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Fake meat goes beyond burgers with money for printing steaks

UPDATED: Wed., March 3, 2021

The inherent advantages of 3D printing make it a perfect fit for solving some of the most complex challenges in replacing animals as a source of meat. A key challenge is replicating beef steak.  (Redefine Meat/Tribune News Service)
The inherent advantages of 3D printing make it a perfect fit for solving some of the most complex challenges in replacing animals as a source of meat. A key challenge is replicating beef steak. (Redefine Meat/Tribune News Service)
By Agnieszka de Sousa </p><p>and Ivan Levingston Bloomberg News

Juicy sirloin steaks hot off a 3D printer are on the menu this year as the booming faux meat market bids to lure even die-hard carnivores.

Israel’s Redefine Meat Ltd. is targeting steak houses and other restaurants in Israel, Europe and Asia with its 3D-printed facsimiles of beef cuts, from fillet to rump and brisket. The startup has just raised $29 million in funding to build a large-scale pilot factory and begin sales later this year, it said recently.

“We want to change the belief that delicious meat can only come from animals,” Chief Executive Officer Eshchar Ben-Shitrit said. “We have all the building blocks in place to make this a reality.”

Alternative-protein demand has boomed in recent years as environmental and health concerns drive consumers to products like faux burgers or nuggets. That’s attracted venture-capital investors and food giants from Nestle SA to McDonald’s Corp., although more needs to be done to improve the taste of products and lower prices to compete with conventional meat.

Redefine is trying to take plant-based products to the next level by giving diners the same sensory experience as eating prime beef. Another Israeli startup, Aleph Farms Ltd., recently unveiled the world’s first slaughter-free ribeye steak. Barcelona-based Novameat Tech SL plans to start selling 3D-printed vegan meat to restaurants in Europe this year as it raises funding for a production scale-up, CEO Giuseppe Scionti said.

While Redefine is still working on flavor, 3D printers loaded with plant-based “ink” can print the meat countless times and deliver a complex layering of muscle and fat to recreate the right texture.

“Our meat today versus some other cuts of meat are the same,” the Redefine CEO said in an interview. “You cannot distinguish.”

The company has distribution partners in Israel, Germany, Switzerland and Singapore. Redefine’s financing round, led by Happiness Capital and Hanaco Ventures, is the highest Series-A funding for any alternative protein startup, data from researcher Dealroom show.

The funding is “a major step toward becoming the world’s biggest alternative meat company by 2030,” Ben-Shitrit said.

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