With the growing concern over the ethics of eating animals and the impact it has on our environment, many meat-lovers are looking for healthy and sustainable alternatives to satisfy their cravings. Seattle Food Tech is working on just that: plant-based “chicken” nuggets and burgers.
Plant-based meat is an emerging industry and many investors and entrepreneurs are taking more notice. Seattle Food Tech raised $1 million in funding and is coming out of Y Combinator’s 2018 summer class. With this funding, they will hire more staff and create specialized manufacturing equipment. Blue Horizon, a venture fund that focuses on sustainable food, was one of their investors and believes the company can lower production costs of plant-based meat and produce it more efficiently in the future.
Back in February, they created their first nugget, made from textured wheat, oil, cornstarch, corn breading, and chicken flavoring. Christie Lagally, Seattle Food Tech’s founder, aims to lead Seattle Food Tech in branching out and making other plant-based meats beyond just chicken nuggets.
Instead of going after big supermarket stores like many other plant-based meat startups, the Seattle-based company is taking a different approach and selling their product to large food service companies or wholesaling it to hospital and school cafeterias. By selling it wholesale, the company is also able to reduce its cost per serving. Once they are able to produce at a high-volume, Seattle Food Tech will reconsider packaging their products and sending them to grocery stores.
To remain competitive with other meats, Seattle Food Tech must produce their “chicken” at a large scale using technology that is unique to their production. Lagally is currently working on creating specialized machines that streamline the production process of their chicken. Once constructed, the company will build facilities dedicated to the production of plant-based products.
Going back to the concern of sustainability, Seattle Food Tech’s proposed facilities are also environmentally better than those that produce meat. For small towns and farming communities, adding these facilities seems like a no-brainer.
As plant-based meats become more popular and cheaper to produce, meat producers will fight back to retain market share. Even though meat producers will push back on emerging startups, it is really up to the consumers to decide what to buy. If these plant-based meat producers can provide a product that tastes exactly the same and for the same (or lesser) price, the market may shift.
And companies like The Impossible Burger are making similar strides to produce plant-based meat. With more companies populating this space, developments to replace conventional animal-sourced meats in light of environmental concerns seems inevitable.
With more support from the general public, food-tech companies looking to produce “meat” more sustainably will continue on its quest to change the way we source the meat we consume.
Sooner or later, the next chicken nugget or chicken burger you eat might not even contain any chicken at all.