Mission Barns partnership produces plant-based sausage with cultivated fat

Dive Brief:

  • Cultivated fat maker Mission Barns partnered with California-based Silva Sausage to create a plant protein sausage using cultivated fat. Through the partnership, the companies completed a scaled-up manufacturing run of the new Mission Chorizo Sausage.
  • This is the first partnership between a cultured fat company and a manufacturer of plant-based meat in North America. While there is no date yet for the sausages made in this way to roll out to foodservice or retail, Mission Barns CEO Eitan Fischer said in an email that this news is a big step toward a product launch. The company now has a partner who will use animal-free Mission Fat at scale, and the trial run showed that Mission Fat can be used in a large manufacturing process.
  • Cultured fat has long been considered a desirable solution for plant-based proteins, which need to have fats added in order to more genuinely mimic meat. At least two-thirds of plant-based meat producers would be willing to use cultivated fat in their products, according to a survey by Peace of Meat.

Dive Insight:

The type of product that many consumers have wanted — plant-based meat made with an ingredient that brings the flavor, function and mouthfeel of animal meat — is getting closer to being a reality. And while there is still work to be done in terms of scale and product, there are now products on the horizon.

“We see it as the best of both worlds, where sustainability and deliciousness intersect,” Fischer said in a press release.

Cultivated fat is identical to its corresponding animal fat, with the only difference being its origin. Cultivated fat companies use cells and bioreactors to grow their fat without killing an animal. California-based Mission Barns, one of the leading companies in the space, has created its animal-free Mission Fat from pig, duck, chicken and cow cells. The fat in the sausage product, the company says, is from pork.

Mission Barns has had a banner year. Last fall, it offered tastings of bacon made with cultured fat in San Francisco. In April, the company closed a $24 million funding round, which had several participants with deep ties to plant-based, fermented and cell-based food. The company said it would use the money to build a pilot manufacturing plant in the San Francisco Bay Area and work to scale up its technology. In September, the company entered a similar agreement to produce plant-based food with cell-based fat with China-based Herotein.

Other companies producing cultivated fat have made recent breakthroughs. Peace of Meat, a Belgium-based cultured meat provider owned by cell-based meat maker Meat-Tech 3D, produced more than 700 grams of pure chicken fat in a single production run last month.

While Mission Barns is completing its pilot plant — which will likely boost its capacity to supply cultivated fat to its partners — Silva Sausage is also expanding its manufacturing footprint. It currently can make up to 50,000 pounds of sausage per day in its 52,000-square-foot facility. It is nearly doubling its space by adding an additional 80,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Fischer said in his email that the partnership involves producing continuous scaled-up runs using Silva’s capabilities.

Mission Chorizo Sausage will initially carry a premium price when it becomes available, but as the company scales, the price is likely to dramatically drop, Fischer said in his email. Mission’s cultivated fat is cheaper, faster and more efficient to create than cell-based meat, he said.

But the timing of Mission Chorizo Sausage’s launch to consumers may depend not just on ingredients or technology, but on regulation. No cell-based products have been approved for consumption in the United States. The federal government is still writing the regulations for this space. However, the company said it is actively working with regulators to bring the product to market in a way that consumers can be assured of its safety and quality.

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