Swedish food-tech company Mycorena has developed a fungi-based ingredient that mimics animal fats, the company announced on 11 November.

Finding a good substitute for animal fat has been a challenge for the plant-based industry, according to Mycorena chief innovation officer Dr Paulo Teixeira, due to the fact that the flavour in steak is not found in the meat itself but in the fat surrounding it.

“The flavour in animal fat is released when we cook our meat… dispersing of its flavours to give you that tasty experience of the whole meat,” Dr Teixeira said.

Mycorena’s ingredient contains fat and also protein and fibre from mycelium, a thread-like structure found in fungi.

Grown in a liquid environment, the whole fungi is grown as mycelium with few or no fruiting bodies, according to the Mycorena website, and as the mycelium is a fibrous material, it can be transformed into a meat-like form with the fibres similar to animal muscle fibres.

The company said it was now using the new ingredient in its range of food products, including mycoprotein-based burgers, chicken fillets, and whole cut meats.

“We want to integrate our customers into our beta-testing programme… where they can get access to test our solution… within the next few months”, Teixeira added.

In October, a consortium led by Mycorena, along with Swedish food manufacturer Berte Qvarn and Falkenburg municipality, had been awarded a €1.7M grant (US$1.9M) from the European Commission’s LIFE programme for creating circular micoprotein, the company said, and it was now building a production factory in Falkenberg, Sweden.

Gothenburg-headquartered Mycorena was established in 2018 and, the following year, scaled up from the laboratory to its first pre-industrial pilot facility, according to its website.