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The Emergence of 3D Printing Technology in the Plant-Based Food Sector

July 15, 2022


A recent report by Bloomberg Intelligence (BI) predicted that the plant-based food market will exceed $162 billion by 2030. Product innovation coupled with an influx of flexitarians, vegetarians, and vegans is driving the plant-based food sector forward.

While leaders such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods contribute to the momentum with their infamous plant-based burgers through strategic restaurant and retail partnerships, a small handful of companies have endeavoured to fill industry gaps by cultivating plant-based meat cuts, such as steak, lamb and pork chops. Although replicating the taste and texture of animal-derived meat is no easy task, the emergence of three-dimensional printing (3D printing) in the food industry proves it is possible.

Commonly used in the healthcare sector to construct artificial limbs and in the automotive industry to manufacture parts, 3D printing refers to a process that creates physical objects from a digital blueprint by laying down thin layers of material and fusing them together.

In 2020, Givaudan, a global leader in flavours and fragrances, partnered with Redefine Meat, a food-tech startup based in Israel, to develop the world’s first Alt-Steak™ by combining artificial intelligence and 3D printing technology. Recognizing the increasing demand for alternative, plant-based protein, Givaudan used its revolutionary capabilities in flavour and taste to ensure the Alt-Steak™ product precisely replicates the flavours, aromas and experience of animal-derived meat. The partnership allowed Redefine Meat to create a patented 3D printer that layers three materials (Alt-MuscleTM, Alt-FatTM, and Alt-BloodTM) made entirely from plant-based ingredients to create products that “look, taste, and feel like the muscle, fat and blood of a typical cut of meat – without slaughtering cows or other animals.” Shortly after launching in Israel, Redefine Meat expanded across Europe. However, endless innovation opportunities in North America’s plant-based food sector remain, and as Jennifer Bartashus, Senior Consumer Staples Analyst at BI, claims: “food-related consumer habits often come and go as fads, but plant-based alternatives are here to stay – and grow.”

By: Ayesha Khanna


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