Amid soaring U.S. demand for meat substitutes — a market that grew 23 percent in 2018 to exceed $760 million …. in sales — companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have been leading the charge to develop plant-based products that look and taste like meat.
The offerings of these two California companies target a growing population of so-called “flexitarians,” people who for health and environmental reasons have turned to plant-based foods as a replacement for some or most of their regular meat intake.
There has also been pushback from critics amid the race to scale up mock-meat production.
“Many of the novel products in the market are highly processed, and they contain components such as soy that has bad press,” said Ricardo San Martin, head of the Alternative Meats Lab at the University of California, Berkeley.
The use of new genetic engineering processes prior to data on long-term safety has drawn scrutiny as well, particularly in the case of Impossible Foods. Its signature ingredient — soy leghemoglobin, a protein that contains heme for a “meaty” color and taste — is produced through the fermentation of genetically engineered yeast.
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