Earlier this month, the plant-based protein company, Ozo, unveiled a new bacon product that moves the company beyond their beef alternatives and into the white-hot market for plant-based pork alternatives.
Owned by Planterra Foods, Ozo is based in Colorado and launched with some beef replacements in June 2020.
Their products – which the company says aims to please vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians alike – are made with a unique blend of pea and rice protein and fermented by shiitake mycelium to create vegan protein options.
Ozo faces stiff competition when it comes to creating pork-like products that lose the oinkers while keeping their flavor.
MyForest Foods (a FootPrint Coalition portfolio company) is also taking aim at a replacement for the most delicious breakfast meat. So is Hooray Foods... and Libre Foods... and the Natalie Portman-backed French startup La Vie Foods... and the granddaddy of all plant-based meat replacement companies... Beyond Meat.
"The real test for us is to make each of our platforms—beef, pork and poultry—indistinguishable from animal protein," Beyond Meat's chief executive told The Wall Street Journal last year. "How do you make a raw chicken breast with the translucent skin, the color transition that occurs? Steak, given its distribution of fat and protein, and, of course, bacon? Those three things are the holy grail."
Planterra Foods is also looking to replicate the taste of meat products, according to chief executive Darcey Macken.
“The goal with all of our OZO products is to bring inspiration to food lovers everywhere with extraordinary plant-based foods that deliver a True Bite eating experience. True Bite is our promise to delight the senses, from first sight to last bite,” Macken said in a statement.
Ozo Plant-Based Bacon is set to release in grocery stores later this year and will come in three flavors: Applewood Smoked, Cracked Black Pepper, and Spicy Jalapeno.
Bacon, with its... unique... combination of flavors and textures from muscle tissue and fats represents a singular challenge for plant-replacement companies.
If a plant-based company can find a way to replicate the bacon-y flavor of bacon, it'd stand to make a mint. The market for such pigiliciousness is $34 billion in the U.S. and a plant-based replacement could provide a healthier option than the alternative.
Even if it's not better for people (it likely would be), it's definitely better for the planet. Industrial hog farming unleashes thousands of tons of poop on the world and is a disease factory for the animals. There's a chance that these industrial farms could also spread illnesses to human populations as well.
Six years ago, the Centers for Disease Control announced the discovery on hog farms of a superbug that could be very dangerous to human populations.
As the NRDC wrote at the time:
What they found on pig farms was a kind of CRE bacteria, for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. CRE is one of the nastier superbugs. Infections with these germs are very difficult to treat, and can be deadly—the death rate from patients with CRE bloodstream infections is up to 50%. The CDC says these bacteria already cause 9,300 infections, and 600 deaths each year.
To date, CRE infections occur mostly among patients in hospitals and nursing homes; people on breathing machines, or with tubing inserted into their veins or bladders are at higher risk, as are people taking long courses of certain antibiotics. But newer, more resistant kinds of CRE seem to be causing more problems outside hospitals, in communities and among healthier
Plant based alternatives to bacon have the potential to make billions, reduce consumption of carcinogenic meat, cut the agricultural footprint of the hog industry, slash pollution from pig waste, and drop the chances of diseases spreading.
If that's not a tasty dish, we don't know what is.