Not Your Typical Meat Alternative
When Justin Whiteley and Tyler Huggins met as Ph.D. students on the University of Colorado-Boulder campus, they recognized a shared passion for nature-driven, sustainable food systems. And a complementary skill set.
“Tyler is an environmental scientist who has focused on biology throughout his career,” said Justin Whiteley, CSO and co-founder, Meati Foods. “And my focus is mechanical engineering – with a Ph.D. skewed towards materials science.”
While still students, the men built a biomanufacturing roadmap that took advantage of both disciplines – and set the course for Meati Foods, the producer of a meat alternative based on mushroom root. Unlike many other meat alternatives, Meati is a complete protein and nutritional powerhouse that provides significant B vitamins, fiber and zinc.
“Meati also delivers a familiar meat texture, which is lacking in other options,” Whiteley said. “And it can be made with a fraction of the land and water required to grow animal protein – plus the process emits substantially less greenhouse gas.”
Innovative Proprietary Process
Using novel food processing techniques, Meati developed a system for producing mushroom root – known as mycelium – consistently and efficiently. Much like beer brewing, Meati grows its mycelium in fermentation tanks.
In brewing, yeast fungi convert carbohydrates or sugar molecules into alcohol. In the Meati process, fungi, in this case mycelium spores, convert sugar and nitrogen into protein-rich mycelium.
“Mycelium consists of tiny fibers,” Whiteley explained. “Our technology takes advantage of those fibers to turn mycelium into advanced muscle structures that create a pleasing texture.”