Fungi are making waves again in the alternative protein market

The Beyond Burger and other plant-based meat substitutes are the current superstars of the alternative protein market, but it’s the humble, earthy fungus that’s poised to lead the next big wave of meat substitute productsWired reports. It’s relatively easy and cost-effective to grow fungi in fermenters and turn them into high-protein food called mycoprotein, which is the core ingredient used to make Quorn, the line of meat substitute products that originated in the U.K., in the 1980s. For decades, Quorn has cornered the market on mycoprotein production, but a new generation of startups is exploring the possibilities of diverse fungi, which have notable advantages over pea or soy proteins. Mycoprotein has a naturally meaty texture and many startups are currently ramping up production of it to increase supply for food companies that want to make vegan products. Others are turning the fungi into natural flavor enhancers—one Colorado-based company found that mycoprotein helps block the bitter aftertaste associated with artificial sweeteners. 

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