Beef substitute set to take on meat industry

Beef substitute set to take on meat industry

A New Zealand clean tech specialist says the patty inside a new burger will be as disruptive as Uber.

She warns the meat industry here needs to prepare and adapt to avoid being displaced completely by its younger cousin.

It looks like beef, cooks like beef, bleeds like beef and tastes like beef, but it's not beef.

How did they get it to look so similar? Science is the short answer. The breakthrough is the extraction of a molecule called heme from plants.

"[Heme is] what gives meat it's unique meaty flavour. It's the bloody taste of raw meat," Impossible Foods founder Patrick Brown said.

The company behind it, Impossible Foods, has received more than $200 million in funding from investors like Bill Gates.

It's just one of a raft of companies getting into the more environmental meat substitute business.

"We've got 9.6 billion people by 2050. We're not making any more land. We can 3D print meat but we can't 3D print land," Dr Rosie Bosworth said.

Dr Bosworth says meat substitutes will upset our almost $8 billion meat export industry in a similar way to the Uber disruption of taxis.

"I would say within the next five to 10 years max, it'll be normal for us to be eating this kind of meat," she said.

Experts say meat substitutes will eventually cost far less to make than the real thing, and Beef & Lamb CEO Rod Slater says to compete, our industry will need to provide higher quality niche products.

"Here's an opportunity for us to tell the romance of food, the New Zealand story to those affluent consumers around the world, and really up our game towards better premiums to our New Zealand farmers," Mr Slater said.

But Dr Bosworth says those farmers should be looking at growing plants for animal meat's new cousin.