Meati Foods’ facility in Thornton, Colo., has won FOOD ENGINEERING magazine’s Sustainable Plant of the Year. Called the Mega Ranch, the 100,000-sq.-ft. facility produces the company’s alternative protein food products based on mycelium, the root-like structure of fungus.

Meati Foods will be presented with the Sustainable Plant of the Year award following a session about the Mega Ranch at the Food Automation & Manufacturing Symposium and Expo (FA&M), which will be held April 7-9, at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs, Fla. The plant will be featured in the July issue of FOOD ENGINEERING.

The need for the facility was borne out of the company’s success with its vegan products. First introduced to local Denver-area restaurants in 2020, customer demand for Meati’s products drove the need to scale production beyond what the company’s pilot ranch, its first with industrial-sized fermenters, could produce. Dennis Group, out of Springfield, Mass., was tapped as the design-build firm to work on the new project.

Moving from 5,000-liter fermentation  tanks to 25,000-liter fermentation tanks, Meati aims to produce tens of millions of pounds at Mega Ranch—putting its production on a scale to match, or even exceed, that of the largest animal-based ranches in the U.S. The company says that a teaspoon of spores is capable of growing into the equivalent of hundreds of cows’ worth of protein in just a few days.

While the judges were largely impressed by the company’s lower carbon, water and land footprints compared to animal-based counterparts, Meati’s corporate dedication to sustainability, which informed the facility’s design, played an equally large role. To start, the company formed a partnership with the City of Thornton regarding Mega Ranch’s impact on the environment. A water-reuse system was included in the facility’s design and the majority of the facility was electrifiedwith renewable energy to decrease GHG emissions. Furthermore, efficiency projects and lifecycle analyses are ongoing for continuous improvement opportunities.

Congratulations to Meati Foods! Look for more in the July issue of FOOD ENGINEERING.