Local food tech startup Meat. The End (MTE) on Tuesday announced a €1.5 million deal with a European machinery company to enhance R&D operations and ramp up the production capacity of plant-based meat alternatives, two months after scoring a deal to develop plant-based Whoppers for Burger King Israel.
The developer of protein ingredients that improve the texture of alternative meat described the unnamed European company as a “world leader in industrial mechanization equipment.”
As part of the purchase deal, the plant-based meat startup says it is seeking to develop the first industrial line in Israel of texturized protein ingredients using extrusion-based technology. The European company will also provide technical assistance for its R&D operations, MTE said in a statement.
“This technology is expected to contribute dramatically to solving the problem of world hunger,” said MTE founder Yishai Mishor. “In the protein world of tomorrow, whoever controls advanced extrusion techniques will control the raw materials in the market.”
“Meat.The End is going in that direction,” Dr. Mishor declared.
The purchase agreement comes after MTE in October landed its first commercial client announcing the partnership with Burger King’s Israeli franchise operator to develop plant-based meat alternatives and roll out meatless menu items.
MTE will be working with the European company on special machinery to develop raw materials for the meat alternative market using artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, Moshe Isarowitch, the startup’s VP of Technical Process & Technology told The Times of Israel.
Isarowitch, a former chief mechanical engineer at Unilever Israel, said the startup expects the rollout of the new machinery in the next six months.
Founded in 2020, MTE develops protein ingredients for the meat alternative market with a focus on texture that the startup says aims to mimic the chew and bite of the real thing.
While other alternative food tech companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat invest in the taste factor, MTE believes that texture is key to the “satisfaction” of consumers craving to eat something closer to meat.
MTE uses existing extrusion technology, the process of making a shaped object like a burger patty, and infuses it with proprietary steps throughout the production line to produce a texturized protein ingredient (TPI) or textured vegetable protein (TVP), the buildings blocks of plant-based burgers.
“Our unique technology is in a novel approach to industrial extrusion processes; and a revolutionary pre-treatment to the protein,” Mishor told The Times of Israel in October.
As plant-based producers need to scale up production and drive down costs to meet growing consumer demand, the Israeli startup also seeks to license the production tech to other food tech companies.
Extrusion, a common technology used in the commercial production of cereals, puffed snacks, bars, and pastas, requires fewer resources such as energy and water, and therefore has a lower cost compared to other production processes, MTE said.
Ricky Ben-David contributed to this report.