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Cargill and Big Idea Ventures support Cocuus’ plant-based 3D print production vision

Cargill and Big Idea Ventures support Cocuus' plant-based 3D print production vision 3D print production, Big Idea Ventures, Cargill, Cocuus, plant-based Food and Beverage Business

A food-tech startup is aiming to produce as much as 1,000 tonnes of 3D-printed plant-based bacon in 2024 at a recently opened industrial facility in Northern Spain. The goal is to ramp up the production of alternative proteins for sale in supermarkets and other channels.

While 3D printing of food products has been around for years in pilot form, Cocuus says it is the first company to produce them at industrial scale and for distribution in retail channels. In October, the biotechnology firm’s 3D printed plant-based bacon was introduced in approximately 400 Carrefour supermarkets in Spain under the Foody’s brand.

Using a single Cocuus bioprinting machine, the facility can initially produce 250 kilos of plant-based bacon per hour. In a second stage, the output will expand to include large-scale production of vegan tuna and vegan shrimp. “For Cocuus, reaching industrial scale is a key milestone and testament of years of research and development, guided by industry leaders such as Cargill. And this new facility is just the beginning,” said Patxi Larrumbe, chairman and co-founder of Cocuus.

The global market for alternative proteins is forecast to grow strongly in coming years. BCG and the Blue Horizon Corporation have estimated that the market could reach at least $290 billion by 2035. In addition to plant-based products, Cocuus is developing new ways of upcycling off-cuts and trimming of meat using its proprietary technology to 3D print prime cuts. The technology allows the meat industry to offer new, nutritionally balanced meat-based products, for instance steaks enriched with Omega 3 or low-cholesterol meat cuts, according to the start-up.

Since the launch of the company in 2017, Cocuus has raised ~$8.8 million in capital and financing. US ag and food company Cargill, venture capital firm Big Idea Ventures, and food-tech accelerator Eatable Adventures were among the early investors and have contributed funding for the new facility. “As the demand for protein continues to rise, Cargill has the unique ability to bring the best proteins – both animal and plant-based – to the most people, in a safe, responsible and sustainable way,” said Geert Maesmans, global research & innovation leader for health & nutrition, Cargill Food Solutions.

In summer 2022, Cargill and Cocuus entered into a strategic partnership around innovation in alternative proteins and specialized nutrition, which for instance helped Cocuus to progress on scaling up its technology for producing plant-based bacon.

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