Israeli startup makes plant-based flavor bases for alt meat, wins €100k
Beef steak made from cultivated meat cultures via Aleph Farms
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Mediterranean Food Lab works to develop natural flavor bases that are more sustainable, via "novel modalities based on traditional, multi-phase, solid state fermentation of plantprotein."
The Israeli startup The Mediterranean Food Lab, which has been developing natural plant-based flavor bases for the alternative meat sector, has won an award of €100,000 from the EIT Food Accelerator Network (FAN) Program, according to a statement released by the Technion on Tuesday.
The EIT FAN program is held at the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food in the Technion, in conjunction with the Strauss Group. EIT Food, a major European food intiative, has been seeking to reshape the foundations of the food industry. The winning startup was founded by Yair Yosefi, Omer Ben Gal, and B.Z. (Ben) Goldberg, whom worked together to establish the companies.
60 companies were selected among 400 applicants to participate in EIT FAN. The Mediterranean Food Lab works to develop natural flavor bases that are more sustainable, via "novel modalities based on traditional, multi-phase, solid state fermentation of plantprotein." In addition to the award, the company also won a grant from the Good Food Institute in order to research traditional Southeast Asian foods.
CEO and R&D Director of The Mediterranean Food Lab, B.Z. Goldberg, explained the success of the alternative meat sector, which has largely been restricted to emulating meat. In the company's case, the use of meat to enhance flavor still accounts for 30% of the global market.
“Even if we stop slaughtering animals to produce hamburgers and steak, the food world will still need billions of animals each year to feed our appetite for the flavor enhancing qualities and meaty flavor profile presently delivered by animal protein, unless there is a great-tasting alternative. And that is what we’re working on,” Goldberg said.
The startup is now expected to compete in the European finals of the program, against other companies that have developed innovative technological solutions.
“We believe innovation holds the key to fixing our food system so that it is healthier and more sustainable for all”, said Benoit Buntinx, Director of Business Creation at EIT Food.
“These startups and scaleups represent the inclusivity and innovation of the EIT Food community and embody the important role entrepreneurs will play, if we are to accelerate the transformation of the food system,” he added.
Uri Lesmes of the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering noted the importance of the program, saying “The EIT Food Accelerator Network is a unique pan-European program established to catalyze significant breakthroughs, mainly by providing support and advice to new startups and entrepreneurs.”
“The companies that participated in the program at the Technion are engaged in finding food alternatives and in enriching the food chain as we know it – a common trend in the food world today," Lesmes said. "This year the COVID-19 crisis forced us to exercise our Israeli agility and adapt the program into a hybrid format, integrating online learning with practical workshops at the Faculty. I am proud to say we were the only hub to do so, and to persist in fostering the growth of startups."
This continues to support Israel’s leading position at the forefront of food-tech innovation. Israeli entrepreneurs have brought creativity and daring to the food sector, and it is not without reason that Israel is an important player in the global food-tech industry,” he added.