Skinless chicken breast gets a makeover

A new era of skinless chicken breast, made without the bird, is unfolding to benefit humans, animals and the environment. This week, Swiss company Planted Foods raised $72 million in venture capital to expand its plant-based meat business, with a particular focus on whole cuts of meat such as skinless chicken breasts. The company currently manufactures plant-based chicken cuts, pulled pork, kebab and schnitzel, which it distributes to more than 4,000 European outlets and 3,000 restaurants.

Planted uses a technology called “biostructuring” to produce its minimally processed vegan meats, which start with proteins extracted from plants and lengthened by wet extrusion before going through a fermentation process. To perfect its revolutionary vegan chicken breast, made with yellow pea protein, Planted worked with celebrity German chef Tim Raue, who will put whole protein on the menu at his eponymous two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Berlin from September 15. . Planted Vegan Chicken Breast will initially be available in restaurants and is expected to arrive in retailers next year.

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“I love working with good products and Planted Chicken Breast, like other Planted products, meets that requirement without compromise,” Raue said in a statement. “It can be treated ideally and additionally makes a [positive] contribution to our climate – for a future-oriented kitchen, these products are indispensable.

The new round of $72m builds on a previous Planted of $19m raised in 2021 for its international expansion. “We are proud to be the fastest growing alternative protein company in Europe, with strong experience in our established but young markets in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and France and good early development in new ones. markets such as the UK and Italy,” Planted co-founder Christoph Jenny said in a statement. “With the additional capital, we will further accelerate our international growth, expand our product line with a new range of whole cut products and build another production facility.”

Redo the skinless chicken breast without the bird

What’s wrong with animal-based chicken breasts? For one thing, 99% of chicken in the United States — and about 74% worldwide — comes from factory farms, where birds are manipulated to grow faster than their bodies can handle and are crammed under harsh conditions. deplorable. This method of raising chickens also creates a breeding ground for zoonoses and has led to outbreaks of bird flu around the world.

Industrial chicken farming is also an environmental nightmare. A report released this week by World Animal Protection (WAP) found that producing 2.2 pounds of chicken emits 3.85 pounds of carbon dioxide and 2.51 grams of biogenic methane. To put that into context, the United States is expected to produce 45.5 billion pounds of chicken in 2022, which is equivalent to the carbon emissions of 4 billion gallons of gas. According to WAP, reducing our consumption of traditionally raised chicken would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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And Planted, along with other companies, is working to help consumers do just that. “Our planted chicken breast is better than its animal counterpart because it [is convincing] with a fibrous texture and high protein content with 74% less greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr. Judith Wemmer, board member and head of product development at Planted, in a communicated. “We are therefore extremely happy that our novelty is now launched in the restaurant sector with a great chef like Tim Raue. The choice of how Planted can be incorporated into menus is incredibly versatile – and this in particular is a lot of fun for us and offers lots of delicious possibilities.

In addition to Planted, other companies are working to develop alternatives to chicken breasts, including Lightlife Foods has launched an unbreaded vegan chicken breast that it makes with pea protein and chickpea flour. Brazilian meat giant JBS recently branched out into plant-based chicken breasts through its subsidiary Planterra Foods. Last fall, the Colorado-based company launched vegan shredded chicken and chop varieties made with its True Bite technology. The vegan chicken is made from a proprietary blend of pea and rice proteins fermented by shiitake mushrooms with a taste and texture that mimics its animal counterpart.

Another Colorado-based company, Meati Foods, takes a different approach to making whole vegan chicken breasts. The company harnesses the power of mycelium, the fast-growing root system of fungi, to create nutritious vegan meats, including chicken breasts. In July, Meati raised $150 million in a Series C round, which included participation from Chipotle’s new venture capital fund, to further market its whole vegan chicken and steak.

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But is there a demand for chicken breasts made this way? Well, when Meati first made its chicken products available nationwide via its website earlier this year, they sold out in less than 24 hours. A second launch was equally successful.


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