UK based cellular agriculture start-up Hoxton Farms believes cultivated fat should be incorporated into plant-based meat alternatives, as it imparts a superior taste compared to those using plant-based oils. To emphasise the point, Hoxton Farms co-founder Dr Max Jamilly says in his opinion, plant-based meat alternatives still “aren’t good enough” as they are missing one crucial ingredient -fat – explaining that fat is “the most important sensory component of the meat we eat.”

Hoxton Farms has developed cultivated fat with the intention to supply plant-based meat alternative companies with the  fat as a replacement for the traditionally used plant-based oils. Dr Jamilly explained that these oils do not deliver adequate taste and functionality in plant-based meat applications. Most importantly he says, “they have the wrong taste, nobody wants a burger that tastes of coconut.”

“Animal fats, because of their structure and chemical properties, have a much better melting temperature which makes them really juicy. They also have a better taste, and that’s what we’re trying to deliver,” said Dr Jamilly.

The use of cultivated fat can also offer health benefits. The co-founders shared that another advantage of incorporating cultivated fat into plant-based meat alternatives is the opportunity to customise the nutritional profile of the fat, which they say has an unfortunate reputation from a nutrition point of view. “We can essentially change the fatty acid composition to encourage better saturated vs unsaturated fat ratios. We can even introduce Omega-3 fatty acids – which are usually only found in fish and algae – into our meat as well,” explained co-founder Ed Steele.

Price is a key consideration for Hoxton Farms, with the duo claiming that any plant-based meat brands incorporating cultivated fat into their products won’t need to increase their prices. “In fact, we’re confident that we can reduce their costs by introducing our cultivated fat, due to its functionality,” said Dr Jamilly.

Hoxton Farms recently closed a £2.7 million seed funding round.

READ MORE: Cultivating animal fat for plant-based meat: ‘Nobody wants a burger that tastes of coconut’ [Food Navigator]