unlike nearly all other products in the market that are pre-cooked by production, New School Foods’ cold-based processing technology creates a filet that starts raw and transforms like fish upon cooking.
- Scalable by design: Unlike many other new food processing technologies, New School Foods’ process uses off-the-shelf equipment from adjacent industries, providing a superior ability to scale more globally.
The alternative protein market at large has yet to tackle the biggest opportunity: whole cuts, which represent a majority of meat sales in North America. Whole cuts come with a host of complex challenges like texture, connective tissue, muscle fibres and other macrostructures that exist in animal proteins.
Whereas established production methods like high-moisture extrusion use high temperatures that pre-cooks the food and denatures the proteins, New School Foods’ technology uses a series of cold-based processes, yielding a product that is “raw” and transitions to cooked, keeping the cooking experience as close as possible to ordinary salmon.
“The next frontier of meat alternatives is whole cuts, and from day one we understood that New School Foods needed to solve two heavily connected issues: the quality of the meat alternatives in-market, and the limited toolkit our industry uses to produce them,” said Chris Bryson, CEO and founder of New School Foods. “What’s generally available for consumers now are rubbery, ground, pre-cooked products that will not convince the average customer to change their lifelong habits.”
New School Foods will continue focusing on research and development, using the $12 million raised in seed funding to expand the team of food scientists, scale up its scaffolding technology and build out a research and production facility.
“We are excited to work with New School Foods. Their unique and novel texturisation solutions will be able to play an important role in increasing consumer adoption of plant-based seafood," said Georg Baunach, co-founder of Hatch. "Current offerings in the market don’t provide the experience which consumers are looking for. Chris and his team have the opportunity to change this at scale.”
New School Foods is also announcing the launch of a chef-only pilot programme as they expect to launch their salmon alternative in numerous restaurants across North America in 2023. Chefs interested in joining can apply here.
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