Our portfolio company, MyForest Foods, is making big moves in the world of alternative meats with the opening of a huge new mycelium farm -- meant to boost supplies of the company's delicious, delicious bacon.
The new mushroom farm in Upstate New York claims to be the world's largest aerial mycelium factory and it'll be the site for MyForest's expansion plans to sell its bacon substitute into more of the U.S. market, as Axios reported earlier today.
Called the Swersey Silos, the facility near Albany, NY will be able to produce nearly 3 million pound of mycelium -- the foundational structure for most mushrooms and fungi.
In the facility, racks reaching 16 feet into the air will produce enough mycelium to make one million pounds of the company's bacon substitute.
Moving the world off of animal proteins and encouraging consumers to eat more plants is better for the environment -- reducing deforestation, the pollution associated with industrial meat cultivation, and, in the case of beef, significantly reduce methane emissions associated with cow burps.
"We basically build these cyborg buildings that replicate the environment you find in a forest," MyForest Foods co-founder and CEO Eben Bayer told Axios. "And we sort of trick the mushroom to form these, basically, sheets of mushroom flesh. So rather than forming a mushroom, we get a 50-foot-long, four-foot-wide, two inches thick slab of mushroom meat."
The recipe for MyForest's bacon alternative is painfully simple, according to Bayer.
"The organism does a self-assembly of something that's like a piece of animal flesh, and we just harvest it, like harvesting an animal," he told Axios. "They've got this umami flavor, which sort of mimics flesh. And all we do is slice it off, slice it into bacon strips, salt it, smoke it, put a little coconut fat on it."
MyForest isn't the only big player in the world of mycelial meats. Meati, a Colorado-based company, raised $150 million earlier this year and will begin rolling out its whole-cut meat replacements for chicken and beef very soon.
Meati's using its money to build a 100,000-square-foot Mega Ranch in Thornton, Colo., a facility that will begin to ship product in late 2022, ultimately producing tens of millions of pounds of product annually.
"Meati Foods' innovative products mirror Chipotle's Food with Integrity standards and bring an exciting, new alternative protein to market," said Curt Garner, Chief Technology Officer at Chipotle. "Through Chipotle's Cultivate Next venture fund we are investing in companies that align with our mission to Cultivate a Better World and Meati is doing just that with their clean processes and plant-based proteins."
Mushlabs is another big player in the mycelial meat replacement industry and it, too, is finding success and planning its own expansion.