Foodtech: 3D-printed food

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NutritionInvestor investigates the whos, the hows and the wows in the 3D-printed food space through interviews with Natural Machines, Redefine Meat, SavorEat and Legendary Vish
Texturised salmon by Legendary Vish
Texturised salmon by Legendary Vish in comparison with the animal product

“Dinner is printed!” is not a line of science fiction but a reality thanks to companies like Natural Machines, Redefine Meat, SavorEat and Legendary Vish, which have developed new-generation technology that allows the creation of food through additive manufacturing techniques, eliminating animals from the equation while providing food safety and personalised nutrition in the process. 

The $4.75 million seed funding that Israeli SavorEat raised within two weeks this month signals how hot this emerging food-tech is for investors. 

SavorEat was backed by the government and big names in the Israeli investment community – Ori Mor of the Mor Langermann investment bank and investment house Meitav Dash – based on its proof of concept and patented technology. Investors valued the company at $25 million.

“It’s quite an exciting opportunity,” says Racheli Vizman, co-founder and chief executive of SavorEat. “It’s a growing market, and there is room for many more players. Some of them are coming from Israel because of the food-tech ecosystem. Start-ups have the support of the government and visionary investors.”

For Vizman, the time has come to start thinking differently about innovation, food and sustainability. “The question is not what’s happening today, but what’s going to happen in five to 10 years from now,” she says. Vizman argues this mindset is making 3D-printed food such an attractive space.

Potential investable market

Various market research companies have surveyed this budding sector, and forecasts suggest the global 3D food-tech market will reach a $400 million value by 2025, growing annually at a rate in double digits. Market and Research, for example, said the edible printing market was worth $91 million in 2019.

That 3D-printed food is a fast-growing global trend is linked to the same factors skyrocketing sales of the gamut of animal-free food and drink products in the market: the need for an ecosystem that produces food sustainably and reduces food waste, that responds to the increasing demand for products with personalised nutrition, catering for a wide range of dietary requirements and lifestyle choices, from vegan and gluten-free to allergens and environmental concerns.

All these pressing needs are solved, one way or another, by the unique proposition behind the many 3D-printed food brands in the market today. That’s right, there are dozens of businesses in the market, from all corners of the world and at a different stage of development, marketing 3D food printers for use at home or professional kitchens.

3D food printing: How it works

Printers’ design and technology vary from one brand to another, but in a nutshell, 3D food printing machines use food-grade syringes (printing heads) that hold the printing material (food or ingredients), which then passes through a food-grade nozzle, and products are created layer by layer.

Advanced 3D food printers are driven by sophisticated software with pre-loaded recipes or designs, for example. The food can be customised in shape, colour, texture, flavour and nutrition, depending on the material being used.

Some 3D food printers are material-specific, for example, chocolate – and companies like Choc Edge in the UK simply transform the material into 3D-printed shapes. Other printers like Foodini, the brand of Natural Machines can take all sorts of foodstuff to create simple dishes like pizzas, spaghetti and nachos. Then there is bioprinting the technology used by Redefine Meat, an Israeli start-up, which in June unveiled its Alt-Steak, a cut of meat created with a sophisticated matrix of alternative ingredients – plant-based formulations of muscle, fat, blood, taste and flavour – ready to cook.

NutritionInvestor speaks to the founders of Natural Machines, Redefine Meat, SavorEat and Legendary Vish to find out more about the 3D-printed food space.

Next page: Natural Machines

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