3D Printing, photo by Shutterstock

I stumbled across an article about 3D printed food recently, and assumed that it was referring to cake decoration and chocolate art.  But I was wrong.  Some forward-thinking innovators have developed the formulas necessary to create something much more interesting, a steak.  And these steaks are so well received that they have made their way to restaurants across Europe.


For those of you aren’t familiar with 3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, it is the construction of a 3-dimensional object using a specialized printer.  Picture a popcorn machine with a mechanical arm holding a glue gun.  As the arm moves, the “glue gun” head dispenses a stream of material resembling a string of toothpaste. It carefully builds layer upon layer, to create a physical 3D object, like a vase, or a shoe.  How is it done? From a “blueprint” loaded into a CAD operating system that’s connected to the printer.

But 3D printing isn’t new, it was first patented back in the 1980s.  And since then, the technology has advanced creating more complex applications.  Although I have written a few pieces about those applications in the past, food printing is a new addition.


So, an article I read in Business Insider talked about a 2018 startup that was “printing” plant-based steaks.  The Insider referenced a company called Redefine Meat, an Israeli group that created a game changing formula.  They not only made something that looked like a steak, but when cooked, mimicked the consistency and flavor of a steak. 

But it turns out, they weren’t the only ones.  That same year Nova Meat, based in Barcelona Spain, also launched their own proprietary blend.  It was designed by Giuseppe Scionti, a bioengineering researcher and entrepreneur.  And although both Scionti and his Israeli counterpart mastered the meat replica that satisfied the senses, their recipes took different paths.

Redefine Meat uses a mix of wheat soy and potato proteins, beetroot, and coconut fat according to their Products page.  While Foodnavigator.com reports that Nova Meat mixes pea protein and rice protein, algae fibers and a combination of oils to achieve their special blend.


Although I featured Redefine and Nova, they are only 2 of several companies worldwide “printing” sustainable proteins.   And the 3D printed proteins are not just limited to beef; companies across the globe are printing chicken, pork and fish alternatives.  That includes a local startup, BluNalu.

BlueNalu, based in San Diego, California, is taking a different approach.  Their focus is seafood.  But not a seafood alternative; they are crafting seafood directly from fish cells.  According to BlueNalu’s website and dozens of articles across the web, they have curated a process to make sustainable and humanely sourced seafood without the thread of mercury and environmental contaminates.  The company’s initial offering will be bluefin tuna which is working its way through FDA regulatory processes.