Cocuus aims to produce 1,000 tonnes of 3D-printed plant-based bacon in 2024 at a recently opened industrial facility in Northern Spain, ramping 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 is reportedly the first company to produce them at industrial scale and for distribution in retail channels. In October, its 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 250kg 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.
“Mass production of tasty and healthful alternative proteins is urgent both for food security and the environment. 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,” says Patxi Larrumbe, chairman and cofounder of Cocuus.
The global market for alternative proteins is forecast to grow in coming years. BCG and the Blue Horizon Corp. have estimated that the market could reach at least $290 billion by 2035.
In addition to plant-based products, Cocuus says it is developing new ways of upcycling off-cuts and trimming of meat using its 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.
Since the launch of the company in 2017, Cocuus has raised around $8.8 million in capital and financing. U.S. agricultural 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,” says Geert Maesmans, global research & innovation leader for health & nutrition, Cargill Food Solutions. “By combining our research and innovation capabilities with Cocuus' unique technology, together we can unlock distinct alternative protein solutions."
In summer 2022, Cargill and Cocuus entered into a 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.